Can Cats Eat Beef Jerky?

can i feed my cat beef jerky

Beef jerky has been in existence since ancient Egypt. Beef jerky is fresh meat that has been dried to remove the moisture. Since ancient times, removing moisture from meats has been one of the best way to preserve them. Refrigeration and canning technologies are modern discoveries. Back in the day, no family could eat a whole cow before it started to rot so doing nothing would be incredibly wasteful.

Can your cat eat beef jerky? Answer: Sometimes.

Yes. Your cats can eat beef jerky but if you’re not preparing it yourself, make sure it’s in moderation. Cats are carnivorous animals and beef is meat, so it’s good for them. But check the ingredients before feeding your cat beef jerky off the store shelf to make sure it doesn’t have garlic or onion powder as these can be toxic to cats. Get beef jerky with as little sodium as possible.

What is beef jerky?

Beef jerky is beef preserved through a drying process that has been around for thousands of years. There are some large companies these days that make beef jerky, chicken jerky and even turkey jerky. These are great snacks to take on the go because they tend to be high in protein and low in fat. And they don’t spoil if you eat them in a reasonable amount of time out of the packaging. Opening a packet of jerky in the vacinity of your feline pets will bring them running at you as soon as the smell hits them.

Can cats eat beef jerky off the store shelves?

Yes. But when you buy the beef jerky off of the shelf at your local super market, only let your cats eat it occasionally due to the potential harmful ingredients that is used to season the meat and preserve it.

Cats are pure carnivores so beef jerky would seem to be a perfect match. However, beef jerky may contain preservatives or additional ingredients that may be harmful to your cat. For example, spiced beef jerky may have garlic or onion powder, which is toxic to cats. Avoid flavored jerky if you want to be on the safe side.

One of the ways that moisture is removed from beef when it is dried, is by adding salt. Remember, cats are susceptible to health issues from large amounts of sodium. So give your cat the beef jerky made for humans in small amounts only.

Making your own beef jerky with a dehydrator and no salt or harmful spices would be the superir way to go. There are also healthy dried beef packages in pet food stores that are specifically made for and safe to feed cats or dogs.

Reasons to Limit Cats Eating Beef Jerky

Just because beef jerky is a nice occasional snack for your cats, doesn’t mean you should be feeding it to them all the time.

Dehydration – Making your Cat Thirsty

Beef jerky is dried and salted. As a result, it will increase the amount of liquids your cat needs to drink. Cats are not naturally big water drinkers. Therefore, ensure you have enough water for your cat when you are giving it a beef jerky treat. Cats love drinking from flowing water. Installing a pet fountain will encourage them to drink more. Another option is leaving the tap open a little bit

Cats are easily dehydrated, so further dehyrdatig them can potentially lead to health consequences. Plenty of water should be nearby when feeding dry foods to your cat.

Excessively Flavored Beef Jerky

Avoid any flavorings that you are not familiar with for safety reasons. Foods that may be perfect for human consumption may lead to bad health consequences for cats. Garlic, onion, chives, and roots are flavors that should be avoided at all costs. These flavors destroy red blood cells in cats causing Heinz Body Anemia.

Beef jerky also has huge amounts of salt because salt improves taste and acts as a preservative. Too much sodium is very harmful to cats as it causes an electrolyte imbalance. Regular cat food does not have salt.

Silica Gel Packets

To help preserve beef jerky the manufacturer includes siliica gel packets in the bags. It is indicated on the packaging that the silica gel should not be consumed. Everything in the package smells delicious to your cat and obviously your cat can’t read. Your cat may ingest the silica package accidentally if its left out or when your cat manages to get to the beef jerky before you. Although silica gel is not toxic to cats, a whole package can lead to gastrointestinal obstruction. Contact your vet if your cat ingests one of these packets.

Safe Alternatives

Pet stores have safer versions of beef jerky suitable for cats. It is similar to the beef jerky consumed by humans, but they do not have any additives that can harm your cat. You can occasionally give your cat the beef jerky made for human consumption, but you would be better off giving cat beef jerky from the pet store. Snacks specifically tailored to cats are monitored for unhealthy ingredients.

The Ultimate Cat Beef Jerky Recipe

When I want to give my cat beef jerky, this recipe never disappoints. It is full of healthy ingredients recommended to feed your cat. Cats are carnivores so this dried meat recipe is ideal and yummy to let your cats eat.


  • 3 beef kidneys
  • 1 beef heart
  • 1 5 oz can of albacore tuna (unsalted)*

I find the Trader Joe’s salt free tuna cans are best. Depending on where you shop, most groceries have salt free albacore tuna cans. It’s always better to have as small amount of salt & sodium as possible.


  1. use a meat grinder and mix the 3 ingredients above together. A food processor works good for this as well.
  2. Add ingredients into a piper or if you don’t have one, into a plastic/zip locked bag. Make sure the plastic bag is no more than half way full.
  3. Pipe the mixture in spirals onto a lined tray liner.
  4. Dry at the highest setting until the food is now dry to the touch. Turn over and continue drying until it feels like beef jerky.
  5. Allow the jerky to cool off, then cut into strips with kitchen scissors. Store in the refridgerator.

Imporant: The first time, I tried this, I didn’t contain my little feline children and they want nuts trying to eat the food. I recommend you seperate yourself or your little guys.

Final Thoughts

We have attempted to answer the question, “Can cats eat beef jerky?” The answer is that yes they can have it as a snack but they shouldn’t eat too much or often if it’s the store bought packets made as human food. We recommend you find a healthy cat food version that doesn’t have all the additives, or you make your own which is much cheaper and the best treat you could give your cat.

Cats are meat lovers, and the strong smell of beef jerky attracts the cat immediately when the packet is opened. Cats do not have trouble eating beef jerky because they are carnivorous. The problem is the use of toxic spices and additives. Sodium also disrupts cats’ delicate electrolyte balance. We hope this helps even a small bit in getting the right foods for your cat.

Athena P.

I'm Athena. I have been a Veterinary Assistant for 8 years. I work with Veterinary professionals for years getting the best advice for pet owners for their beloved cats.

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