Can Cats Eat Beef Jerky? 5 Facts Explained

It’s difficult to sit there eating something delicious when your cat clearly wants some too. Meat eaters like cats shouldn’t make you think twice about giving them some of your beef jerky.

You should give some thought to what jerky is and whether or not the ingredients are safe for your cat. Here’s the lowdown on whether or not it’s okay to feed your feline friend beef jerky.

What is Beef Jerky

The process of curing meat strips in a salt solution and then drying them yields this extremely tasty and portable snack. Historically, that may have been the extent of beef jerky production, but now we have something much fancier.

These days, Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce—both of which are high in sodium—are used to cure the beef used to make jerky. And you should know that cats are susceptible to sodium poisoning if they consume too much salt.

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Is Beef Jerky Safe for Cats?

Cats only eat meat and animal byproducts because they are dedicated carnivores. They have a hard time breaking down plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains. Accordingly, beef jerky is physiologically safe for cats to eat.

Check out what you’re feeding your cat. Softer treats, whether for your cat or dog, are almost always made from dried meat like fish, poultry, or beef. And if your feline friend approves of these, beef jerky is a safe bet.

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Your cat may be able to digest it, but that doesn’t mean they should.

Why Shouldn’t Your Cat Eat Beef Jerky?

Here are a few arguments against giving your cat beef jerky.

Sodium Poisoning

Hypernatremia, or sodium poisoning, occurs when there is an excess of sodium in your cat’s blood. Too much salt in your cat’s diet can cause abnormal behavior, damage to the brain and kidneys, and even death.

Cats show symptoms of sodium poisoning by:

  • Lethargy
  • Extreme dehydration
  • Seizures
  • lack of hunger
  • Behavioral alterations
  • Weakness
  • Hiatus hernia

Your cat may be unsteady on its feet and appear dehydrated at first.

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Preservatives and Other Ingredients

There may be other ingredients in your beef jerky besides the salt that are bad for your cat.

The common ingredients in jerky, such as hot peppers and garlic, are harmful to cats. Cats should not eat garlic because it can be toxic to them.

Beef jerky typically uses sodium nitrite as a preservative in addition to salt. It eliminates harmful bacteria on meat and shields eaters from food poisoning. Sodium nitrate is also carcinogenic, so avoiding it will be detrimental to your cat’s health.

Your cat might not benefit from eating your snack.

A Choking Hazard

Beef jerky is not like other cat food because of its tough and rubbery texture. It could be difficult for your cat to properly chew and swallow jerky.

If your cat swallows too much of it or thinks it has thoroughly chewed it, but hasn’t, it could choke. It’s possible that this will kill your cat.


Your cat may suffer from allergies just like humans. Beef is a common allergen for cats, despite popular belief. If your cat has an allergy to the proteins in beef, you may not know it until you see mild to severe symptoms after eating beef.

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If your cat has been exposed to an allergen, you may notice the following signs:

  • Itching. The itchiness usually occurs on the scalp and neck, but it can appear anywhere on the body.
  • Alopecia. Excessive scratching can cause hair loss and skin patches.
  • They have crusty bumps covered in fluid all over their bodies.
  • Vomiting
  • Dull Coat
  • Reduced appetite and wasting away
  • Diarrhea
  • Otitis externa
  • Inflammation

Other Issues

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Jerky packages typically include silica gel packets in addition to the beef jerky. The purpose of their presence is to act as a desiccant and soak up any excess moisture.

They prevent moisture buildup and spoilage of your jerky. They’re made up of tiny beads, which your cat might mistake for a fun plaything. If they ingest them unintentionally, it could be dangerous. Avoid this risk by not eating jerky in the same room as your cat.

Exercise Caution When Feeding Your Cat

Beef jerky probably won’t kill your cat, but it’s still best to be cautious about giving it to them. Although you may feel guilty about eating something delicious and not sharing it with your cat, it is best to refrain from giving your cat table scraps.

While a single piece of jerky probably won’t harm your cat, it could be the start of a dangerous habit.

You should avoid making it a habit of feeding your cat jerky because you don’t want it to associate the meat with positive associations.

If your cat eats beef jerky, it could be very bad for their health. Your cat may feel pain or discomfort from even mild side effects.

Alternatives to Beef Jerky for Cats

Beef jerky isn’t the only option, though; there are others that are much safer and healthier for your cat.

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Dried Fish

Dried fish and other seafood (squid, cuttlefish, etc.) are widely available, and many varieties undergo special processing to remove excess salt and ensure a sterile environment for consumption.

These foods are usually secure for your cat to consume. You won’t find any salt or other seasonings in these.

Dried fish also has many positive health effects. Both Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant. Your cat’s mobility and joint health will greatly benefit from this. In addition to being a good source of protein, they also contain some beneficial fats.

Ingesting fish oils is a great way to ensure your cat’s coat remains glossy and healthy. Your cat’s teeth can benefit from the texture of dried fish she eats, too.

Dried fish has many advantages, but it shouldn’t be your cat’s sole source of nutrition. However, once or twice a week as a snack is ideal.

dried fish

Jerky Treats Designed for Cats

It’s fine to give your cats jerky, but they need to be around their own kind. And that’s not hard to do because you can find cat jerky treats at any pet store. To ensure safety, these are designed with a cat’s anatomy and physiology in mind.

Final Thoughts on Cats and Beef Jerky

Even though your cat may enjoy a little bit of beef jerky now and then, it’s not good for them. The ingredients in jerky, as we have seen, can have negative effects on your cat ranging from mild to fatal.

Sharing a treat with your cat may seem like a kind gesture, but it may actually cause them a lot of harm. If you’re looking for something to serve as ‘finger food,’ dried fish is one option to consider.

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