Can Cats Eat Hotdogs? Are they harmful?

A grey cat with black stripes sitting upright in a small chair, with a food tray in front of it. On the tray is a hotdog in a bun with ketchup, cucumbers, and lettuce. The cat it touch it with his left paw.

Hotdogs should not make up a large part of your cat’s diet, and it’s not just because of their name. Even though hotdogs are made of meat and cats are obligate carnivores, the types of meat and other ingredients that make up hotdogs aren’t suitable and can even be harmful to your feline friend. 

Let’s find out why.

Are Hotdogs Healthy For Cats to Eat?

A grey, white cat with black stripes biting a sausage that is being held by someone's hand.

If you’ve never looked at the ingredient list of hotdogs, you might want to (then again, maybe it’s better if you don’t). Yes, they contain meat but very low-quality cuts as well as some by-products. 

We’re not talking toenails and beaks or anything, but not the high-quality cuts that we normally like to see on our plates or in your cat’s dish. So, while meat equals protein, the meats used in hotdog production provide low-quality protein.

Not only is the meat in hotdogs low quality, but it’s also highly processed. Highly processed foods can be hard on your cat’s digestive system. In the wild, cats eat the exact opposite of processed meat. Natural, non-processed foods are what their digestive tract is meant to use most efficiently. Processing meat, which means grinding, cooking, mixing with seasonings, and packaging, can make it less available for your cat’s digestive system to use.

Other ingredients in hotdogs can also be harmful to your cat.  Some of the additional products in hotdogs can even be dangerous, especially at high amounts.

Ingredients in Hotdogs that are Harmful to Your Cat

A line of hotdogs in a bun (6) placed next to each other. Each hot dog has a different topping that ranges from pickles, ketchup, corn, vegetables to other types of condiments (yellow and white).

1. Fat

It should come as no surprise that hotdogs are high in fat. That’s part of what gives them their unique texture. High amounts of fat can cause a cat (and human too!) to gain weight. Obesity isn’t just a human issue; it greatly affects our pets as well. High amounts of fat can also cause digestive upset, like vomiting and diarrhea, that usually go away within a day or two, but can also lead to a more serious issue called pancreatitis.

2. Sodium

Salt is used as a preservative and seasoning in hotdogs. In cats, too much salt can quickly and easily lead to dehydration and even salt poisoning if eaten in high amounts. Cats’ bodies just aren’t adapted to handling salt digestion because they’ve never encountered it in their natural diet.

3. Nitrates and Nitrites

Hotdogs contain a lot of preservatives. That’s what makes their shelf life so long and gives you the ability to eat some of them without cooking. 

However, some of those chemical preservatives can be detrimental to your cat. Eating too many nitrates can cause a condition called methemoglobinemia, which decreases the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.

4. Other Seasonings

Avoid hotdogs that contain garlic or onion seasonings for flavor. These spices are toxic to cats. Toppings, such as onion, relish, and ketchup, can also do some harm as they can be high in sugars or other harmful ingredients.

All of this isn’t to say that the occasional hotdog bite will hurt your kitty; they just shouldn’t be given regularly or in large amounts. 

Some cat parents use hotdogs as a pill hider to try to get medications into those discriminatory animals. However, cats are usually too picky to fall for this trick, so don’t count on hotdogs to help you with this one. Save the hotdogs for very special occasions to avoid potential complications. However, it would be best to avoid giving your cat hotdogs altogether.  

Can Cats Eat Other Types of Sausages?

A few different types of sausages, which are sliced and neatly displayed on a board with green herbs and peppercorns.

There are many types of sausages out there, including some with minimal processing and even higher quality meats. While that may seem more appealing to share with your feline friend, the real issue you have to address is the added ingredients. 

Those sausages may still contain those scary spices, like garlic, onion, and salt, as well as chemical preservatives. They may also contain spices or ingredients that are safe for your cat to eat, but that can still cause irritation to their digestive system.

Most other sausages will probably be high in fat too. This makes obesity and pancreatitis a real concern when feeding your cat any types of sausages. Some sausages will even contain cheese, a yummy addition that ups that fat content all the more.

Final Thoughts

Feeding your kitty hotdogs, especially frequently or in large amounts, has the potential to cause some serious issues. There are many better alternatives out there if you’re looking to treat your cat or share a little human comfort food with them. Rather than hotdogs, share unprocessed lean meats or safe fruits and vegetables. 

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