Many owners love spoiling their feline with an occasional human treat. Food is one of the ways humans and animals bond. You can win over nearly any animal with the right treat. When it comes to humans, they say, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, indicating that they can also be won over with a tasty snack. 

This leaves owners wondering if their cats can join in on their snack session while binge watching Bridgerton. Can you give your cat cheetos?

Can cats eat Cheetos, hot Cheetos, or Cheeto Puffs?

The short answer is that there’s nothing in Cheetos that is poisonous or particularly toxic to cats. However, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them. 

Will Cats Eat Cheetos?

For the sake of research, I gave my cat a Cheeto. They smelled it. Took a little lick. And then turned their nose up and walked away. They seemed offended that I would suggest they’d eat something so unappealing. 

My dog on the other hand, quickly snapped up the Cheeto, leaving no trace to further offend the cat. This doesn’t mean that all cats will refuse Cheetos. Just like humans, cats will have different tastes and preferences. 

Why did my cat turn down the Cheeto? Cats are carnivores. In the wild, they may eat small amounts of semi-digested fruits and grains. This isn’t because they are chowing down on corn, however. It’s because it’s in the stomach contents of their prey animals. 

Cats and Corn

What does corn have to do with Cheetos? Everything! Cheetos are actually made from ground corn, or corn meal, and water. Of course, spices and cheese, if you can call it that, are added for flavor. But the basic composition of a cheeto is simply corn and h2o. 

Cat’s digestive systems are designed for meat. Corn is often used in cat foods as a filler ingredient. It won’t hurt them, but it isn’t good for them. It’s difficult for them to digest, and offers little nutritional value. 

Some cats enjoy the taste of corn, however. Fresh corn can be a good occasional treat for your cat. Corn meal, and things made with corn meal, are not a great choice because it’s essentially just filler for them. 

Why Does My Cat Like Cheetos?

Cats, like humans, seem to have different food preferences and different reasons for them. Your cat may enjoy the texture of Cheetos. They may simply like the taste of corn. 

However, the most likely reason for your cat to share your favorite snack is salt. Cheetos are salty, and cats love salt. They may also like the cheese powder on the Cheetos. Most cats love cheese, so they may be attracted to cheese flavor. 

Some cats will eat nearly any food their owner does. As we learned earlier, food is a way for humans and animals to bond. For these cats, eating what their owner eats is simply one way they show their affection. It makes them feel close to their owner. 

Will Cats Eat Hot Cheetos? 

Spicy foods are something that only humans enjoy. Well, almost. Recent research has discovered that the tree shew enjoys spicy food, and will seek it out. They are the only animal, other than humans, that are known to do so. 

Occasionally, an animal will eat hot food, but they probably don’t like the spicy aspect. Instead, they tolerate the spice because they enjoy the other flavors or smells associated with the food. 

If you give your cat a piece of steak topped with hot sauce, they will likely eat it, but not because they enjoy the hot sauce. 

So, some cats will eat Hot Cheetos for the reasons listed above. However, it’s unlikely they actually like the spicy flavor. 

Should I give my cat Cheetos?

No, you shouldn’t give your cat Cheetos. They aren’t harmful in small amounts, but they aren’t healthy for your cat. An occasional Cheeto won’t hurt your cat, but large amounts can be harmful. 

Corn

We’ve already discussed corn, but it bears repeating here. The corn found within the Cheetos doesn’t provide any nutritional value for your cat. If you choose to feed them Cheetos, remember that it’s empty calories, and should only be given in moderation. 

Salt

Cats and humans have a few things in common. One of these is a love for salt. Just like humans, cats need salt for processes within their bodies. Another commonality is that too much salt is not good for them, and it can even be toxic. 

In smaller amounts, salt can cause mild dehydration. Dehydration is already a concern for cats, because they tend to forget to drink enough water. Another similarity with humans. Adding salt to the mix can make things worse. 

Of course, salt makes cats and humans crave water, so expect them to drink more than usual. This should help flush the excess salt from their body. They will also urinate more than normal, and may have difficulty making it to the litterbox. 

Too much salt can make your cat ill. They may become dizzy, disoriented, and lethargic. They can have vomiting and diarrhea due to gastrointestinal upset. They may also have a reduced appetite. 

In rare cases, your cat can develop salt poisoning. This typically happens only if they already have high salt levels due to an underlying medical condition. The symptoms of salt poisoning include those listed above, but the situation can become worse. Seizures can occur. If not treated, it can lead to coma and death. 

Your cat is highly unlikely to die from the salt within Cheetos unless they already have an underlying medical condition. However, the salt is not good for them, and can cause health issues over time. 

Fat

Foods with a high fat content are not healthy for cats. Healthy cats don’t have issues with heart disease commonly associated with a high fat diet in humans. However, they do have a high risk of obesity, which can cause health problems. 

When you think of obesity, cats probably aren’t what come to mind. The image of a fat cat has been sold to us as healthy, but this is far from the truth. 

A surprising 59% of cats are overweight or obese. Of course, a few Cheetos will not cause obesity. However, a consistent diet high in fat and calories can. 

