Cats are curious creatures, and they love to explore new things. If you’re a cat owner, you might have wondered whether your feline friend can eat marshmallows. In this article, we’ll explore the question of whether cats can eat marshmallows and provide you with some insights into why they should or shouldn’t.
What Are Marshmallows?
Marshmallows are a type of confectionery that is typically made from sugar, water, and gelatin whipped to a solid-but-soft consistency. They are used as a filling in baking or normally molded into shapes and coated with corn starch 12. The word “marshmallow” comes from the mallow plant species (Althaea officinalis), a herb native to parts of Europe, North Africa, and Asia which grows in marshes and other damp areas 1. The first marshmallows were prepared by boiling pieces of root pulp with honey until thick. Once thickened, the mixture was strained, cooled, then used as intended 2. Whether used for candy or medicine, the manufacture of marshmallows was limited to a small scale. In the early to mid 19th century, the marshmallow had made its way to France, where confectioners augmented the plant’s traditional medicinal value with indulgent ingredients utilized by the Egyptians. Owners of small candy stores would whip the sap from the mallow root into a fluffy candy mold. This candy, called Pâte de Guimauve, was a spongy-soft dessert made from whipping dried marshmallow roots with sugar, water, and egg whites. It was sold in bar form as a lozenge. Drying and preparation of the marshmallow took one to two days before the final product was produced. In the late 19th century, candy makers started looking for a new process and discovered the starch mogul system, in which trays of modified corn starch had a mold firmly pushed down in them to create cavities within the starch. The cavities were then filled with the whipped marshmallow sap mixture and allowed to cool or harden. At the same time, candy makers began to replace the mallow root with gelatin which created a stable form of marshmallow. By the early 20th century, thanks to the starch mogul system, marshmallows were introduced to the United States and available for mass consumption. They were sold in tins as penny candy and were soon used in a variety of food recipes like banana fluff, lime mallow sponge, and tutti frutti 2
Can Cats Eat Marshmallows?
The short answer is no. Marshmallows are not good for cats’ health, as they contain no essential nutrients and are harmful to cats. They can cause choking, weight gain, sodium overload, and other problems. According to 1, there is no good reason to give your cat some marshmallows. Marshmallows do not provide any health benefits to cats. There is a chance your cat might get a choking hazard from eating marshmallows. Cats do not like it too much sweet. So, most cats would not even eat marshmallows. But, it is better to take marshmallows away from your cat. The sticky, gooey texture of marshmallows is achieved by combining sugar and refined sugar syrup with gelatin as a thickening agent.
Why They Should Not Eat Marshmallows
Marshmallows are not exactly toxic to cats. However, they are not recommended for cats because they contain no essential nutrients. According to 2, marshmallows are packed with sugar and sodium, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Additionally, the size and texture of the sticky treat mean that they can potentially be a serious choking hazard.
How to Keep Your Cat Safe
If you’re a cat owner, it’s essential to keep your feline friend safe and healthy. Here are some tips to help you keep your cat safe:
- Keep marshmallows away from your cat: As we’ve seen, marshmallows are not good for cats’ health. Therefore, it’s best to keep them away from your cat.
- Provide your cat with a balanced diet: Cats need a balanced diet to stay healthy. Therefore, it’s essential to provide your cat with a diet that contains all the essential nutrients.
- Consult your vet: If you’re unsure about what to feed your cat, it’s always best to consult your vet. Your vet can provide you with advice on what to feed your cat and what to avoid.
Alternatives to Marshmallows
If you’re looking for alternatives to marshmallows, there are several options available. Here are some of the best substitutes for marshmallows:
- Homemade marshmallows: You can make your own marshmallows at home using simple ingredients like sugar, water, and gelatin. Homemade marshmallows are a great alternative to store-bought marshmallows, as they are free from preservatives and other additives. You can find a recipe for homemade marshmallows here1.
- Marshmallow fluff: Marshmallow fluff is a spreadable marshmallow-like substance that is made from corn syrup, sugar, and egg whites. It can be used as a substitute for marshmallows in recipes like s’mores, hot chocolate, and rice crispy treats. You can find marshmallow fluff in most grocery stores or online 2.
- Marshmallow cream: Marshmallow cream is similar to marshmallow fluff, but it is softer and creamier. It is made from corn syrup, sugar, and egg whites, just like marshmallow fluff. Marshmallow cream can be used as a substitute for marshmallows in recipes like fudge, frosting, and ice cream 3.
- Zephyr: Zephyr is a Russian confectionery that is similar to marshmallows. It is made from sugar, egg whites, and fruit puree. Zephyr is a great alternative to marshmallows, as it is free from gelatin and other animal products. You can find zephyr in most Russian grocery stores or online 1.
- Baked brie: Baked brie is a delicious alternative to marshmallows. It is a soft cheese that is baked in the oven until it is warm and gooey. Baked brie can be served with crackers, bread, or fruit 3.
- Vanilla jello: Vanilla jello is a gelatin-based dessert that is similar to marshmallows. It is made from gelatin, sugar, and vanilla extract. Vanilla jello can be used as a substitute for marshmallows in recipes like fruit salad, trifle, and pudding 1
What Foods Are Toxic to Cats?
When it comes to foods that are truly poisonous to cats, the list is thankfully quite short. However, some foods that are traditionally associated with cats can actually cause more harm than good: think of the proverbial saucer of milk. Here are some of the most common foods poisonous to cats:
- Onions, Garlic, & Chives: All of these foods form part of the Allium plant family and contain sulphoxides, the component that gives them their uniquely strong odour and taste. When these sulfur-containing compounds are broken down by the body and absorbed into the bloodstream, they cause damage to red blood cells. In severe cases, the red blood cells will rupture and release damaged haemoglobin proteins called Heinz Bodies, which can in turn lead to anaemia and even kidney damage. Cats are more sensitive to onion toxicosis than dogs and initial clinical signs can be very vague and non-specific. Initially an affected cat may develop vomiting and/or diarrhea accompanied by loss of appetite. Anemia can start to develop as soon as 12 hours after eating the onion/garlic/chive substrate, but normally there is a delay of 2-5 days. It is during this time that you may notice your cat becoming quite lethargic, depressed and disinterested in normal activities 1.
- Xylitol: This is an artificial sweetener used in many human foods and other products, including chewing gum, sweets, nut butters, bakery goods, diabetic foods and toothpaste. When it is eaten by cats, xylitol can cause an abnormal increase in insulin release from the pancreas, which in turn leads to a decrease in overall blood sugar levels. Early signs of a xylitol problem are lethargy, vomiting and loss of muscle coordination, but without rapid treatment this can progress to cause liver failure and seizures 1.
- Chocolate: Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which is part of the methylxanthine family of compounds. If it is eaten by your cat it can rapidly cause stomach upset; hyperactivity; adversely impact the kidneys and the nervous system, as well as trigger an abnormal heart rhythm 1.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and if you suspect that your cat has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian immediately.
In conclusion, cats should not eat marshmallows. Marshmallows are not good for cats’ health, as they contain no essential nutrients and are harmful to cats. Therefore, it’s best to keep marshmallows away from your cat and provide your cat with a balanced diet that contains all the essential nutrients. If you’re unsure about what to feed your cat, it’s always best to consult your vet.