Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can Cats Eat Bully Sticks? Potential Health Risks

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

Can Cats Eat bully-sticks

You may be wondering if your cat can eat a dog chew toy, more specifically a bully stick. The short answer is no, you should avoid giving your cat hard and bony chew toys such as the bully stick. Cats are not natural chewers, so finding your cat things to chew will not be found in the dog toy section of a pet store.

The type of chew toy you offer your cat should be cat-friendly and not too difficult to chew. While cats can eat bully sticks, it is not good for them and can cause a range of dental problems that you want to avoid.

In this article, we will give you all the information you need to know about whether bully sticks are safe or not for your feline friend.

What Are Bully Sticks?

Bully sticks are a dog treat and a safer alternative to rawhide. These dog chews are made from a male bulls’ genitals and dried from a tough, natural chew toy. There are usually no additives and flavorings added to bully sticks.

This makes bully sticks a single-ingredient, easily digestible treat made from beef muscle (male bull organ).

An added benefit to bully sticks is that they do not splinter like other types of chews in the same category. Bully sticks also come in a variety of sizes, so the smallest size may be best for cats.

bully sticks
Image Credit: Dmitriev Mikhail, Shutterstock

Are Bully Sticks Safe for Cats To Eat?

Bully sticks are generally safe for cats because they do not contain the three cat-caution ingredients that are safe for dogs. These ingredients include onion, garlic, and propylene glycol. You should always try to avoid feeding your cat dog treats and chews with these three ingredients.

The ingredient of bully sticks itself is safe for cats to ingest; however, it is too tough for them to chew, which can lead to dental issues.

You see, cats’ teeth are somewhat delicate and not made for chewing hard items. Your cat can suffer from tooth breakage, chipping, gum inflammation, and even if choking if they are given a bully stick unsupervised.

Most cats will rather drag the bully stick around and lick it than chew it, so you can give your cat a small bully stick to see how they react to it. However, it is best to remove the bully stick from your cat if they begin to chew it.

If you give your dog a bully stick and they discard it somewhere around the home, you may find that your cat takes an interest in it and will sniff and lick it, but they will rarely chew it.

Can Dogs and Cats Eat The Same Treats

dog and cat eating at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

It is unlikely that cats will show much interest in dog treats. Cats and dogs don’t have the same nutritional needs, so cats will not benefit from eating dog chews or treats in the same way that dogs will.

Dog treats and chews also have a lot of ingredients that are not safe for cats, but they are safe for dogs. You should try to avoid feeding dog treats and chews to cats because they usually contain toxic ingredients, some of which are not even healthy for dogs.

These toxic ingredients are common in dog treats and chews:

Onions, Garlic, and Other Alliums

Cats are sensitive to foods from the allium family. This includes onion, chives, leeks, and garlic. These alliums are popular in dog treats and chews and can be found in powder form. These plants contain a compound called n-propyl disulfide that causes oxidative damage inside red blood cells.

Propylene Glycol

This is a common preservative used in most semi-moist dog food and treats. If your cat eats high levels of propylene glycol, it can cause Heinz bodies and increased D-lactate levels in cats which can lead to bodily depression and ataxia (also known as wobbly gait).

These changes to the hemoglobin caused by the propylene glycol may not be severe enough to cause issues in cats if they only eat a small amount, however, larger amounts can be toxic to cats.

Reasons Not To Feed Bully Sticks To Your Cat

  • It can cause dental problems and damage your cats’ teeth.
  • Choking is a risk, and the bully stick could get stuck in your cat’s esophagus.
  • Intestinal blockages. If they do happen to chew and swallow large quantities of the bully stick, then they can suffer gastrointestinal discomfort and even get a blockage in their stomach.
  • The bully stick may have sharp pieces that can cause damage to your cats’ gums and even get stuck in their mouth.
  • Bully sticks offer no nutrition to your cat.

Now that you know what you can safely feed your cat, it’s just as important to find a bowl that supports their health and well-being. With whisker-friendly bowls and a wide tray to catch any spills, our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite option.

hungry white cat hepper nom nom bowl licking lip


You can give your cat a bully stick if you can closely monitor them. You can allow your cat to lick the bully stick or eat small pieces leftover by your dog after they are done chewing the bully stick but avoid letting your cat chew the bully stick themselves.

There are plenty of other cats treats and chews available that are safer alternatives to bully sticks, so you should consider the different options before giving your cat a bully stick.

Featured Image Credit: Dmitriev Mikhail, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database