Ham is a regular part of the holiday menu. It may be fresh, cured or smoke. Either way, it is one of the reasons why this season excites me.

This time of the year is also about sharing. This makes me wonder if I could share my food with my pet cats. So I did a little research and came up with an answer to the question, “Can cats eat ham?”

Can cats eat ham?

About your cats and ham: What you should know

Ham is made of pork. It is usually a cut from its hind leg. It is processed through smoking or curing as mentioned before. It can also be preserved through salting. If you have never had ham before, your taste buds have missed out on a lot of colorful flavor. It has been popular ever since I can remember.

Why shouldn’t it be? Ham is delightful! And we think our cats deserve to have the foodgasmic experience we had when we first take a bite of freshly cooked ham.

By now, we may have already realized that cats are carnivores. This means that their main diet should be comprised of high-quality meat. What a co-incidence! Ham falls under the meat category. What are those feline teeth for if not to work on some meaty swine? There is no doubt, cats would love that stuff.

Let’s learn more about this.

Can cats eat ham?

Yes, folks. Cats can eat ham! I guess this has already been established at the beginning. I just want to repeat the good news again.

Ham could provide your cats the nutrients obligate carnivores like him crave for.  Obligate carnivores are animals who find meat as an essential component of their diet. It is not just because they like the taste of meat. Obligate carnivores like cats find animal tissue as a biological necessity.

That being said, ham as a product of swine is actually suited to the needs of felines. Ham would give him a boost of protein and other vitamins given that the ham is high quality.

But do not get too enthusiastic with this announcement. I’m afraid you might hurry to town and buy Puss two pounds of ham all for his consumption.

Yes, I just told you that cats are allowed to eat ham and it is safe for them to do so, but (yes, there is always a but) you can only feed them occasionally and in little to moderate quantity. Too much of everything is bad and as a responsible cat-owner, you should live by this saying.

Do not think of it as depriving your cat of the things he loves. It is actually more of thinking about his well-being and saving the both of you from some vet time.

Are there any benefits cats can get from ham?

Ham is just so delicious. Period.

But on second thought, scratch that.

Ham is NOT JUST delicious, silly me. Ham offers a number of nutritional benefits, too. Note: I am talking about Grade A ham. Here is a list of everything you need to know about ham

Ham is a great source of protein since it is derived from animal meat. Our pets can even acquire Taurine from a piece of ham. Cats cannot produce their own taurine so they need to have a reliable source for it. Ham will do the job for it!

Why is taurine so important? Simply because our cats need it for a stronger heart and digestive system. That’s a good excuse to eat some ham, don’t you think?

Ham also contains Thiamin which is one of our cat’s favorite nutrients. Aside from this, ham is rich in riboflavin which promotes the production of energy, serves as antioxidant protector and promotes metabolism. It does not stop there, though.

Ham also carries some Vitamin B6 which plays an important role in our cat’s body. It carries Potassium which prevents kidney failure among felines. It also contains some Zinc in every serving which is good since cats need this for healthy fur. Other nutrients include Niacin, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium.

If we’re talking about cheap, regular ham, well, you get what you pay for. There is not a lot to get from this piece of meat.

Sometimes, those packaged in can contains other ingredients which does not  identify as “animal flesh.” And I cannot tell you what stuff are inside those tins. That is why we must be very cautious with the label.

Make sure to check the ingredients whenever we try to feed our cats human food, especially the ones that are processed. Other than the additional protein he may get from a decent piece of ham, it is sad to say that you should not expect anything more. The nutrients mentioned above will not be incorporated in a low-grade ham.

How is ham toxic to our cats?

It seems like I oversold ham to you guys. But you should have already known that there exists no perfect food.

As what you have already seen in the market, there are different types of ham inside different brand packages under different quality statuses. This means that it is hard to generalize ham with uniformity. I cannot say that all the ham out there is healthy. I do not want to mislead you with giving such reckless information.

The truth is, a lot of ham sold in the market is made with low-quality meat. This meat may be loaded with antibiotics or is made up of unnatural ingredients or synthetic materials. It also has high levels of sodium it.

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO, the food to be fed to cats should not go over 0.2% referring to sodium content. Ham goes way beyond that! I know you do not want to hear about this part but this is the cruel truth. Ham can be bad for felines. I even started to think that I may be eating too much of the ham. Not good.

To continue, it is also no secret that ham contains a lot of preservatives. The preservative is called potassium nitrate and it has been gaining some negative reviews because of the problems it can potentially cause to the human health.

But how about cats, you ask? What are the harmful effects ham can cause to our beloved feline?

Let us deal with this one by one.

