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Can Cats Eat Jell-O? What You Need to Know!

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

different colors of jell-o

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Vet)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats can eat some pretty oddball things, from inedible items to potentially dangerous foods. It’s best to keep an eye out when they take an interest in something of possible consequences. Most of the time, your kitty will only beg and plead for savory items like meats.

However, on rare occasions, they might want something a little out of character—like the wiggly Jell-O on the kitchen counter. The good news is that Jell-O won’t kill your cat, but it isn’t healthy for them, either. Cats don’t benefit from added sugar in their diet. Find out why!

What Is Jell-O Exactly?

We all have eaten the bouncy dessert and likely made it with joy as a child. It’s an easy, fun thing to create and pairs well in many sweet dishes. But you might not have stopped to consider exactly what the powdery substance is composed of.

Jell-O Nutrition Facts (Strawberry)

Serving size: 1/8 package

Calories: 80
Total Fat: 0 g
Sodium: 95 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 19 g
Protein: 2 g

Essentially, Jell-O is a combination of gelatin and sugar. It doesn’t contain any vitamins or minerals that add nutritional value.

different flavors of Jell-O Gelatin

A Deeper Look at the Ingredients

While Jell-O contains very few ingredients, none are suitable for cats. Truthfully, it isn’t the smartest dietary choice for humans, either. It’s loaded with empty calories and sugars that might pass through without issue on occasion, but Jell-O isn’t a daily essential for your feline—far from it.

Gelatin

Gelatin isn’t necessarily a bad ingredient for cats. It’s translucent and flavorless, derived from animal collagen. Gelatin turns rubbery when it is wet, giving Jell-O that “wiggly” effect.

Artificial Dyes

All Jell-O contains artificial dyes to achieve the different colors offered. For instance, in strawberry-flavored Jell-O, the makers add Red Dye 40. While it isn’t necessarily detrimental to a cat in small amounts, it is best to avoid.

Sugar

Jell-O contains a considerable amount of sugar, no matter the brand or flavor. Since gelatin is flavorless, the added sugar gives it those fruity tastes we love so much, but it’s packed with calories that your cat doesn’t need.

slices of jell-o in a bowl
Image Credit: nicoletait, Pixabay

Cats Have No Sweet Taste Receptors

Since cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they only require meat for survival and health, they didn’t develop the ability to taste sugar. Sugar is a foreign substance that they absolutely do not need in their diet.

It’s likely rare that you will see a cat beg for anything that doesn’t contain meat in some way. Instead, cats crave savory flavors, which is why when you pop open a can of tuna, they come running—demanding a taste. Evolutionary-wise, the sweetness was permanently axed out of the equation long ago.

While Jell-O has a wiggly lure that might make your mouth water, craving that sugary goodness, it does not taste the same to your cat. In fact, if they eat Jell-O at all, it’s more of a texture than a taste that they desire.

tabby cat licking its lips
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Do Cats Like Jell-O?

Some cats might rarely take an interest in Jell-O, but it isn’t a common occurrence. Since nothing in Jell-O will really trigger your feline’s senses, they should usually pass right by without having their curiosity piqued.

But, of course, we’ve all met those overly curious cats that eat unusual things. If that’s the case, your cat might try to snatch a lick or two. While you should never serve up a platter of Jell-O, a lick or a small piece won’t hurt.

Safety of Jell-O for Cats

If your cat has a bit of Jell-O on its own accord, it won’t kill them. However, it can really depend on any additional ingredients. Jell-O is often used in combination with different desserts, making it potentially toxic or upsetting for your cat’s system. Also, some sugar-free Jell-O has additional sweeteners or ingredients that are not good for your cat.

Look out for other things like certain nuts, which might pose additional concerns. Nuts like pecans, walnuts, and almonds aren’t necessarily deadly, but they can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and even pancreatitis in some cases.

Also, certain fruits like grapes are toxic, too. Here’s a comprehensive list by the ASPCA, just in case you have any other questionable ingredients to mention.

Conclusion

So, now you know that your cat really shouldn’t have Jell-O, but if they do—it will be fine. Permitting, of course, they didn’t eat anything else that could be toxic. If your cat seems to be having a bad reaction, a trip to the vet can determine the underlying cause.

If you have additional questions about foods for cats, you should reach out to a professional for clarification. It’s better to be on the safe side when it comes to potentially irritating things your cat may consume.


Featured Image Credit: Girl with red hat, Unsplash

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