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Can Cats Eat Cheerios? What You Need to Know!

Hallie Roddy

By Hallie Roddy


Pouring yourself a big bowl of Cheerios with milk is a classic breakfast for many Americans. Each bite is sweet while still being a somewhat healthy option for a quick and easy morning. Cheerios may be good food for humans, but they might not be such a great option for cats.

Cheerios are not toxic for cats to eat. However, they are not something that you should be giving to your cat for a meal or even a treat. This cereal, although tasty, doesn’t meet a cat’s dietary needs and is not at all necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

What if My Cat Eats Cheerios?

Cheerios and other types of cereal technically aren’t going to do your cat any harm if they accidentally got into some. The cereal pieces are small and dissolve quickly, so they also pose no choking risk. With that said, there is no nutritional value that benefits your cats by eating the cereal.

Cats that have any type of sensitivity to sugar or gluten may not react well to eating Cheerios. Most cats have no adverse reactions, but some could have an upset stomach or vomiting. So if you truly want to give your cat a tasty treat, there are far better options than whatever you’ve got stored in your pantry.

British shorthair cat eating
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

Is Sugar Dangerous for Cats?

Cheerios are known for their subtle, sweet taste. This sweet flavor comes from honey and artificial sugars or sugar replacements. There are also certain types of artificial sugars that are dangerous for cats. Too much sugar could also give cats and other pets diabetes and other issues related to obesity.

Here are some artificial sugars that you may find in certain cereal brands:
  • Erythritol: an industrial-produced sugar used in many keto and low-carb foods.
  • Aspartame: 200 times sweeter than normal sugar. May cause gastrointestinal discomfort in cats and dogs.
  • Sucralose: also sold under the name Splenda. Not toxic to pets, but too much causes gastrointestinal upset.
  • Stevia: may be toxic to dogs or cause diarrhea in pets.
  • Saccharine: main ingredient found in Sweet’N Low. Gastrointestinal upset may occur if consumed by pets.
  • Monk fruit sweetener: comes from fruit extract. The plant is not toxic to pets.

Are Grains Dangerous for Cats?

Cheerios are made from oats. Many grains will not be as harmful to cats as sugars will be. Oats and other grains are somewhat neutral in a cat’s diet and should be considered more of a filler than anything. Some can even be an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Still, the benefit that grains give to cats is minimal, considering they are on a mostly carnivorous diet. Feeding your cats grains could actually leave them feeling hungry and unsatisfied with their meals.

What Is a Cat’s Natural Diet?

All cats are obligate carnivores and require protein sources from meat to survive both in the wild and as domestic pets. Even though you don’t necessarily feed your cat a raw diet as they would eat it in the wild, they still must have protein from meat as the primary portion of their meals. Even wild cats consume small amounts of plants with their meals, but the need for fruits and veggies is minimal.

maine coon cat eating
Image Credit: Lita Keire, Shutterstock

Healthier Treat Options for Cats

Try to refrain from giving your cats Cheerios as a treat. There are much healthier treat options that they are going to love just as much and feel better eating. Strive to mimic their natural diet with small chunks of meat or fish that don’t have any bones. Some people even give their cats very small amounts of cheese as an occasional treat— just make sure that they’re not lactose intolerant beforehand. Those that prefer to give fruits and veggies as a snack must ensure that the foods that they choose are also safe options. Some good choices are small amounts of bananas, melons, or baby carrots.

Things to Keep in Mind When Feeding Cats

In the long run, allowing your cats to eat Cheerios isn’t a good idea. Prolonged consumption could lead to a slew of health problems. Besides, they are nutritionally empty and don’t benefit your pets in any way. Furthermore, these empty calories could cause your cats to become obese. With obesity comes issues with eating, exercise, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many other issues.

The most dangerous type of Cheerios to feed your cat is chocolate Cheerios. Cats should not ever eat chocolate, plus they have much more sugar compared to traditional Honey Nut Cheerios.

a tabby cat being fed a cat treat by hand
Image Credit: Jakub Zak, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

Whether your cat ate them by accident, or you were simply curious, feeding your cats Cheerios isn’t the best idea. Instead, provide your cats with treats that will improve their health, and that fit their daily dietary needs. A few Cheerios here and there won’t hurt, by why take the risk in the first place?

Featured Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

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