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Can Cats Eat Slim Jims? What You Need To Know!

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

Slim Jims

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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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Everyone has their favorite guilty pleasure junk food. Definitely not good for you but it sure tastes delicious! Slim Jims, a meat jerky mash-up, is one of those guilty pleasure foods for many people. Given that Slim Jims are made of meat, your carnivore cat may decide to try and steal your snack if given the chance. If so, should you let them? Can cats eat Slim Jims?

Slim Jims aren’t automatically toxic to cats, but they aren’t very good for them either and could cause an upset stomach. Keep reading to learn why Slim Jims aren’t the best choice for your cat and which people foods make healthier treat options.

Why Slim Jims Are Unhealthy For Cats

Slim Jims are made of beef, pork, and chicken, which by themselves are perfectly fine foods for cats, often serving as protein sources in commercial diets. However, Slim Jims are also loaded with problematic ingredients like corn syrup, spices, and preservatives. They are also high in salt and fat and contain soy and wheat.

Too much salt can actually be toxic to cats, and consuming even one Slim Jim adds a huge extra 210 mg of sodium to your cat’s daily diet. The spices found in Slim Jims could upset your cat’s stomach, causing vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, eating too many fatty foods may cause your cat to develop a condition called pancreatitis, which can be painful and hard to treat.

Wheat, soy, and corn may not be well-tolerated by cats with food sensitivities. Two of the meat ingredients in Slim Jims–beef and chicken–are among the culprits that most commonly cause food allergies in cats.

Because treats should only make up a small portion of your cat’s daily diet (more on this in a minute!) you want to make sure the treats they do get are not only tasty but unlikely to make your cat sick. With those factors in mind, Slim Jims don’t make the cut.

cat licking mouth after eating
Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

Choosing Better Treats For Your Cat

To keep your cat healthy and in a good weight range, the treats you feed should make up a maximum of 10-15% of their total daily calories, but 5% would be better. Those total recommended calories vary by age and weight, but a good rule of thumb is to feed your cat 24-35 calories per pound of body weight each day.

By those calculations, a 10-pound cat would eat 240-350 calories per day and only about 30 of those calories should come from treats. One Slim Jim contains 60 calories, as much as twice the recommended amount for a 10-pound cat.

If your cat seems to enjoy the jerky stick shape and texture of Slim Jims, consider offering a cat treat in a similar style, but with far fewer calories.

You could also offer your cat some other people food that’s much healthier for them than a Slim Jim. Some possibilities include:

  • Cooked, lean meats
  • Cooked grains like oats or polenta
  • Cooked fish
  • Cooked eggs

You may notice a similar theme to all those suggestions: cooked. Feeding your cat raw meat, fish, or eggs should be avoided because they can contain dangerous bacteria that could make you or your cat sick. Other foods you should avoid feeding your cat include:

  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Onions
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Bones
Cat Eating Tuna
Image Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH,Shutterstock

Choosing The Right Diet For Your Cat

Much like the calorie recommendations, the ideal diet for your cat will vary based on their age, weight, and overall health. In general, a healthy adult cat should eat a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein, with a moderate amount of fat. They also require high levels of certain essential amino acids.

The simplest way to ensure your cat gets all the nutrition required is to feed balanced commercial cat food, canned or dry that meets the AAFCO standards.  The ingredients of these foods vary, but all must meet basic minimum nutritional standards.

Comparing cat foods can get overwhelming with so many choices available and confusion over whether it’s healthier for your cat to eat grain-free food or real meat versus meat by-products. Your vet can help you learn to read cat food labels and answer any questions that arise about which diets to consider.

Some medical conditions, like food allergies or diabetes, require adjustments to a cat’s diet. In these situations, your cat may require a special prescription food or a calculated homemade diet to stay healthy. Veterinary guidance is especially vital as you navigate these unique circumstances.

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Conclusion

Slim Jims may not be the healthiest snack for people, but we are all free to make our own food choices. Our cats, on the other hand, rely on us to pick the right food for them. The occasional nibble on a Slim Jim probably won’t hurt your cat, but long term you should reach for a healthier snack option.

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Featured Image Credit: dcwcreations, Shutterstock

Elizabeth Gray

Authored by

Elizabeth Gray is a lifelong lover of all creatures great and small. She got her first cat at 5 years old and at 14, she started working for her local veterinarian. Elizabeth spent more than 20 years working as a veterinary nurse before stepping away to become a stay-at-home parent to her daughter. Now, she is excited to share her hard-earned knowledge (literally–she has scars) with our readers. Elizabeth lives in Iowa ...Read more

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