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Can Cats Eat Pop Tarts? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Lorre Luther

By Lorre Luther

Strawberry pop tart

Vet approved

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

Veterinarian, BVM BVS MRCVS

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

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Before changing your dog’s/ cat’s diet or introducing new ingredients or supplements that they haven’t eaten before, especially when it comes to human food, make sure to consult your veterinarian first. Every dog/cat is different and requires an individual approach to nutrition, depending on their age, health, level of activity, and medical history. The guidelines offered in our article have been fact-checked and approved by a veterinarian but should be used as a mere guide on food safety, rather than an individual nutrition plan.

Cats’ ears perk up once they hear the telltale crinkly sounds of food being unwrapped, especially if it’s something a bit naughty. Pop-Tarts are delicious breakfast pastry treats with a sweet inner core surrounded by a flaky baked crust.

These tasty human treats are best kept off the feline menu; they contain too much salt and sugar, and some have ingredients like chocolate that are toxic to felines. Healthy adult cats who snag a few (very small) bites of Pop-Tarts that don’t contain feline-unfriendly ingredients (like chocolate) are likely to be fine, with the possible exception of an upset stomach.

What’s in Pop-Tarts?

In addition to the high sugar content, Pop-Tarts have ingredients like salt. Cats need sodium to survive, and it’s an essential mineral, but excessive salt intake can lead to issues such as lack of proper hydration, and too much at once can lead to toxicity, although this does not happen very often.

Pop Tarts come in several flavors, and there are several chocolate-themed options, including Frosted Chocolate Chip, Cookies and Cream, and Frosted Chocolate Fudge. Chocolate is toxic to cats and can cause signs such as a fast heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and restlessness. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate, which have more cocoa, are the most problematic.

Pop-Tarts
Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

The Importance of Limiting Human Food

There are essentially two issues when it comes to cats and human food. It often contains toxic ingredients, some of which aren’t immediately obvious, and too much human food can lead to health problems.

Problematic Ingredients

Human cuisine often contains products that aren’t good for cats. Sweets often feature chocolate, which is toxic to cats.

It can also be difficult to determine how much of a concerning substance may be in one or two bites of food. By preventing your cat from eating snacks or meals designed for humans, you can minimize the chances of them eating something that could require a visit to the veterinarian.

cat at vet with owner and veternarian
Photo Credit: 4 PM production, Shutterstock

Health Issues

Too much human food can also contribute to the development of health issues. Cats fed a high-quality, balanced diet should receive all the nutrients they require.  Commercial diets are designed to give cats the right amount of calories, fat, and salt they need to thrive.

Cats are obligate carnivores; their bodies are optimized to consume and use animal protein, and they need certain nutrients only found in meat. When cats eat carbohydrate-rich human treats like Pop-Tarts, they’re essentially consuming fat, calories, and salt they don’t need, and few nutrients that they do.

Cats’ caloric requirements aren’t high, so small amounts of high-calorie human foods can quickly result in weight gain. Cats that are overweight are more likely to develop health problems such as arthritis, urinary problems and diabetes, and often live shorter lives than those who maintain a healthy body condition.

FAQ’s

My Cat Accidently Ate Some Pop Tart, What Do I Do?

If your cat gets into Pop Tarts, check the ingredients for anything harmful such as dried grapes or chocolate. If these are present, call your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control for advice. If there are no directly harmful ingredients, your cat may still experience digestive issues as they are probably not used to the ingredients in Pop Tarts. Monitor them for any signs such as vomiting or diarrhea and take them to your vet if they occur.

cat vomiting
Image Credit: Tunatura, Shutterstock

Can Cats Taste Sweet Things?

Cats can’t taste sweet food. They rely on meat to obtain their nutrients, and as a result, they most likely never needed to develop the ability to taste carbohydrates like sugar.

If Cats Can’t Taste Sugar, Why Do They Like Pop-Tarts?

Sweet treats have plenty of butter, fat, or other types of oil. It may be the fat in Pop-Tarts cats are after!

pop tarts
Image Credit: WikimediaImages, Pixabay

Conclusion

Although Pop-Tarts make delicious breakfast, snacks, and dessert options for people, they’re not the best choices for cats. Pop-Tarts are high in calories and packed with salt, sugar, and other nutritionally poor ingredients. Cats obtain nutrients most efficiently from meat; Pop-Tarts only provide excess calories with no nutritional benefits. The potential health risks of eating Pop-Tarts mean you should keep them safely in your hands and out of your cat’s paws.


Featured Image Credit: Isabella and Zsa Fischer, Unsplash

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