Can Cats Eat Ham?

June 27, 2022 by The Spot Pack

Cats are carnivores, so meat makes up the majority of their diet. Nevertheless, just because cats should be eating animal products doesn’t mean they can eat all types of meat.

When making the best decisions about your cat’s diet, you need all the help you can get. Spot Pet Insurance will share all the details you need to know before including ham in your cat’s diet.

Can your cat eat ham?

The short answer is yes, but only sparingly. Ham is a staple in the American diet, and it’s only natural to want to share your favorite meals with your pet. A small piece of ham isn’t poisonous to your cats. However, it’s high in fat and salt, which aren’t great for a cat’s health.

High-fat foods affect how your cat metabolizes energy and leads to long-term health troubles. The high sodium content in ham could lead to health complications and even death.

Can cats eat ham safely?

It’s usually best to avoid ham altogether, but there are ways that you can safely give it to your cat.

The first is to get your ham from the right source. Choose a reliable butcher so that you’re sure that you’re getting excellent quality meat. Processed ham from the grocery store often contains way more salt than your cat needs, so it’s best to avoid those.

The next thing you can do is to limit how much ham they eat. It’s better to use it as a snack. When you’re trying to encourage your cat to take their medicine, try chopping ham into small cubes and giving them to your cat as a reward.

Is ham good for cats?

Cats need mostly meat products in their diet, so technically, they can eat ham. Although ham shouldn’t be a staple in your cat’s food, there are still some minor benefits that they can get from eating it once in a while:

Protein

Each 100g serving of ham contains about 22.2g of protein which is useful because cats need more protein in their diet.

Taurine

Ham also contains taurine, an amino acid that helps your cat build strong muscles. It helps keep their heart, eyes, and digestive system functioning properly.

Vitamins and minerals

Your cats only need vitamins and minerals in small quantities, but they’re essential. These vital nutrients regulate almost every process in your cat’s body.

Here are some nutrients your cats get from ham:

  • Iron: For your cats to produce new blood cells in their bone marrow, they need iron. Iron is a core part of the structure of hemoglobin, and it’s present in ham.
  • Zinc: Your cats need zinc to keep their skin and fur healthy and shiny. It helps them transport vitamin A and is present in ham.
  • Vitamin B: Ham contains thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. These vitamins are essential for your cat’s metabolism. They also ensure proper growth. Vitamin B is soluble in water, so it’s not stored in your cat’s body. This is why they need to get adequate amounts from their diet.

Is ham bad for cats?

Cats and dogs may enjoy ham, but it’s not the best food for them.

Ham may be bad for your cat’s health for the following reasons:

High salt content

Ham contains about 977 mg of sodium in each 100g serving. This is even higher for processed or store-bought kinds. Cats can get salt poisoning from eating foods containing excessive amounts of salt. This irritates their stomachs and causes frequent urination.

High fat content

The fat content of ham can hurt your cat’s health. This affects their heart and increases their risk of other health issues.

How do you give your cat ham safely?

Some experts recommend cutting ham out of your cat’s diet completely. If you’d like to keep ham in their meal plan, you can take specific measures to ensure that your cat enjoys it without harming their health. It’s best to chat with your vet about giving your cat ham before you begin.

Buy healthier cuts

Speak to your butcher about getting lean cuts of ham. They’ll remove the excess fat to make it much better for your cat’s diet.

Make sure the ham is cooked

Wild cats hunt and eat their prey all the time, so can your cat eat raw meat too? That’s not usually a great idea. Eating raw meat exposes your cat to food-borne illnesses, especially salmonella. Other health problems your cat might face from eating raw ham include Listeria, E. coli, and Toxoplasmosis.

If you want to ensure your cat is healthy and safe, spare a few minutes to cook the ham. The heat will kill the microbes that can make your cat sick.

Feed sparingly

If you’re giving your cats ham, limit them to snack time. It’s a calorie-dense food, and your cats shouldn’t be eating more than a few bite-sized cubes at a time. Each serving of ham contains about 139 calories, so keep your cat’s portions small. It’s best to give your cats no more than 10% of their daily calories as treats. Keep that in mind when preparing your pet’s diet.

Don’t feed your cat from your plate

It’s tempting to give your cat a bite of your ham sandwich or casserole, but don’t give in. Human food often contains way more seasoning than your cats can tolerate. Spices such as garlic and onion that add unique flavors to your food are toxic for your pet.

Ham already contains lots of salt, so there’s no need to add extra when cooking. Keep things as simple as possible for your pet.

What are healthier alternatives to ham for your cat?

Now you know that ham isn’t a great food choice for your cats, what other options do you have?

Here are some food options for your cat:

Beef

Cats can have beef. It’s rich in essential amino acids and provides other nutrients that are great for their health. It’s usually best to stick to lean cuts. Since they have lower fat, they’re less likely to give your cat health troubles later.

Chicken

Chicken is great for cats. You’ll find it listed among the ingredients in many commercial cat foods. It’s a healthy source of lean protein.

Your cat can enjoy many chicken dishes, such as chicken broth. Stay away from store-bought options because they are usually heavily spiced. Onions and garlic used in making these foods are highly poisonous to your cat. Instead, prepare chicken for your pet at home without using spices.

Turkey

Your cats can enjoy turkey. However, you should be careful with feeding turkey to your pet because it contains some fat.

Avoid processed turkey meat. It contains more salt than your cats can eat. It’s also high in fat and preservatives.

Lamb

Lamb is okay for cats to eat, but you should be careful about its fat content. When preparing lamb for your cat, cut off the fatty pieces before cooking. If your vet has put your cat on a low-fat diet, you might want to skip lamb and go for other options.

Duck

Cats usually love eating duck, which is great since this meat provides a healthy amount of protein and nutrients.

Don’t give them too much if you don’t want your cat to get obsessed with duck meat.

Organ Meat

When a cat catches prey in the wild, they eat the whole animal, including the organs. Organs such as the liver, heart, and kidneys are packed with nutrients. They’re healthy food options, but you must be cautious about giving them to your cat.

The liver contains stored vitamins such as vitamin A. As a result, eating too much liver can cause vitamin toxicity in cats. Only give your cats a tiny piece at a time.

Final thoughts

Ham isn’t a great meal option for cats. It contains excess fat and salt, which is bad for their health. At the same time, ham is a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Your cat shouldn’t eat more than a tiny piece of ham as a snack. Only giving them a tiny treat sparingly can help them enjoy it without increasing their health risks.

If you want to give your cat ham, buy healthier cuts from your butcher and cook it without spices. Never feed your cat ham from your plate. Human food usually contains way more seasoning than cats need, including toxic ones such as onions and garlic.

Choose healthier meat types such as chicken, turkey, lamb, duck, and beef. Removing the skin and cooking them without spices helps your pet get all the benefits. Discover more ways to care for your pet from Spot Pet Insurance.

Sources:

Salt Is Toxic To Pets | Pet Poison Helpline

Pork, cured, ham with natural juices, spiral slice, boneless, separable lean and fat, heated, roasted | USDA

Cat Treats | VCA Animal Hospital

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