Can Cats Eat Ham?

She really wants a nibble of that sandwich, but here's what to know before you give in.

Many pet parents love indulging their four-legged friends with the occasional table scrap or two. Hey, they're part of the family, after all! Unfortunately, sharing isn't necessarily caring when it comes to feeding your cat from your plate. While you may be doing their tastebuds a favor, certain foods simply aren't safe for felines to eat. Beyond just causing serious stomach upset, the wrong foods can actually be poisonous to cats.

Here's what to know before you indulge your cat with a bite of your next meal:

Gray Cat Eating Deli Meat Out of Human Hand


Stick with High-Quality, Unprocessed Proteins

If you're looking to give your cat a taste of human food, Dr. Gary J. Kubala, VMD, of Littlestown Veterinary Hospital, recommends feeding your favorite feline "high-quality, cooked, unprocessed proteins like chicken, duck, and turkey."

If you're enjoying a sandwich at lunch and find yourself thinking "can cats eat ham?" the answer is probably not. Deli meat is typically filled with salt and additives that are tough on cats' bodies, Dr. Kubala says. However, if they snag a small bite off your plate when you aren't looking, there's no need to panic.

Keep Portions Small

Like humans, it's easy for cats to gain weight if their diet lacks portion control. However, unlike human caloric requirements, Dr. Kubala explains that cats only need 200 to 300 calories per day to stay healthy. That means that the treat you see as "just a taste" may actually be unhealthy for your pet.

"Small amounts of food throughout the day can add calories fast," he explains. If you're looking to dole out treats, stick to less than a teaspoon. This prevents unnecessary weight gain and helps to prevent any GI upset.

Know What Foods To Avoid

Besides skipping processed deli meat like ham, Dr. Kubala also points out that there are several other food items that are poisonous to cats. This includes chocolate and chocolate-based products, onions, leeks, garlic, chives, macadamia nuts, raisins, grapes, currants, products sweetened with xylitol, alcoholic beverages, and unbaked bread dough.

The moral of the story: Just because it tastes great to you, doesn't mean it's safe to share with your furry friend. If you're unsure if an item is okay to feed to your pet, double-check with your veterinarian so you can feel certain that your cat can safely enjoy the treat without health complications.

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