Can cats eat lunch meat? Your cat certainly wants to, or she’s really good at pretending like she’s about to burst into tears the moment you refuse to share ANYTHING with her. And yes, we mean ANYTHING because we‘re aware she‘d eat durian on the off chance that she saw you eating one.
But, how can you share a lunch meat sandwich with her when you don‘t even know what lunch meat is? It‘s a type of meat… that you eat for lunch?! How can you let your precious purrincess feast on something that could cause her harm?
“You never let me eat anything!”, she gives you the look of utter despair. “You’re always munching on something in the middle of the night, but when Mrs. McFluffer asks for a bite you say it’s too late!”, she starts meowing, purring, and pointing to her bowl.
“Argh, let me hop online!”, you say as you’re trying to figure out whether lunch meat can cause adverse reactions and side effects when consumed ONE TIME. Don’t worry; we’ve got your back and we’ve got some answers coming your way.
Your cat’s better off munching on cat food and cat treats, but you might be wondering what’s wrong with feeding lunch meat to your cat when she’s looking for a snack. Here’s everything you need to know (and more!) before heading to your local Trader Joe’s for a restock.
What’s lunch meat?
Oh boy, aren’t you in for a treat! Lunch meats are one of the most popular processed meats around the world. They are also referred to as cold cuts, luncheon meats, sliced meats, and the list goes on.
They’re pretty much ready-to-eat, sliced meats that you can serve up as paw-licking appetizers, stack up on mouth-watering sandwiches, and put on top of pretty much anything you want to scoff down (without the messy cleanups!). No wonder your cat’s been meowing your ears off!
Don’t even get me started on the fact that there are SO MANY different types of lunch meat out there! Some of the healthier versions include turkey lunch meat, chicken breast lunch meat, a leaner version of ham, and roast beef (or cooked beef) lunch meat.
Some of the unhealthier versions include deli cold cuts, bologna, sausage, salami, and (regular) ham. We use the terms “healthy” and “unhealthy” very lightly considering that lunch meats don’t make for a balanced diet and don’t possess the nutritional benefits most humans are after.
They’re a great pick-me-up after a long day at work or a snack-on-the-go when you’re rushing to get to work in time. But, they tend to pack a great deal of sodium, additives, preservatives, and artificial colorings which don‘t get a passing grade, even among humans.
Can cats eat lunch meat, then? Can your cat have a bite or two of your chicken breast lunch meat sandwich without having to run to her litterbox afterward? And, can cats even digest lunch meat and everything that comes within a slice of lunch meat? Keep reading to find out!
Can cats eat lunch meat, then?
With everything we’ve learned about lunch meat, you can’t help but wonder “Can cats really eat lunch meat without repercussions?” You can’t help but think that this type of heavily processed meat can’t be good for your four-legged friend. You’re right, but you’re also not right.
According to our friends over at the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), cats can eat lunch meat but shouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, a bite or two of your lunch meat sandwich shouldn’t cause harm to your cat‘s health, but anything more than that might end up poorly.
We can’t say that lunch meat’s the worst thing your cat can munch on. Let’s be honest, human food’s the least of your cat’s concerns when you remember the number of bugs, mice, and other odd-looking creatures she’s devoured while you were too busy rewatching Friends for the millionth time!
Cats are obligate carnivores. They require a bunch of meat, animal protein, and animal-sourced nutrients in their diets to survive. They don‘t require fruits, veggies, and whole grains the same way humans do.
Their digestive systems don‘t possess the enzymes necessary to break down and process most food humans eat on a regular. Actually, most cat owners don’t even know that their cat‘s digestive systems can’t get over the salt, sugar, and other seasonings they put on their food.
And that‘s the main problem with lunch meat! Lunch meat (being meat and everything) contains a bunch of animal protein and animal-sourced nutrients that can benefit your cat’s health. But, lunch meat also contains a bunch of salt, seasonings, and preservatives that can cause health problems.
Trust me, your feline friend‘s better off munching on something else (a bite of roasted chicken breasts, perhaps?). You can give her an occasional turkey lunch meat tidbit, but who’s to say she won’t scoff down the entire thing?!
