Our pets usually let us know what interests them. Sometimes, they are quite forceful with their opinions, making sure we don’t miss the signals they are trying to give us. Food is often a pet irritant, and many will come the moment they hear a wrapper being ripped open. While many foods are not safe to share with your beloved pets, some foods seem harmless. If you know cats are carnivores, then when your cat stares at you as you pop that tasty morsel of ham into your mouth, you’re probably thinking it’s a treat that is secure enough to give to your pet.
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Fortunately, ham is a safe snack for cats, but it shouldn’t be a staple in their diets. Since cats are obligate carnivores and ham comes directly from pigs, it doesn’t pose an immediate risk if your cat eats it. However, the ham should not be included in your cat’s usual menu. Despite being an animal source of protein, it is not an ideal protein source for felines due to some of the other additives found in ham, which we will discuss in this article Can Cats Eat Ham? What you need to know!
Can cats eat ham?
The short answer is yes, cats can eat Serrano, York, and turkey ham. Ham could provide your cats with the necessary nutrients as carnivores that they are. Strict carnivores are animals that have meat as an essential component of their diet, for them, it is a biological necessity.
That said, ham as a pork product is adapted to the needs of felines. The ham would give it a plus of proteins and vitamins.
Yes, I just told you that cats can and are safe to eat Serrano ham, but only in small to moderate amounts. With this, as the owner of a responsible cat, you will take care of its well-being.
How Should a Cat’s Diet Be?
Before we start discussing the benefits and drawbacks of feeding your feline ham, it’s important to first understand what a cat’s diet should look like. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they get all the nutrients their bodies need by eating other animals. In the wild, cats do not eat any type of plant matter such as fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Rather, they hunt and kill whatever they eat.
Domestic cats do not hunt or kill live animals regularly. Still, their diet should reflect what they would naturally eat in the wild. Cats should eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet with a moderate amount of fat.
The Nutritional Content of Ham
So where does ham fit into this equation? Well, ham is an animal protein, so that’s a good start. 85 grams of ham contains approximately four grams of fat and 14 grams of protein for a total of 100 calories. So, ham is rich in protein, just as the cat requires it. But these numbers can be misleading. Fat contains more calories per gram than protein, and in 100 calories of ham, there are 36 calories from fat, which means that ham contains more than a third of the fat.
Luckily, ham is essentially carb-free, but that high-fat content is what prevents it from being a good staple food for felines. Too much fat in the diet can easily make a cat overweight, and from there it’s a short step to obesity. Obese cats are at higher risk for disease and tend to have a lower quality of life, so this is not a destination you would want to take your feline to.
However, it’s not just the fat in the ham that’s bad for your cat. Those same 100 calories of ham contain an outrageous 1,050 milligrams of sodium. While sodium won’t kill your cat, it can contribute to dehydration and high blood pressure.
Ham is generally cooked with other seasonings and spices. A simple piece of ham is rarely marketed. However, these added spices can be toxic to your cat. For example, garlic and onion are commonly used to flavor ham, but both are toxic to your cat. If either of these two was used to season the ham you give your feline, it could make it sick.
Benefits for our cat of eating ham
Ham, in addition to being a delicious product, offers a series of nutritional benefits that I will indicate below:
- Ham is a great source of protein, as it is obtained from animal meat. Our cats can get taurine from a slice of ham. Cats can’t make their taurine, so they need to have a reliable source for it.
- Ham contains thiamin, which is one of our cat’s favorite nutrients.
- Apart from this, ham is rich in riboflavin which serves as an antioxidant and promotes metabolism.
- Ham also contains vitamin B6, which plays an important role in our cat’s body.
- Finally, it contains good potassium to prevent kidney failure among felines and some zinc that is beneficial for cats to have a healthy coat.
But, very importantly, what you should keep in mind is that the ham must be of quality.
Are Ham Bones Safe for Cats?
There’s no doubt that your cat would love to chew on that ham bone, but the truth is that it could be dangerous for your feline. The bone can easily splinter as your cat chews on it, which can damage her mouth. The splinters can even end up in your cat’s digestive system and cause internal damage.
Benefits of Feeding Ham to a Cat
While it is true that there are some drawbacks to feeding your cat too much ham, a little can be beneficial. For starters, ham is packed with protein, which can help keep your cat healthy. Ham also contains essential micronutrients and minerals, such as phosphorous and several vitamins from the B vitamin group. Ham also contains nine essential amino acids that can benefit your cat. Additionally, your cat will get plenty of taurine from the ham, which is vital for maintaining proper feline health.
