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Can Cats Drink Syrup? What You Need to Know!

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

honey syrup

Cats can eat and drink some pretty weird things. If your cat just made a meal of your pancake buffet this morning, you might be wondering if the syrup is okay for them. It’s always best that we pet parents keep ourselves informed on both harmful and beneficial foods and products for our pets.

Did your cat have a unique type of syrup and do you need some time-sensitive answers? Sweet syrups like maple syrup and those used in the kitchen are usually not harmful to your cat, but cough syrup or syrups containing artificial sweeteners are a different story. Let us explain.

Syrup Nutrition Facts

maple syrup in glass bottle_showcake_shutterstock
Image Credit: showcake, Shutterstock
Based on regular maple syrup
  • Amount: 1 tbsp
  • Calories: 52
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 2 mg
  • Potassium: 42 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0 mg
  • Sugar: 14 g
  • Protein: 0 mg
  • Vitamin C: 0%
  • Iron: 0%
  • Vitamin B6: 0%
  • Magnesium: 1%
  • Calcium: 2%
  • Vitamin D: 0%

Cats Shouldn’t Ingest Syrup

Most syrups are non-toxic to cats but still unhealthy. Sugar is an all-around negative additive to any feline diet. It causes all sorts of health issues like diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay, among others. As cute as chubby cats might be, it can greatly reduce their lifespan.

Some syrups might contain artificial sweeteners too, like xylitol, which is highly toxic to cats. It causes a surge of insulin in the body which results in hypoglycemia. Even though they can sometimes survive the initial exposure, liver failure is almost inevitable later on.

To keep your kitty in top-notch shape, you probably should say no to sharing your McDonald’s pancake breakfast platter!

Image Credit: piviso. Pixabay

Types of Syrup

There are several types of syrup, including:

Non-toxic to cats:
  • Maple Syrup
  • Karo Syrup
  • Corn Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Honey Syrup
  • Cane Syrup
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Orgeat Syrup

As you can see, most syrups are non-toxic to cats. However, agave syrup can irritate a cat, causing nasty symptoms. However, it is not usually life-threatening. Aside from an upset stomach and possible diarrhea, they should be fine.

Chocolate in any quantity is toxic to cats, though it might take a lot to make them very sick. Chocolate contains a potentially lethal ingredient called theobromine that causes abnormal heartbeat, tremors, seizures, and even death in extreme cases.

Chocolate syrup is likely too diluted to kill your cat, but they should stay away from chocolate syrup entirely to err on the side of caution.

Cough syrup is bad for cats on a good day, but some brands contain chemicals that react badly in your cat’s system. Luckily, the strong taste will usually ward your cat off. However, if you think your cat has ingested any, make sure to contact your vet or poison control immediately for further guidance.

cough syrup
Image Credit: Original_Frank, Pixabay

Cats Cannot Taste Sweet Flavors

Since cats are obligate carnivores, their taste palettes didn’t evolve to detect sweet flavors. Instead, they detect savory or heavy flavors with animal proteins. Sweet flavors don’t strike a chord in their tastebuds even after eating domesticated diets and sharing homes with humans where sugar is prevalent.

Since they can’t taste sugar, it isn’t worth adding it to their diet for any reason. If anything, it has negative connotations associated with it when it comes to felines.

Recommended Syrup for Orphaned Kittens

For many reasons, kittens can wind up without a mother far too young. If you’re caring for a litter of weaning kittens, you may need to make a formula at home to mimic their mother’s milk.

Many recipes call for Karo syrup in the mix, or, rubbing straight Karo syrup on the gums to trigger gastrointestinal function. This is because Karo syrup can help prevent constipation and boost blood sugar.

In the event you find yourself in this situation, you should always feed the kittens based on the guidance of your veterinarian. Just because recipes are listed on the world wide web doesn’t mean they’re necessarily suitable for a kitten’s digestion.

However, there are many excellent resources for folks who find themselves with an orphaned litter of baby kitties.

kitten drinking milk from bottle
Image Credit: Adina Voicu, Pixabay

Cats and Syrup: Final Thoughts

The safety of syrup for cats depends on what kind of syrup you’re talking about. Most syrups you find in the kitchen are non-toxic to cats, but still unhealthy and potentially irritating to their digestive tract.

Both chocolate and cough syrup are potentially toxic to cats—and remember to scour the ingredient label to ensure there is no xylitol. If your cat ate questionable syrup, it’s best to contact your vet or poison control right away.

Featured Image Credit: Steve Buissinne, Pixabay

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