Cotton candy is a sweet, colorful treat that many of us love to indulge in, especially at fairs and carnivals. Its light, fluffy texture, and sugary sweetness make it an irresistible snack.
As cat owners, it’s natural to wonder whether we can share a bit of cotton candy with our cats.
However, cotton candy is not a safe or healthy treat for cats. Read on to learn why cats and cotton candy don’t mix well, and how to keep your cat safe and happy with more appropriate treats.
Cats’ Taste Preferences Don’t Include Sweetness
One of the main reasons cats shouldn’t eat cotton candy is that they simply can’t taste or appreciate sugary sweetness. Cats have far fewer taste buds than humans do – only around 470 compared to our 9,000!
Their taste receptors are geared toward detecting salty, sour, and bitter flavors instead. So when your cat shows interest in your cotton candy, it’s not for the sweet sugary taste.
They are likely drawn in by the texture, colors, or smell instead. Knowing that cats miss out on sensing sweetness is an important reason to avoid giving them pure sugar foods like cotton candy that would hold no flavor appeal for them.
Cotton Candy Provides No Nutritional Value for Cats
Another big reason cats shouldn’t eat cotton candy is that it provides absolutely no nutritional value for them. Cotton candy is nearly pure sugar, sometimes with artificial flavors and food coloring added. It has no protein, healthy fats, vitamins, or minerals that cats need to stay healthy.
As obligate carnivores, cats need a diet rich in meat-based proteins. Sugary junk foods like cotton candy supply none of the nutrients they require.
Feeding cotton candy to your cat would give them empty calories without any benefit. It’s best to stick with high-quality cat foods and treats designed to meet their nutritional needs.
Sugar Is Harmful to Cats
Cats have a low tolerance for sugars and carbohydrates. Their bodies are not designed to process large amounts of sugar. Eating cotton candy puts cats at risk for:
- Digestive upset like vomiting and diarrhea
- Obesity and weight gain
- Diabetes from blood sugar spikes
- Dental diseases like tooth decay and gum inflammation
Too much sugar can also disrupt the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria in your cat’s gastrointestinal tract.
This makes them prone to yeast overgrowth and other harmful effects. It’s best to minimize sugar and avoid cotton candy entirely.
The Ingredients Can Be Unsafe for Cats
Some types of cotton candy contain ingredients that may be unsafe for cats, like artificial sweeteners. The sugar substitute xylitol, often found in “sugar-free” candies and gums, is extremely toxic to cats. Xylitol poisoning can cause dangerously low blood sugar, liver damage, seizures, and even death in cats.
Many cotton candies are also artificially colored and flavored with additives that have not been proven safe for feline consumption. It’s impossible to know the exact contents of cotton candy products or how your cat might react to them. Steer clear of taking any risks by not feeding cotton candy to cats.
The Texture Poses a Choking Hazard
The fine, wispy texture of cotton candy makes it a choking risk for cats. Cats are likely to inhale the melted sugary fibers into their airways where it can cause choking or aspiration pneumonia.
The sticks of lollipops and hard candies that cotton candy is often packaged on are also a severe choking and blockage risk. With their strong jaws and tendency to gulp food, it’s quite likely your cat could end up with cotton candy stuck in their throat or esophagus.
The tastes and textures of cotton candy pose too much of a choking and obstruction hazard for cats.
Dental Health Problems Can Develop
The high sugar content of cotton candy can lead to dental health issues in cats with long-term exposure. Sugar feeds the bacteria responsible for plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Cats who regularly consume sugary foods like cotton candy are prone to developing painful cavities, inflamed gums, and tooth loss over time.
Sticky cotton candy can also adhere to the teeth, accelerating tooth decay. Say no to cotton candy for your cat’s dental health.
It Can Lead to Obsessive Food-Seeking Behaviors
Since cotton candy is a highly palatable treat for humans, some cats may develop an obsession with trying to obtain it once they get a taste. The more you indulge in this behavior, the more fixated your cat can become on stealing cotton candy and other forbidden sugary foods.
This obsessive food-seeking behavior can be stressful for both you and your cat. It’s better not to start the cotton candy craze in the first place.
Healthy, Cat-Safe Treat Alternatives Exist
The good news is you don’t have to deprive your cat when you want to enjoy some cotton candy yourself. There are many healthy treats made just for cats that you can use instead.
Look for high-protein, low-carb cat treats made with quality ingredients. Catnip and freeze-dried meat treats are also great options. You can even make DIY cat treats using plain meat, fish, or yogurt. Reward your cat with something nutritious and cat-approved.
Keep Cotton Candy Away from Cats
Here are some tips to keep your cat safe if there’s cotton candy around:
- Store cotton candy where cats can’t access it. Keep it in a closed container in a cupboard or pantry. Never leave it unattended.
- Don’t let children feed cotton candy to the cat. Educate them on safe cat treats.
- Secure the trash after eating cotton candy. Cats are skilled trash divers.
- Supervise outdoor time if eating cotton candy outdoors, so your cat isn’t tempted to steal it.
- Redirect your cat if they try to steal cotton candy. Distract them with a toy or safe treat.
- Contact your vet if your cat manages to eat cotton candy, so they can advise you on any signs of illness to watch for.
FAQs About Cats and Cotton Candy:
Can cats eat a little cotton candy?
No, cats should not eat any cotton candy. Even small amounts of sugar and artificial ingredients can cause digestive upset and long-term health issues. It’s not worth the risk.
Why do cats want cotton candy if they can’t taste sugar?
Cats are attracted to cotton candy for its colors, scent, and texture rather than its sweet taste. But these properties don’t make cotton candy any less hazardous for cats to ingest.
Is cotton candy toxic to cats?
Cotton candy itself is not necessarily toxic, but many types contain sweeteners and additives that are toxic to cats, like xylitol. Also, the sugar content is unhealthy for cats. So it should be considered unsafe.
What if my cat steals cotton candy when I’m not looking?
If your cat manages to sneak cotton candy, monitor them closely for vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, excessive thirst or other signs of illness. Call your vet for instructions, especially if signs persist or seem severe. Never intentionally let your cat eat cotton candy.
Are sugar-free cotton candies safe for cats?
No, sugar-free cotton candies contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol which are highly toxic for cats and can be fatal. Never give any form of cotton candy to cats.
While cotton candy may look fun and tempting to cats, it poses a serious health hazard and should be avoided.
From the lack of nutrition to choking risks, dental problems, and toxicity, cotton candy, and cats are not a safe combination
With so many cat-friendly treat options available, there’s no reason to take chances with cotton candy.
Keep those fluffy colorful clouds away from your cats for their health and happiness!