Resource Center Menu

Can Cats Eat Bread?

Plain bread is generally not toxic to cats, which means that food-curious kitties aren’t likely to be harmed by snagging an occasional bite of it. That being said, bread is not a healthy treat to incorporate into your cat’s diet. For cats with certain medical issues, it can even be dangerous to consume. It’s also important to note that bread should never be a regular part of your cat’s diet or treat regimen, and their portion should be both small and offered on rare occurrences only. As with any food you’re considering offering your cat, consult your veterinarian first to ensure it’s an appropriate snack for them.

Are there health benefits of bread for cats?

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they get most of their nutritional needs met from eating animal products. Since the feline digestive system is especially suited for just this type of diet, feeding your pet high-quality cat food that’s been recommended by their vet is the best way to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need. Bread offers no health benefits to cats.

If you decide to feed your cat an occasional small bite of bread, there are some important things to keep in mind.

First, every cat is different. Some cats can eat a small amount of bread just fine while others may experience digestive discomfort. This can include gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, constipation and vomiting. If your cat has digestive problems after eating bread, discontinue feeding it to them.

Do not feed your cat bread if they have a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease.

Do not feed your cat any bread that contains special ingredients or flavors. These ingredients include but are not limited to onions, garlic, chives, chocolate and raisins, all of which are toxic to cats. Stay away from nut breads, too. While most nuts are not considered toxic to cats, some nuts—such as macadamia nuts—are.

Another important ingredient to avoid is xylitol, a common sweeter in products from gum to sweet drinks. It’s generally safe for humans to eat but is toxic for cats and dogs. Review the ingredients of your bread closely before feeding it to your cat.

Lastly, unbaked bread dough that contains yeast is toxic to cats. According to the ASPCA, yeast dough can rise and cause gas to build up in your cat’s digestive system. This can cause your cat’s stomach to bloat and even twist, which can be fatal. Yeast also produces an alcohol byproduct called ethanol. Alcohol can cause serious problems for your cat, including vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, difficulty breathing, coma and even death.

How to feed bread to your cat

Can cats eat bread? Yes, a small quantity of plain bread on rare occasions should not be harmful. But should cats eat bread? No, cats receive no nutritional benefit from eating bread. Remember that at least 90 percent of your cat’s calories should come from commercially available cat food specifically formulated to give them the nutrients they need. Be sure to consult your veterinarian before adding any new foods to your pet's diet.

If you do occasionally offer bread to your cat, limit their portion to one bite-size piece. Not only have feline gastrointestinal tracts not evolved to digest carbohydrates, but their teeth are not built to chew such food either. If you offer too big a bite, your cat could swallow it whole and potentially choke. 

Start with a very small amount of bread and monitor your pet closely to ensure that there aren’t any problems. If your cat shows signs of gastrointestinal distress, discontinue feeding them bread immediately and contact your veterinarian for guidance.

FAQs about bread and cats

The answer is a complicated maybe. Banana bread often contains additives like walnuts, peanuts or xylitol-containing peanut butter and even chocolate, all of which are unhealthy or even toxic for your cat. While walnuts are generally considered safe, it’s not uncommon for cats to experience gastrointestinal distress from eating some nuts. Check packaging labels carefully. Banana bread is also high in sugar and higher in calories than is healthy for cats.

Yes, cats can eat plain bread crust in small quantities and on rare occasions. All of the guidelines given in this article also apply to bread crust. Ensure that the bread crust does not contain onions, garlic, raisins, chocolate or any other unhealthy or toxic ingredient.

No, cats cannot eat garlic bread. Garlic is an allium, a group that also includes onions and chives. Alliums are toxic to cats. If you think your cat may have eaten garlic, monitor them closely and call your veterinarian if they experience any severe symptoms.

The answer depends on the ingredients. Pumpkin bread often contains walnuts and raisins. While walnuts are nontoxic, they can cause gastrointestinal upset in some cats. Raisins are toxic to felines and should, therefore, never be offered to cats. As a sweetened bread, pumpkin bread may also contain xylitol, which is also toxic to cats. Double-check all labels and ingredient lists before offering a small piece of bread to your cat. And don’t forget that this should be considered an occasional treat.

If you’re eating a sandwich and considering offering your kitty a little taste of the crust, you may be wondering, “Can cats eat white bread?” or “Can cats eat wheat bread?” And even, “Can cats eat rye bread?”

A small amount of plain bread on rare occasions should not cause any major concerns in a healthy cat. Remember, however, that cats receive no nutritional benefit from eating bread, so a small bite of it should be considered a rare treat. Read labels carefully. If you spot xylitol, nuts, raisins, garlic, onions or any other toxic or unhealthy ingredients, find a different treat to offer your cat

Sourdough bread is not healthy for cats as it contains a higher amount of yeast than other types of bread. The yeast can react with carbohydrates in sourdough to produce a type of alcohol called ethanol, which can cause cats to experience seizures or develop respiratory illnesses.

Plain white, rye or wheat bread is generally considered a safe food for cats to try in very small amounts on rare occasions, although it can cause gastrointestinal upset for some cats. If your cat experiences anything more serious than mild gastrointestinal discomfort after eating bread, see your veterinarian right away.

The feline digestive system is designed to absorb nutrients from protein. Their gastrointestinal tract has not evolved to digest carbohydrates. While there are some carbohydrates in commercially available cat foods, bread is largely made of carbohydrates and is not generally recommended as part of a carnivore diet.

That being said, cats can develop a taste for different food, including bread. If your cat seems to especially love bread, it’s OK to allow them to have a small piece of plain white, wheat or even rye bread on occasion, if your vet signs off on it.

Bread has no nutritional benefit for cats, so pet parents should focus on more-appropriate meat-based treats. If you decide to let your cat try a piece of bread, it should be considered a very special treat that is not offered daily. If your cat has health problems such as a heart condition, kidney condition or diabetes, bread can be unhealthy and should never be offered to them.

Recommended Articles

Take a look at other articles in this series, including:

Reviewed by Petco’s Animal Care, Education and Compliance (ACE) Team

Petco’s ACE team is a passionate group of experienced pet care experts dedicated to supporting the overall health & wellness of pets. The ACE team works to develop animal care operations and standards across the organization and promote proper animal care and education for Pet Care Center partners and pet parents, while also ensuring regulatory compliance.