Ahhh… warm and gooey -pizza! I can almost taste it just thinking about it for this article. Who doesn’t love a good slice of pizza?
And what’s not to love? Warm, melted cheese meets delicious, doughy crust. Add some fantastic toppings and a little pizza sauce, and you have the perfect dinner (or lunch) in an easy-to-eat slice!
But as much as we humans like pizza, it can be a problem when our pets do too. The irresistible smells lure cats to come and take a bite. But can cats eat pizza? Is it safe?
Cats can eat pizza, but they probably shouldn’t. There are some toxicities and dangers for cats eating pizza.
Additionally, too much pizza can cause problems for a cat ranging from gastrointestinal issues to obesity and diabetes.
If you are going to give some of your pizza to your cat as a treat, make sure it is just a tiny nibble, and be wary of the toppings.
Hidden Dangers In Pizza For Cats
Pizza is made up of two parts – the pizza crust and the toppings. And sadly, each of these parts contains potentially harmful ingredients.
Let’s examine them in detail and see why you might not want to share your pizza with your feline friend.
Pizza toppings can pose a danger to cats. Many ingredients used in and on a pizza are toxic to cats. Examples are garlic and onion.
Garlic and onion, when fed to cats, may lead to hemolytic anemia. This is caused by an abnormality being included in the red blood cells and the body then destroying the faulty cells.
Hemolytic anemia from garlic or onion toxicity can be fatal for the cat if left untreated. Any cat that is known to have ingested garlic or onions should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.
Almost all pizzas, whether delivered frozen, or homemade, contain high levels of salt and sodium.
Cats are very small in comparison to humans and are more sensitive to salt. If they ingest too much, they may suffer salt poisoning.
A typical slice of pizza contains approximately 1000mg of sodium. This is almost half of a human’s daily requirement of sodium.
Because a cat is so many times smaller than a human, a slice of pizza eaten by a cat would deliver five to ten times more than the recommended amount of daily sodium intake for a cat (depending on their weight).
Salt poisoning occurs when the cat ingests high levels of sodium. Cats affected by this toxicity typically show signs such as:
- decreased appetite
- excessive thirst
- increased urination
- coma and death
Any cat that has eaten a substance that is very high in salt and exhibits these signs should be taken to a veterinarian promptly.
Another danger of pizza, if you are cooking this meal at home, is raw pizza dough.
If a cat ingests the dough before it is baked, the uncooked yeast will ferment the carbohydrates in the dough inside the cat’s stomach. This process will release ethanol and carbon dioxide.
The yeast fermentation in the stomach results in bloating and alcohol poisoning in the cat. Signs to watch for include:
- difficulty breathing
The bloating and alcohol poisoning can be fatal, and emergency veterinary treatment is required. The severity of the toxicity and the cat’s prognosis will depend on the amount of dough ingested.
Treatment for cats that have ingested raw pizza dough typically consists of inducing vomiting (if the ingestion was recent), gastric lavage, intravenous fluids, correcting acid-base abnormalities, and medications to stabilize the cat.
Alcohol poisoning from raw pizza dough ingestion can be very serious, can cats are usually hospitalized for emergency treatment.
Pizza As A Snack For Cats
Typically, pizza would not be my first choice as an appropriate snack for a cat. However, it is likely acceptable to share a nibble of your pizza with your feline friend in moderation.
It is crucial to avoid any toxic or dangerous components of pizza.
Cats may enjoy a nibble of cooked pizza crust or a bite of cheese from the top of a slice of pizza. There are some meat toppings that may be acceptable as snacks as well.
Cats are typically lactose intolerant, making milk a terrible choice. However, cheese is much lower in actual lactose, and most cats handle small amounts of cheese with no problems.
Is Pizza Healthy For Cats?
The answer to this question is “absolutely not.” Pizza can be shared with your cat in very small amounts, but it is definitely not a healthy treat.
Even if you are careful to avoid all the possible toxic ingredients, pizza is high in fat, sodium, and carbohydrates.
Cats are true, or obligate, carnivores. This means that they have no need for grains in their diet and should get greater than 70% of their calories from meat.
Pizza as a whole, but especially the crust, is extremely high in carbohydrates. Cats fed too many carbohydrates in their diet are prone to obesity, which may lead to diabetes and heart disease.
I recommend opting for more healthy treats when looking to bond with your cat.
Commercially made treats are an option, as are small bites of non-preserved meat, cheese, or even small nibbles of peanut butter.
As discussed previously, many toppings on commonly put on pizza can be dangerous to cats because they are toxic. However, the most common topping on pizzas in the United States is pepperoni.
Pepperoni is attractive to cats because of its powerful smell and high fat and protein content. Pepperoni also contains preservatives to extend its shelf life and preserve its red color.
These preservatives, nitrates, and nitrites, are not healthy for cats.
Pepperoni is made up of beef and pork meat mixed with small amounts of garlic powder, paprika seeds, mustard seeds, and fennel seeds. On its own, pepperoni isn’t toxic to cats.
Despite the fact that it is not toxic if you are going to allow your cat to eat a bite, make it a small one. Pepperoni’s high content of salt and fat, along with its preservatives, make it an unhealthy choice.
The spices in the pepperoni may also irritate the gastrointestinal systems of many cats, leading to vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Cat Accidentally Ate Pizza
Some owners want to feed pizza as a treat and wish to share their meal with their cats if it is safe.
But other times, a cat is sneaky and gets into the trash or sneaks your food off the counter or your plate while you are not looking.
It can be distressing when a pet eats something that it should not eat. There are steps you can follow to make sure your cat gets the proper care in the event this happens to you.
First, observe your cat and see how they are acting. Are they moving and acting normally? Do they appear painful in any way? Are they hiding? Is there any vomiting or diarrhea present?
Examine the remnants of the food they got into. Try to determine how much was eaten and what they ate.
If any of the things eaten were toxic, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline right away. The Hotline can be reached at 1-888-426-4435.
If nothing the cat ate was toxic, and the cat appears comfortable, continue to monitor the cat for the next 24-48 hours. Watch for vomiting, diarrhea, not wanting to eat, hiding, or not urinating or defecating.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your cat’s veterinarian.
Is Pizza Sauce Safe For Cats To Eat?
Pizza sauce is typically made chiefly from cooked tomatoes, which are safe for cats to eat. However, many pizza sauces also contain garlic and onions.
In the small quantities that a cat would likely ingest on pizza, there would probably not be an issue, but it is not a food I would recommend as good for a cat.
Can Cats Eat Pineapple On Pizza?
Many people are still arguing over whether pineapple is even ok to put on pizza, so this is an interesting question.
I am absolutely in the “yes to pineapple on pizza” camp, and if you are too, then feel free to share the pineapple on your pizza with your cat.
That being said, though it is safe, I have not met too many cats that actually enjoy the taste of pineapple.
Can Cats Eat Pizza Rolls?
Pizza rolls are essentially the same thing as pizza, and all of the information in this article would apply. Small bites of the cheese or outer dough, if baked, would be fine, in moderation.
The inner contents might pose a threat to a cat, especially if they contain onions or garlic. Pepperoni might be enticing to the cat but may lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Dr. Jamie Whittenburg is a vet with 15 years of clinical experience. She graduated from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. Her area of expertise is small animal general practice, equine practice, surgery, and academia.
Dr. Whittenburg operates her own hospital in Lubbock, TX, named Kingsgate Animal Hospital. Medically, she’s most interested in practicing general surgery and feline medicine. When not at work, Dr. Whittenburg enjoys outdoor activities, reading, and spending time with her family.