You might have noticed that your feline friend always seems to be around every time you make your sandwich, sniffing at that strange meat you are putting on your bread. You could be tempted to give him a bite of the tasty sandwich, reasoning that ham is meat, but as with any member of your family, it does not hurt to be cautious. So you call your vet asking, “can cats eat ham?” Your vet might give you the go-ahead or ask you not to feed the kitty with the meat, depending on the cat’s history. The vet may not give you all the details regarding the safety or not of feeding your cat with ham, so here is everything you need to know.
It is Safe but Only as A Snack
According to the Happy Cat Site, cats can eat ham without risking their health because they are obligate carnivores and their diet should be as it would be if they were left to fend for themselves in the wild. As a result, animal protein should always be the primary source of food for the kitties. Hence, even dry foods have to provide enough nutritional needs. You can reason that ham is meat, but unlike a fresh piece of beef that you might boil for the cat, ham usually is cured using salt or other additives. Therefore even if it provides lots of vitamins, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates suitable for the kitty’s health, ham is not as healthy as it may seem.
Usually, as most animal nutritionists will advise you, the rule of thumb is that human food should never make up more than 15% of a cat’s diet. Therefore even if ham is packed with all these nutrients that humans benefit from, felines can only eat a small proportion as a snack and never as the main meal.
What to Look Out For Before Feeding the Cat With Ham
The amount of sodium
Pet Care Advisors enlightens us that ham cured with salt contains 1304 mg per 100g. Experts recommend that cats have at most 0.5 g of sodium in a kg of dry pet food, meaning that the lethal dose of sodium in dogs and cats is set at 4g per 2 pounds. The daily recommended sodium intake is 42 mg. Unfortunately, cats make it harder for their kidneys and liver to filter out the excess salt because they are not fond of drinking water; they are used to eating canned food that provides them with enough moisture. As a result, excess salt causes sodium poisoning, excessive thirst, and frequent urination.
Therefore if your vet advises you against feeding your cat with ham, it could be because your furry friend already suffers from chronic kidney disease, heart disease, or hypertension that demands a low sodium diet. The low-quality brands of ham are more likely to contain higher amounts of sodium than high-quality brands; thus, pet owners are advised to always go for quality for both their health and that of their pets. After all, even high levels are not recommended in human diets, and a serving of frozen ham has been reported to account for 40% of the daily recommended sodium intake.
Even if your cat displays a healthy appetite for the fat trimmings, you should not make it a habit to feed it with them. Fat trimmings can cause the fat in the bloodstream to go up and lead to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis results in the enzymes supposed to digest food in the intestines to start digesting the pancreas itself; thus, it can be fatal.
Some of the ham seasonings include garlic, which we are warned to be five times more poisonous than onions, although they belong to the same allium family. Garlic, once ingested by the felines, enters the bloodstream causing rupture of red blood cells. As a result, your cat will suffer from hemolytic anemia, and the most obvious symptoms include pale gums and breathing difficulties; others are diarrhea and vomiting. Therefore as much as garlic is said to be quite beneficial to humans and used to treat infections, feeding it to your cat will rob you of your companion.Onions may not be as toxic as garlic, but they still pose the same danger to your feline’s health.
Is it cooked or raw?
You might reason that we do not cook the mice that our feline friends catch but feeding your cat with raw ham is putting its health at risk. Raw protein that includes raw meat, eggs, and fish contains bacteria that lead to food poisoning; raw fish also has thiamine, an enzyme that can cause neurological problems in your cat. According to Feline Living, you should not under any circumstances feed your furry friend raw ham because it can cause food poisoning or trichinosis.
However, some sources say that cats digest raw foods better than humans because they have shorter and more acidic tracts. Pet owners are still cautioned that although most cats can tolerate raw foods, those with health issues such as immune-mediated diseases should only eat cooked food. Therefore once again, your vet’s advice is paramount.
How Best To Feed Ham to Your Cat
Since ham is safe but only as a treat, you should cut it up into small pieces and reward your cat for good behavior. You can also mix it with their wet food so that even if they do not drink water, at least the moisture in the wet food will help in diluting the amount of salt in the bloodstream. Ham can also be given as a snack in addition to the dry food, but encourage your pet to take lots of water. The bottom line is that regardless of how little ham you give your feline friend, ensure that it is cooked, free of seasoning, has little sodium, and does not have any fat.