Does ham harm cats?
In the market, there are different types and qualities of ham. This means that it is difficult to generalize when talking about the benefits of ham. I can’t say that all the ham sold out there is healthy.
The truth is that a large amount of ham sold on the market is made from low-quality meat. This meat may contain antibiotics or unnatural or synthetic ingredients. It may also contain high levels of sodium.
The food we give to cats should not exceed 0.2% of its sodium content. Ham has a higher percentage of sodium. Sodium itself is not harmful to animals, but like humans, animals should not consume too much sodium.
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You should also know that ham contains many preservatives. Among them is potassium nitrate, which has received some negative criticism due to the problems it can potentially cause to human health.
But what are the health damages that ham can cause to our beloved pets?
Harms of Serrano ham for your cat
- Feeding your cats ham regularly can cause hypernatremia. It manifests itself in cats suffering from high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders. It develops in the long term and it will be too late when you realize the symptoms.
- Too much ham can also cause diarrhea.
- Eating too much ham can cause your cat to become dehydrated. Ham contains a large amount of sodium causing excessive thirst. So try to hydrate your cat to prevent this from happening. If you ignore this warning, your cat may suffer from kidney disease.
- Ham contains a lot of unhealthy fat. This can cause some problems in digestion.
- Excessive intake of ham can lead to excess salt, which can lead to an electrolyte imbalance in which symptoms include stumbling, frequent urination, and a noticeable drop in energy.
How to safely feed our cats with ham?
As I have indicated, cats can eat ham, but only as a treat or occasional food. The next question is, how do we prepare the ham so that our cats can eat it?
You should know that you can only feed your cat small amounts of ham. This is very important information. The ham can be divided into small pieces. That way, it will be easier for them to digest food.
Some cat foods are flavored with ham. This is a good alternative to replace processed ham that is intended for human consumption. If you want your cats to try ham and get the full set of nutrients they need, you can go for this option.
Lastly, make sure to always prepare some water, as your cat will surely be thirsty afterward. As I told you before, ham has a lot of sodium. Consuming that much salt content will make your pet thirsty. So before he goes on the attack, make sure you stay one step ahead by providing him with a bowl of clean water.
What foods can be given to cats?
If we would like you to eat more natural foods and not so much food, we can give you the following:
- Fruits: pears, watermelons, peaches, apples (as a prize), and strawberries.
- Vegetables: carrots, peas, pumpkin, green beans, sweet potatoes, cucumber, and lettuce all cooked in water.
- Meat: beef, chicken, or turkey. Always boneless and somewhat boiled.
- Fish: any if fresh and boiled before serving.
How Much Ham Can Cats Eat?
As a general rule of thumb, foods outside of your cat’s staple diet should make up no more than 10% of her total food intake. Therefore, you should only offer ham in very small doses and only occasionally. It should not become a daily prize. The high fat and salt content of ham start to become more of a problem the more frequently you offer it to your cat, although it is perfectly safe in small doses.
How to feed a cat with ham
If you want to give your cat ham, you should offer only cooked, unseasoned ham. Raw ham may contain parasites that could be harmful to your cat. Seasonings commonly found in a ham could be toxic. Also, avoid pre-sliced deli meats, as they tend to have an even higher salt content than other types of ham.
You should cook the ham yourself to make sure it doesn’t contain any additives or seasonings that could harm your cat. And finally, make sure you cut it into small enough pieces that it doesn’t pose a choking hazard.
Should You Give Your Feline Ham?
It’s your call when you decide to feed your cat. It is different for each family and feline. If you use moderation when giving your cat ham, you can do it safely. Ham should not be fed as part of your cat’s regular diet, but occasionally offering your cat ham as a treat or snack can provide some beneficial nutrients and is a tasty treat your cat is sure to appreciate.
Conclusion: cats and ham
Just to be clear: ham is not the healthiest meat choice for your cat. Don’t feel bad when you eat ham and your cat can only chew a small piece.
Also, cats don’t appreciate a variety of foods as much as you think. There is nothing wrong with giving him the same food every day, as long as it contains the proteins, vitamins, and minerals that his body needs.
Keep in mind that too much ham can cause hypernatremia, diarrhea, dehydration, indigestion, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance, and negative impacts on your cat’s growth.
But if you want to mix up your diet with some ham, always remember this:
First, prepare your ham in small pieces to facilitate digestion. Second, you can always give him ham-flavored cat food for a more nutritious meal. And finally, always have some water handy when your cat gets too thirsty from eating ham.