Happy International Bacon Day! It’s hard to resist the smell of crackling bacon—whether you’re human or feline. But can cats eat bacon? And can cats eat ham, salami, or other processed meats? Although cats are carnivores, find out why giving them processed meats to eat is not recommended.
What are processed meats and why aren’t they healthy?
True, cats are obligate carnivores—meaning they require a diet high in protein and taurine from animal sources. However, processed meats are not a recommended source of animal protein for cats.
Processed meats are any meat preserved by salting, smoking, curing, or adding chemical preservatives. According to WebMD, “People who eat a lot of these kinds of meats are more likely to get heart disease, diabetes, and even certain kinds of cancer, thanks to all the salt, fat, and chemical preservatives.”
That goes for cats, too!
Can cats eat ham?
You may be wondering in despair—is ham processed meat? Because ham is typically preserved by salting, smoking, curing, or adding preservatives, it’s considered processed.
Cats should not eat ham due to its fat and salt content. Salt poisoning in cats is nothing to scoff at: Some clinical veterinary reports caution that as little as a quarter teaspoon of salt consumption can be toxic to cats that weigh 10 pounds or less. A diet high in salt can lead to inflammatory bowel disease in cats, obesity, pancreatitis, and more.
That said, a tiny serving of ham every once in a while is probably okay for your cat. Make sure that the ham has not been seasoned with garlic or onions. Garlic, onions, and other members of the allium family are highly toxic for cats.
Can cats eat bacon?
Womp, womp: Cats should not eat bacon regularly. Like ham, bacon contains way too much salt (and fat) for cats. A very small amount of bacon (like today, on International Bacon Day!) is okay every now and again as a special treat. Just hold the garlic and onions.
Can cats eat salami? Can cats eat pepperoni?
Cats can have a little salami, no? (Or even “little a salami”?) Unfortunately, salami, a form of cured sausage, is unhealthy for cats due to its fat content—but even worse is its typical preparation involving salt, garlic powder, and other spices that can be toxic to cats in excess. The same goes for its popular pizza topping relative, pepperoni. (Giving your cat pizza in general isn’t a great idea, as cheese can upset your cat’s stomach.)
Avoid giving your cats any salami or pepperoni, despite their adorable expressions begging otherwise.
Can cats eat hot dogs?
We don’t recommend feeding your cat hot dogs, which stand out even among processed meats as being chock-full of byproducts.
Can cats eat sausage?
You know the drill by now: Sausage, like other processed meats, contains too much salt, fat, and potentially toxic spices for cats to safely indulge in.
Can cats eat bologna, the popular lunch meat made of sausage? Again, it’s not recommended for the same reasons as described above.
Can cats eat beef jerky?
The king of salty processed meats on this list, beef jerky is most definitely not recommended for cats. As a reminder, it only takes a tiny amount of salt consumption (a quarter teaspoon, in some cases) to poison a cat.
So, can cats eat bacon? Moral of the story: Processed meats are unhealthy for humans and cats alike. If you’re tempted to share some protein with your cat, offer them a bit of cooked salmon, lean turkey meat, or skinless chicken instead. Find out more about which human foods are safe for cats and which aren’t.
Cover photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash