Cats love new tastes that are rich and flavorful, especially food that’s being enjoyed by humans. Spicy food for cats is no exception to the rule because it has a very distinct scent that captures a cat’s attention. Spicy food is usually meat-based, making it an enticing ‘treat’ to felines.
A cat that eats spicy food is at risk of gastrointestinal and digestive issues, such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. This occurs due to the capsaicin found in spices, such as cayenne pepper. A cat’s tongue is also unable to process the complex flavor.
Although too much spicy food can be harmful to cats, some felines still enjoy sampling it. This could be because cats like to imitate humans, or it could just be a quirk of certain cats. Regardless of the reason why, feeding spicy food to cats should be discouraged.
Can Cats Taste Spicy Food?
Mammalian biology tends to rely on a “use it or lose it” philosophy.
Cats are unable to process the taste of spices, but they can still experience all of its adverse effects, such as the burning-hot heat. The heat associated with spicy food comes from the chilies that are used in the recipe.
The capsaicin found in cayenne pepper is actually used by people as a cat repellent!
Eating spicy food is rarely an enjoyable experience for a cat. Once your cat tastes capsaicin, it is highly unlikely to return for more. If a cat smells a spicy meal in the future, it’ll likely remember and stay away.
However, that doesn’t always stop a curious cat from learning its lesson the hard way. Cats hate to think that they’re missing out on anything tasty.
What Happens When a Cat Eats Spicy Food?
Chilies contain capsaicin. When a cat chews chili, the capsaicin is released. This binds itself to the mouth in the location that registers pain. Very hot chili will leave a cat’s eyes streaming and its nose running.
It’s not just its mouth that will be affected when a cat eats spicy food. Spices can also adversely affect a cat’s digestive tract due to the capsaicin.
Once the Capsaicin compound has made itself known in your cat’s mouth, the pain that follows will encourage your cat to swallow or spit the hot food out. If it chooses to spit the food out, it’ll experience no further ill-effects.
However, if a cat swallows spicy food, it’ll discover that capsaicin irritates the throat and stomach lining. The result will be vomiting and diarrhea, which will continue until the effects of the chili finally pass.
There is a risk of dehydration, especially if your cat experiences diarrhea. The consequences of eating spicy food will reduce the level of fluid in a cat’s body. That’s why you should encourage your cat to drink regularly.
Why Do Cats Like Spicy Food?
According to National Geographic, Chinese tree shrews are the only animal that likes chili. So, if a cat cannot taste spicy food, and it potentially causes it harm, why do some cats like to eat foods that contain spices?
1/ Interesting Aroma
Cats eat with more than just their mouths. The smell of food is just as crucial to a cat as the actual taste. That’s why so many felines will decline their favorite meals if the scent is somehow off.
Spicy food often has a powerful and unmistakable scent. This will capture your cat’s imagination. If you’re enjoying the meal, this will make your cat increasingly determined not to miss out on a tasty meal.
2/ Appealing Temperature
The temperature that the food is served at makes it easy to eat. Few spicy meals will burn the mouth in terms of the actual temperature.
3/ The Texture of The Food
The meal will be tender and meat-based. If you order an Indian takeout, it will often feature lamb, beef, or chicken. These are all staples of a cat’s diet.
Even a dish such as a chili con carne will contain delicious, moist, and warm meat. This will remind your cat of prey that it eats in the wild.
What Spicy Foods are Safe for Cats to Eat?
Never feed any kind of spicy food to a cat as a treat, unless you understand everything about the potential side effects.
Unfortunately, your cat may help itself to leftovers on the kitchen table. A petsitter may allow a cat to lick his/her plate clean. If your cat wanders outside, it may feast on takeout containers.
Can Cats Eat Curry?
Curry is unsafe for cats to eat. Cats will be drawn to this dish by the strong aroma, but it must be avoided.
Curry is often served with rice. This is just empty carbs. More concerning are the ingredients that are used in the curry itself. Onion, garlic, and various spices will all be found in a traditional curry.
Can Cats Eat Pumpkin Spice?
You may consider offering a cat pumpkin to help with elimination. If you do, make sure that it’s tinned pumpkin and NOT pumpkin spice.
Pumpkin spice may not even contain pumpkin. It will feature all kinds of unwelcome additions, such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
These can cause allergic reactions in felines.
Can Cats Eat Pepperoni?
How about a slice of pepperoni? Surely if you’re eating pizza, your cat can have some of the tasty meat? While felines are always interested in what you’re eating, many human foods are toxic to cats.
Pepperoni is often seasoned with garlic and onions. These ingredients are bad for cats, attacking their red blood cells.
Can Cats Eat Jalapenos?
Jalapenos have a strong smell, they’re chewy, and a good size for a cat’s mouth. This could mean that your cat tries to take one from your plate.
Jalapenos are bad for cats due to the capsaicin, so they should be avoided.
Is Chili Con Carne Poisonous to Cats?
Chili con carne isn’t toxic, but it will badly upset your cat’s stomach.
Even red kidney beans can be bad for your cat if consumed in large quantities. They can be hard for your cat to digest, leading to gas and bloating.
As with curry, any carbohydrate accompaniment to chili con carne will also be devoid of nutritional value to cats.
Is Cinnamon Bad for Cats?
Cinnamon is a spice that is non-toxic to felines in moderation. A quick lick from a spilled teaspoon is unlikely to cause any damage.
However, if your cat devours a spicy meal that’s high in cinnamon, then it will soon experience the negative effects. If it eats a cinnamon stick that you’ve used when baking, it will likely to become sick.
Cinnamon contains coumarin. Coumarin is a compound that is often used in rat poison.
The symptoms of cinnamon poisoning in cats include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Coughing, panting, and wheezing
- Slow and weak heart rate
- Skin irritation (if exposed to powdered cinnamon)
Never ignore the symptoms of cinnamon poisoning. If left untreated by a veterinarian, your cat could experience liver failure.
Is Nutmeg Toxic to Cats?
Nutmeg is another spice to be avoided because it contains myristicin, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Nutmeg can cause:
- Severe abdominal cramps
- Elevated heart rate
Your cat would need to consume a lot of raw nutmeg to experience these side effects. Recovery takes approximately 48 hours.
Will Onions and Garlic Make a Cat Sick?
If eaten in large quantities, onion and garlic can cause anemia.
Is Hot Sauce Bad for Cats?
Most of us will try anything to get a fussy cat to eat its food. Unfortunately, hot sauce should never be added to your cat’s meal to add more flavor.
Some cats seem to enjoy the burning sensation of spicy food, but it’ll likely make them feel nauseous afterwards. It should be avoided.
If our cat licks a spoon of hot sauce, it won’t do any lasting damage. This substance is not toxic in moderation. Just be prepared for a stomach upset.
Herbs and Spices That Are Healthy for Cats
While you shouldn’t feed your cat a meal that contains species, small doses of the following herbs and spices can benefit your cat’s health:
- Thyme. Thyme is a staple herb in most spice racks. Cat thyme is germander that has a catnip-like effect on felines.
- Licorice. Licorice spice can open up the airways, soothe allergies, boost liver function, and ease arthritic inflammation.
- Peppermint, Rosemary, and Chamomile. These ground spices can soothe itchy skin. Mix them with water and rub on any troubled areas.
- Ginger. This helps with stomach upsets and nausea in small portions.
Your cat may show an interest in the spicy food on your plate. No good will come from a cat developing a taste for curry or chili con carne. The most likely outcome is stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea.