As lovers of a freshly baked loaf of bread we understand the temptation for pet owners to share this delicious food with their furry friends.
Before we do let’s find out if cats can eat bread and if it’s actually good for them.
In short, cats can eat very small amounts of plain bread without seasonings or toppings without experiencing major issues.
A Small Amount of Bread May Be Fine
If your cat is meowing at you while you slice up some bread, you can give a fingernail-sized snack to them without causing an upset. However, more bread than this or more frequent offerings of bread will begin to impact your cat’s nutrition.
This is because bread is high in calories but low in protein and fat which a cat has a high dietary need for. If your cat eats too much bread they will feel very full and therefore will not eat their cat food that is better suited to their body’s needs.
It is because of this that feeding your cat bread is not recommended, it does not have a benefit to your furry friend and there are much more appropriate snack options to offer them.
Using Bread to Your Advantage
Similar to the use of cheese that we discussed in our ‘Can cats eat cheese’ article, bread can be used as a way to administer medication to your cat without causing stress.
Just make sure that your cat is not suffering from a health condition that can be worsened or impacted by the consumption of bread.
Also, if your cat is on regular medication bread is not the best option but if it’s a once off situation then that should be fine.
Nutritional Value of Bread
Bread is mostly carbohydrates with a small amount of protein, sugar and fat.
It provides a source of fiber as well as some B vitamins, it is also not unusual for bread to be fortified with calcium and iron during manufacturing in order to make it a healthier option.
Bread lacks taurine which is essential in a cat’s diet, if your cat does not receive taurine from its diet then symptoms of deficiency will begin to emerge such as hair loss, tooth decay and retina degeneration.
Nutrition Required in a Cats Diet
A cat requires a large amount of fat and protein in their diet. Protein is essential as they require essential amino acids to be provided through the food that they are consuming. With no real need for carbohydrate rich foods there is no need for a cat to eat bread.
A cat should have a mostly meat based diet in order to get the nutrition they need, naturally they are carnivores and a wild cat would hunt and survive on animals as oppose to foraging or grazing. This means your cat has a digestive system that is perfectly adapted to breaking down meat which is why feeding bread to your cat can result in bloating and impact their natural gut flora.
Do Cats Enjoy Eating Bread?
Each cat is different, some seem to love and ‘ask’ for bread when their owners are eating it and others show no interest at all. It may also depend on the type of bread being offered which brings us swiftly to our next question, “are all breads safe?”
Are All Breads Safe to Feed to Cats?
The majority of bread types are not toxic to cats meaning they can eat a very small amount on occasion and not experience negative side effects.
Some bread is potentially very dangerous to cats including loaves that have been made using ingredients such as onion, chives, raisins, caffeine, chocolate and macadamia nuts.
If the bread has got added flavourings and toppings then you should not offer it to your cat.
It is also possible for your cat to be allergic so if you are offering them bread for the first time be sure to keep a close eye on them for symptoms of a negative or allergic reaction.
What About Bread Dough?
Bread dough should be avoided. The yeast in bread dough can continue to expand within your cat’s stomach causing bloating. Your cat can also suffer from alcohol poisoning as a result of the yeast fermentation that occurs within the body and this can lead to respiratory failure and seizures. It is strongly advised that you contact a vet if your cat has consumed bread dough.
Can Cats Eat Toasted Bread?
Cats can eat a small amount of toasted bread provided it is not burnt.
If the bread has been burned then it has formed acrylamide which is a dangerous compound for humans as well as cats. Giving your cat burnt toast can cause nerve damage and even cancer.
What If the Bread Has Toppings On?
You should definitely not feed your cat bread that has toppings on.
For example, butter is harmful to cats because it is very high in fat and calories, spreads such as chocolate spread is toxic to cats and peanut butter (more about cats and peanuts here) contains a very high amount of salt as well as fat and calories so they should all be avoided.
Warning Signs If Cat Eats Something Toxic
If your cat consumed bread dough or bread that contains toxic ingredients such as garlic or onion then it is important to keep an eye on them and look out for any of the following symptoms:
• Less or no appetite
• High temperature
• Pale gums
• Increased thirst
• Muscle tremors
• Abnormal heart rhythm
• Abdominal pain
• Decreased urination
• Dark red/ orange urine
• Breathing difficulties
What Can I Feed My Cat Instead?
Below are a few great snack options for your beloved pet:
• Lean meat (small pieces)
• Cooked Eggs
• Commercial treats
• Cooked carrots
• Cooked tuna or salmon
In Conclusion Is Bread Good For Cats?
Cats are able to eat a very small amount of bread without experiencing toxic side effects however there is little nutritional value to this and it can disrupt your cats balanced diet.
Bread should definitely not be a staple or be a regular occurrence in your cat’s diet.
If you decide to give your cat a small piece of bread as a treat it is very important to check the ingredients to ensure you are not inadvertently feeding something that is toxic.
It is also extremely important to be careful giving bread or other human food to your cat if it suffers from any health conditions, particularly diabetes, obesity or kidney disease.
Finally, if you do decide to give your cat a piece of bread for the first time, keep an eye out for any of the symptoms we discussed above.