Can Cats Eat Sugar? 10 Facts To Consider

Sugar, in its various forms (granulated, brown, and powdered), is a staple in many a sweet dish. Should you be concerned if your cat licks the sugar bowl clean while you’re in the middle of a baking session? Do cats like sweets?

Cats can consume sugar in any form without harm, but they don’t have a sweet tooth and it’s not good for them.

However, many sugary foods also contain other ingredients that are both unhealthy and potentially dangerous.

Some of these, as well as the safety of some commonly used sugar substitutes, will be covered later in this article.

Technically, Yes, Your Cat Can Eat Sugar.

As a pet owner, you probably know that your furry friend can’t eat everything that tickles your fancy.

Some foods that humans eat can make animals very sick because their digestive systems are not designed to handle the same nutrients. Lucky for us, sugar isn’t one of them.

It’s safe for your cat to consume sugar. Many veterinarians warn against feeding sugar to pets because it increases their risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

The ancestors of the domesticated cat were typically lone predators. Cats kill prey that is significantly smaller than they are, in contrast to the pack-hunting wolves.

This results in the imperative to kill multiple times daily, and is reflected in the fact that most domestic cats consume several small meals over the course of a day.


Cats can eat high-carbohydrate foods like sugar because of their grazing habits.

Since cats can safely consume sugar, there’s no need to rush yours to the emergency room. However, sugar is still considered a junk food and should be avoided whenever possible when feeding your cat.

Why Sugar Is Unhealthy For Cats

Sugar is bad for both humans and felines. Sugar is a plant-based carbohydrate, but cats, as obligate carnivores, have even less use for it than we do. Your cat is essentially just filling its stomach with empty calories because sugar provides none.

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About half of all adult pet cats in the United States are overweight, so they don’t need any more empty calories. Your cat can have a little bit of sugar now and then, but it’s not good for them to eat a lot of it.

Can Cats Taste Sugar?

Even if you think your cat would enjoy the sweet taste of sugar, think again. Why? Simply put, they lack the taste for sugar.

Cats can’t taste sweets because they lack the 247 pairs of amino acids that make up the Tas1r2 gene, while humans can enjoy all five of the sense of taste. A bitter taste is detectable, though, by cats.

Cats Don’t Have Sweet Tooths

The silver lining is that your cat probably has no interest in eating sugar or other sweets anyway. The explanation for this is obvious: felines have no taste for sugar.

The sense of taste is already among the weakest in a cat. After all, a feline palate isn’t required to appreciate the complexity of a five-star meal’s flavor profile. While humans have thousands of taste buds, cats only have a few hundred.

Cats have very few taste receptors, and none that can detect sweetness. If a cat does eat sugar, it’s probably not because it has a sweet tooth but because of the texture or because it’s just plain curious.


Sugary Treats To Avoid Feeding Cats

Again, it’s not great for your cat’s health, but as long as there are no other harmful ingredients, they can enjoy a variety of sugary treats and baked goods. Some very common ingredients in the kitchen could be fatal to your cat.

Your cat should never be given any food that contains chocolate. Ingestion of chocolate is a leading cause of toxicity in canines and felines.

If your cat eats chocolate, it could cause them to throw up, have diarrhea, or have more serious problems like breathing or heart rhythm abnormalities.

It has been found that raisins are also toxic to cats. Cats can develop kidney problems or even die from eating too many raisins.

Nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon are all common baking spices that can be toxic to cats.

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Overconsumption of sugary foods, which are also often high in fat, can lead to pancreatitis, a painful condition that is more common in diabetic cats.

spoon and chopped chocolate

What About Sugar Substitutes?

With the rise in popularity of low-carb and ketogenic diets, sugar substitutes have become increasingly popular in recent years. Is it safe to give your cat an artificial sweetener?

Most popular sugar substitutes are safe for pets to consume, though they may experience gastrointestinal distress from the likes of monk fruit and erythritol.

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener used to flavor sugar-free gum, candy, and some liquid medications, is an exception to this rule.

Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, leading to hepatic failure and hypoglycemia.

Although it is less clear what effect xylitol has on cats, most vets still advise against giving it to your cat.

a Norwegian forest cat eating from a bowl

Existing Health Conditions in Cats

Cats, like humans, can have preexisting medical conditions like diabetes. Sugar would obviously be harmful to their health in this case.

Even though cats don’t have taste buds, giving them sugar could be bad for their health if they’re diabetic.

Cats may exhibit symptoms of diabetes such as:

  • Extreme thirst and urination may be symptoms of diabetes type I or type II in your pet. This is because their kidneys are actively working to flush out the glucose that has built up in their system. Having to urinate more frequently can make you thirstier.
  • Cats with diabetes have an increased appetite and lose weight because their cells are unable to properly absorb glucose from the blood. This causes the cell to break down fats and proteins in the body for energy.
  • Symptoms of advanced diabetes include a change in gait, with cats beginning to walk flat on the backs of their hind legs. High blood sugar causes nerves in the back legs to deteriorate, which can lead to permanent paralysis.
  • If you see symptoms like vomiting and lethargy in your cat, diabetes may already be a serious problem.

Your cat should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect she is ill.

After eating, an insulin shot for your diabetic cat is required. This will lessen the likelihood that they’ll develop more serious symptoms like liver damage.

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Give Them Good Sugars

To maintain good health, felines require specific sugars. Sugar from premium, high-protein cat food is one example.

These sugars are converted into metabolites and used as cellular fuel. However, less than 1% of their daily calorie intake should come from these sugars. If you find fructose or glucose in your cat’s urine, it’s because they’re eating too much sugar.

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Long Term Issues

Cats can get by on a mere 300 calories per day. Sugar’s empty calories can add up quickly, leading to weight gain and other health issues. It is possible for an overweight cat to develop cancer, Type II diabetes, and insulin resistance.

Gingivitis, cavities, and other oral infections are just some of the problems that can arise from giving your cat too much sugar. They may contract infections in their kidneys, hearts, and livers due to bacteria that enters their bloodstream from their mouths.

What Should My Cat Be Eating in a Healthy Diet?

A commercially available diet specifically formulated for kittens, adults, or senior cats is ideal for maintaining a cat’s health. Veterinarian-recommended prescription food may be necessary for cats with medical conditions.

Homemade cat food is favored by some pet parents, but it takes more time to prepare and should be carefully balanced with the advice of your veterinarian. Taurine, an essential amino acid, must be included in a cat’s diet.

If your cat seems healthy, you probably don’t need to supplement its diet, but you should still ask your vet before doing so. In addition to food, your cat also requires a constant supply of pure, fresh water.

If you want to help keep your cat at a healthy weight, you can give it treats occasionally.

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Cats lack a sweet tooth in the same way that people do. The exact opposite is correct, as we discovered. It’s safe to assume that your cat won’t be interested in eating sugar, but at least you’ll know it’s not harmful to them if they do.

However, you should contact your vet immediately if your cat eats a sugary treat that also contains toxic ingredients. Your cat will have a better prognosis if treatment can start as soon as possible.

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