Cats love to experience new tastes that are rich and flavorful, especially food that’s being enjoyed by humans. How about spicy food for cats? Well, it is no exception to the rule because it has a very distinct scent. Spicy food is usually meat-based, making it particularly enticing to felines.
Gastrointestinal and digestive issues (upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting) can occur due to the capsaicin found in spices, such as cayenne pepper. A cat’s tongue also won’t be able to process the complex flavor.
Although spicy foods can be toxic to cats, some felines still enjoy sampling these foods. This could be because cats like imitating humans, or just a quirk of certain pets. Regardless of the reason, feeding spicy food to your cat should be discouraged.
Can Cats Taste Spicy Food?
Cats are unable to process spices. Mammalian biology tends to rely on a, “use it or lose it” philosophy. Cats lost the ability to taste sweetness because they never needed to. Felines are obligate carnivores, requiring a diet that’s rich in meat to survive.
Wild cats have no encounters with sugar, so their tastebuds evolved to ignore it. This ability to taste bitterness remained as a survival mechanism because many bitter-tasting native plants can be deadly.
While a cat doesn’t experience the taste of spice, she can still experience the effects. The heat associated with spicy food usually comes from chilies that are used in the recipe.
These chilies contain a compound named capsaicin. When we bite into a chili, the capsaicin is released. This binds itself to the mouth in precisely the location that registers pain. This is why a particularly hot chili will leave eyes streaming and noses running.
The same reaction happens to cats when they eat a chili. The only difference is that they’re not aware of what they’re letting themselves in for. Your cat cannot taste the flavor of the chili.
Once your cat tastes capsaicin, she is unlikely to return for more. If she smells it, she’ll likely stay away. Capsaicin is an ingredient of cayenne pepper, which some people use as a cat repellent. Sadly, this doesn’t always stop a curious cat from learning the hard way.
What Happens When a Cat Eats Spicy Food?
It’s not just her mouth that will be affected when a cat eats spicy food. This cuisine can also adversely affect her digestive tract due to capsaicin. Once this compound has made itself known in your cat’s mouth, the pain that follows will encourage your pet to swallow or spit the hot food out.
If she chooses to spit the food out, she’ll experience no further ill effects. If she swallows the food, she’s likely to discover that the capsaicin irritates her throat and stomach lining. The result of this will be vomiting and diarrhea until the chili finally passes.
There is also a risk of dehydration when your cat eats spicy food. Felines rarely drink. The consequences of eating spicy food will reduce the level of fluid that remains in her body.
Why Do Cats Like Spicy Food?
According to National Geographic, Chinese tree shrews are the only animal with a taste for chili. If they cannot taste spicy food, and it hurts them, why do some cats like it? That is a mystery that science has been unable to solve.
You need to remember that cats eat with more than just their mouths. The smell of food is just as crucial to a cat as the taste. Felines may decline their favorite meals if the scent is somehow off.
Spicy food often has a powerful and unmistakable scent. This will capture your pet’s imagination. If you’re enjoying the meal, this will make her increasingly determined to join in.
In addition to the smell, spicy food has an appealing temperature. We don’t mean the hot taste. We’re referring to the temperature that the food is served at.
Well, spicy food is usually hot enough. Few spicy meals will burn your mouth in terms of taste and temperature. This can create an appealing sweet spot for a cat.
Think about the texture of spicy food. It will be tender and meat-based. If you have ordered 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 involve delicious, moist and warm meat. This will remind your cat of prey that they eat in the wild, encouraging her to eat it.
What Spicy Foods are Safe for Cats to Eat?
There is no spicy food that’s safe for cats. Keep your pet far away from any such dish.
Your cat may help herself to leftovers on the kitchen table. A petsitter may allow a cat to lick a plate clean. If your cat wanders outside, she 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 smell, 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. Onions, garlic, and various spices will be found in a traditional curry.
Can Cats Eat Pumpkin Spice?
