As a cat owner, you likely find your feline friend begging for a bite of whatever snack you’re enjoying. Begging eyes staring longingly at the corn chips in your hand is hard to resist! But is it safe to share this salty, crunchy treat with your cat?
While an occasional corn chip won’t harm your cat, it should not regularly be part of your cat’s diet. Corn chips are high in fat, and salt, and lack key nutrients cats need. Read on to learn more about the risks and benefits of corn chips for cats, and how much is safe to share.
What Are Corn Chips Made Of?
Before determining if corn chips are safe for cats, let’s first look at what exactly they’re made of.
The main ingredients in corn chips are:
- Corn – This is the base ingredient. Corn chips can be made from yellow, white, or blue corn.
- Vegetable oil – The chips are fried in oil to make them crispy. Common oils used are canola, sunflower, or safflower oil.
- Salt – Salt is added for flavor. Corn chips can range from lightly salted to heavily salted.
Many corn chip brands also contain various seasonings, such as:
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Spices like chili powder or cumin
- Cheese powder
- Artificial flavors
The addition of these seasonings makes corn chips more enticing for us, but some can be toxic for cats.
Are Corn Chips Safe For Cats?
Occasionally allowing your cat a few plain corn chips is fine, but they should not regularly consume them.
High in Fat
Corn chips are cooked in oil, making them high in fat. Too much fat can lead to obesity and pancreatitis in cats. Pancreatitis is a painful inflammation of the pancreas that requires veterinary treatment.
High in Salt
Excessive sodium intake can cause sodium ion poisoning in cats. This leads to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death.
Cats need far less sodium than humans. The recommended maximum daily sodium intake for cats is around 40 mg. One ounce of plain salted corn chips can contain over 150 mg of sodium, surpassing a cat’s daily requirement.
Lack Key Nutrients
Corn chips are high in carbohydrates and fat but low in protein, vitamins, and minerals. As obligate carnivores, cats need a diet high in meat-based protein. Corn chips do not provide balanced nutrition for cats.
Garlic, onion, and chives are toxic to cats and damage their red blood cells. Chili powder and other spices can irritate a cat’s stomach. Avoid giving your cat seasoned corn chips.
Health Benefits of Corn Chips for Cats
There are a few potential benefits corn chips can offer cats:
- Fiber – Corn is high in fiber, which aids digestion. Just a few chips can help with constipation or diarrhea.
- Carbs – The carbohydrates in corn offer cats quick energy. But too many carbs lead to weight gain.
- Crunch appeal – Cats enjoy foods with different textures. The crunch of a chip is exciting.
However, these limited benefits are outweighed by the health risks of regularly feeding cats corn chips. Overall, they lack the key nutrients cats need.
Can Kittens Eat Corn Chips?
No, kittens under 1 year old should not eat corn chips. Kittens need very specific nutrition to support their growth and development. Human foods like corn chips should be avoided.
Here’s why corn chips are unsuitable for kittens:
- High-fat content can lead to diarrhea or vomiting
- Excess salt causes electrolyte imbalances
- Lack of protein needed for muscle growth
- Choking hazard from crunchy chips
Stick to kitten formula and high-quality kitten food recommended by your vet. When kittens reach adulthood around 1 year old, an occasional corn chip given as a treat is fine. But kittens should never regularly consume them.
How Many Corn Chips Can Cats Eat?
When given occasionally as a treat, cats should only have 1-2 plain corn chips at a time. More than this can lead to stomach upset. Here are some guidelines:
- Break chips into small pieces to reduce choking risk
- Avoid heavily salted, flavored chips
- Do not exceed 1-2 chips per day
- Never give corn chips in place of cat food
- Cats should get nutrients from cat food, not human snacks
If your cat begs for more after their allotted chips, distract them with a toy or regular cat treats you know are safe.
Can Cats Eat Corn Chip Crumbs?
It’s natural for a few corn chip crumbs to fall to the floor while you’re enjoying a snack. Small amounts of crumbs aren’t harmful if your cat licks them up.
But avoid intentionally giving your cat bowls of crushed corn chip crumbs. The crumbs concentrate the fat, salt, and seasonings – making them even more unhealthy.