Cats can eat lunch meat, but they shouldn’t for numerous reasons. What’s the deal with feeding lunch meat to your cat, anyway?
Think about the following before feeding lunch meat to your cat
We’ve mentioned this already, but lunch meat does contain a bunch of stuff your furry friend isn‘t supposed to eat. A slice of ham and a couple of bites of sausage aren’t going to send her to the emergency animal center. But, these paw-licking sandwich stackers shouldn’t be a part of your cat’s diet.
Trust me, salt, seasonings, and preservatives can make your cat’s life miserable. There’s a good reason why you can‘t find any of these on the back of your cat’s regular pet food. They’re (kind of) safe as an occasional treat but they don’t belong inside of your cat’s stomach on a regular.
One of the biggest reasons why lunch meat doesn’t sit well on your cat’s stomach happens to be salt. What? Who doesn’t like a sprinkle of salt here and there?! Your cat certainly does (salty’s one of the few flavors she can taste), but she can’t have high levels of sodium on a regular.
What’s excessive for a cat, you might be wondering? Anything more than 40 milligrams a day seems like a stretch for your four-legged friend. Most types of lunch meat contain more than 1000 milligrams of salt per 100 grams. That really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?!
Consuming too much salt can result in salt poisoning. And trust me, you don’t want your cat to experience symptoms of salt poisoning. Symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea don’t sound that fun!
There can be something worse than salt for your cat?! That’s right, cats can’t eat lunch meat because most lunch meat contains a bunch of seasonings that can include garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and chili pepper.
These seasonings can cause harm to your cat because they contain compounds your cat’s digestive system can’t process. Consuming these seasonings can cause conditions such as hemolytic anemia, Heinz body anemia, and methemoglobinemia. Not to mention the digestive issues!
We can’t forget about preservatives, can we? Lunch meats might contain vitamin A, taurine, calcium, and a bunch of amino acids. But, lunch meat also contains nitrates and nitrites which aren’t as gentle on your cat’s stomach as the ones we mentioned beforehand.
Preservatives can become detrimental to your cat’s health when consumed over a longer period. Don’t worry; a couple of lunch meat slices don’t contain enough nitrates and nitrites for your cat to experience adverse reactions. But, the moment she asks for more (and she will) you have to say “No.”
Can cats eat lunch meat considering the number of bad things this tasty treat contains? We’re pretty sure the answer to that question should be “No”, too.
Can cats eat turkey lunch meat?
No, not really! Turkey lunch meat does seem to be better for your furry friend than most other kinds, but… That doesn‘t mean that the two of you should run off to your local Trader Joe‘s and buy every packet of Oven Roasted Turkey Breast (as delicious as that sounds).
Even turkey lunch meat contains a bunch of salt, seasonings, and preservatives that can make your furry friend’s life miserable. Sure, she’s better off having a nibble of turkey lunch meat than pretty much any of the other ones.
But, she’s also better off having a nibble of properly prepared turkey breast or turkey Fancy Feast. Don’t let her choose, though, because she’s bound to go for what she’s NOT supposed to nibble on. That’s how the cookie crumbles.
Can cats eat chicken lunch meat?
That’s a “No”, too! Sure, cats can eat chicken and reap the benefits of one of the best sources of animal protein. Cats can even eat chicken Fancy Feast and chicken Meow Mix when they’re looking for a “thank you for being so adorable” treat. But, cats can’t eat chicken lunch meat.
Everything we mentioned beforehand works for this, too. Chicken lunch meat doesn’t seem to be better for your cat’s health than any other lunch meat. It does contain pretty much the same amount of salt, seasonings, and preservatives as other types of lunch meat.
What’s the conclusion? Can cats eat lunch meat?
Lunch meat doesn’t have the “do not feed to cats” label, but that doesn’t mean that you should include turkey lunch meat, ham, or sausage into your cat’s regular diet. And no, cats can’t eat lunch meat.
Lunch meat contains a bunch of things that can cause harm to your cat and you’re better off keeping her away from the fridge and your sandwich. There are better alternatives on the market and trust me, they’re worth the trip.