Arguably the best day of the year is upon us: National Pizza Day! You might be wondering if you can share your favorite meal with your feline family member. But can cats eat pizza? Find out why cheese, tomato sauce with garlic, and common toppings like onions, mushrooms, and processed meats result in pizza not being a recommended treat for cats.
So, can cats eat pizza?
What you should really be asking is, should cats eat pizza? And the answer is no. Let’s break down why you shouldn’t allow your cat to eat pizza.
Many cat parents don’t realize that cats are typically lactose intolerant. As kittens are weaned from their mother’s milk, the enzyme that enables them to digest lactose begins to disappear from the gut. So, cheeses that have higher lactose content are more likely to upset your cat’s stomach. Plus, too much dairy can contribute to obesity in cats (which is on the rise!).
Fresh mozzarella cheese—like that which you’d find on margarita pizza—and processed cheese—the shredded stuff you might get on cheap pizza—tend to be higher in lactose, which can lead to upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats.
Finally, cheese tends to have too much salt for our furry friends.
Tomato sauce, garlic & onion
Can cats eat tomato sauce? Because tomato sauce found on pizza will typically contain a lot of salt, it’s not recommended for cats. But the bigger threat for cats belongs to the spices often found in tomato sauce, or even as pizza toppings: specifically, garlic and onion.
Garlic, onion, and other members of the allium family are highly toxic for cats. Garlic and onions contain compounds called disulfides and thiosulphates, which can cause the red blood cells circulating through a cat’s body to become very fragile and burst. Ingesting just a small amount of garlic may result in the destruction of a cat’s red blood cells, a deadly condition known as hemolytic anemia.
Because cats are obligate carnivores, 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 due to all the salt, fat, and chemical preservatives.
That goes for common pizza toppings like pepperoni, ham, and bacon. Womp womp!
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.
Oddly enough, some cats crave mushrooms—or more specifically, the “umami flavor of a wide array of amino acids in protein.” However, cats should get their protein from eating animal meat.
If your cat eats a cooked mushroom off your piece of pizza, you probably don’t need to worry about the mushroom itself. Instead, worry about the potential contact with toxic spices like garlic and onion.
(Note: If your cat goes outside, be on the lookout for potentially poisonous mushrooms that grow in the area.)
Can cats eat pizza crust?
Eating a bit of cooked pizza crust is most likely harmless for your cat. But you should never allow your cat to eat raw dough, as the yeast can cause a deadly expansion and create alcohol in the stomach. Chances are, your cat won’t be very interested in either plain pizza crust or raw dough anyway.
So, can cats eat pizza? This National Pizza Day, you now know you’re better off hoarding the pizza to yourself. And what self-respecting human would complain about that? Learn more about human food that is (and isn’t) safe for cats!
Cover photo by Shourav Sheikh on Unsplash