Can Cats Eat Ketchup? Will It Hurt Them?

A white ramekin on a brown cutting board filled with ketchup is in the middle of the image (with a leaf of parsley on the top of the ketchup) with tomatoes, salt grains, pink peppercorns, and parsley leaves around it.

Ketchup may be an all-American human food that we love to douse our hamburgers in or slop over our french fries. Some people may even eat ketchup at every meal. Even though ketchup is a popular condiment for us, it should not be a part of your cat’s diet. While ketchup isn’t necessarily toxic to cats, it’s not healthy for them either. 

Can Cats Eat Ketchup?

Ketchup provides no positive nutritional value to your cat’s diet. But that doesn’t mean that it does nothing for your cat. Ketchup can be quite harmful to them if consumed in high enough amounts.

  • High Sugar: Believe it or not, ketchup is high in sugar. Cup for cup, ketchup contains more sugar than vanilla ice cream! Giving your cat a lot of sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes that are not only difficult to treat but can also be life-threatening.
  • High Salt: Ketchup also has more than its fair share of salt. While small amounts of salt are usually no big deal, lots of salt can lead to heart and blood pressure issues long-term and salt toxicity short-term. Cats that eat an overload of salt may have vomiting and diarrhea, a decreased appetite, tremors, or seizures.
  • Garlic and Onion: These ingredients may give ketchup a tasty touch, but they are very toxic to our kitties. Both onion and garlic seasoning can lead to a blood disorder called Heinz body anemia which can potentially be very serious.
  • High in Calories: This goes along with high sugar content, but it’s still important to reiterate. Ketchup contains plenty of empty calories, meaning calories that don’t provide any other nutritional benefit. This means that giving your cat ketchup can put them on the fast track to obesity and all of the complications that come with it.

What Happens if My Cat Eats Ketchup?

A lick of ketchup here and there shouldn’t affect your cat much. So don’t worry if your feline friend sneaks a bit off of your burger wrapper or plate. The real trouble comes if your cat decides to gorge itself on ketchup behind your back. 

If that’s the case, carefully monitor your kitty for signs of stomach irritation, most commonly vomiting and diarrhea. Most of the time, these signs will resolve on their own in a couple of days, but if your cat is having trouble for longer than that or their symptoms are severe enough to cause dehydration, tremors, or seizures, see your veterinarian immediately.

Most of the time, cats won’t want more than a taste or two of ketchup, but if you happen to have a ketchup addict on your hand, be sure to keep any ketchup containing foods out of your cat’s reach and remember to lock up the garbage to prevent them from getting at the fast-food wrappers.

Are There any Health Benefits to Ketchup?

Tomatoes are the main ingredient in ketchup, and they pack an antioxidant and fiber punch. However, ketchup tends to be lacking in those nutrients due to its highly processed nature. Ketchup is mostly empty calories with no nutritional value other than providing a tasty pep for most of our fast foods.

Final Thoughts

Ketchup is a tasty condiment that most humans can’t live without. However, it has no place in your cat’s diet. More than a couple of licks of ketchup may be quite detrimental to your cat by potentially leading to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or digestive upset.

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