Can I Give My Cat Donuts?
In recent years, many of us have realized that our go-to breakfast foods should actually be called desserts. Our favorite brightly colored, corn-based, heavily sweetened cereals are loaded with sugar and nutritionally empty. Our white flour pancakes and French toast offer little in the way of protein, and to make matters worse, they trigger a spike in blood sugar that leaves us hungry two hours later. But there is one popular breakfast food we continue to indulge in even though we have always known was unhealthy: donuts. Whether you’re grabbing one on your way to the bank, bringing a couple dozen of them to the office, or shoveling in powdered donuts while watching Netflix, you have found a way to fit these sweet treats into your diet.
We know that our health can handle the occasional donut, but should we implement the ‘all things in moderation’ policy with our pets? Can cats have donuts?
The answer: yes and no. Technically, cats ‘can’ eat donuts—meaning that taking a bite out of your glazed donut every great once in a while will not cause them to drop dead on the spot. This food is generally not poisonous to your cat, so you do not need to induce vomiting if they accidentally consume it. However, donuts are in no way recommended for feline consumption. This food is extremely unhealthy for cats. There is no situation where it is a good idea to give your pet confectioneries.
Why You Should Avoid Giving Your Cat Donuts
While the health benefits of including some foods in the feline diet are hotly debated, donuts are not one of those foods. There is absolutely nothing in a donut that is going to contribute to your cat’s daily nutritional needs, both because they are highly processed junk food, and because your cat is an obligate carnivore.
What do obligate carnivores eat? Here’s a hint: other obligate carnivores include lions, tigers, and cheetahs. No National Geographic photographer has ever captured a lion stalking a dozen crullers through the Serengeti! Our housecats, just like their big cat cousins, have spent the last several million years evolving to eat exactly one type of food: whole prey animals. Their bodies are set up to pull all of the nutrients that they need out of meat sources. In the process, they have lost the ability to properly digest nonmeat foods, and their carbohydrate needs have plummeted while their protein needs have increased. Donuts, as you may know, are not renowned for their protein content.
All of this is a fancy way of saying that donuts are just as nutritionally empty for your cat as they are for you. Feeding your cat junk food like donuts can contribute to nutritional imbalances. Over time, donuts and other sugary treats may make your cat overweight or obese. Cats who have too much body fat are more susceptible to many other health problems, including diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, arthritis, kidney problems and high blood pressure. As a result, their lives are often cut short by up to two and a half years.
Given that over half of American cats are currently overweight or obese, more of us could stand to monitor our cats’ caloric intake. Eliminating junk food from your pet’s diet is a great place to begin.
Things to Keep in Mindchocolate, raisins, or macadamia nuts, which are all toxic to cats. These foods—especially chocolate—can result in immediately life-threatening toxicity. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, fever, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, panting, stiff muscles, low blood pressure, and even seizures. If your cat has consumed a chocolate donut and seems at all ‘off’, take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Feeling guilty about keeping donuts from your cat? Don’t! It turns out that cats do not even have the ability to taste sweet things like donuts. Cat tongues lack one of the proteins required for detecting sweetness, which means that all that added sugar is completely lost on them. Give your cat treats that are specifically formulated for felines—they will be just as happy and twice as healthy.
As you probably guessed, it generally isn’t a good idea to feed your pet cat junk food like donuts. While humans are able to squeeze in the occasional sweet treat without many consequences, our cats have much lower caloric needs and vastly different nutritional needs. The simple carbohydrates found in donuts have no place in your cat’s diet, so all they will serve to do is make them fat and unhealthy. Since your cat can’t taste sweetness anyway, keep the confectioneries out of their bowl and opt for high protein, feline-friendly foods to protect their health.