Can Cats Eat Potato Chips? (Solved & Explained!)

When your kitty looks up at you with those big, bright eyes, it’s hard to say now. Patient creatures, with a bit of coaxing they know that you don’t have a chance. So, can cats eat potato chips or is that really a bad idea?

Cats definitely shouldn’t have potato chips, though many have their opinion on that matter. Chips are basically carbs, sugar, and fat and as cats get their vitamins from meats they consume, they don’t add any nutritional value, either. Some also have ingredients such as onion powder and salt, which are definitely toxic – chips should definitely stay off the menu.

Today we’ll take a closer look at the issue so that you can get the facts that you need on the matter. While your kitty might definitely want to sneak some of your chips, there are some very good reasons why is not a good idea. Let’s take a look at the real scoop on kitties and chips!

Chips have too many carbs for kitties

Cats are on a naturally low carb diet, with around 10% to 15% being that ideal amount of calories that come from carbs. Some veterinarians even recommend a lower carb diet, with carb intake formulated it as low as 5% as a means of helping to control uncomplicated cases of feline diabtetes.

In 1 bag of Lays potato chips, you’re getting 15 total carbs, a good amount of salt, and 160 calories.

Granted, your cat probably isn’t going to eat the whole bag (if you’re fast), but sadly the faces are the facts… salty potatoes fried in oil and give a healthy dash of salt are delicious but cats are not designed to eat them.

To give you a better idea of the nutrition profile, consider an 8 pound, neutered cats daily caloric intake. In order to maintain their current weight, an 8 pound cat consumes about 221 calories per day. Even just eating half the bag, your cat would be ingesting 1/3 of their daily intake with a single snack.

Chips simply aren’t good for obligate carnivores

From the smallest kitten to the mighty tiger, cats of all shapes and sizes are what is known as ’obligate carnivores’. What this means is that they get all their nutrition from meat, as they cannot digest plant matter efficiently enough to gain a lot of nutrition from it.

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As an example, humans have an enzyme that we use to break down carotene from some of our favorite veggies such as carrots, spinach, and even yellow fruits such as mangos. Cats, however, lack this enzyme and so their bodies don’t convert these foods into Vitamin A at all.

That doesn’t mean that they won’t like these foods. Cats are delightful little individuals and they like what they like, but this does mean that a lot of foods that are nutritious to us are basically a ‘filler food’ at best where cats are concerned, or potentially a stomachache waiting to happen if your kitty has trouble digesting.

Did we neglect to mention the spices?

The closest thing to ‘kitty safe chips’ is going to be cooking them yourself and leaving out the spices, but these are still not good for your cat (just a little better). Potato chips have quite a lot of preservatives in them and even some flavoring powders which can be toxic, such as onion or garlic powder.

These last spices belong to the Allium family, which includes leeks, chives, garlic, and onions, all of which are very toxic for your cat. That’s not to say that your cat can’t have 1 chip from time to time, but only that you cannot let it become a habit. There simply too many fats, sugars, carbs, and salt.

Treats such as dried fish or other meats are really a much healthier treat option and most cats will be happy to take these offerings while you are enjoying your salty snack.

This is a food that the 10% rule definitely does NOT apply to

While determining what kind of snacks your kitty can have, you might familiar with what is called the ‘10% rule’. This rule states that your cat’s treats should take up no more than 10% of their caloric intake. It’s generally a good rule, but we really don’t recommend it with chips.

Yes, they are delicious, but as everyone knows, they aren’t really very good for us. With your cat, however, the regular intake of salt and all of those extra carbs can really lead to trouble down the line with feline obesity, and you definitely don’t want this for your kitty.

Sadly, this includes the baked variety of chips, so we recommend that you experiment a bit with some healthy treats available in your home to see if a compromise can be reached. Don’t worry too much – cats are creatures of habit, but once they are used to the new around then things will be easier.

Your cat might be a little cross with you at first, but they’ll quickly adjust once you’ve found a favorite treat or two, especially if you rotate them out for variety. They’ll feel spoiled and you’ll get to know that your kitty is eating much better foods where their snacking habits are concerned.

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Some closing words on cats and chips

Today we’ve taken a closer look at potato chips and why they really aren’t good for your cat. As you can see, the high carb alone really isn’t good for them, but adding in the calories, fat, and potentially toxic ingredients really just shows us that a healthy alternative is a much better option.

Try a few new snacks with a good meat content to them and we think that you’ll see that your cat comes around quickly to the new snacking arrangement. In the meantime, you’ll also need to hide your chips, but with a lot of love and a little patience your cat will soon come around.