Is Corn Bad for Cats? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Is corn bad for cats?


Corn offers little nutrition benefit for cats. It’s high in carbs and spikes blood sugar.

Using corn gluten meal in place of meat decreases body calcium and magnesium. Finally it tends to constipate cats.

In the rest of this article, I’ll go through more research on whether corn is bad for cats and answer frequently asked questions.

Let’s go.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.

Is Corn Bad For Cats?


Whilst cats digest corn efficiently, the high carb content spikes blood sugar. Not great if you want to prevent diabetes in your cat.

Corn is:

  • 77% starch
  • 11% fiber
  • 6% fat

As you can see, corn is high in starch (carb). Cats have zero requirement for carbs.

There’s some protein in the form of gluten extracted from the corn endosperm and germ.

Cats have a high protein requirement, so could the corn protein offer nutrition benefit?

Researchers compared fish and corn gluten meal on fecal moisture, nitrogen balance and urinary excretion in 6 adult cats.

Corn gluten decreased fecal moisture by 10%. Not great for constipation risk.

Most of the nutrition in corn isn’t bioavailable due to phytate.

Corn is a high starch grain that offers little nutrition benefit to cats

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Corn?

A cereal crop.

The corn kernel comes in different types including sweet and dent corn. Most corn in cat food is from dent corn.

Corn is called maize in other parts of the world. It’s considered a staple food in a humans diet.

Corn has three parts:

  • Endosperm
  • Pericarp
  • Germ

The endosperm contains most of the starch (carbohydrate) and protein. The germ is high in fat, and the pericarp is mostly fiber.

Corn is:

  • 77% starch
  • 11% fiber
  • 10% protein
  • 6% fat

The protein from corn is deficient in essential amino acids lysine and tryptophan.

Corn is used in a variety of products and forms including:

  • Sweet corn
  • Creamed corn
  • Corn flour
  • Popcorn
  • Corn syrup
  • Alcoholic beverages

Most corn in cat food is either corn gluten meal, ground corn, or corn starch.

Dry cat food (kibble) uses corn more often than wet cat food, although it’s sometimes added to thicken gravy based cat foods.

Sweet corn
Corn is used mostly in kibble

How Much Corn Can a Cat Eat?

It depends.

If we’re talking sweet corn, one cob amounts to 19g of carbohydrate. Researchers argue cats should not exceed 16g of carbs in one day for health.

So one cob of sweet corn is too much for cats.

It’s hard to calculate carbs in commercial cat food. Use a dry matter calculator and aim for less than 16g of carbs per day from all cat food.


Are Cats Sensitive to Corn?


1.5% of cat allergies are attributed to grains including corn.

11% of cats have food intolerance, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Some cats are sensitive to grains including wheat, barley, and corn.

Digestion is negatively affected by corn. It decreases protein and fat digestion.

A cat
1.5% of all cat food allergies are attributed to corn and other grains

Is Corn Hard for Cats to Digest?


Cats can digest around 93% of the starch from corn used in kibble.

Good right?


Corn decreases the digestion of protein and fat. It also spikes blood sugar.

Why Do They Put Corn in Cat Food?


The US produces around 366 million tons of corn a year. About 154 million of this gets used for animal feed (including cat food).

Do Cats Need Corn in Their Food?


All cats are carnivores. They thrive off prey.

Grains (including corn), legumes, vegetables, and fruits aren’t required in a cats diet.

Read more:

What Can Cats Eat?

Animal products.

This best suits a cats dietary needs as carnivores. Meats are easy to digest and high in protein.

Cats can eat small amounts of grains, including corn, but the foods don’t offer much nutrition benefit.

Some vegetables and fruits are toxic to cats.

Read more:

Is Rice or Corn Better for Cats?


Like corn, rice is high in starch (carb source). Researchers suggest limiting carbs to less than 16g a day in a cats diet.

This amounts to 1/4 cup of cooked white rice.

Read more:


Cats do not need corn.

It’s a grain loaded into kibble for affordability. Corn is high in carbs and spikes blood sugar.

The corn gluten protein also decreases fecal moisture, increasing constipation risk.

Limit carbs to less than 16g per day from all sources in your cats diet.

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I'm qualified dietitian that's turned their attention to cat nutrition. My goal is to help tease out the science on how best to feed your cat.