Chips are a very common and popular snack. Made primarily from either fried potato or corn, and coming in a huge range of flavors, chips are a staple in many households for snacks.
They aren’t really healthy for humans, but that certainly doesn’t stop people from eating them!
If your cat has been going after them, you may be wondering: can cats eat chips?
No, not really. Even the Regular chips or plain tortilla chips have far too much salt in them for cats. And the flavored ones are never good for cats since they may have things like garlic powder in them.
However, if you caught your cat with its head in the potato chip bag licking at the crumbs, you probably don’t have to make a run to the vet, though you should still monitor your pet for adverse effects.
Do Cats Like Chips?
It really doesn’t seem like the kind of thing a cat would like, and yet I’ve chased my old cat out of a few discarded chip bags!
In this case, cats are usually attracted to salt – like all mammals, cats need a certain amount in their diet to be healthy and they often crave it. They don’t usually care so much about the chip, but they will often lick them for the salt.
Of course, there are anecdotes of cats enjoying the texture of chips or eating them simply because they see their humans eating them. As usual, it boils down to the preferences of the cat in question.
Do Cats Hate Chips?
Just like some cats will lick and even chew on chips, other cats will completely ignore them (my youngest cat has never gone chip bag diving. Well, not yet anyway).
If this sounds like your cat, just be happy that you don’t have to find ways to discourage them from your snack. Chips don’t offer any sort of nutritional use to cats and as you’ll see, the salt content is far too high to be safe.
Can Chips Kill My Cat?
If you’ve caught your cat nibbling on your chips, is it time for an immediate run to the vet?
Probably not, but it depends on how much your cat actually ate. The main issue here is sodium and fat.
Cats only need about 42 mg of sodium per day to stay healthy and they get that from their regular food intake. One potato chip on the other hand usually has about half that daily intake, meaning that if your cat ate that plus its regular food, it will have blown past its daily allowance of sodium.
In humans, this usually causes thirsty feelings and in the long run, hypertension, and heart problems. In cats, it can quickly cause dehydration and sodium poisoning.
Symptoms of sodium poisoning in cats include:
- Poor appetite
- Excessive thirst
- Internal bleeding
- Behavioral changes
Of course, these things can be the result of other problems too, so it’s just a good idea to get to the vet if your cat start showing these things. And just like humans, too much sodium in the long term can cause heart problems for cats.
The other issue is the saturated fat, which is also bad for humans. Saturated fat has been linked to blood cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity.
While cats don’t have to worry about this as much since their good cholesterol levels tend to balance this out, they do have to worry about the fact that saturated fat is the only fat in chips and cats need a lot more of the essential fatty acids.
And of course, there are the calories. Remember that cats only need a couple hundred calories a day and chips can put a big dent in that with no nutrition to back it up. Just like humans, potato chips are junk food for cats.
Finally, there is the problem of seasonings. While plain chips won’t have anything to worry about beyond the salt, most other types of chips have seasonings that can be problematic for cats, particularly any that have garlic or onion powder.
A small amount of this is enough to make cats very ill because the garlic and onion attack the blood cells and makes them less able to carry oxygen. In other types of chips, dried milk powder can make cats sick because they are lactose intolerant, causing stomach issues and diarrhea.
All in all, even plain chips are not a great idea for cats because of the high levels of sodium. Flavored chips such as BBQ, All Dressed, and Ketchup chips have too much garlic in them, while sour cream and onion chips have milk powder. There really aren’t any ‘safe’ chips for cats except perhaps plain, unsalted tortilla chips.
How Many Chips are Safe for My Cat to Eat?
Well, none, to be honest, but if you’re looking at a plain, unsalted chip, then a cat shouldn’t have more than one or two, carefully broken up into bite-sized pieces to prevent choking.
When it comes to potato chips, none is best as even the plain ones have far too much salt. Plain tortilla chips made mainly from cornmeal are going to be safer, but still, not something cats should have very much of or regularly.
One small chip, broken up, and once in a while, is more than sufficient as a treat. And remember not to give your cat any more treats since most of their nutrition should come from their regular cat food.
Potato chips may be a great snack for humans, but they really are not meant for cats. With a high sodium content, high saturated fat content, too many dangerous flavorings, and a potential choking hazard to top it off, this is one treat that most cats should give a miss.
But if you catch your cat nibbling around the edges of one, especially if it’s a plain one, you probably don’t have to worry too much and just monitor your pet for a couple of days after to make sure they didn’t make themselves sick.
Does your cat eat potato chips or go after empty chip bags? Our old cat nearly got her head stuck in one once and boy was she embarrassed!
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.