They may be one of the most popular snacks in the world, but crisps are not notorious for their health benefits for us humans. With high amounts of salt, fat and sugar, they aren't the ideal choice for our four-legged friends either.
All felines, including domestic cats, are obligate carnivores. This means that while they can digest vegetable matter safely, it by no means meets their nutritional requirements. Cats get most of their nutrition from high-protein meat sources. Putting your cat on a vegetarian diet would mean they miss out on taurine, an essential amino acid which is available only in meat.
Can cats eat crisps?
The ingredients in crisps are not toxic to cats, but this snack could be considered "junk food" in the same way it is for people. You may have noticed your cat seems drawn to crunching on a crisp, but this is most likely because they are attracted by the high amount of salt and fat.
In the right quantities, fat can provide energy, but consumed over extended periods too much can lead to weight gain and even obesity.
What are the risks of feeding crisps to your cat?
Outside of the nutritional concerns we outlined above, your cat also has very different mineral needs to us humans. Too much potassium and sodium, both minerals contained in crisps, has been known to cause alarming health issues for our feline friends.
Too much sodium can cause an electrolyte imbalance in the blood, and an excess of potassium may lead to symptoms such as muscle weakness, depression and heart palpitations.
Another consideration for owners is that crisps are not a natural part of a cat's diet. In the wild, felines eat protein they can chew and digest, avoiding textures such as that found in crisps. Sharp edges could break off and become lodged in the throat or the intestine, which may in turn lead to an obstruction.
Can cats eat cheese and onion crisps?
When it comes to cats and crisps, onion is one ingredient you should pay particular attention to. Onions, chives and garlic can become toxic to cats if consumed over a period of time, and certain crisp brands use real onion extract in their recipes. At less than 5% the size of the average human, certain ingredients can affect your cat faster than they would a person, and are best avoided.
Can cats eat Quavers?
While the ingredients in crisps aren't usually toxic in themselves, all crisps contain high levels of fat and sugar. These can be harmful to your cat over time, and eating too many human snacks may lead to obesity in the long-run.
Quavers contain both milk powder and cheese powder as ingredients. Many adult cats are actually lactose intolerant, which means that consuming dairy products could lead to diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Can cats eat Wotsits?
The ingredients contained in crisps are not considered appropriate for a nutritionally balanced feline diet, but add to this the lactose contained in wotsits, and you may want to steer clear.
Many adult cats are actually lactose intolerant, and the dried cheese and milk lactose contained in this popular crisp could lead to slight discomfort- or in severe cases- even to cramps and diarrhoea.
What can cats have instead of crisps?
Thankfully for our feline friends, there are lots of enjoyable options that are perfectly suited to their dietary requirements. Gently cooked chicken or white fish will always go down a treat, just bear in mind that only 10% of your cat's diet should come from supplementary snacks.
Alternatively to cooking, you can also purchase cat treats. Mix and match the selection to ensure they're getting lots of choice and excitement at meal times, all the while ensuring they're snacking safely.