Millions of American households delight in the tasty tradition of making and eating cornbread every day of the year.
You might have just taken a hot cornbread loaf out of the oven and seen your curious cat sniffing at it, wondering if it’s okay to share. But is cornbread safe for cats to eat?
Even though cornbread is safe for cats to eat, that doesn’t mean they should.
Cornbread has a high carbohydrate content and low protein content, both of which are unnecessary in a cat’s diet. This means that while cats won’t get sick from eating cornbread, it also won’t provide them with much in the way of nourishment.
In this article, we’ll learn more about cornbread and the reasons why you shouldn’t feed it to your cat.
Is Cornbread Safe For Cats?
Corn is not toxic to cats, and neither are the other ingredients commonly found in cornbread, such as sugar, butter, and oil.
Cornbread contains no ingredients that provide any nutritional value to cats because they are obligate carnivores.
Cornbread is typically made with the following ingredients:
- Corn is not necessarily bad for cats in small amounts on occasion, but it has no nutritional value and can cause digestive issues in large amounts.
- Even though cats lack the taste for sweetness, that is no excuse to feed them table sugar. Even though sugar isn’t toxic, it shouldn’t be given to cats because it can lead to long-term health problems like diabetes in cats and digestive issues.
- Baking powder. Even though cats can safely consume small amounts of baking powder, it’s best not to risk the gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, and dehydration that can result from eating too much. Cats can have varying degrees of sensitivity to baking soda, so it’s best to play it safe.
- Lard and lard juice. Butter and buttermilk can easily cause stomach issues, vomiting, and diarrhea in most cats because of their high lactose content.
A small piece of cornbread once in a while probably won’t hurt your cat, assuming they like it, but we wouldn’t recommend feeding it to them on a regular basis.
Cats Are Obligate Carnivores
Your cat’s ancestors ate almost nothing but meat when they were living in the wild. Cats have a biological need for meat and very little need for carbohydrates, but they can safely consume some plant foods in moderation.
Your cat’s physical biology supports this, as does the fact that you’ve probably already noticed that your cat possesses strong hunting instincts.
Cats’ carnassial teeth, located in the upper and lower jaws, are among the sharpest and longest in the animal kingdom.
With one of the shortest digestive tracts to body ratios of any animal, your cat has fewer bacteria to help ferment and break down plant material quickly enough to gain any nutritional benefits, so its digestive system is also designed to digest meat.
Is Cornbread Healthy for Cats?
You’ve probably observed that corn and corn by-products are frequently used in cat food. Corn is a whole-food ingredient that provides a variety of nutrients including antioxidants, protein, carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids.
In other words, your cat need not worry about getting sick from eating a small piece of cornbread. On the other hand, cornbread contains ingredients that are bad for their health.
Can Eating Cornbread Harm Cats?
Cornmeal is a crucial component in making cornbread. As was also mentioned up top, it’s a staple in many brands of cat food.
But cats have trouble digesting corn, so if your cornbread contains whole corn kernels, it could cause an upset stomach (or, worse, an intestinal blockage).
It’s also possible, albeit unlikely, that your cat has an allergy to corn.
Buttermilk, which is commonly found in cornbread, is also not good for your cat. Most adult cats are lactose intolerant, meaning that consuming dairy products will likely result in stomach upset. That also rules out feeding Fluffy any buttery cornbread.
Cornbread typically also contains sugar and salt. Your cat may be able to handle very small amounts of these two ingredients, but they should not be consumed regularly.
Cats will normally avoid sweets because they have no sense of taste for sweetness, but if they do eat something sweet, they may have trouble processing it. Additionally, long-term exposure to high levels of sugar is detrimental to feline health as it can increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.
And while the amount of salt in cornbread probably isn’t going to kill you, eating too much salt can be fatal (and it doesn’t take very much salt to get there).
Last but not least, some people like to add jalapenos to their cornbread for an extra kick.
Your pet may be able to handle a small amount of this spicy food, but they shouldn’t have very much of anything spicy. The is responsible for this, and it’s present in most peppers.
Capsaicin can cause stomach upset in cats and can irritate the inside of the mouth (remember the last time you ate a pepper).
What About Corn?
Corn is likely already present in your cat’s diet if you feed it a commercially prepared food.
Corn and corn derivatives are common in both dry and wet commercial cat foods. They are used primarily as a filler and a cheap sweetener.
Cats can safely consume very small amounts of corn on occasion, but it should not be a regular part of their diet due to its lack of nutritional value.
Corn does have some protein, and cats do need protein in their diets, but it’s not the right kind of protein, and cats do better on animal-based protein.
Your cat can probably tolerate a few bites of cornbread without any ill effects beyond an upset stomach.
However, cats shouldn’t regularly eat cornbread because it contains several ingredients that are bad for them.
Whole corn may cause digestive issues for your cat, even though corn byproducts are frequently used in cat foods.
Buttermilk, sugar, salt, and even jalapenos are also included; these are all things that should be avoided at all costs when feeding your pet.
Most of these will only cause mild stomach upset, but a few, like cornbread, can be very dangerous if your cat decides to devour it.
Instead of feeding your cat table scraps, choose a brand of cat food that lists protein as the first ingredient and is free of artificial colors, flavors, and fillers.
The long-term health of your cat will benefit greatly from this, as will their stomach (and yours, since you won’t have to clean up any vomit or diarrhea).