Is Erythritol Safe for Cats? Here’s the Truth Unveiled and 5 Benefits

Erythritol is dubbed a low-calorie sweetener with only 6% sugar calories. The sweetener has gained popularity in human dishes as a staple, and pet parents now consider it a great additive to cat food. But you may ask, “Is erythritol safe for cats?” 

Erythritol is safe for cats if served in small quantities. Erythritol does not spike blood sugar levels or insulin due to its low-calorie content. In fact, studies showed that erythritol can inhibit blood sugar levels and insulin spikes in animals. 

If you’ve been skeptical or cautious about erythritol for your cats, this guide helps you answer all your questions. You will know whether this sweetener is safe for your cats, its benefits, and the associated risks.

What Is Erythritol for Cats?

Erythritol is a low-calorie sugar alcohol in a broad class that also features substrates like xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol. It’s used as an additive to sweeten cat food without necessarily infusing a lot of calories compared to other compounds. 

Erythritol contains 0.24 calories per gram, representing about 6% of the sugar calories. Yet, it still makes cat food sweet-tasting at 70% of sweetness. Other sugar alcohols contain more calories, as indicated in the table below: 

Sugar CompoundCalories Per Gram
Erythritol 0.24 
Xylitol 2.4
Table Sugar4
The amount of calories in erythritol, xylitol, and table sugar

While erythritol is commercially produced by glucose fermentation, it’s also available naturally in fruits and vegetables in small amounts. Such fruits include: 

  • Peaches 
  • Pears
  • Watermelon 

Vegetables with erythritol include corn and peas. Other food sources like soy sauce, cheese, and fermented beverages also have erythritol.  

Find Out: Coconut Oil for Cat Urinary Tract Infection: Is It Safe?

Is Erythritol Safe for Cats? 5 Benefits of Erythritol for Cats

Is erythritol safe for cats

Erythritol is safe for cats as it’s a low-calorie compound. Cats cannot break down this compound in their metabolism, which is why it’s non-toxic, especially when offered in the correct amounts. 

However, excessive erythritol consumption can lead to several issues, including stomach upset and diarrhea. In the worst scenarios, erythritol can cause obesity.

The following are the main benefits of erythritol to cats: 

1. Erythritol Sweetens Cat Food Without Adding More Sugar

As already mentioned, erythritol is a low-calorie sugar alcohol. When used as an additive to your pet’s food, it sweetens the food without increasing its sugar content. 

Your cat will enjoy 70 percent sweetness with just 6% of the sugar calories. 

Consequently, your cat is not at risk of sugar-related complications like diabetes. 

Even better, erythritol is usually not absorbed or does not break down in the body. Hence, your cat will not have an increased carbohydrate daily intake that could have caused significant weight gain and obesity issues. 

2. Erythritol Inhibits Blood Sugar and Insulin

Keeping the correct blood sugar level of your cat is paramount. 

Usually, the sugar level is raised when your feline friend takes a large or high-calorie meal. Eventually, your cat will begin to experience high blood sugar problems. 

On the contrary, erythritol does not spike blood sugar or insulin. The main reason is cats don’t have specific enzymes to break down erythritol. Therefore, the cat absorbs the compound into her bloodstream but remains unchanged even when excreted through urine. 

So, if you have a diabetic cat, erythritol is arguably the best sweetener you can provide her to encourage eating. 

Also read: Cat Depressed Wearing Cone: 7 Ways to Comfort Them

3. Erythritol Promotes Dental Health 

As usual, sugars are the worst enemies of dental health. Sugar can cause tooth decay and cavities when consumed excessively, making your cat experience severe pain and discomfort. This can result in your cat living a low quality of life. 

However, erythritol offers less sugar content. When consumed, they don’t support harmful bacteria growth that feeds on sugars.

Additionally, erythritol has been found to deter bacterial growth directly. According to the National Library of Medicine, erythritol can effectively prevent or inhibit oral bacteria, even better than other sugar compounds like xylitol. 

So, if you don’t want your cat to suffer from dental decay, cavities, or plaque, you should substitute her additives with erythritol. 

4. Erythritol is Low in Calories

Erythritol contains the lowest amount of calories – about 0.24 calories per gram. As seen earlier, regular sugar contains over 20 times the same amount of calories. 

Evidently, this is the kind of product you should give your cat if you are keen on reducing their calorie intake and managing their weight. 

It’s better to prevent weight gain than manage it once it has become a real problem for your cat. Erythritol offers the opportunity to let your cat enjoy sweetness without additional calories. 

5. Erythritol Occurs Naturally in Fruits and Vegetables

Naturally-derived sweeteners are the best by a mile. Fortunately, erythritol can be found in fruits like peaches and pears or vegetables like corn. 

Although cats are carnivorous by nature, they can still eat these greens if prompted. In the process, they will derive erythritol naturally from fruits and vegetables. It’s safer to obtain sugars from natural sources than as products of synthetic processes. 

3 Risks of Erythritol for Cats

All said, erythritol has several risks you should consider when feeding it to your cats. This is especially true if you overfeed your cat.

