Can Cats Eat Marshmallows? A Guide to Safe Consumption

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No, cats can’t eat marshmallows. While marshmallows aren’t technically toxic, they have no nutritional benefits for your cat. The sweet treat only has calories and processed sugar, which are problematic for your cat’s digestive system.

As an owner of two cats, I know firsthand how cats tend to eat any food they can find, even if it’s not good for them.

As a cat parent, it’s up to you to ensure that your feline companion doesn’t eat any harmful food. And this might have led you to question:

Can cats eat marshmallows?

While marshmallows aren’t inherently toxic to your cat, they can lead to potential health issues if ingested in large quantities.

Keeping reading to learn:

What Is In Marshmallows?

Typical marshmallows ingredients include:

  • Sugar (the primary element that provides sweetness)
  • Corn syrup (to help bring the ingredients together and add sweetness)
  • Water (also helps in binding components together)
  • Gelatin (a protein from pigs’ or cows’ collagen to give marshmallows the spongy texture)
  • Flavoring (vanilla is the most common flavoring used to enhance the taste)

While most people use marshmallows for baking, you can enjoy them as snacks. The spongy, soft marshmallows can appear harmless, but their high sugar content poses a huge health problem for your cat.

Why Shouldn’t You Give Marshmallows to Your Cat?

If marshmallow isn’t toxic, you’d think they can make excellent treats for your cat. But there are many things about marshmallows that would go wrong with your cat, including:

Zero Nutrition Value

Your cat is a carnivore and needs an animal-based protein diet most. Its primary energy source is protein and not sugar. As a result, your cat’s digestive system can’t process sugar efficiently.

On the other hand, marshmallow is mainly sugar. One marshmallow has 4.1 grams of sugar, which is about 25 calories.

Science says an average healthy adult cat needs approximately 250 calories daily. Feeding your cat one marshmallow equals 10% of its daily caloric need. Even if you’re giving your cat the marshmallow as a treat, you’d want to consider other alternatives.

Feeding marshmallows to your cat consistently can induce health complications such as:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Dental issues
  • Metabolic issues
  • Unnecessary weight gain

Risk of Sodium Toxicity

A standard marshmallow has 5.8 mg of sodium, which is astronomically high for your cat, which has low sodium tolerance. Excess sodium can flood your cat’s bloodstream, overwhelm its kidney, and cause hypernatremia.

Your cat may start to show signs of sodium toxicity, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting 
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness
  • Urinary tract infections

If you suspect sodium toxicity in your cat, see your vet to induce vomiting and prevent further salt absorption.

Choking Hazards

Marshmallows are soft and chewy. And while they might not be as dense or hard as some other treats, they pose a choking risk to your cat.

When marshmallows mix with saliva, they get extremely sticky. Since cats have small throats and their swallowing reflexes can’t handle sticky or bulky pieces of food, they might chock on marshmallows. The sticky marshmallow can adhere to your cat’s mouth or throat, making it difficult for it to swallow.

Xylitol Toxicity

Some marshmallows have xylitol — an artificial sweetener that’s highly toxic for cats. When taken in large amounts, the sweetener can cause rapid insulin release, leading to severe low blood sugar.

Your cat will start showing symptoms like:

  • General weakness and lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures

Digestion Problems

Marshmallows can cause bowel upset to your cat because of their high-sugar content and additives that aren’t part of your kitty’s natural diet. 

Since your cat’s simple digestive tract only knows how to handle animal-based protein, it won’t process the sugar and additives, resulting in bowel discomfort such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

What Should You Do If Your Cat Ate Marshmallows

If your cat has snatched a marshmallow, ran off with it, and eaten it before you can have a chance to stop it, you shouldn’t worry. One marshmallow won’t harm if your cat eats it without choking.

Even if your cat bumped into a bag of marshmallows and ate many of them, you still have nothing to worry about because your feline can’t eat enough to cause serious side effects. After all, marshmallows aren’t toxic to cats if taken once. 

The concerning health effect stems from feeding your cat marshmallows consistently.

But for a one-time occasion, your cat may only have stomach upset. So monitor your cats for the following signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in behavior

If your cat only ate a small piece of marshmallow, it may continue acting normal, and there shouldn’t be any cause for immediate concerns.

Next time, however, be more cautious about table food your cat can access. While a marshmallow isn’t dangerous, other human foods can cause fatal health conditions.

