Can Cats Eat Pepperoni? - Cat Kingpin
Can Cats Eat Pepperoni

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni?

Pizza is one of the most popular foods in America, and pepperoni is, by far, the most popular pizza topping.

Pepperoni is a favorite food for people, but is it also a favorite of cats? More importantly, before you share your pepperoni pizza with feline companion, we should first answer the question can cats eat pepperoni?

In this article we’ll cover the following;

  • Cats and Pepperoni, What You Need to Know
  • Can Cats Eat Pepperoni?
  • Should Kittens Eat Pepperoni?
  • Benefits and Drawbacks to Cats Eating Pepperoni
  • Healthy Alternatives to Pepperoni

Cats and Pepperoni, What You Need to Know

Pepperoni is a type of salami that was first made in the United States. Usually a mixture of beef and pork salami, pepperoni is a cured sausage seasoned with chili peppers and paprika. The meat is fermented and air-dried to create the final product.

Since cats are obligate carnivores, meat is only the food cats really need. They derive little to no nutrition from plants and vegetables. But, is salami a good type of meat for cats to eat, and would they like it?

In the video below, we’ll see a cat that gets terrifyingly excited when given the opportunity to nosh on a piece of pepperoni:

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni?

As we saw in the video, cats can, and will, eat pepperoni. The main drawbacks to your cat eating pepperoni, as we’ll discuss in more detail below, is that too much pepperoni can make your kitty fat, and spicy pepperoni can give them an upset tummy.

Most importantly, since pepperoni isn’t actually cooked, it can be contaminated with bacteria such as Listeria or  Salmonella.

Another potential problem with pepperoni is the spices and pepper that go into making it. Though the amount of spices probably won’t cause any significant health issues, they could cause your kitty to have indigestion and an upset stomach.

If they show any signs of an upset stomach after eating pepperoni, don’t give it to them again.

Signs of an upset stomach in cats include:

  • Vomitting
  • Diarrhea
  • Refusing food

If any of these symptoms continue for more than 24 hours, take your kitty to the vet to make sure it’s not something serious.

Should Kittens Eat Pepperoni?

Kittens tend to be more susceptible to disease than adult cats because they are tiny and have not yet fully developed their immune systems. Toxins and bacteria that might be found in pepperoni are even more likely to make a kitten sick than an adult cat.

You should never feed a kitten pepperoni. Not only is it more likely to make them sick, but it will also not allow them to get all the nutrition they need from their regular food. A high-quality, grain-free kitten food has all the nutrients a growing kitten needs.

Wellness kitten food or else Taste of the Wild kitten food are both great examples of nutritious food that kittens can – and should – eat.

Benefits and Drawbacks to Cats Eating Pepperoni

One slice of pepperoni, by itself, has about 35 mg of sodium. The daily recommended allowance of sodium for a nine-pound cat is about 42 mg. When you add the sodium they’re already getting in their food, this puts them way over that number.

In humans, there is quite a bit of evidence linking increased dietary sodium levels to hypertension as well as heart and kidney diseases. However, in cats, a 2-year study failed to show that increases in dietary salt intake were harmful to a cat’s kidney function or raised their blood pressure.

This doesn’t mean that high salt foods are good for cats. It just indicates that their bodies are more tolerant of sodium than ours.

The verdict is also still out on whether high-salt diets are detrimental to cats who already have kidney or renal disease. If your cat does have renal disease, follow your vet’s advice which will probably include a recommendation that your cat not eat a high-sodium diet.

Pepperoni is also relatively high in saturated fats. Cats can enjoy a diet proportionately higher in fats than humans without any negative effects, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. The main problem with cats eating a high-fat diet is they could become overweight.

Though rare, pepperoni has been a source of Salmonella poisoning. While small amounts of pepperoni are okay to give cats as a treat, you should be aware that eating pepperoni poses a slight risk for your cat.

While Salmonella does not seem to affect cats as severely as humans, they can still suffer from a variety of symptoms when affected by the bacteria, including:

  • High fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration

In severe cases, life-threatening septicaemia and endotoxemia may develop. In rare cases the infection may spread to different organs causing pneumonia, meningitis, and miscarriage in pregnant cats.

If you decide to give your cat pepperoni, be sure to stay alert in case they start to show any of the above symptoms.

Healthy Alternatives to Pepperoni

Adult cats are fine to have a little bit of pepperoni from time to time. But, with all the great options out there, why not try a sausage cat food instead? There are also sausage-flavored cat treats that your cat may love.

In general, it’s best to stick with a high-quality cat food like Blue Wilderness which is grain-free and is primarily made with meat so it’s great for cats.

So, can cats eat pepperoni?

Well, now we know that cats can eat pepperoni. However, it’s best to give it as a special treat and in limited quantities. Furthermore, we learned you should stay alert after feeding pepperoni to your cat or kitten because, rarely, bacteria could be present that can make your kitty sick.

If you are going to give your cat pepperoni, make sure you start with small amounts first.

Most importantly, we saw that there are many safe and healthy sausage-flavored cat foods and treats that are great alternatives for your kitty.

If you have any questions or would like to share a story about your cat and pepperoni, please tell us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

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Phil R.

Phil’s lifelong love of animals began as a young boy growing up with three pet dogs. As a teenager and young adult, Phil spent six years working as a veterinary technician, later earning a B.S. in Animal Science. After college, Phil continued working as a vet tech part-time while caring for a private collection of mountain lions used in wildlife educational programs. During this time, Phil volunteered at the Dallas Zoo and was eventually offered a position as a zookeeper in the zoo’s naturalistic Wilds of Africa area. Phil became the primary keeper for a black leopard named “Grady” and a caracal named “Tut” in the predator/prey exhibit.

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