If your cat has eaten something spicy, you may consider offering her pumpkin to help with elimination. If you do so, ensure that it’s tinned pumpkin and not pumpkin spice.
Pumpkin spice may not even contain pumpkin. It will feature all kinds of unwelcome additions, though. These can include 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 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. There are many other cat-safe sources of protein available.
Can Cats Eat Jalapenos?
Jalapenos are harmful to cats due to capsaicin. Jalapenos have a strong smell, they’re chewy, and they’re a good size for cat mouths. This could mean your pet pinches one from your plate.
Stop them from eating them at all costs. What goes in will come out again. Your cat will have nothing to show for their experience but a burned mouth.
Is Chili Con Carne Poisonous to Cats?
Chili con carne isn’t poisonous, but it will badly upset your cat’s stomach. As with curry, any carbohydrate accompaniment to chili con carne will be devoid of nutrition.
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.
Are Cats Allergic to Spices?
A cat can be allergic to anything. Whether it’s food, plastic or grass, seemingly innocuous surroundings can trigger a reaction in cats. Some spices are particularly likely to cause upset.
Is Cinnamon Bad for Cats?
Cinnamon is a spice that can cause significant difficulties for cats. As Wag Walking explains, this spice is non-toxic to felines in moderation. However, that changes when it’s consumed in large quantities.
A quick lick from a spilled teaspoon is unlikely to cause any damage. If your cat devours a spicy meal that’s rich in cinnamon, then she will feel the effects. If she eats a cinnamon stick that you’ve used when baking, she likely to become sick.
The problem with cinnamon is the presence of 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 your cat’s skin is exposed to powdered cinnamon
Cinnamon poisoning doesn’t need to be life-threatening, but it’s also risky to ignore these symptoms. If left untreated, your cat could experience liver failure.
Is Nutmeg Toxic to Cats?
Nutmeg is another spice to be avoided, as the Pet Poison Helpline explains. The offending compound in nutmeg is myristicin.
This can cause severe abdominal cramps, hallucinations, and an elevated heart rate. Cats need to consume a lot of raw nutmeg to experience these side effects. They will recover within 48 hours.
Will Onions and Garlic Make a Cat Sick?
If eaten in large quantities, these foods can cause anemia in cats.
Spices That Are Healthy for Cats
Look out for some of the following herbs and spices next time you’re shopping. In small doses, your cat may benefit from exposure to them. Here are some examples:
- Cat Thyme. Thyme is a staple herb in most spice racks. Cat thyme is a germander that has a catnip-like impact on felines.
- Licorice. Licorice spice can open up the airways, soothe allergies, boost liver function, and ease arthritic inflammation. This is useful if your feline has weak and wobbly legs.
- Peppermint, Rosemary, or Chamomile. These ground spices can soothe itchy feline skin. Mix them with water and rub on any troubled areas.
- Goldenseal. This is a good spice for feline wound care.
- Ginger. This spice can help with stomach upsets and nausea if served in small portions.
Spices That Are Bad for Cats
Anything that includes capsaicin should never be fed to a cat. This means anything that would be added to a dish to add a spicy kick. This includes both cayenne pepper and paprika.
Cinnamon and nutmeg have already been covered in our segment on cat spice allergies (above).
Turmeric is a superfood for humans, helping to reduce inflammation. In theory, it should do the same for cats. Alas, as Food Fur Life explains, many feline turmeric products are contaminated.
Is Hot Sauce Bad for Cats?
We sometimes resort to unique measures to encourage a fussy cat to eat. Unfortunately, it 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 her feel nauseous.
If our cat licks a spoon of hot sauce, it won’t do any lasting damage. This substance is not toxic. Just be prepared for a stomach upset. The hot sauce is likely to repeat on your cat.
It’s rare, but your cat may show an interest in the spicy food on your plate. Try to deter this curiosity. No good can come of your cat developing a taste for curry, but many health problems can arise.