If you’re a cat owner and your cat likes to follow you around the house and loves to eat everything you’re eating, you may be curious to know if giving your cat a small piece of ham will be harmful. Since cats are supposed to eat meat, can cats eat ham because processed foods have many ingredients that could harm your feline friend?
The short answer is yes, but there is more to it than that. The type of ham you’re feeding your cat and how you cook it will determine how safe the ham is. Cold cuts or cheaper canned ham contains high levels of sodium and preservatives that aren’t good for your cat. However, you can give in moderation fresher cuts of meat.
What you should know about ham
Ham is pork meat that has been cut from the hind legs and preserved through smoking, salting, or wet curing. It’s considered to be very healthy for humans because of saturated fats. Ham has a lot of colorful flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. By now you already know that cats are carnivorous which means their main diet is meat. Ham also falls in the category of meat and it can provide your cat with a boost of proteins and other vitamins. But before you go feeding your cat 2 pounds of ham, you can only feed your feline friend occasionally and in moderation. As a cat owner, you should live by the saying ‘Too much of everything is bad. You’re not depriving your cat of things that she loves, but you’re thinking about her health and reducing the number of times you go to visit the vet.
Benefits of ham for your cat
Ham is not only delicious it has nutritional benefits for you and your feline friend. It’s a great source of protein as it’s got from animal meat and since cats can’t produce their own taurine, they need a reliable source and has is that source. Taurine helps to improve your cat’s digestive system and strengthen her heart. Ham also contains thiamin or vitamin B6 that helps in the function of your cat’s brain, heart, and nervous system. It’s also rich in riboflavin which helps in the production of energy and also acts as an antioxidant and helps to improve her metabolism.
You will also get some zinc that is very important in your cat’s fur and potassium that will help in preventing kidney failure in your feline friend. Other nutrients include selenium that is good for the heart, zinc ensures your cat’s fur is thick and shiny, and copper will make her bones much stronger and support the healing process.
However, the canned ham may contain other ingredients that may not necessarily be identified as animal flesh, so you need to check the ingredients on the label before feeding your cat human food especially if it’s processed food. Look for the grade A ham, not the cheap ones that contain a lot of fillers. The less fat and salt in the ham the better for your cat.
Should you feed your cat raw ham?
You should never feed your cat raw ham. Ham should be properly cooked because raw pork can cause food poisoning or give your cat parasites. If your cat eats raw meat, she might end up running a fever, vomiting, or having diarrhea. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your feline friend to the vet for medical attention. The good news is that most ham products are already cooked do you only need to heat the ham to improve the flavor.
There are different types of ham from different brands that are packaged differently. You will find that most of the ham in the market is low-quality meat that may have synthetic or unnatural materials with very high sodium levels. Ham contains a preservative that may be harmful to you and your feline friend. Some of the side effects of ham on your cat include:
- Feeding your cat too much ham can lead to an upset stomach and it can also cause diarrhea. To avoid tummy problems, don’t give your cat too much.
- Ham has a lot of unhealthy fats that can cause a lot of digestion problems.
- If you feed ham to your cat regularly, it can cause hypernatremia, a condition where your cat gets high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. This condition develops gradually and it can be too late when you notice the symptoms.
- Cats are finicky eaters so if you feed them low-quality ham they will end up vomiting and create a mess that you have to clean up.
- Ham contains a lot of sodium and excess intake of ham can lead to an overdose in salt which results in an electrolyte imbalance with symptoms like frequent urination, decrease in energy, or stumbling.
- Too much ham can also leave your cat dehydrated because of the sodium so you should ensure your cat is hydrated to reduce her risk of kidney disease.
- Avoid giving processed ham to your small kittens as it will interfere in their development.
How to feed your cat ham safely
You should strictly feed your cat ham in moderation only as a treat or a light snack. It should have as little fat and salt as possible and remember to provide water for your cat to stay hydrated. The best kind of ham is a high-quality ham that doesn’t contain fillers. Ensure the ham is fresh and properly cooked as raw pork can be too risky as it can get your cat food-poisoned. A good alternative to substituting processed ham meant for human consumption is to look for cat food that is ham flavored.
So, can cats eat ham?
The bottom line is ham isn’t the best choice of meat for your cat. Cats don’t like the variety in their food as you might think they do. There is nothing wrong with serving your cat the same food every day, but if you still want to mix some ham in her diet, properly cook the ham and give small pieces or give her ham-flavored cat food which is more nutritious.