Gelatin is an animal by-product that is found in a range of things, from homemade chicken noodle soup (by boiling the bones) to Jell-O (the gelatin is what gives it shape).
Humans come into contact with it regularly, in both meals and desserts, but can their cats enjoy it as well? Can cats eat gelatin?
Short answer: Assuming it’s just the straight-up, meat-based gelatin, they absolutely can eat it and it has some great nutritional benefits for them. But gelatin in things (like Jell-O) should be avoided because usually the rest of the ingredients are not good for cats.
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Do Cats Like Gelatin?
Generally speaking, cats will like gelatin. It is a meat with plenty of protein and that’s going to attract cats. Furthermore, gelatin is what they would be getting in the wild by licking or eating the bones of their prey, so they are hardwired to go after it when possible.
By eating small animals like mice whole, cats end up getting the gelatin right from the bones. Cats also seem to like the flavor of it, when it’s the straight-up meat sourced gelatin, so it can even be used as a way to get pickier animals to eat their food.
Do Cats Hate Gelatin?
Cats are individuals like anyone else, so they will have individual flavors as well. Some cats may just not like gelatin (might not like the texture or don’t want anything to do with the bones) and will only have it buried in other things such as plain chicken or beef broth made from bones.
This is a bit of a shame if they don’t like it because the collagen which cats use to strengthen their joins, is not found in any other food but gelatin, so they’ll be missing out. You can get around that by giving them treats made with gelatin.
Will Eating Gelatin Kill My Cat?
If it’s the plain, meat-based gelatin, it certainly will not kill your cat! In fact, gelatin is quite healthy for cats. It’s full of protein, amino acids, and collagen, all of which support great cat health, from their joints to their skin to their muscles.
In the wild, a cat would get this source from licking and eating bones. Domestic cats don’t generally have that option (unless they hunt mice), so they can get their collagen needs met instead by using gelatin powder or treats made with gelatin.
Now, this assumes plain meaty gelatin. Gelatin that is in things can be another matter, mostly because of the other things. For example, fruit-flavored jello is a problem because it’s usually made with things like artificial sweeteners, which are toxic to cats, sugar, and citric acid. None of these things are good for cats and can cause them to be quite ill.
Vegan-based gelatin should not really be given to cats either. It doesn’t have the important amino acids and proteins in them, and it can cause bowel obstructions.
It also shouldn’t be given to underweight cats as they won’t be able to gain weight on it. Remember: Cats aren’t vegan! They are obligate carnivores and everything about their digestive system is built around that fact.
It could also be argued that letting your cats have bones can be problematic because they can pose a choking hazard. Most cats are fine with small bones though and large ones, they will tend to just lick and get their gelatin needs met that way.
If you’re concerned though, make sure to supervise your cats if they do have a bone and take it away if it starts splintering.
How Much Gelatin Can My Cat Eat?
In the wild, cats would eat small bones and lick the large ones to get their gelatin needs met. Domestic cats on the other hand have to get it from you. One way to do this is to put a teaspoon of gelatin powder in a cat of wet food, stir, and give it to them.
They can have a teaspoon or so per day for optimal health. Or, if you’re going the route of cat treats, follow the serving instructions on the treats.
Veterinarians often give gelatin to pets with joint problems as it’s a good way to restore a lot of joint health, as well as the health of skin, teeth, and fur.
Gelatin can also help to reduce pain and inflammation in joints, so it’s kind of like giving a cat an aspirin without the aspirin!
The Health Benefits of Gelatin for Cats
There are a number of great benefits that gelatin holds for cats and it’s definitely worth adding it to the meals of your pets.
The main benefits are:
- Lots of easy to digest protein. Protein is an absolutely critical nutrient for cats to get.
- Amino acids like glycine, proline, and valine. These are really important amino acids for cats (and humans) and some of them aren’t produced naturally by the body, so they have to come from the diet.
- Collagen. Collagen is not produced naturally by cats, so they have to get it from outside sources. Gelatin is one of the most efficient sources to get it from.
- Gelatin is a great substance for helping to improve joint pain and reduce inflammation. It can also help improve joint and bone function.
There is no right or wrong way to let your cats get the gelatin they need, but the easiest way is to use gelatin powder mixed in with their usual food. That way, even if they don’t like it, they’ll still end up eating it.
Gelatin is a surprisingly important part of a cat’s diet, and probably not something that we’d think about! But for cats, it’s a great way to keep optimal joint health, get a boost of protein and amino acids, and even entice some cats to eat food they might not be sure about otherwise.
Gelatin powder is perfectly fine for cats and an easy way to get them this nutrition. So go ahead and mix in that teaspoon a day and watch your cat’s health improve!
Do you feed your cats gelatin or do they get it themselves?
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.