  • Feeding your cats ham regularly can result to hypernatremia. This is a condition wherein cats experience high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders. This is something you should watch out for. It is not something that happens overnight. It develops in the long run and it will be too late once you notice the symptoms showing.
  • Too much ham can also cause diarrhea. An upset stomach is a common indication that you must have fed your cat a little too much of something. To avoid tummy troubles, do not give your cat more than what you think is good for them.
  • A hefty ham meal may result to dehydration among cats. Ham contains a lot of sodium and cats only need 42 mg of sodium every day. So you better hydrate your cat to prevent this from happening. If you disregard this warning, your cat may develop kidney diseases. I do not want to scare you with this kind of information but we all needed to know this now if you do not want to learn the hard way.
  • Ham contains a lot of unhealthy fat. This is may cause some issues in digestion.
  • Low quality ham may also become the reason to your cat’s vomiting. Sometimes, we just forget that our cats are finicky eaters. If we continue giving them the kind of meat they do not deserve, it will manifest itself through a lot of puking. And guess who’s in-charge of cleaning the mess up. That’s right. You are.
  • Excessive ham intake may lead to salt overdose. This can result to electrolyte imbalance in which symptoms include stumbling, frequent urination and noticeable decrease in energy.
  • Processed ham can also affect the growth of our kitties. Because of all the bad that is in ham, this may have the impact on the development of his body as he goes through adulthood.

How to feed cats with ham safely?

So as what I have said, cats can eat ham but only as a treat or a light snack. The next question is, how do we prepare ham so it could be safely eaten by our cats?

As what I have been saying over and over again, you are only allowed to feed your cat small amounts of ham. I hope you never get tired of me repeating this since this is a very crucial information. Anyway, what you can do is slice the ham into small bits and pieces and only serve your cat just enough for a nibble. That way, it will be easier for them to digest the food. Remember, if your cat asks for more, learn to say no.

Aside from this, we should keep in mind that we should only feed Kit-Cat cooked ham. Raw pork is a little too risky. Cats can get food-poisoned from this. Even though cats have the teeth to eat raw meat, it is best to be avoided. Raw meat can be fresh or frozen but has been defrosted. But you should never feed your cats old ham.

Some cat foods are ham flavored. This is a good alternative to substitute processed ham which is meant for human consumption. If you want your cats to get a taste of ham and still get the complete set of nutrient he needs, you can go for some of this stuff.

Lastly, make sure to always prepare some water as your cat will surely get thirsty afterwards. As what was said above, ham has a lot of sodium in it. Consuming this much salt content will make Tumbles thirsty. So before he throws a fit, make sure to get one step ahead of yourself by bringing him a bowl of clean water alongside his special ham treat.

Bottom line: Cats and ham

True. Ham is not the healthiest choice of meat for your cats. But they can still have it every now and then. I hope you don’t take this advice as a joke and decide to incorporate ham in his main and regular diet.

Do not feel bad when you’re eating ham and your cat can only munch on a teeny-tiny piece of it. What you’re doing is not being selfish but an act of pure love. Even though they would not understand it, you must be proud of yourself for being a really good cat-parent.

Besides, cats do not appreciate food variety as much as you think it does. There is nothing wrong with serving him the same food everyday as long as it contains the protein and other vitamins and minerals its body needs.

Keep in mind, too much ham may cause hypernatremia, diarrhea, dehydration, indigestion, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance and negative impacts to the growth of your cat.

But if you really want to mix up his diet with some ham, always remember this.

First, prepare your ham in small pieces for easy digestion. Second, always cook the ham before giving it to your pet cat. Third, you can always get him ham flavored cat food for a more nutritious meal. And lastly, always be ready for some water when Clawsby gets too thirsty from eating ham.

Still, the next time you have a lot of leftover ham for Christmas, do not feed them all to your cats.

I hope you learned a lot from reading this article. If you have anything to add to this information, you can always drop by the comment section. You are also welcome to tell us stories about your cat!

If you think you know someone who might benefit from this article, click share and spread the news about our cat’s appetite for ham. I’m sure other cat-parents would love to hear some of this stuff. Say hi to your cat from me. Bye!

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a vegetarian and when I accidentally got sliced ham on my breakfast sandwich, I set it aside on the table and my Siamese literally walked away with a slice of ham in his mouth. It was the cutest thing, my little ham thief. I only let him have a little bit of it and Googled to make sure it was safe.

  2. Great article/ comments!
    Is this also basically true for sardines in the large oval can.?
    I get concerned about too much mercury/metals etc. from the can.
    I feed my adult cat ,15 years old, sardines cut up–
    about a tablespoon full every day. I haven’t yet checked the salt content but now I must. Zero salt content in it’s tomato sauce which should otherwise be healthy? Thanks

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