Can Cats Eat Beef Jerky? – Is it Dangerous?

Can Cats Eat Beef Jerky

Can cats eat beef jerky?

In a nutshell, yes, cats can eat beef jerky in moderation. But they are high in sodium, spices, and preservatives, which can cause sodium poisoning resulting; diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, seizures, coma, and even can lead to kidney injury.

Previously, I have talked about porkchicken nuggets, and bologna, but in this article, I will be talking about beef jerky.

So, let’s dive in and find how beef jerky affects your feline friend.

Can Cats Eat Beef Jerky?

Yes, but as an occasional treat!

Being carnivores, they rely on meat, but beef jerky is dried meat that can choke your feline friend.

And beef jerky is loaded with salt, which is harmful to your feline friend. You may not know, but cats are extremely sensitive to large amounts of salt, leading to sodium poisoning, results; vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, seizures, unusual thirst or urination, and even death are possible. 

Besides, some flavored beef jerky may contain chill flakes, salt, onion, and garlic powder, and they are highly toxic to cats, especially garlic and onion powder.

However, you can feed beef jerky to your furball occasionally but ensure that it doesn’t consist of seasoning, which could be potentially dangerous for your feline friend.

My Cat Ate Beef Jerky, What Should I Do?

Well, it depends!

Usually, if your cat has ingested a tiny amount of beef jerky, the chances it won’t cause any harm to them, which meant you don’t have to take any action.

My Cat Ate Beef Jerky, What Should I Do

But, if your cat has ingested a large amount of beef jerky, then it can be problematic. 

Beef jerky contains a high amount of salt, so if you see your cat is experiencing excessive thirst, lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea, immediately take your cat to the vet.

Another issue with beef jerky is that it can trigger an allergic reaction in cats. So, if you see any allergic symptoms like Itching, loss of appetite, crusty bumps, vomiting, inflammation, or diarrhea, immediately call your vet before things get complicated.

Lastly, the spices often contain garlic and onion powder to enhance the flavor, but they are highly poisonous for cats.

Thus, to keep your feline friend safe, avoid feeding beef jerky at all, but if you want to feed beef jerky, opt for an unseasoned and soft one that may less harmful to them.

Is Beef Bad For Cats?

Not exactly bad, but it depends on how you offer it to your felines.

Usually, before the dry part, a lot of spices, seasonings, and preservatives were added to the meat to enhance the taste.

But most of them are not suitable for your little furball, which can cause several digestive issues.

Being carnivores, they solely depend on meat, but it should be clean, unflavored to get properly digest in your cat’s stomach.

And if the beef jerky contains onion or garlic powder in their ingredient, keep it away from your cat as they are highly toxic and can cause milk to severe health complications.

Not to forget, beef jerky is something that has the maximum amount of salt, which can eventually cause sodium poisoning, a dangerous condition for your felines.

Further, additives like nitrites, and Monosodium glutamate (MSG), are highly addictive and harmful at the same time.

However, a small amount of beef jerky is likely won’t cause any immediate reaction but avoid them on a daily basis.

Can Cats Eat Processed Meat?

There is no denying that cats do require a high protein diet from a reliable animal source, but processed meat is definitely not the best one.

Cats, being obligate carnivores, rely on animal meat, and they mostly eat fresh meat whether it’s cooked or raw.

But, processed meat such as beef jerky is preserved by salting, curing, smoking, drying, canning, or even by adding chemical preservatives.

Thus, if you offer processed food to your cats on a daily basis, they are more likely to get obesity, diabetes, cancer, or even heart disease. This is why processed foods are not recommended for felines.

Why Your Cat Shouldn’t Eat Beef Jerky?

Usually, cats need meat to fulfill their dietary requirements, and beef jerky should do that, right?

But the answer is no!

To get this clear, first, let’s understand what beef jerky is and why you shouldn’t feed beef jerky to your cats,

Is Beef Bad For Cats

Beef jerky is nothing but dried beef stripes seasoned with a lot of salt to prevent the buildup of bacterial growth.

To make it spicy, a lot of spices and seasonings were added, and it may sometimes contain garlic and onion powder, which is highly toxic for cats.

Now, let’s see what is exactly toxic for your feline companion:

High in Salt

Beef jerky is high in salt; usually, they are dipped into a salt solution or sauce before they dried up to preserve it for a longer period. 

Not only it will dehydrate your felines, but salt in large amount can lead to sodium poisoning, and you may notice these clinical symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Extreme thirst
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Collapse (in extreme cases)

Salt in a tiny amount is ok but more than that is life threatening for cats. Thus, if you get to know that your cat has ingested something with high sodium, immediately contact your veterinarian and inform him about the situation.


