Is Food Coloring Safe or Toxic For Cats?

  • Time to read: 4 min.

Our feline friends have delicate stomachs, but can something like food coloring cause them real harm? Food coloring is tried and tested as safe for human consumption, but perhaps your pet has accidentally ingested some. Or maybe you would like to know if the artificial coloring in cat kibble is in any way unhealthy for your kitty. Fear not! Here is all you need to know about whether or not food coloring is safe or toxic for your cats.

If your cat has an allergy to artificial coloring such as red dye allergy, then it can definitely be harmful to your pet. If your cat does not have an allergy, food coloring that is FDA approved will not pose a threat to your cat if they eat it.

Every cat is different, and some will have allergies just like we do. Red dye allergy is the most common and harmful food coloring allergy in cats, so you need to check for symptoms of it when choosing what to feed your kitty. If they have no allergies to it, food coloring will not harm your cat. However, it is still not suggested you add it to their food in excess. Most dry pellets will already have food coloring added, and while it is not necessarily toxic, there is also no real benefit to giving them food coloring.

Can Cats Eat Food Coloring?

It is definitely possible! But not necessarily advised. If your cat has no allergy to it, then food coloring that has been tried and tested and is FDA approved will not be toxic for your cat. If the coloring has been cleared as safe for human consumption, it will likely also be safe for kitties.

So if your cat has accidentally eaten something with coloring in, don’t worry! If they aren’t allergic your cat won’t get sick, but there might be some side effects.

The coloring added to regular cat food is generally no problem, but consistently giving your cat food coloring designed for humans is definitely not advised.

Red Dye Allergy

Red dye allergy is the most common and the most harmful food dye allergy in cats and dogs. It is also called red 40 allergy, as it is food coloring red #40 that presents a common problem. Yellow #5 and blue #2 have also been known to cause health problems in pets.

In extreme cases, they have also been reported to cause cancer and tumors, although the scientific research into this is flimsy.

If you suspect your cat has an allergy to food coloring you need to take it very seriously. It can cause a number of painful problems for your cat, and in extreme cases can even be fatal by sending your cat into anaphylactic shock.

Symptoms of Red Dye Allergy

If your cat displays signs of:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or an abnormal amount of gas
  • Fevers
  • Pain moving, pain in their joints
  • Skin irritation including redness and swelling, rashes, hives, and excessive itching
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • An unusual drop in appetite
  • Excessive sneezing

And the symptoms are being displayed after eating food with red dye, then they may be suffering from red dye allergy.

What to do About Red Dye Allergy

It can be tricky to diagnose cats with an allergy by yourself, so if you suspect your cat has been showing symptoms as a result of their food, visit a vet. Tests can be run to determine if your cat really does have an allergy, and from there, your vet can advise you how best to treat it.

In the future, you need to rigorously avoid cat food products with red dye in them. Some brands will list everything in their ingredients and some won’t, so you need to research thoroughly before picking a trustworthy brand.

Side Effects of Eating Coloring

Some side effects of eating a large amount of pure coloring may be that your cat’s mouth and teeth get stained, as well as their urine.

While this isn’t harmful it isn’t necessarily good either. The dye might take a while to fade from your cat’s teeth, and the discoloration of their urine indicates something unnatural has been through their system.

Food made for humans is different from that designed for cats. Stick to products made specifically for cats.

Is It Possible for Food Coloring to Cause a Cat Real Harm?

Some studies have found food coloring can cause hyperactivity in humans, and it is always better to not risk any possible similar effects on your pet.

Most cats have stomachs that are around 40-60 millimetres. With such a small stomachs any negative side effects food coloring has on humans will likely have the same on your cat if you give it to them in excess.

Cats have different immune systems to us, and it is always better to stay on the safe side.

Colorful Kibble

You will likely have noticed that your cat’s dry food contains coloring. After the manufacturing process cat food is often dyed different colors to make it look more appealing.

The coloring added is mostly for the benefit of potential buyers, however, as cats can’t see the full-color spectrum. If your cat is not allergic to it then food dye will not harm them at all. However it offers no nutritional value, and is only added to make the product look more appealing.

Choose your kibble brand carefully if you suspect your cat has an allergy to artificial dyes.

In Conclusion

Food coloring can indeed be harmful to cats if they have an allergy to it.

Apart from that, food coloring will not harm your cat in any real way, but their reaction to it is also uncertain.

Stick to products specifically made for cats when looking at what to feed your kitty.