Can Cats Eat Beef Jerky? No To Store Brought, Yes To Self-Made!

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Beef jerky may seem like an ideal snack for cats – it’s tasty, chewy, and full of protein. However, traditional beef jerky often contains ingredients that can be unhealthy for felines.

In this article, we’ll explore can cats safely eat beef jerky, examine the potential risks, and recommend healthier jerky-style treat alternatives cat owners can choose instead.

Can Cats Eat Beef Jerky? Is Beef Jerky Safe For Cats?

Let’s take a closer look at whether cats can eat beef jerky.


At its core, beef jerky is simply dried and cured beef, which is not harmful to cats. However, seasoning is the devil in disguise. Beef jerky for humans often contains high amounts of salt, sugar, spices, and preservatives to enhance the flavor. While small amounts of plain beef are fine, these added ingredients can cause cat health issues.

Can cats eat beef jerky for dogs?

You may think beef jerky made for dogs provides a safer option to give your cat. However, many dog treats still contain additives that can be problematic for cats. Dog treats tend to have higher salt content to make them more enticing to dogs. 


Onions and garlic are common ingredients in dog jerky for added flavor, but these substances are toxic for cats. Ultimately, beef jerky made for dogs has many of the same risks as human jerky when fed to cats, so it should also be avoided.

Can kittens eat beef jerky?

It’s especially important to avoid giving beef jerky to kittens. Kittens have developing digestive systems that are extra sensitive.

The high sodium content can lead to electrolyte imbalances, while onions or garlic can cause anemia in kittens.

Hard jerky could also be a choking hazard for very young cats.

For all these reasons, kittens under one year should never consume beef jerky or similar dried meat – even if it’s wagyu products. Stick with kitten-safe alternatives instead.

Can cats eat beef sticks? are those safe for cats?

What about other beef stick products like Slim Jims? The answer here is also no. While the beef is not toxic, these highly processed meat snacks have flavor enhancers like garlic, paprika, and onion powder, which are unsafe.

They also tend to be high in sodium, which cats have difficulty digesting. Even organic or low-sodium varieties are not recommended, as it’s best to avoid highly seasoned meat products altogether for cats.

Cats are carnivores but need raw meat to thrive and not process food.

Can cats eat meat sticks?

Some meat stick options marketed specifically as cat treats may seem promising. However, reading the ingredient labels before feeding any treats is important. Look for products with no garlic, onions, added sugar, or artificial preservatives.

The ingredients should contain simple foods like chicken, beef, or salmon. Avoid anything loaded with spices, salt, or chemicals. Being shaped like a stick doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe for cats. Checking the nutrition facts is key.

Why Feeding Your Cat Beef Jerky Is Not Good?

Now that you know whether or not can cats eat beef jerky, let’s look at some of the specific reasons why jerky can be harmful.

High sodium content

One of the biggest concerns is the high sodium levels in most beef jerky preparations. Cats’ bodies are not efficient at processing excess sodium like humans are.


Eating too much can cause sodium ion poisoning, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and kidney damage.

Toxic ingredients

Onions, garlic, and chives are common jerky ingredients added for flavor – and they are not cat food friendly! However, these plants from the allium family can cause anemia and red blood cell damage in cats due to toxic compounds. Even small amounts over time can be dangerous.

Sugar content

Sugar adds flavor to jerky, but too much sugar can cause obesity and diabetes in cats. Yes, sugar is toxic to cats, sadly. It also feeds oral bacteria, leading to dental disease. Cats have no biological need for carbohydrates like sugar in their diet.

Choking hazard

The thick, tough consistency of jerky makes it a choking risk for cats, especially if they try to swallow large pieces whole. This can lead to dangerous esophageal obstructions.

Nutritional content


While jerky is high in protein, the processing removes nutrients like healthy fats and water content. The drying process also diminishes the natural meat flavors cats crave.

Preservatives & additives

To extend shelf life, jerky contains preservatives like nitrates, nitrites, and sulfites that can lead to thyroid and liver issues in cats with long-term ingestion.

So, for optimal feline health, it’s wise to avoid giving cats commercially prepared beef jerky or similar meat snacks. But what safe, cat-friendly jerky alternatives exist?

Best Cat Treat Alternatives to Beef Jerky – Snack You Can Feed Your Cat!

Instead of jerky made for humans or dogs, look for these alternative meat treat options to reward your cat:

Dehydrated 100% meat cat treats

Look for cat treats made by gently air-drying thin slices of chicken, salmon, beef, or turkey with no added seasonings.

This mimics the texture and chewing satisfaction of jerky without unhealthy additions. Choose products from trusted pet brands for quality and safety.

Freeze-dried raw cat treats

Freeze-dried raw treats retain more nutrients than heavily cooked jerky.

Single-ingredient raw treats like freeze-dried chicken, duck, or rabbit let cats savor the pure, meaty flavors they naturally crave. Look for minimally processed options.

DIY homemade cat treats

For the ultimate control over ingredients, make simple jerky-textured treats at home. Slice and bake plain chicken breast, salmon, or beef.

Dehydrate thin strips in the oven on low heat or a food dehydrator for chewy results. This ensures no additives or preservatives get added.

Final Thoughts

While cats can eat plain beef in moderation, traditional beef jerky is too heavily seasoned and processed to be safe. From toxic additives to choking risks, it’s best to avoid giving jerky made for humans or dogs to cats.

Look for jerky-textured cat treats without any added flavors or artificial ingredients for a healthy alternative cats will love. With some treats made just for them, cats can enjoy the yummy, meaty taste and texture they crave in a safe format. By understanding the dangers of beef jerky for cats, cat owners can make educated choices about what snacks to provide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cats eat beef jerky?

No, if you’re a responsible owner!

Can cats have a little bit of beef jerky?

No, cats should not eat beef jerky, even in small amounts. Sodium, spices, sugar, and preservatives can harm cats.

What if my cat accidentally ate some beef jerky?

If your cat happens to ingest a small piece of jerky, monitor them closely for signs of vomiting, lethargy, or oral irritation. Call your vet if symptoms appear or persist beyond 24 hours.

Are beef sticks safe for cats?

No, seasoned beef sticks contain similar additives to jerky that make them unhealthy for cats. Even small amounts could cause toxicity.

Why can cats eat some types of jerky but not others?

The key factor is added seasonings and chemicals. Some jerky-style cat treats consist of just pure dried meat without dangerous additives found in people’s jerky. Read ingredient labels closely.

Can cats eat teriyaki beef jerky?

Teriyaki beef jerky should not be fed to cats. The high sugar, soy sauce, salt, spices, and garlic in the teriyaki marinade are toxic. The tough dried jerky also poses a choking risk and lacks the nutrition cats need. Safer jerky alternatives made for cats are recommended instead.


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