Can Cats Eat Tortilla Chips?
Tortilla chips are very similar to corn chips, with a few key differences:
- Made from corn or flour tortillas instead of cornmeal
- The frying method gives tortilla chips a lighter, crisper texture
- Wider variety of seasonings like lime, chili powder, cilantro
The health risks of excess fat, salt, and spices apply to tortilla chips as well. Only let your cat have 1-2 small plain tortilla chips at a time on rare occasions. Avoid heavily seasoned chips.
Can Cats Eat Doritos?
No, Doritos should be avoided for cats. Doritos contain even higher amounts of salt, artificial flavors, and MSG. These are very unhealthy for cats.
What About Corn Chip Dip?
Resist giving your cat any corn chip dips like salsa, guacamole, or cheese sauce. These are very high in fat, and salt, and can contain toxic seasonings like onion and garlic.
Raw vs. Cooked Corn – Which is Safer?
Raw corn on the cob or kernels are a choking hazard for cats. Only give your cat cooked plain corn in small amounts.
Cooking helps break down corn’s tough cell walls, making it easier to digest. But don’t add any butter, salt, or other seasonings.
Homemade Corn Chips – Healthier Alternative
To control the ingredients and reduce oil, salt, and seasonings, you can make homemade corn chips:
- Use whole-grain corn tortillas
- Cut into wedge shapes
- Lightly spray both sides with olive oil
- Sprinkle lightly with cat-safe herbs like parsley or dill
- Bake at 400°F for 5-10 minutes, until crisp
Let cool before giving your cat a chip or two. This is still an occasional treat, not a meal replacement.
Signs of Illness
Monitor your cat after giving them corn chips.
If they show any of these symptoms, call your vet:
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Lethargy or weakness
- Increased thirst or urination
- Reduced appetite
- Stomach pain or bloating
Corn Allergies in Cats
Some cats may be allergic to corn.
- Itchy skin or ears
- Hair loss
- Excessive licking of paws
If you suspect your cat has a corn allergy, avoid any corn-based foods. See your vet to identify appropriate diet changes.
Can Cats Eat Cornmeal?
Plain, unsweetened cornmeal cooked into a porridge can be given occasionally in small amounts. But cornmeal lacks nutrients cats need long-term and may cause allergies.
Are corn chips bad for cats?
Corn chips are not good for cats. They contain too much fat and salt and lack the vital nutrients cats need. Regularly giving cat corn chips can cause pancreatitis, sodium poisoning, malnutrition, and obesity.
Can cats eat corn chips every day?
No, cats should not eat corn chips every day. The high fat and sodium content makes corn chips unsuitable as a daily part of a cat’s diet. At most, a cat could have 1-2 plain corn chips a week – but not daily.
Do corn chips make cats sick?
Eating too many corn chips can make cats sick. The high fat causes pancreatitis and vomiting. Too much salt leads to sodium poisoning. Onion and garlic seasoning damages red blood cells. Corn chips lack proper nutrition for cats.
Can cats have corn?
Cats can eat small amounts of plain, cooked corn kernels occasionally. But corn alone does not provide complete nutrition. Avoid giving your cat corn chips, corn on the cob, or other high-fat corn products regularly.
Is corn toxic to cats?
Plain corn is not toxic to cats in small amounts. However, heavily seasoned corn products like corn chips contain too much fat, salt, and possibly onion/garlic powder which are toxic. Cats are also unable to digest large amounts of corn.
Can kittens eat corn chips?
No. Kittens under 1 year old should never eat corn chips or other human snack foods. Their growing bodies require very specific nutrition not found in corn chips. The fat, salt, and texture pose health risks to kittens as well.
Corn chips should only be an occasional treat for cats – not a regular part of their diet. While the corn itself is not toxic, corn chips contain too much fat and sodium that can negatively impact your cat’s health over time.
Limit your cat to 1-2 plain corn chips per week at most. Be sure to monitor them for any signs of illness after eating chips. Your cat will be happiest and healthiest when enjoying cat food and cat treats specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs.