As a veterinarian, I love all animals, large and small. But truth be told, my very favorite animals of all are cats.
Like all owners, I like to give my cat a little treat every now and then. However, it is crucial to make sure that the treats you give your cat are safe.
Cats can eat salami. However, it may not be the ideal food to feed your kitty as a treat. Salami is almost exclusively meat, which is great for our meat-loving kitties.
Still, it is also extremely high in fat, full of spices, and usually contains a heavy load of unhealthy preservatives.
I receive all kinds of questions in my practice about what cats can and cannot eat. Many times, it comes down to the cat’s preference.
Toxic foods should always be avoided. Some foods are also more likely than others to upset a kitty’s tummy.
Treating Your Cat
Cats can be finicky friends, and it is good to use something they enjoy to strengthen the human-animal bond.
Bonding can be accomplished in many ways, including play, petting, snuggling, brushing, and of course, food.
Over-feeding a cat their regular food or adding other foods to their diet isn’t a good idea. Too much food leads to weight gain, especially in our more sedentary house cats.
Excessive weight gain and obesity lead to health problems such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.
Treats are an excellent way to bond with your cat without adding a lot of calories to their diet. The choice of treat is essential, however.
Should Human Food Be Your Cat’s Treat?
Some cats have an intense desire to share their human food, while others don’t enjoy human food at all. A few cats will climb tables, jump on chairs, and even walk on stovetops to get a bite of tasty human food.
If you want your cat not to beg or climb on your table and try to snatch your food every time you sit down to eat, you should never allow your cat to eat any human food.
Ever. A cat that is never allowed to eat human food will never think that it can.
If you decide to allow your kitty to indulge in human food, the amount of human food you let your cat should be very limited.
The foods that humans eat are very high in calories compared to cat food. A little goes a long way.
Additionally, cats that overeat human food may be too full to eat an adequate amount of their cat food. This can be very dangerous and lead to the cat missing needed nutrients from its diet.
Cats have an absolute need for the amino acid taurine. They cannot get this amino acid in adequate amounts in human food, so they must eat food specifically formulated for cats.
Human Foods NEVER To Feed Your Cat
There are definitely some foods that should always be avoided when picking a treat for your kitty. If your cat ever ingests any of these toxic foods, take them to an emergency veterinarian right away.
It’s sweet, and it is yummy, but chocolate should be reserved for people only. Everyone knows that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but it isn’t often widely known that it is dangerous to cats too.
Chemicals in the chocolate called methylxanthines cannot be metabolized by cats and may cause life-threatening heart issues such as cardiac arrhythmias.
Grapes and raisins seem like they would be a healthy snack but beware. The toxicity caused by these fruits is most commonly seen in dogs, but cats can be affected as well.
Veterinarians have only recently discovered that tartaric acid is the substance in grapes and raisins that causes toxicity in pets. Kidney failure caused by grapes and raisins is sudden and often fatal.
Alcohol should also never be given to cats. Though some kitties seem to have a taste for beer and wine, alcohol can have devastating effects on our feline friends.
Intoxication, tremors, seizures, and death can all be consequences of a cat consuming alcohol.
Human Foods That Cats Can Eat
So, what foods in your kitchen can you share with Fluffy? There are actually a few human foods that are safe and yummy for your kitty.
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means they genuinely eat only meat. Though some domestic cats love sweets and bread and vegetables, there is no need for them to eat these things.
Most cats will prefer meat products. However, when it comes to treats, as long as it is safe, you can feed a cat what they enjoy. Just remember that moderation is vital.
Small slices of meat, such as ham, turkey, or roast beef, will make any feline happy. This can be a great way to share your lunch, dinner, or leftovers with your pal.
Fish is always a feline favorite. Tuna, salmon, or tilapia – your favorite is probably your cat’s favorite too!
3. Cheese & Eggs
Cheese and eggs are both high in protein and a quick and easy way to give a kitty a yummy treat while you make breakfast.
4. Fruits & Crackers
Other things such as fruit, crackers, bread, cookies, and even popcorn can make a great treat. Just remember to make the portions small to avoid excessive calories and weight gain.
Why Is Salami Not So Healthy for Cats?
Salami is a meat, sausage-type product that is typically made with pork meat. However, some salami is made with beef, venison, poultry, or other meats.
The meat is blended with spices such as salt, pepper, vinegar, and garlic to make the salami tasty for humans. The meat used to make the salami is heavily fatted.
With a high-fat content and lots of spices, salami may not be the best choice as a treat for your cat. Though they can eat salami, and it is not toxic, using salami as a cat treat may end in a visit to your veterinarian.
Cats fed spicy or high-fat foods or treats are prone to gastrointestinal issues such as gastroenteritis and pancreatitis.
These issues may be mild or extremely serious and life-threatening, depending on the situation and the animal’s health.
If you do feed your cat salami and your cat shows signs of gastrointestinal distress such as vomiting, not wanting to eat, diarrhea, or lethargy, take them to an emergency veterinarian as promptly as possible.
What To Look For In A Cat Treat
There are some basics to keep in mind when you are looking for a treat for a cat, whether in your kitchen or refrigerator or at the pet supply store.
- Look for high-quality and proteinaceous ingredients. Ideally, for the treat to be high in protein, a meat source should be listed as one or more of the first few ingredients.
- Go with brands you know and trust. If you are at the pet supply store, look for treats made in the USA or by companies you know make high-quality foods and treats.
- Make sure the treats are low in salt and sugar. Additives like salt and sugar can add taste but are not healthy for your cat.
- Avoid Preservatives and added colors. Look for treats labeled “all natural.”
- Choose treats that are cooked. Raw treats can have bacterial contaminants such as E. coli and Salmonella that can make your cat sick and be a serious danger to you and your family’s health.
Treats All Wrapped Up
Treating your cat can be a great way to bond and strengthen your relationship.
Luckily, healthy choices for cat treats can easily be found both in your kitchen, as well as at the pet supply store. Though salami is technically safe for a cat to eat, I don’t recommend it as a treat for a kitty.
Share some of your meals with your cat, or look for a high-quality cat-specific treat next time you are out shopping for pet supplies.
Above all, remember to use cat treats in moderation as the consequences of cat obesity can be severe.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cat Treats
Do cats really like catnip?
Catnip is actually an herb in the mint family. It grows like grass, and many cats enjoy eating or chewing on it fresh. Catnip also comes in dry flakes, sprays, and in treats.
Not all cats enjoy catnip, so each owner will have to offer some to their cat and find out how their cat reacts.
Are carbohydrates bad for cats?
Carbohydrates are not necessarily bad for cats, but as obligate (or true) carnivores, cats need much lower levels of carbohydrates than other species.
Diets containing too many carbohydrates can lead to obesity and diabetes mellitus.
Can I soothe an angry cat with a treat?
Yes! But be careful. Treats are a great tool to use as a part of positive reinforcement training.
If your cat is going on a trip to the veterinarian and must ride in a pet carrier or must be brushed or have his nails clipped (basically any negative experience)
It is a great idea to use treats to make the experience as positive as possible.
Be careful, though – sometimes cats just need some time and space to calm down by themselves.
Always listen to your cat’s body language and know when to leave them alone. Time for the cat to relax may help avoid any unnecessary bites or scratches.
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.