As a self-proclaimed introvert, I am someone that enjoys a lot of ‘me time’. And this ‘me time’ also includes quite a bit of snacking over Netflix.
My cat and dog have been trained to know that human foods aren’t good for them but when it comes to snacks like Fritos, I know that are watching me intensely as I eat. All it takes is for one Frito to drop on the floor and it’s gone in a flash.
My cat is smaller and more nimble than my dog so he usually gets to the treat first. But can cats eat fritos without any side effects?
Cats can eat fritos as a rare occasional treat as it isn’t this snack is made from corn which isn’t toxic to cats. However, Fritos are also high in fat and salt which aren’t healthy for cats to have too much of. There are also certain fritos flavors that can cause some digestive issues in your cat.
In this article, we will be taking a look at what fritos actually are and how healthy can they be for your cat.
What Are Fritos?
Fritos is a popular American brand that is well-known for its corn chips and dipping sauces. Fritos corn chips are rather different from your standard tortilla chips.
Their chips are made from whole cornmeal which is cut into a certain shape before being deep fried. Other brands tend to cook and soak their corn in limewater before turning them into dough for making tortilla chips.
The main ingredients of used in making original Fritos are corn, salt and corn oil. They have a variety of other flavors that may contain other types of artificial flavoring and ingredients.
A serving of Fritos (1 oz) contains:
- 160 calories
- 10g of fat
- 170mg of salt
- 16g of carbs
- 2 g of protein
Most of us can do a lot worse when it comes to snacks but if you’re not snacking on carrot and celery sticks, it’s probably not very healthy for both you and your pets.
Is Corn Harmful To Cats?
Generally speaking, corn isn’t harmful or toxic to cats. If you are already feeding your dry cat food to your feline companion, chances are there’s already corn in it. There might be some grain used in cheaper wet cat food but it’s definitely a lot lesser.
You’re not going to find corn kernels In your cat’s food as it has been ground down and used as a filler during the manufacturing process.
The main ingredient used in making Fritos corn chips is corn. And although corn is ok for cats to consume, it is a form of carbohydrate that our cats do not need.
Cats are naturally obligate carnivores which makes them highly dependent on animal protein like raw meat to survive. They do not have the necessary enzymes to effectively digest and break down carbs for energy.
Your cat isn’t going to keel over and die upon eating one frito or having a few licks. But too much of such snacks can lead to nasty health issues like diabetes, obesity, pancreatitis and liver disease.
Fritos Has Too Much Salt For Your Cat
One thing that can make such snacks addictive is due to their high salt content. Salty foods just taste a lot better than unsalted food.
Salt itself isn’t bad for us. In fact, salt is essential for life. It helps with our muscle control, hydration and nerve impulses.
The problem lies with having too much food in our cat’s diet.
There isn’t really a benchmark when it comes to how much salt your cat needs on a daily basis. There are a number of variations that differ rather widely.
From what I’ve read, it can be from 21-40mg a day to 0.5g per 1000kcal of food.
I am someone that likes to keep it simple.
Personally, as long as I am feeding my cat a healthy and balanced diet (wet food or raw diet), my cat is getting all the salt that it needs.
By feeding your cat snacks that are very high in sodium, it wouldn’t take much for it to suffer from salt poisoning. It doesn’t take much for this to happen. About 0.5-1g of salt per kg of body weight.
If your cat is 10kg and eats one serving of fritos, it can be in danger of salt poisoning. Adult cats can have better salt tolerance but kittens that are much smaller are definitely at a higher risk.
Salt poisoning symptoms in cats include:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Unable to walk properly
- Lack of appetite
When this happens, your cat needs to be taken to the vet for medical treatment. Otherwise, if left untreated, can be life-threatening.
Fritos Has Too Much Fat For Your Cat
Another aspect of Fritos that make it an unhealthy food for cats is that it is deep-fried. Anything deep-fried contains a large amount of fats which isn’t healthy for your cat.
Similar to salt, some fat is essential for your cat’s health. Most cats do well with 20-25 % of fat content in their total diet.
Too much fat can cause problems like heart disease, hypertension, cancer and diabetes.
Some Fritos Flavors Can Be Toxic To Cats
Not all the Fritos flavors are made equal. The plain and original fritos are just made with corn, corn oil and salt.
The flavored Fritos like the Jalapeño, Honey BBQ, Chili cheese and Flaming hot contain a lot of artificial flavoring and preservatives that can upset your cat’s digestive system.
The one ingredient that stood out for me was garlic powder and garlic is very toxic to cats and dogs too.
Any vegetable from the allium family like garlic, onion, leek, shallots and chives can do a lot of damage to your cat’s red blood cells and cause it to be anemic.
- Pale gums
- Elevated heart rate
- Death in severe cases
It doesn’t take much garlic for your cat to get poisoned. All it takes is one clove of garlic 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder to harm your cat.
Regardless of how much garlic your cat has eaten, you need to take it to the vet immediately for a check-up to be safe. Some cats can be a lot more sensitive to garlic than others.
Do Cats Actually Like Fritos?
If your cat has a thing for fritos, it can be hard to tell what’s causing your cat to be drawn to it. I know of some cats that don’t even give a hoot about human foods.
It could be the smell of oil in the corn chips which your cat finds appealing. Cats have an amazing sense of smell and can separate an odor into its individual elements.
Furthermore, many cats and dogs are drawn to the smell of fat which is an important macronutrient for their survival.
There are cats that actually love to lick their owner’s earplugs due to the presence of ear wax on them. And ear wax contains traces of fat from our ears. Just be sure that your cat doesn’t end up eating the earplugs.
What Should I Do If My Cat Ate Fritos?
The first thing that you need to take note of is what flavored fritos did your cat eat. If your cat just had a few pieces of the plain fritos, I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. You can give your vet a call to let them know about it first and monitor your cat.
But if your cat has eaten any flavor that contains garlic powder, I would strongly advise you to take your cat to the vet right away for an examination to be safe. It is better to be safe than sorry for such instances.
If your cat really likes eating corn-based snacks, you can try making plain tortilla chips or corn chips at home without all the added ingredients like salt and flavoring. Do not deep fry the chips as that will make them too fatty. Just bake them in the oven for a much healthier option.