Browse down the cat food aisles of any store, and you will see can after can of meaty cat food labeled salmon, tuna, or chicken. Have you ever see pork flavored cat food like ham or bacon?
Have you ever wondered why?
Cats are carnivores, so that means they can eat any meat, right? Yes and no.
Let’s look at the history of cats first.
Cats have evolved from being untamed beasts preying in the wilderness to (if your cat is anything like mine), couch potatoes who sleep most of the day and wake up only if they feel like eating. Domestic cats obviously don’t eat like lions and tigers do, nor do they need to.
Since cats sleep away most of the day (I don’t know where the term “cat nap” came from; if I took a nap like my cat does, I would be out for 8 hours), you, as a cat owner, are responsible for making sure that she gets what she needs, nutritionally.
That’s why it’s important to know what’s best to feed your cat and what to avoid to ensure optimal nutrition and health.
Health benefits of Pork
Pork’s big selling point is its high protein content. Cats need large amounts of protein to stay healthy. Pork features all of the essential amino acids your feline needs to keep his body running properly. Protein also improves muscle mass in cats and humans alike.
If cats do not consume enough protein, they may suffer from fatigue, weight gain, hunger, skin problems, thinning hair, and digestive problems.
Anemia is a condition that cats can develop–it is a deficiency in red blood cells that are needed to carry oxygen throughout the body and keep organs properly functioning. Pork can also treat symptoms of anemia through B vitamins. These vitamins help transfer food into energy, develop neurotransmitters, and produce red blood cells.
So, we have established that pork is an excellent source of protein and helps prevent anemia, which leads me to my next question.
So, can Cats eat Pork?
The short answer is yes, in small amounts. Cooked pork (especially pork tenderloin) is a suitable treat, but it should not become a staple in any feline diet.
Why small amounts?
Pork is not toxic to cats, but the issue is that it is high in sodium and fat, which are two nutrients cats don’t need.
House cats sleep anywhere from 16 to 20 hours a day, so realistically, they are not the most active. If you give a cat fatty food full of sodium, she probably won’t burn away the calories. Not only that, but fat builds up around their arteries, the extra weight slows them down, and they just want to sleep– a downward spiral.
The fat found in pork products (think bacon!) are larger amounts compared to other leaner meats such as chicken and fish. Cats simply don’t need this much fat. Letting your cat live on pork will certainly result in nutritional imbalances or other health issues.
Too much sodium can cause an increase in thirst and added stress to a cat’s kidney, liver, and heart. Again, not good.
The key is a small amount of pork here and there. A piece of bacon, a small chunk of ham, maybe a bite of a pork chop. These are tasty treats that should be given to cats sparingly.
Are certain kinds of pork better than others for cats?
If you want to give your cat pork for the occasional treat, unprocessed pork without salt and preservatives are the best choice. Resist the urge to give her a leftover pork chop from your dinner plate. For one, it’s probably covered in seasonings, like garlic, onion, and maybe even gravy. All that is not going to be good for her.
What do I do if my cat eats too much pork?
If your furry friend indulged in too much pork, watch him closely for digestive issues, including diarrhea, and obviously, stop feeding him pork. If he doesn’t feel better in a day or so, it’s time to contact your veterinarian.
What are healthy alternatives to pork?
Fish, of course, is an alternative to pork. Cats love fish, whether they are eating it from a can, or trying to drag it out of a fish tank like mine did (another story for another time!). Tuna and salmon are great choices.
Chicken and turkey are also great substitutes for pork. They contain less fat than pork, but don’t sacrifice protein.
Consider your cat’s weight. If he is already overweight, pork is not the best occasional treat for him. Look for other options like I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Most importantly: make sure all pork you feed to your cat is fully cooked and minimally seasoned. Yes, it is true that wild cats eat raw meat all the time and survive, the meats we purchase at the store sometimes contain E. Coli, salmonella, or Listeria. Giving your cat raw pork (or any raw meat for that matter may make him sick).
Also, make sure that you remove bones if there are any. Cooked pork bones can splinter into sharp shards and can cause much damage to your cat’s throat, stomach, and intestines.
Finally, cats can develop pork allergies, so be aware of how your cat is feeling after consuming pork. Some signs of allergies in cats are the following:
- Hair loss
- Dull coat
- Extreme fatigue
If your cat has adverse reactions to pork (or any food!), she may have an allergy. Don’t feed her any more pork, and keep an eye on her symptoms. If they don’t improve, take her to the veterinarian.
As carnivores, cats need meat to survive, but they get all they need in their cat food, assuming they are receiving canned, meaty cat food. Yes, they may enjoy the salty, tasty pork, but make sure that it is in moderation. Focus on leaner meats like chicken and fish. In the end, you will have a healthier, happier cat.