Technically, yes, cats can eat bacon, but is it the best breakfast time treat? Maybe not. While it’s hard for us to resist the tantalizing aroma of bacon cooking first thing in the morning, it’s in your cat’s best interest to keep bacon as an “every once in a while” kind of food and even then, only in small amounts. Let’s look at why.
Giving Bacon To Cats: The Good News
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that in the wild, they only eat meat. They require higher amounts of protein than our other pet species, so it would make sense that bacon would be right up their alley. And in that matter of speaking, it is. It provides the protein that cats crave and a blend of fats that can be beneficial if kept in small enough quantities.
On the plus side for you, bacon is a fairly inexpensive, easy to make meat that also provides humans with necessary protein and fats, and let’s face it, it tastes pretty good too. So, why can’t we share our bacon with our kitty?
Giving Bacon To Cats: The Bad News
There’s more to bacon than a mouthwatering smell and high protein content. A few not-so-good things are part of the curing process that you need to watch out for in your cat’s diet.
The first “no-no” item is salt. Just like humans, too much salt can lead to complications in your cat’s health, mainly high blood pressure, dehydration, and weight gain.
If your cat is eating a good quality commercial cat food, all of their sodium requirements will be met. Any additional sodium outside of their cat food can be detrimental.
The second thing to worry about when feeding your cat bacon is the fat content. While the amount of fat in bacon increases the flavor, it also can increase your cat’s waistline and their likelihood of getting certain and serious diseases.
Feeding high amounts of fat at one time or feeding high-fat foods continuously can make your cat more prone to pancreatitis and diabetes. Even small fat doses can cause vomiting and diarrhea that make for one sick kitty or at least a nasty mess to clean up.
If you go for uncured bacon, you may be sparing your kitty some of the excess salt but could still be subjecting them to bacterial infections, like Salmonella or E. coli. You should never feed raw meat to your cat and always practice safe handling practices when cooking raw pork products.
4. Other Seasonings
You may also have to watch out for any seasonings put on the bacon. Tasty things like onion and garlic salt can be toxic to cats, so opt for a plain version if you’re looking to share.
How Much Bacon Can Cats Eat?
Some cat parents may decide never to feed their kitty bacon or to stop feeding it to them cold turkey, but for those of you that can’t bare those sad eyes as you consume your morning meal, here are some guidelines:
Bacon should be considered a treat for cats, not a dietary staple. Limit the amount of bacon that you give your cat to less than one strip every couple of weeks. Or you may choose to give them a bite or a nibble every weekend. This goes for all processed meats, including ham, lunchmeat, and hot dogs. Keep the quantities small and the frequency low.
Always monitor your cat for signs of digestive upset following a bacon treat. Any vomiting or diarrhea that doesn’t resolve within 24 hours should be seen by a veterinarian. Any weight gain, increased urination and thirst, or abdominal pain should also warrant a trip to the clinic.
You don’t have to deprive your cat of the joys of eating bacon, rather keep it as a special treat. As long as you share bacon in small amounts every once in a while, most kitties can appreciate this mouthwatering meat.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.