This begs the question:

Which Human Foods Are Toxic to Your Cat?

All cats are curious. 

In their sheer curiosity, your cat might get hold of human foods that may not be good for them. While most human foods are nothing to worry about, others can be poisonous and make your kitty sick.

Here are some food examples you should keep your cat away from:


Chocolate has caffeine and a compound called theobromine that are toxic to your cat (and dog). The two stimulants can affect your cats’ central nervous and cardiovascular systems.

Your cat doesn’t have a specific enzyme to metabolize caffeine and theobromine, making it more sensitive to the stimulants’ effect. If your cat eats chocolate, it can experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Death (in severe cases)

Food With Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onion have compounds that damage cats’ red blood cells to cause anemia. When your cat ingests even a tiny amount of garlic or onion, either raw, cooked, or powdered form, it can develop complications such as:

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Life-threatening anemia
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes aren’t toxic to cats in small amounts but can cause digestion problems. The citric acids in these fruits will irritate your cat’s stomach to induce:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting 

The essential oils in this fruit may be unpleasant for cats and cause them to avoid eating anything.


Most types of nuts are dangerous to cats because of their high-fat content. The fat can cause pancreatitis.

However, macadamia nuts contain substances that can cause neurological symptoms such as weakness, tremors, and lack of stability.


While a small amount of salt in a cat’s diet is not harmful, excessive salt consumption can lead to salt poisoning or hypernatremia. As stated earlier, cats have a low tolerance for sodium.

Excess sodium can disrupt your cat’s electrolyte balance, leading to:

  • Dehydration
  • Excessive thirst
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Death (in severe cases)

How Can You Keep Your Cat Away From Dangerous Foods?

Cats are excellent at accessing items they shouldn’t. Your best shot at preventing accidental ingestion of toxic food is keeping them out of your cat’s reach. 

While there are many ways to keep your cat safe from harmful human food, let’s focus on the simplest ones you can try right now:

  • Store human food out of reach, like in closed containers or cabinets.
  • Keep your cat away from the counter or table when preparing food or eating.
  • Dispose of food trash properly to prevent the aroma from attracting your cat.
  • Get pet-safe treats to indulge your cat’s taste buds without compromising its health.
  • Use positive reinforcement and reward-based training to teach your cat not to approach specific areas or food items.
  • Educate your guests at events and parties to avoid giving human food to your cat or leaving them around where your cat can get it.

Can Cats Eat Marshmallows: In a Nutshell

Marshmallows aren’t excellent for your cat. While they aren’t toxic, marshmallows’ high-sugar content and no-nutrient value make them inappropriate even as a treat. 

If your cat has accidentally ingested marshmallows, you shouldn’t worry. You might see signs of distress and bowel upset, but they will recede once the marshmallows are out of your cat’s system.


What are the risks of feeding marshmallows to cats?

The main risk of feeding marshmallows to your cat are: weight gain, diabetes, choking, and dental issues.
Marshmallows are high in sugar and sodium, which can cause weight gain, diabetes, and dental issues.
Besides high sugar content, marshmallows contain artificial ingredients such as food color, flavors, and preservatives. These additives aren’t beneficial to a cat’s health and can even be harmful.

Can marshmallows cause diabetes in cats?

One or two marshmallows are unlikely to cause diabetes. However, regular feeding sugary treats like marshmallows can contribute to weight gain and eventually lead to diabetes.
Excess sugar intake can induce insulin resistance and contribute to the development of diabetes over time.

How many marshmallows can I give to my cat?

You shouldn’t give marshmallows to your cat. However, if you must, it should be in extremely low quantities. One or two pieces on rare occasions would be the maximum.
Kittens should not eat marshmallows or sugary treats because their digestive systems aren’t fully developed, and might have a problem handling even a tiny marshmallow.

What are some safe treats for cats?

There are a gazillion safe treats your cat can eat. Some of the best options include: cooked chicken or fish, lean ground beef, eggs, plain yogurt, green beans, carrots, pumpkin.
Consider treats that are low in sugar and sodium and appropriate for your cat’s age and weight.

About Laura Martin

I'm Laura Martin. I get excited about all things cat related. I love my two cats - Dom and Kitty. When I'm not playing with my two feline friends, you can probably find me hiking. And yes, I have a 9 to 5 job. Although if you asked me I'd rather spend my time blogging and educating other cat moms and dads about what it takes to raise a healthy cat.

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