Can Cats Eat Ham?

Updated: 6/24/20242-4 minutes
striped cat pawing for ham on counter

While ham can be nutrient rich, does it contain the proper nutrients for your feline friend? The answer is mostly no. Cats shouldn’t eat more than a minimal amount of ham. 

It's always a good idea to check with your veterinarian about feeding your cat foods for people, like ham. Ham can be prepared and preserved in various ways. Some of the preservatives used could potentially be an issue for cats and dogs, so it is crucial not only to ask the vet, Can my cat have ham? but also to show or tell the veterinarian information like the food label with ingredients if the food is not home-cooked.

Another common question your veterinarian can answer is, Are cats allergic to ham? Your cat could be allergic to ham, and your veterinarian can confirm if that’s true.

Now, are cats allowed to eat ham on prescriptive diets? Cat owners should not feed a cat on a prescriptive diet other than the prescribed food, meaning the cat cannot have any ham and is more likely to benefit from prescription cat food. For example, the following conditions may result in prescriptive sodium-restricted diets: 

Ham has health benefits, but for cats, they’re minimal and are already safely available in complete and balanced cat food. Our experts explain how to unpack the question, Is ham safe for cats? by looking at several types of ham and ham parts. Learn the potential risks associated with feeding your cat ham and why ham may not be a good choice for cats.

Can Cats Eat Ham? They Shouldn’t

Is ham bad for cats? Technically, cats can eat ham, but only in small quantities. Why? Its nutrients can pose severe risks to a cat’s health. While ham contains protein, which would suit your meat-eating cat, ham’s sodium, sugar and fat contents largely counteract those positives.

Is ham good for cats? Cat parents should not be encouraged to think of ham for cats as a nutrient source but more as a sensory treat to be offered sparingly after support from a veterinarian.

There are safe cat food and cat treat options with pork ingredients, which may be the best option to support your cat’s health.

Why Eating Ham Might Not Be Safe for Cats

Ham tends to contain salt, preservatives and spices that harm cats. While that varies per ham product, it’s essential to consider that a balanced diet is vital to keeping your cat healthy. Cat food contains the nutrients your cat needs.

Some of the dangers of cats consuming ham include: 

  • Red blood cell damage from ham prepared with onions or garlic 
    • Red blood cell damage leading to low blood oxygen 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Harmful bacteria if the meat is undercooked 
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Can Kittens Eat Ham?

If grown cats shouldn’t have more than a morsel of ham, Can kittens eat ham?

They also can but shouldn’t. Kittens are more sensitive than adult cats, so if you feed them any ham scraps, that portion should be substantially smaller. It’s best to feed only kitten food to your kitten to avoid any digestive issues. Some of the problems that kittens are more likely to develop than adult cats after eating ham include vomiting and diarrhea because a kitten’s digestive system is often delicate.

Can Cats Eat Cooked Ham?

In preparation for a holiday meal, you might ask yourself, Can cats eat smoked ham?, Can cats eat honey ham? or Can cats eat ham hocks?

Home-cooked ham is typically better if you want to share some ham entrée with your cat. That way, you know what’s in it and how cooked it is. A few types of cooked ham to avoid may include cooked ham that’s: 

  • High in salt 
  • Not thoroughly cooked 
  • Cooked with spices, such as: 
    • Garlic 
    • Onions 
  • Prepared with preservatives

Can Cats Eat Raw Ham?

No, cats should not eat raw ham. Raw diets for cats are not safe. Raw meats, including raw ham, can be extremely dangerous for your cat.

Can Cats Eat Ham Bones?

Are ham bones safe for cats? No, not even if cooked. Ham bones, as well as all bones, can cause some severe damage to your kitty. If your cat ate a ham bone, some of the damage ham bones could wreak include: 

  • An obstruction if your cat breaks off a piece of bone while chewing it 
  • Bone shards could puncture the following:  
    • Stomach 
    • Intestines 
  • Broken teeth from possibly attempting to chew through the bone

Can Cats Eat Bacon and Ham Deli Meat?

Can cats eat ham slices? Typically, no. It’s best if cats don’t eat bacon or ham deli meat. They can but they should not.

So, can cats eat ham deli meat? Typically, no.

Ham deli meat typically contains spices and preservatives that can cause feline health issues, including, at the least, an upset stomach. Spices such as garlic, onions and chives can lead to deoxygenated blood and kidney damage. If your cat gets ahold of deli meat scraps, ensure they’re low in sodium. 

Bacon is highest in fat, salt and nitrates compared to most other types of ham, so bacon is a no-go. Some of the health issues bacon can cause in cats include: 

  • Sodium ion poisoning from bacon’s elevated salt content which can cause: 
  • Pancreatitis from bacon’s elevated fat content, which can cause: 
    • Lack of energy 
    • Fever 
    • Swollen belly 
    • Yellow tint to skin or eyes 
    • Vomiting 
    • Elevated heart rate 
    • Signs of dehydration 
    • Refusal to eat

For a cat-health appropriate amount of bacon, Friskies cat treats have what your feline friends need and crave without the harmful nutrients. 

How Much Ham Can Cats Eat?

While we can make lovely, nutritious ham sandwiches or enjoy ham as a part of a wholesome holiday meal for human family members, ham is less healthy for cats. 

So, Can cats eat Thanksgiving ham?, Can cats eat Easter ham? 

Cats shouldn't enjoy it more than in small, treat-sized quantities.

Remember that it's always best to consult your veterinarian about your cat's dietary needs. They can recommend the specific amounts of ham that your cat may be able to handle or even at all based on the nutritional information and/or the health of your cat.

What to Do if Your Cat Eats Ham

You might ask yourself, My cat ate ham, so what do I do? If your cat sneaks some ham scraps without you knowing, a little bit of ham is OK if there are no underlying health conditions. Watch for the symptoms mentioned above and contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any.

For more expert tips on cat feeding, explore our other what can cats eat articles.

 

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