To increase the shelf life of beef jerky, salt and preservatives are highly used. Along with salt, sodium nitrite is highly used to stop the bacteria’s buildup and prevent food from spoiling.

These preservatives increase the shelf life of the food as well as maintain the flavors of the food for a longer period.

However, regularly consuming preservatives in large amounts can harm your health, and the same goes for your felines.

Artificial preservatives and chemicals used in foods often increase breathing problems, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

Thus, ensure that you don’t feed anything that contains preservatives such as beef jerky, snacks, or processed meals.

Additional Seasonings

The delicious taste of beef jerky derives from their exotic addition spices and seasoning, but unfortunately, they are highly dangerous for felines. 

For example, teriyaki beef jerky is marinated with a sweet and tangy sauce usually twisted with soy sauce, brown sugar, and black pepper.

On the other hand, seasoned beef jerky consists of onion powder, garlic powder, and salt to make it appetizing.

But these ingredients are extremely toxic for cats, especially garlic and onion. They both contain disulfides and thiosulphate compounds that damage the cat’s red blood cell, causing hemolytic anemia and Heinz body anemia.

In addition, it often contains paprika, black pepper, or chili, which can cause a burning sensation in the mouth as well as on the stomach, and you might notice watery eyes, excessive salivation, or thirstiness.

Choking Hazard

Usually, beef jerky is hard and chewy in texture which everyone loves, but not for cats. Whenever you feed beef jerky to your felines, the rubbery texture makes it hard to chew, and sometimes they swallow it without properly chewing the jerky.

Thus, beef jerky is often seen to be a choking hazard and leading to fatalities in cats. But the good news is that a tender and soft version of beef jerky is available in the market for your feline companion, but still, they are not cat food so, offer them moderately.

Can Cause Allergies

Cats are prone to have allergies, and beef jerky could easily trigger an allergic reaction if your cat is allergic to beef.

According to WagWalking, the causes of the sensitivity of allergy may vary, but usually, the symptoms are:

  • Itching
  • Crusty bumps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammation
  • Dull coat

The allergy symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on your felines’ tolerance level and sensitivity.

Thus, if you suspect that your cat is suffering skin irritation or gastric symptoms, immediately contact your veterinarian and seek professional advice.  

Can Kittens Eat Beef Jerky?

If your kitten is already eating solid foods, then a small amount of beef jerky would be fine but don’t overdo it.

And, ensure that the beef jerky you are offering to your kitten is unflavored with little to no salt in them.

Can Kittens Eat Beef Jerky

A kitten’s digestive system is much more sensitive than the adult ones, and they cannot tolerate even a small amount of spices or preservatives. This means if the beef jerky has high salt, spices, or preservatives, your kitten likely to catch several health complications.

Beef is associated with triggering allergies, which means if your feline friend or kittens have allergies, strictly avoid feeding beef jerky.

However, suppose your kitten happens to ingest a tiny amount of beef jerky. In that case, they shouldn’t face any major complications but don’t make it obvious as MSG in beef jerky is highly addictive.

Can Beef Jerky Kill Your Cats?

Well, it depends!

Cat’s stomach is much more sensitive to salt than us, while a human can handle salt in large amounts; unfortunately, your cat won’t be able to digest it.

Beef jerky could be fatal only if ingested in a large amount. Usually, It contains a huge amount of salt, and cats can’t handle this amount of salt, which can lead to sodium poisoning, resulting; excessive thirst, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, the potential to kidney injury, or even death in severe cases.

Hence, if your cat happens to ingest an enormous amount of salt, whether in beef jerky or something else, immediately take your cat to a vet.

Can Cats Have Teriyaki Beef Jerky?

The same concept but with a different variety, teriyaki beef jerky tweaks, and twists with brown sugar, black pepper, and soy sauce.

While teriyaki beef jerky may be less on sodium but the rest ingredient is still there.

And brown sugar, soy sauce, black pepper, onion, and garlic powder is extremely harmful to your felines, especially onion and garlic powder.

They contain a compound called disulfides and thiosulphates; if ingested, they have the potential to cause hemolytic and Heinz body anemia, which damages the red blood cell.

Thus, to keep your felines safe, offer it in moderation, and it’s good for an occasional treat only, not more than that.

Final Thoughts

Beef jerky itself isn’t toxic, but the added seasoning and preservatives make them harmful for your furball.

Cats being absolute meat-lover, can’t resist the smell of beef jerky and get engrossed in them, but you should ensure that the beef jerky you are offering shouldn’t contain anything harmful.

While a small amount of beef jerky is fine for your furball, avoid them in a large amount as they are relatively high in sodium, leading to sodium poisoning.

Rather, opt for foods with high nutritious value, such as fish, chicken, or other cat-friendly food, easily available in most pet stores.

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