Cats can eat bacon but should not, due to the fact that bacon is high in fat, high in salt, and may contain sugar and/or sodium nitrite.
Salt and sodium nitrite can be toxic to cats in higher doses, which is a good reason to avoid giving your cat bacon.
Although there isn’t a lot of sugar in bacon, there is typically some (they can hide it on nutritional labels because if there is less than 0.5 grams per serving, it can be expressed as 0); sugar and fat can lead to weight can in your cat.
This article will take a closer look at why a cat can eat bacon, but shouldn’t.
3 REASONS CATS SHOULDN’T EAT BACON
Cats require some salt in their diets, but they’re likely getting that from the cat food they eat twice a day. A strip of bacon contains too much salt for a cat.
Excess sodium in a cat’s diet will lead to dehydration and therefore, an increase in water intake and an increase in urination. Just like in humans, a high-sodium diet can also increase blood pressure and have other ill effects over time.
If a cat has any kidney, liver, or heart problems, it will be important to talk to your veterinarian about their sodium intake and keep them away from bacon.
If your cat has too much salt, watch for signs of toxicity, which may be: vomiting, diarrhea, seizures. Left untreated, it can lead to death.
2) SODIUM NITRITE
Sodium nitrite is used as a preservative in processed meats, and to reduce bacteria and to help it keep its pink color. Too much sodium nitrite can compromise a human’s health, which is why there are brands offering nitrate-free/nitrite-free bacon (nitrate converts to nitrite in the body). So it obviously isn’t good for a cat either.
One study found that toxic concentrations of sodium nitrite in commercial pet food led to the death of cats (source).
It’s unlikely your cat will consume enough sodium nitrite from a small piece of bacon, but it’s best to keep the ingredient out of your cat’s diet altogether and avoid any potential risks.
A cat’s diet in the wild is high protein, medium fat, and low carb. The fat content in bacon is just as high as its protein. If bacon is fed to a cat often enough, that fat content can lead to weight gain.
Feline obesity shortens a cat’s life and introduces health risks such as: diabetes, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, pancreatitis, and other issues related to their mobility and/or joints.
IS BACON TOXIC TO CATS?
Bacon is not toxic to cats, however, some of the additional ingredients in bacon (salt, sodium nitrite) can be toxic if enough of it is consumed.
CAN CATS EAT RAW BACON?
Cats digestive systems are able to handle raw meat. When they catch prey in the wild, they’re not cooking that bird or mouse meat before eating it. They are, however, eating that raw meat fresh.
It’s not advised to give your cat raw bacon, mostly because it’s still cured meat, which is why it has such a long shelf life. So for all the reasons cooked bacon is bad for your cat, raw bacon will be just as bad.
If your cat has nibbled on a piece of raw bacon, there’s likely nothing to worry about, but do watch for symptoms mentioned in the “what will happen if my cat eats bacon?” section.
If you’re planning to feed your cat a raw diet (which can be very beneficial to your cat’s health, but must be done right) and want to include uncured bacon, talk to your veterinarian first to get their advice and recommendations. Raw, uncured bacon will still be high in fat.
CAN CATS EAT TURKEY BACON?
Store-bought turkey bacon is typically processed in the same way as regular pork bacon, so it will still be high in sodium and may also include sugar and sodium nitrite. The only benefit of turkey bacon to pork bacon is that it’s lower in fat, but even so, is still higher in fat than what a cat typically eats. So turkey bacon is also not a good food for a cat to eat.
CAN I GIVE MY CAT BACON AS A TREAT?
You can give your cat bacon as a treat, but it’s not recommended. If your cat is eating a balanced diet, they’re already getting all the nutrients and calories they need. Adding little treats off your plate here and there can put their diet out of whack.
They may be getting the benefit of meat protein from bacon, but the excess salt isn’t beneficial and could push them over the amount they should consume each day, depending on how much sodium is in their cat food or other treats they’re given.
Instead, choose a treat that’s made for cats and will provide nutritional and/or health benefits. Such as dental treats that help reduce tartar build up on your cat’s teeth. That way, you’re getting the best of both worlds; your cat gets a tasty treat and you’re improving their health, instead of compromising it.
If you are going to give your cat bacon as a treat, it should be a small amount occasionally (not every day). Think about the size of a regular cat treat and only give your cat a few pieces of bacon broken into pieces about that size. Remember, even a small piece of bacon will be higher in salt and fat than most cat treats.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF MY CAT EATS BACON?
A small amount of bacon will likely be fine; as mentioned, bacon is not toxic. However, if your cat eats a lot of bacon, there are a few health risks to be aware of.
Cat’s typical diets are high protein, medium fat, and low carbs. If your cat steals a full piece of bacon (or two) and eats it all at once, the high fat and high salt may cause them some indigestion.
Although it will mostly be uncomfortable for your cat and isn’t likely to cause serious symptoms, it will be important to keep an eye on them and contact your veterinarian if the symptoms last longer than a few hours, seem more severe, or if your cat seems to be in serious distress.
Symptoms may be:
- Stomach pains
If your cat has ingested a lot of salt or sodium nitrite by eating bacon, you may see poisoning symptoms, at which point, you should immediately contact your vet or take them to the vet clinic. These symptoms may present themselves immediately, or within several hours or days.
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive thirst or urination
- Pale gums
- Blood in vomit, saliva or stools
- Difficulty breathing
If you eat bacon every morning and break off a piece for your cat, those small amounts of bacon can add up over time and lead to your cat gaining weight. If they become obese, there are several health issues you may have to worry about:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- High blood pressure
There are a variety of health issues connected to weight gain. You’ll be able to tell, visually, if your cat is gaining weight, and your veterinarian will be able to tell you what your cat’s ideal weight should be, if they’re overweight or considered obese, and how to correct their diet to get them healthy again.
You may also be interested in reading:
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- CAN CATS EAT PEANUTS?
- CAN CATS EAT PEANUT BUTTER?
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- CAN CATS EAT CASHEWS?