Can Cats Eat Pepperoni?

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Friday night usually means takeaway night in my household. And just last week, I ordered my favorite pizza from Dominos, pepperoni.

But it got me wondering… can cats eat pepperoni? You often wouldn’t even think about it. But I wondered whether my little bundle Milo could eat it safely.

So I thought I’d ask our in-house team of vets to find out. Here’s what I discovered.

Is Pepperoni Poisonous for Cats?

Pepperoni is not safe for cats to eat and should be avoided.

Can cats eat pepperoni? Yes. Should they? No.  While a tiny bit won’t be fatal, a few slices will have harmful effects on your cat’s health.

Pepperoni contains several low-quality, harmful substances. It has large amounts of fat and sodium and other ingredients such as artificial preservatives, saturated fats, and peppers.

All of these toxic substances can cause life-changing diseases and sometimes lead to death.

Why is Pepperoni Bad for Cats?

Pepperoni contains several ingredients that are harmful to cats. In fact, some are just dangerous. And when they’re ingested, it can lead to high blood pressure, anemia, coma, or death.

Here are some ingredients contained in pepperoni that you should be aware of.

Sodium

Pepperoni is exceptionally high in sodium. For context, a single slice of pepperoni (2g) contains about 35.2mg of sodium, while a slice of pepperoni pizza has roughly 700 mg.

Your cat only needs 21 mg of sodium a day. So a single slice of pepperoni can lead to salt toxicity. This can be even more harmful if your cat has no access to fresh water.

Sodium toxicity can cause decreased appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, incoordination, and tremors. And in worse cases, it can lead to lethargy, organ failure, high blood pressure, coma, or death.

Seasonings

Pepperoni is loaded with toxic seasoning for cats. For example, you’ll usually find black pepper, powdered pepper, and garlic used in pepperoni.

Garlic is a member of the Allium family, like chives, leeks, onions, and shallots. Out of all these plants, garlic is one of the most toxic for cats. A single gram per 5 pounds of body weight can be highly poisonous.

But, the toxicity of garlic depends on its form. When it’s powdered, it’s the most toxic, which is commonly used with pepperoni.

Symptoms of garlic toxicity can be particularly severe for cats. It can lead to red blood cell damage, anemia, gastroenteritis, kidney failure, or death.

Saturated Fats

Fats are an essential part of a cat’s diet. But, the fats found in pepperoni are not good for them.

A single slice of pepperoni (approximately 2g) contains about 0.9g of fat, and 0.28g is saturated. On the other hand, fourteen slices of pepperoni (about 28g) have 14g of fat, and 4.8g is saturated.

The NRC states a cat’s recommended total daily fat intake is:

  • 4.7g for kittens
  • 2.2g for adults

So this means that 14 slices of pepperoni exceed the daily recommended fat intake for adult cats, and there’s a vast amount of saturated fats too.

Does this mean your cat will get heart disease if they’re fed some pepperoni? No.

Cats can combat the risks of heart disease because of their unique cholesterol. They have better HDL & LDL cholesterol compared to other animals. But they can still suffer from digestive issues, leading to obesity, causing pancreatitis or diabetes.

Artificial Preservatives

Most pepperonis contain artificial preservatives like sodium nitrates to increase their shelf-life and prevent the growth of bacteria. And while these nitrates themselves aren’t toxic, they can change to nitric oxide.

Recent studies suggest that high amounts of nitric oxide in pets can cause tumors. So they’re extremely dangerous for cats in large quantities.

Can Kittens Eat Pepperoni?

No. You should avoid giving your kitten pepperoni. They need to get the right amount of nutrition from their diet during their early years to support their rapid growth. Pepperoni is likely to make them feel sick and cause some of the poisonings we’ve previously discussed.

It’s best to feed your kitten a diet specifically formulated for their needs. These diets contain essential nutrients like omega fatty acids for their joints, heart, and brain, glucosamine and chondroitin for their joints and bones, and calcium.

Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula or Purina Pro Plan Kitten Canned Food are two excellent diets you can start with.

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni Sticks?

Pepperoni sticks are also extremely high in sodium and fat.

Small amounts are unlikely to cause severe issues for your cat. But generally, it’s best to steer clear. There are plenty of human foods your cat will love.

Can Cats Eat Salami?

Salami is unhealthy for cats because of its high-fat content. This cured sausage also contains harmful amounts of salt, garlic powder, and other seasonings and spices.

If cats eat salami, they can experience vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or digestive problems. And in worse cases, it can cause pancreatitis and kidney failure, to name a few.

Can Cats Eat Pizza?

Pizza is not safe for cats to eat. Especially if it has pepperoni on top.

Most of the time, pizza has onion and garlic on it. These are highly toxic to cats and can even be fatal if ingested. Plus, pizza is high in saturated fats, sodium, and sugar.

If your cat does consume pizza, it can lead to severe long-term health conditions.

