Can Cats Eat Ham?

smoked ham
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Every cat requires a healthy amount of protein in their diet. From chicken to fish, our feline friends are obligate carnivores and cannot survive without ample amounts of meat. But are all meats safe for them to eat?

Ham in particular may tempt your kitty, like it does us humans, because of its intense and enjoyable flavor. However, you're not going to see canned ham in the pet-food aisles at your grocery store anytime soon. Nor is ham typically a main ingredient in store-bought cat food. So although it's a source of protein, can cats eat ham?

Can cats eat ham?

This question doesn't come with the simplest answer. Generally speaking, the safety of the meat is determined by the type of ham you are feeding your kitty. Cheaper canned ham or cold cuts are high in sodium and preservatives that are not good for cats. Fresher cuts of meat, however, are just fine in moderation.

Does ham have any benefits for cats?

Unfortunately, ham doesn't offer any health benefits for cats. Although the meat is high in protein, leaner meats with lower sodium content like chicken or fish are better choices.

Cooked ham can serve as a great treat if it's freshly prepared, unseasoned, and only served in small amounts. This "treat meat" gives your kitty an extra boost of protein and is sure to satisfy his taste buds.

Feeding the cat
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What about raw ham?

Some pet owners feed their pets raw meat as a way to mimic the diets they would have in the wild. However, there is much debate on whether or not raw meat diets are beneficial for pets. The biggest concern with a raw diet lies in the bacteria that is found in raw meat. Salmonella, for example, is a major concern for critics of this particular diet.

If you want to experiment with raw ham for your cat be sure to do ample research first and consult with your veterinarian.

Concerns about ham.

Although ham is not toxic to kitties, its high salt content can be a substantial detriment to your cat's health. Sodium in itself is not harmful to animals, but, like humans, animals should not have too much sodium. Finer cuts of ham that come straight from the butcher are definitely a better choice, but even these pieces are higher in sodium than other meats.

Lower quality ham not only comes with lots of salt, but additives and preservatives that are simply unhealthy. If your cat eats too much low-grade meat like cold cuts and canned ham, the high sodium count can lead to hypernatremia, a condition that can cause bad heart regulation and high blood pressure.

Too much ham can lead to upset stomachs and too much ham over prolonged periods of time can lead to general health issues.

Conclusion

Ham is a safe and acceptable protein for cats. It should be given only sparingly, however, as a salty treat your cat is sure to enjoy!

If your cat has never had ham, feed him an extremely small amount and monitor his behavior after. If diarrhea or any other blatant side effects occur, stop feeding the meat right away and consult your veterinarian.