Can Cats Eat Mustard?


We all know cats need protein, protein, and more protein. Without it, they get miserable, cranky, and very, very unhealthy. But what about condiments like mustard? Is a little bit of mustard on their chicken breast a tasty addition to their meal, or could it do more harm than good? Mustard certainly doesn’t do us any harm, and is even said to have certain health benefits (providing you skip the ones with added preservatives and sugars, obviously). Does the same apply to cats? In a word, no. When it comes to cats, any kind of spicy food is a big no-no, and that includes mustard. Here’s why.

Can Cats Eat Mustard?

We all know a hot dog tastes better with a big squirt of mustard on top. It’s not just hot dogs either. Sandwiches, roast beef, cauliflower cheese, pretzels… they all taste better with a hearty dollop of mustard on the side. But whereas our digestion can handle a bit of heat, can the same be said for cats? Not even slightly. Spicy foods have as much place in your cat’s diet as cat food has in yours. If your cat accidentally takes a tiny lick of mustard from your spoon, it’s unlikely to cause any major issues. But anything more just might. The good news is that cats aren’t stupid. They won’t eat something just because it’s there (dogs, take note!). If it doesn’t smell right, look right, or taste right, they aren’t going to wolf it down regardless. However, if your cat is that rare feline that will eat anything they can wrap their lips around, be sure to keep the mustard jar firmly out of their reach.

Why Is Mustard Bad For Cats?

In case you hadn’t noticed, mustard is spicy. In the wild, your cat wouldn’t come across many spicy foods. Even if they did, they probably wouldn’t eat them. If they did take leave of their senses and take a bite, they wouldn’t come back for seconds. Spicy foods and cats simply don’t mix. They make them nauseous, gassy and do all kinds of unpleasant things to their digestion. The problems don’t end there. Mustards used to be made with mustard seeds and some form of liquid. Maybe a little bit of salt would be thrown in for good measure. But times have changed. As notes, these days, mustard contains sugar, preservatives, garlic, colorings, fillers, and a whole load of other additives that are almost certain to leave your cat with nothing but a sore tummy and a nasty taste in their mouth. Ultimately, cats don’t need seasonings, condiments, sauces, or any of the other things we like to stuff our faces with. They’re not going to turn their back on a bowl of chicken because it’s a bit ‘bland’. And if they do, it’s only to annoy you. While there’s no harm in treating them to the occasional bite of ‘human’ food like lettuce leaves or watermelon, they should be getting all the nutrition they need from a balanced, nutritionally complete diet, of which mustard has absolutely no part. So, unless you want your cat to develop a nasty bout of gastroenteritis with all the diarrhea and vomiting that entails, hold the mustard.

Are Some Varieties of Mustard Better Than Others?

There’s more to mustard than, well, mustard. There’s yellow mustard, brown mustard, dijon mustard, wholegrain mustard… the list goes on. So, are there any types of mustard that are OK to give to your feline friend? Not really… As outlines, yellow mustard, or American Yellow Mustard, as it’s often known, is one of the most common varieties. Made with yellow mustard seeds, vinegar, and turmeric, it’s absolutely delicious and absolutely not suitable for cats, even if it is the mildest of all the mustards. Spicy Brown Mustard, which is made from coarsely-ground brown mustard seeds, is spicier and hotter than the yellow kind. As you’d expect, it’s even less suitable for cats. Dijon mustard is even worse thanks to the fact it’s made from white wine – a definite no-no for cats. As for Honey Mustard, it might be super appealing to us, but it’s no less dangerous for your cat than any of the other kinds.

Can Cats Eat Mustard Greens?

So, we know that eating mustard from a jar is a very bad idea for cats. But what about mustard greens? Cats do love to nibble a little fresh greenery every now and again, after all… is it really so bad if they choose mustard greens as their choice of snack? In a word, yes. While mustard greens are packed with enough vitamins and fiber to make them an excellent source of nutrition for us, what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. More specifically, what’s good for us can be very bad for your cat’s tummy. If that wasn’t enough, the aerosol residues that indoor plants can often contain can cause additional gastrointestinal stress.

Can Cats Eat Mustard Seeds?

Mustard seeds carry many of the same nutritional benefits as mustard oil – for us, at least. For cats, it’s a different story. Not only do the seeds carry the same risk of gastrointestinal complications as mustard oil, but they can also present a choking risk. If your cat gulps them down without chewing them properly, there’s an additional risk of constipation and an upset stomach.

What Should I Do If My Cat Eats Mustard?

If your cat takes just a tiny little lick of mustard from your plate before you can stop them, don’t worry too much. It’s not going to do them any good, but it’s unlikely to do them much harm either. However, if they take more than just a little lick or if you’re not sure exactly much they’ve eaten, take the advice of and monitor their behavior closely. If they start to vomit, if they seem to be in pain, or if they’ve hidden away in a dark corner in distress, call your veterinarian immediately.

Bottom Line

The answer to the question of whether cats can eat mustard is a resounding no. Fortunately, cats don’t really like mustard anyway, so unless you’re dealing with a very odd cat with some very odd tastes, it’s unlikely to be a problem. And if you are, don’t indulge them – mustard might not be toxic, but its effects are very far from pleasant.

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