Beef jerky is one of the delicious and nutritious snacking options for humans. And if you are a pet owner, you wouldn’t mind your cat nibbling on some jerky because, after all, it is healthy right? But can cats have beef jerky and remain healthy like their favorite human?
Cats can eat beef jerky because it is essentially dried meat and cats are carnivores. But commercial beef jerky may contain artificial flavoring or additives that can harm a cat. For instance, beef jerky with onion flavoring can be toxic to a cat.
Beef jerky has grown popular in today’s world of healthy living. And if you double as a full-time pet parent, you would want your feline to embark on the same journey of clean eating. Read on to discover more about beef jerky for cats and if it is wise to let your fur baby enjoy some jerky.
Is beef jerky for cats safe?
The simplest answer to this question is, Yes. It is safe to let your cat enjoy a piece of jerky while you are snacking. After all, beef jerky is beef that has been dehydrated to increase its shelf-life. It is an old preservation technique that dates way back to the medieval days.
But there is a limit to how much beef jerky your feline friend can enjoy.
Because beef jerky contains copious amounts of salt used as a preservative. The salt helps in sucking water out of beef faster through osmosis. Also, salt is a natural antimicrobial agent that keeps bacteria and other pathogens from growing on the meat, hence preventing decay.
A lot of salt is used to fasten the drying process of beef jerky. While this salt content makes the jerky tastier to the human tongue, it can be extremely dangerous to a cat.
Is salt safe for cats?
Salt is completely toxic to both cats and dogs. Salt was initially used in inducing vomiting in cats but the procedure was long banned because of the health risk it posed. Excess consumption by a cat can lead to hypernatremia or salt poisoning.
Here is the catch,
Salt tolerance in cats is very different from that of humans. A teaspoon of salt is perfect for a recipe meant for human food. But the same teaspoon of salt is highly toxic for a cat of any size. Salt poisoning not only causes adverse side effects it can also lead to organ failure if the cat does not receive immediate medication attention.
Common symptoms for salt poisoning include;
Loss of appetite
Fluid buildup around limbs
When you notice any of the above symptoms in your cat, take them to the vets immediately. Even if your cat survives the salt poisoning, the aftermath could be severely damaged organs.
Is there beef jerky for cats that is safe?
The safest beef jerky for cats is one with low salt-content and no artificial fillers. You can reduce the salt content in beef jerky by boiling the jerky in water with raw potatoes. The potatoes absorb some of the salt from the jerky strips making them less salty.
Also, avoid buying flavored beef jerky. This version of jerky often contains garlic or onion flavoring which is toxic to cats. Flavored jerky may also contain artificial additives that may harm your cat. To be safe, always opt for plain beef jerky.
Whenever you feed your cat beef jerky strips, ensure they have enough water beside them. Salt makes cats extremely thirsty and it is good if they have a fresh supply of water after indulging in jerky. You also should know that cats are poor drinkers which make hydrating them a lot difficult.
🐱 Fun Fact
Cats love drinking from flowing water. Get your feline a pet water fountain to encourage them to drink more.
Keep your cat away from beef jerky or only feed them tiny bits of the jerky. Alternatively, you can make beef jerky for cats without using salt. This is the safest form of jerky that both cats and dogs can enjoy.
All you need is your oven to dry the jerky strips. what’s more, you can use various kinds of meat as an alternative to beef jerky for cats. Excellent alternatives include salmon, chicken, goat, and lamb.
How to make beef jerky for cats
Cut the beef into thin strips so they can dry faster. Jerky strips of the same size and length tend to dry uniformly. Feel free to soak the jerky strips in a marinade for added flavor. A good marinade for beef jerky for cats is a solution of fish sauce, vinegar, fresh or powdered ginger, and unsweetened pineapple juice.
Line the jerky strips on a baking tray layered with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees F (or the lowest setting) and place the baking tray inside. Leave the meat to dehydrate for 4 hours.
The result is beef jerky strips that are reduced by half the size and are crunchy. Store the strips in a zip lock bag and refrigerate. Homemade beef jerky for cats is safer and healthier compared to other snacking options on the market.
You can use a commercial dehydrator in the place of an oven. There are plenty of food dehydrators on the market designed for domestic use.
Video: How to make Beef Jerky
Cats can have beef jerky if it has no salts, flavors, or artificial additives. Go for store-bought beef jerky tailored specifically for cats. You can also make beef jerky for cats right at home with just your oven and a healthy marinade.
Fruits like grapes and raisins are fatal to a cat. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and some soft drinks also pose a health threat to cats. Chocolate and other confectionery containing the ingredient theobromine should not be fed to cats.
Salt, onions, scallions, and garlic are very toxic to cats. When eaten in large quantities, these foods can cause damage to the red blood cells of a cat. Onion and garlic powder can also cause feline anemia
Beef jerky cannot kill a cat if given in small amounts. But you have to be aware of the salt and artificial flavors added to beef jerky that may harm a cat’s health. Only beef jerky made for cats is the safest and healthiest option.