Can Cats Eat Ham?

The answer’s a little complicated.

can cats eat ham

Do you ever catch your cat looking at you with that curious stare when you’re eating a ham sandwich for lunch?

That adorable look is tempting enough to make you want to share with your BFF — but can cats eat ham?

Before you give him a piece, there are a few things you need to know, according to Jamie Fischer, a veterinary nurse with DodoVet.

Can cats have ham?

Technically yes, cats can eat ham. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he should.

“Cats are carnivores and need high-protein meats in their diet,” Fischer told The Dodo. “However, there are better options for your cat’s main diet.”

How is ham bad for cats?

While ham may be a good source of protein, it’s also got a lot of sodium — and that’s not good for your cat.

“Too much sodium can actually be toxic for cats,” Fischer said.

If your cat has too much sodium, it could lead to things like:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Death (in severe cases)

But overdoing it on the sodium isn’t the only concern. Ham also has a ton of fat, which can cause problems, too.

“Eating high-fat foods can pose a risk for [gastrointestinal] upset or even pancreatitis,” Fischer said.

How often can cats have ham?

If you really want to give your cat ham, moderation is key.

“I recommend very little ham at once,” Fischer said. “Ham can be used as an occasional treat but shouldn’t be a daily addition to your cat’s diet.”

How can cats eat ham safely?

If you want to give your cat ham, it’s super important to make sure it’s unseasoned. Certain seasonings — like garlic, for example — are toxic to cats.

You’ll also want to trim off any extra fat and make sure you aren’t giving him a piece with any bone (because that could be a choking hazard).

And, like with any new food you give your cat, always talk to your vet beforehand to make sure it’s safe.

“If your cat has a sensitive stomach or has a history of health issues such as pancreatitis, check with your veterinarian prior to feeding anything outside their regular diet,” Fischer said.

So while cats can eat ham, that doesn’t always mean they should. And if you do want to feed ham to your cat, make sure you’re being careful about the fat, salt and toxic seasonings.

Want access to a vet 24/7? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone or text with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and have all your pet parent questions answered anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.