Here are the main risks of erythritol for cats:

1. Digestive Problems and Diarrhea

When ingested in high amounts, erythritol can lead to digestive problems such as stomach upsets, bloating, cramps, and gas in cats. In addition, your cat will experience diarrhea when she frequently consumes erythritol. 

This is because erythritol increases the amount of water in the intestines leading to diarrhea. In certain circumstances, some cats will vomit when they consume calories, and just like diarrhea, vomiting can cause dehydration. 

2. Hypoglycemia 

Hypoglycemia is when blood sugar levels suddenly drop beyond the lowest points. This can happen if you feed your cat erythritol as the primary sugar source. Since it’s low in calories, long-term use as the only additive can cause hypoglycemia. 

When your cat suffers from this condition, she’s likely to experience symptoms like seizures, general body weakness, lethargy, and even coma. 

3. Erythritol Can Cause Unknown Reactions

Erythritol can also cause allergies, although these are rare occurrences. Some cats may be sensitive to this sweetener, leading to the risk of unknown reactions. 

Remember, there’s limited research on the impact of erythritol’s safety in cats. Therefore, you may never know or predict how they will metabolize and respond to erythritol when they ingest it. 

That said, seeking veterinary advice is vital before offering your cat erythritol. If you see unusual reactions, urgently call your vet to assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment. 

Response to erythritol after ingestion can vary from one cat to another. Hence, don’t expect your cat to behave or respond similarly to your neighbor or friend. 

Is Erythritol the Same as Xylitol? 

Erythritol is not the same as xylitol, although both are sugar alcohol compounds. Comparatively, erythritol has lesser calories than xylitol. Hence, xylitol has some effect on the cat’s blood sugar level, whereas erythritol does not. 

Xylitol Profile

Since we’ve already discussed erythritol earlier, let’s examine xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener but has fewer calories than table sugar. 

Precisely, it contains 40 percent fewer calories than regular sugar. Like erythritol, xylitol occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. 

Some of the benefits of xylitol include: 

  • It does not elevate blood sugar levels thanks to its low glycemic index. Hence used for treating patients with high blood sugar. 
  • It can also help maintain dental hygiene due to its bacteria-suppression properties. 
  • It contains antioxidants that help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in your cats.

Similarities Between Erythritol and Xylitol

  • Both substrates are sugar alcohols that contain low calories. However, xylitol contains a relatively higher sugar content. 
  • Both are ideal for diabetic patients. 
  • Both substrates suppress oral bacteria, helping prevent dental problems your cat might have suffered. 

Differences Between Erythritol and Xylitol

Properties ErythritolXylitol
Sweetness About 60-80% sweetnessAbout as sweet as sucrose
Calorie content Very low – 0.24 calories per gramLow – at 2.4 calories per gram
Glycemic index Zero Low 
Effect on blood sugarDoes not raise blood sugar levels at allRaises the blood sugar level a bit
Dental health benefits Does not promote tooth decay Reduce the risk of tooth decay
Toxicity to catsSafe for cats especially when used in small quantitiesIt may be highly toxic to cats and even dogs 
Source It occurs in fruits and vegetablesIt occurs mainly in trees and corncobs.
Differences between Erythritol and Xylitol for cats

The information provided shows that erythritol is a better and healthier option than xylitol if you want a sugar substitute that will not cause issues to your cat’s health. 

The reasons for that include the following: 

  • Erythritol has a better aftertaste thanks to its slightly lower sweetness level. 
  • Causes less digestive distress
  • It has a lower glycemic index than xylitol 
  • Xylitol has 40 times more calories than erythritol 
  • Xylitol tastes just like regular sugar

Can I Substitute Erythritol for Xylitol? 

You cannot substitute erythritol for xylitol if you aim to have an almost zero-calorie sweetener. This is because xylitol has a considerable amount of calories, standing at 2.4 calories per gram. 

Also, xylitol is sweeter. It tastes 100% like sugar – hence if you don’t want your cat to have such additives, you’d better not give xylitol. 

Additionally, the glycemic index of xylitol is slightly raised as opposed to the zero glycemic index of erythritol

Xylitol is not the correct substitute, as it can be toxic to cats and dogs. When giving xylitol, you must be cautious to avoid poisoning your pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is Better Xylitol or Erythritol?

Erythritol is better than Xylitol because it has a zero glycemic index. The zero glycemic index of Erythritol means it doesn’t raise a cat’s blood sugar level, exposing it to obesity. Xylitol has a higher glycemic index, making it unsafe for cats and other pets.

Is Erythritol Safe for Dogs and Cats?

Erythritol is safe for dogs and cats in small quantities. When overfed, erythritol exposes cats and dogs to stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea.

So, Is Erythritol Safe for Cats?

The answer to the question, “Is erythritol safe for cats?” is a resounding yes.

The truth has been unveiled, revealing that this sugar substitute can indeed be part of a feline’s diet without harm. 

However, as with any treat, moderation is key. Just as too much of a good thing can be bad for humans, overindulgence in erythritol might lead to digestive upset for our furry friends. 

So, let’s celebrate the fact that erythritol can be a safe and occasional treat for our beloved cats, but remember, a little goes a long way in keeping their well-being intact.

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