For people who adore their cats, it’s only natural to want to share one of the most delectable and enjoyable foods there is with their furry friends: bacon.
That’s right. Whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, bacon (in moderation) can be a great snack for humans, but how healthy is it for our feline friends?
Can Cats Eat Bacon?
All in all, it’s best not to get into the habit of giving your cat bacon. While a small pinch or two of bacon once in a blue moon won’t be disastrous for your feline friend, this meat can lead to lots of health issues down the road if your cat ingests too much of it.
Here are all the reasons why it might be a good idea not to bring home the bacon.
Bacon Contains Fat:
The most obvious reason why bacon can have negative impacts on your cat’s health is because of its high fat content. Derived from ham and often cut from the fattiest parts, bacon is naturally a very fatty food.
The typical 8-gram slice of bacon has about 3.3 grams of fat. Out of this percentage, around half of it is monounsaturated fat, while the other half is saturated fat. Monounsaturated fats, such as the kind found in olive oil, have proven health benefits.
However, saturated fats pack an unhealthy punch that cancels out any benefits. Researchers have linked it to heart disease and other illnesses in humans.
While the high saturated fat content can be somewhat overlooked for human consumption, since the serving size is small, the effects become pretty amplified when considering a smaller creature, like a cat.
The most obvious concern when it comes to the high fat content of bacon is how it can impact your cat’s healthy weight. Overweight pets have become more and more common right along with typical maladies that cut pets’ lives tragically short.
Overweight cats are at a higher risk for all sorts of illnesses, including serious ones like heart disease and liver disease, as well as more sneaky maladies like arthritis and urinary problems.
Even if an overweight cat doesn’t develop a serious illness because of its weight, obesity can put a lot of extra stress on its joints, leading to fewer energetic years of chasing the laser and batting at kitty toys for your feline friend.
Another somewhat sneaky illness related to the high fat content of your cat’s diet is pancreatitis. This is an illness observed in both dogs and cats and has been tied directly back to consuming too many fatty foods.
You’ll want to avoid pancreatitis at all costs because it’s difficult to diagnose in time and also difficult to pinpoint in terms of cause. Researchers have linked high fat-content foods and pancreatitis, which is the infection and inflammation of the pancreas.
The salt content in bacon paired with the fat content can also play a role in the development of pancreatitis and its symptoms: nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and decreased appetite. In some cases, this disease can even be lethal.
In dogs, one of the most common causes is the frequent use of bacon as a snack or regular food, so it’s best to avoid bacon to keep your furry friend safe from this illness.
Bacon Contains Sodium:
As mentioned before, the salt content in bacon can also harm your cat’s health. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the way salt works in the human body is pretty similar to the way it works in a cat’s.
Sodium is a necessary element that’s involved in helping our bodies use electrolytes as well as maintaining our blood volume. Too much of it can throw off a delicate balance that keeps us healthy.
The same goes for your furry friend. The best balance of sodium in your cat’s diet is around 21 milligrams a day. Chances are, your cat’s food offers this and more. The average pet cat gets up to twice the recommended daily value of sodium already.
So why push it by adding up to 137 extra milligrams of sodium, the amount commonly found in a typical slice of bacon? Salt poisoning could be the result, with symptoms anywhere from an electrolyte imbalance or incoordination to seizures and even death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Because a lot of the health concerns for bacon arise with the fatty frying method with which it’s often cooked, many people wonder, can cats eat raw bacon instead?
Raw bacon may be an even worse idea than cooked bacon. This is because raw pork can often harbor a lot of excess bacteria or even parasites that make consumption of this raw meat pretty dangerous.
Although in the wild, your cat’s ancestors probably ate things far more bacteria-infested than raw bacon, your cat’s digestive system is perfectly adjusted to life as a house pet, and offering raw food like this can cause digestive symptoms and even worse.
So is turkey a safe alternative in the bacon realm? Believe it or not, turkey bacon can be almost just as bad for your cat’s health as the real thing.
The main offender lies in the way that all bacon is processed and made. Since it involves drying and salting, turkey bacon still has the sky-high sodium and saturated fat content needed to preserve the food.
Of course, for all things, there is a time and a place. While bacon can be extremely harmful if fed repeatedly in large quantities, using it as a treat for your cat here and there in small, cat-sized portions is fine.
Cats can be picky eaters, so using a delectable treat like fully cooked bacon to help conceal pills or reward them after a trip to the vet is a perfectly good way to allow them to enjoy this special treat.
If your cat does accidentally eat a large quantity of bacon, it’ll likely upset its stomach. But never fear. Chances are, they will vomit the offending food to clear it from their digestive system and that will be that.
However, if you notice any of the above-described symptoms of pancreatitis or any other strange behavior from your cat after the fact, it’s always a good idea to check in with your vet.