Dairy

Cats love milk and dairy products. Many well meaning cat owners will provide a saucer of milk for their feline. Unfortunately for them, cats are actually lactose intolerance. 

Once they’ve progressed beyond the kitten stage, their body stops producing lactase, which is the enzyme that breaks down lactose. Milk can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. 

Cheetos do not contain milk itself, but it does contain dairy derivatives, including lactose. Your cat may be able to eat the small amount of dairy in Cheetos without a problem. However, if it causes stomach issues, you’ll want to stop giving them to your cat. 

Spices

There are a few spices in Cheetos that are cause for concern. The exact recipe for Cheetos seasoning is proprietary, understandably. However, it’s believed to contain garlic and onion powder, which are toxic to cats. 

It occurs in very small amounts. It is worth noting, but the salt content in the Cheetos will likely cause a health issue before the spices. 

When it comes to Hot Cheetos, the hot spices won’t harm your cat. However, they can cause their mouth to  burn, just like it does humans. Just like humans, it can also cause stomach upset and diarrhea if they aren’t accustomed to it. 

What types of foods should cats not eat?

There are many types of human foods that are off limits to cats. It’s important to know what is safe to feed your cat, and what should be avoided. 

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins are very toxic to dogs. While this hasn’t been proven to be an issue in cats, there are some reports of it being toxic to them. It’s best to avoid giving your cat grapes and raisins for this reason. 

Orange and Citrus

Citrus fruits can cause gastrointestinal issues for cats due to their high acidity. When it comes to oranges, the oil in the peel is poisonous to cats.

Onion and Garlic

Onions and garlic are members of the allium family. The allium is what’s responsible for the strong taste in garlic and onions. Garlic is five times more toxic than onions due to the higher allium. 

In addition to garlic and onions themselves, garlic and onion powder can be dangerous in larger amounts. 

Yeast

The yeast can produce carbon monoxide and alcohol, which can cause problems in a cat’s small system. When cats consume yeast, it’s typically from eating raw bread dough. In this case, the bread can also rise inside their stomach. It can quickly grow large enough to require surgical removal. 

Chocolate

Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats. Theobromine is the chemical that makes humans love chocolate. For us, it increases serotonin and dopamine in the brain. 

However, cats and dogs can’t process it. It can cause tremors, seizures, and heart problems. If they consume enough, it can cause death. 

What types of human foods can cats eat?

While there are many human foods that your cat shouldn’t enjoy, there are some foods that are safe for both cats and humans. If you want to share a snack with your kitty, these are great options. 

Fish

Fish is one of your cat’s favorite treats, and it’s very healthy for them. It is full of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. When feeding your cat fish, it should be boiled or baked without any seasonings or salt. 

It’s best to remove any small bones, because they can pose a choking hazard to your cat. 

If you choose to feed them canned fish, it should be packaged in water. Fish packed in oil has a higher fat content, which isn’t healthy for your cat. 

Cats can also eat some types of seafood. Shrimp has phosphorous and calcium in addition to protein. 

Meat and Poultry

Meat and poultry are also great choices. Just like fish, you should feed your cat baked or boiled meat without seasoning. Canned chicken packed in water is also safe for your kitty. 

Avoid feeding them ham or bacon frequently. It has a high fat and sodium content. 

Processed meats, such as sandwich meats and hot dogs, are not a good choice because they contain preservatives. 

Eggs

Eggs are healthy for your cat. Most experts recommend feeding only cooked eggs, because raw eggs contain salmonella. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, b vitamins, and healthy fat. 

Grains 

Because cats are carnivores, they can’t process grains very well. You can feed your cat small amounts of healthy grains. These include brown rice, oats, and whole grains. These should be an occasional treat, and not a regular part of their diet. 

Fruits

If your cat has a sweet tooth, it’s fine to feed them fruit occasionally. Watermelon is a great choice. The high water content will help keep your cat hydrated. It also contains vitamins A, C, and E. 

Other melons are also a healthy treat, including cantaloupe and honey dew melon. 

Pineapples are another fun treat. It’s excellent for the immune and digestive system, and even has anti-inflammatory effects thanks to bromelain. 

Pumpkin

Pumpkin can help your cat with digestive issues. It’s often recommended for constipation, but small amounts can help relieve diarrhea as well. It’s high fiber content and beta carotene make it a healthy treat. 

You should only feed your cat plain pumpkin. You can bake fresh pumpkin, or give your cat canned pumpkin. Avoid pumpkin pie filling, because it contains sugar and spices which can be toxic to cats. 

Vegetables

Vegetables can also be given to your cat as a treat. They are not a part of their natural diet, other than vegetables found in the digestive systems of prey animals. It’s fine to give your cat small amounts of vegetables, but they shouldn’t be a major part of their diet. 

Carrots are a great vegetable for cats. They are high in vitamin A, which is good for your cat’s skin and coat. They should be cooked and peeled to avoid choking. 

Cucumbers are a nice treat, particularly for overweight cats. They are low in calories and have a high water content. They also have vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamin K. 

It should be peeled and sliced into strips before serving to your kitty. 

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.