Can Cats Eat Turkey Pepperoni?

Surprisingly, turkey pepperoni contains a lot less fat compared to others. However, it can still cause serious tummy problems for your cat because of the added spices and seasoning.

Generally, it’s best to not feed it to your cat because it’s loaded with sodium and fat. And if it has onion or garlic in it, avoid it at all costs.

If your cat suffers from any poultry food allergies, it’s also best to avoid turkey pepperoni. Giving it to them may trigger adverse reactions.

What to Do If Your Cat’s Eaten Pepperoni?

If you are worried your cat has eaten pepperoni, there are several things you can do.

Keep an Eye on Symptoms

Poisoning caused by pepperoni is likely to cause symptoms such as:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Severe weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

If your cat has consumed large amounts of pepperoni, these symptoms can turn into:

  • Drooling
  • Dehydration
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal body temperature
  • Pale, yellow, or blue gums

If your cat looks arched or straining, this can be a common sign of pancreatitis. Frequent vomiting can be a symptom too.

Closely observe your cat and keep a close eye on them if you suspect garlic poisoning. Symptoms can often take many days to fully develop.

Look For Any Digestive Upset

Just a few slices of pepperoni is enough to cause severe digestive problems. If your cat vomits, has loose stools, or refuses to eat, you may need to address it.

Vets will typically recommend you prevent them from eating for 12 hours. If they stop vomiting, ensure they get a little water during this time.

However, vets can also sometimes recommend a bland diet with plenty of dietary fibers and probiotics. They can prescribe over-the-counter prebiotics like Culturelle too. Your cat must remain hydrated as much as they can.

Then, you’ll progressively put your cat back onto their normal diet.

Generally, it’s best to start giving them 75% of their bland diet and 25% regular. After two days, you can decrease and increase the old and new diets by 25%. Keep repeating this process until your cat is 100% back on their original formula.

But, in some cases, this approach won’t work. Stomach problems can signify other issues such as bloat, parasites, or even pancreatitis. If your cat faints, or you notice blood in their feces or vomit, it’s advised you take them to a vet as soon as possible.

Take Action If Needed

Sodium toxicity, food, and garlic poisoning can happen if your cat eats pepperoni. Here are some recommended actions to take if this happens:

  1. Remove your cat from the room and move any pepperoni out of reach and sight.
  2. Make sure any pepperoni is removed from your cat’s face or mouth.
  3. Grab a sample
  4. Avoid giving any DIY home remedies or other foods. Never induce vomiting unless you’re told so by a vet.
  5. If your cat has consumed large amounts of pepperoni, go to a vet immediately.

Garlic and sodium toxicity can be fatal for cats. However, they can cause anemia or organ failure too.

Poisoning Treatments

Treating certain poisonings depends on various factors, including your cat’s health history and the quantity of pepperoni eaten.

Kidney Damage

If your cat has eaten pepperoni and has problems with their kidneys, a vet may recommend antibiotics. They may also prescribe fluid therapy or order dialysis to protect the kidneys.

Some low-sodium diets may be effective in giving nutritional support to your cat too.

Digestive Problems

Treating digestive problems or pancreatitis flare-up depends on how severe the symptoms are. If they’re mild, a vet may choose to prescribe anti-sickness medicine or pain relief.

Most of the time, vets will suggest your cat stays overnight for observations or treatment. Pancreatitis is extremely painful for cats and quite dangerous.

Salt Poisoning

We’ve previously discussed some of the common signs of salt poisoning. If you suspect your cat is suffering from sodium poisoning, take it to a vet immediately.

It can cause kidney failure, seizures, coma, and even death in extreme cases.

Treatment of salt poisoning will require oxygen therapy, IV, electrolytes, and hospitalization.

Safe Alternatives to Pepperoni

Your cat shouldn’t eat pepperoni, but there are several safe, delicious meat treats you can try. Here are some safe foods you can give:

  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna
  • Turkey

Remember, cats need a diet with real animal meats because they’re obligate carnivores. But, there are numerous vegetables and fruits you can give them as a treat every now and then.

To Top It All Off

Can cats eat pepperoni? The answer is no. It’s simply not worth it. The risks severely outweigh the benefits. It can cause sodium poisoning, garlic toxicity, and it’s loaded with saturated fats and artificial preservatives. It’s best to steer clear altogether.

If you’re still adamant you want to give your cat pepperoni, it’s best to give them one slice every couple of months. Otherwise, you may risk them piling on extra weight and causing other severe health problems!

But, it’s worth considering one of the other delicious meat treats that is safe for them. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing it’s nutritional for them too.

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James Fuller and Mollie

James Fuller

Founder & Chief Content Creator

I’ve owned a pet most of my life. In fact, I currently have both a cat, Milo, and a Jack Russel, Mollie! I’m the founder of Honest Whiskers. And my mission is to deliver a reliable, trusted website that only uses evidence-based information.

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