Can I Give My Cat Oreos?
But is that really such a terrible thing? We know Oreos aren’t the healthiest treats around, but surely giving our pets one or two as a rare treat won’t cause that much damage, right? Can cats have Oreos? Is the chocolate a problem?
While it is true that your cat is not likely to suffer any life-threatening symptoms after eating an Oreo, no, this food is not recommended for felines. There is nothing in Oreos that will do anything positive for your pet’s health in the long or short term. There are, however, many ingredients in Oreos that can hurt your cat’s health in the long run.
What about the chocolate? Fortunately, there is very little actual chocolate in Oreos, so it is unlikely that your cat will suffer from theobromine toxicity as a result of eating them. To put it simply: don’t freak out if your toddler sneaks Fluffy one Oreo, but don’t go giving Fluffy Oreos intentionally.
Unless the alternative is literal starvation, there are no potential benefits to feed your cat Oreos. No veterinarian would recommend using these heavily processed cookies as treats, and they certainly would not suggest that they can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. This is one food that has absolutely no health benefits for anyone—they are not good for you, they are not good for your dog, and they are certainly not good for your cat. Unlike some other snack foods, they don’t even have the benefit of being fortified with key nutrients.
Since they are lacking in nutrition, Oreos are empty calories. Humans can get around this from time to time—we get to eat around 2,000 calories every single day—but our cats do not have room for empty calories. If your cat spends part of their ‘caloric budget’ on Oreos with any regularity, they are likely to end up with potentially dangerous nutritional deficiencies. Felines need moderate amounts of protein, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D, which are not present in junk food. Cats who waste their calories on sugar are unlikely to be able to meet their daily dietary needs.
Here is the more likely scenario: if you give your cat Oreos, they will end up exceeding their daily caloric budget and gaining weight. For cats, empty calories add up fast, which is why roughly half of all American cats are overweight or obese. Obese cats are more likely to suffer from insulin resistance, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, bone and joint problems, kidney problems, and several forms of cancer. Cats who are carrying too much extra weight often become lethargic and depressed, too. All of these factors contribute to the shorter lifespan seen in fat cats—cats struggling with weight problems often die two to three years earlier than their thin counterparts.
Oreos are loaded with sugar, too. The high sugar and low fiber content in these cookies often results in a sudden spike in blood sugar. This spike is followed by a sharp drop, which can cause lethargy, dizziness, and hunger. In the long term, giving your cat large amounts of simple sugars can contribute to diabetes. One Oreo contains more sugar than a cat is supposed to eat in an entire day.
Things to Consider
In the end, it is a better idea to avoid giving your cat Oreos—or any processed junk food. Your cat is not likely to suffer any immediate consequences as a result of eating a single Oreo. If, however, these little round cookies become a semi-regular feature in your cat’s diet, they are likely to start suffering negative health effects like obesity, insulin resistance, and cavities. Oreos are not a safe treat for cats. If you must give them something sweet, opt for fresh fruit.