Cats are obligate carnivores and need to be fed a meat-based diet. However, cats can grow bored if you keep feeding them the same food each day, so, you may wish to feed your cat pork instead. Is pork good for cats?
Pork has a high protein content, so it is rich in taurine. As taurine is an essential amino acid for cats, pork is considered to be a healthy meat for felines. However, most pork products are high in sodium (salt), which can leave a cat dehydrated. Pork is also a fatty meat, which is bad for a cat’s internal organs and can lead to weight gain.
Note that older cats should not eat too much pork. As a cat ages, its body needs less protein. This means the health risks associated with pork outweigh the benefits. As an occasional treat, it remains a good choice.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Do Cats Like Pork?
- 2 Feeding Pork To a Cat
Do Cats Like Pork?
Cats can be picky about food. This is not just because your cat is a fussy eater. It is to do with a cat’s unique arrangement of taste buds.
While humans can decipher a range of subtle tastes, cats pick up comparatively few. As explained by The Journal of Anatomy, these taste buds multiply as cats get older.
Many cats will enjoy the taste of pork due to its salty, fatty flavor. A sausage, for example, will often pique the interest of a cat. What’s more, pork is high in protein. This makes it filling for a cat. Many felines will enjoy tucking into pork as it leaves them feeling sated.
Is it OK for Cats to Eat Pork?
Pork is not harmful to cats, even if consumed in large quantities. This does not mean that cats can eat as much pork as they like, though. There are other concerns surrounding this meat. It may not be toxic or dangerous, but it would rarely be described as a healthy meat. The table below looks at the pros and cons of feeding pork to a cat.
|High in protein, leaving a cat feeling fuller for longer||Packed with sodium, which may leave a cat dehydrated and damage internal organs|
|High in taurine, which is the most important acid in a cat’s diet||Often fattier than a cat can consume without weight gain and stomach upset|
|High in vitamin B6, phosphorus, niacin, thiamin selenium, potassium, riboflavin, and zinc||Inappropriately cooked pork is likely to contain harmful bacteria and cause illness|
|Contains water, which may help with hydration||Tough and chewy, so it is difficult for older cats to bite through|
If your cat appears to struggle to digest pork, cease feeding it. This will see the cat becoming lethargic and potentially regurgitating food. This is likeliest in older cats. Senior felines need less protein than younger counterparts. Pork can be too rich for older cats.
If offering your cat pork for the first time, you must also look out for a potential allergic reaction. Any new food must be carefully introduced to a cat’s diet. Symptoms of a food allergy in cats include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Coughing and sneezing
- Trouble breathing
- Breakouts of hives
- Gas and flatulence
Chicken, fish, turkey, and even beef are all considered superior forms of nutrition. The health benefits of pork are met by these alternatives, and even traditional cat food.
Nutritional Value of Pork
The nutritional value of pork varies on a range of factors. Different pork products offer varying levels of nutrition. In addition, quality can differ. If you’re buying pork for a cat, shop with a reputable butcher. On average, pork nutrition will break down as follows:
- Protein – between 26-89%. The leaner the pork, the more protein
- Fat – around 17% but potentially higher, depending on how it’s cooked
- Water – up to 50%
This means that pork could be good for a cat. The protein will aid and encourage muscle growth and mass. It’s easy for a cat to get too much protein though. This can cause issues with the liver, kidneys. Excessive protein can also cause inflammation.
The fat is the real danger. Animal fat is an important part of a cat’s diet, alongside protein. Cats get fat from their standard meals, though. Too much can clog arteries and lead to weight gain. In addition, excess fat has been linked to feline pancreatic disease.
The American Journal of Veterinary Research explains that pork fat should not increase cholesterol in healthy cats. Coupled with additional food, though, the risk is enhanced. Senior cats, who exercise less and have weaker hearts, are at particular risk.
This all adds up to a double-edged sword with pork. In theory, it is nutritionally dense and healthy for cats if sufficiently lean. All the same, it is laced with warnings. Think carefully before bringing pork into a cat’s diet. We would hesitate to call it healthy.
Cooked Pork vs. Raw Pork
If you do plan to feed your cat pork, one thing is certain. The pork must be cooked thoroughly. Debone your pork before you start this process. Like all meats, pork bones can become brittle once heated. This becomes a choking hazard for your cat.
While some prefer to feed their cat raw diets, this is not an option with pork. Raw pork is a bacterial hazard, potentially causing salmonella. Even likelier is trichinellosis, a zoonotic disease caused by the trichinella spiralis parasite, aka nematode.
A nematode is a form of worm that lives in undercooked pork. If consumed, this worm sets up home in the cat’s body. From here, cysts will form that eventually grow fatal. Some cats are asymptotic, but Veterinary Parasitology also lists the follow potential warning signs:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Loss of appetite and associated anorexia
- Unkempt fur
- Muscular pain and stiffness
Trichinellosis is difficult to treat. It is also contagious, shed through feces. Prevention is the only protection against this parasitic disease, which means cooking pork. Freezing the meat is ineffective as nematodes survive sub-zero temperatures.
Feeding Pork To a Cat
Cats should only be fed pork occasionally and when cooked thoroughly and deboned. In addition, it is helpful to know what types of pork are best suited to cats. Not all forms of pork are equal.
Pork Rind and Crackling
The rind is the skin of a pig. Pork rind, also known as pork crackling, is typically fried or baked. This creates a salty, chewy snack that cats will like eating.
Despite this, cats should not be permitted to develop a taste for pork rind. There is no nutritional value in this ingredient. It’s virtually carbohydrate-free, but it also contains little protein. This removes the limited health benefits of pork as a feline food.
In addition, pork rind is higher in fat and sodium than any other form of the meat. Your cat will be risking its health without gaining any advantages to balance this out. If you’re eating a bag of pork crackling, don’t share with your cat.
Pork Leg and Shoulder
Pig legs are often sold by butchers as a large, solid cut of pork. These legs can be purchased with or without bones. If planning to offer pork legs to a cat, choose deboned cuts.
Pork legs and shoulders offer plenty for a cat to get its jaws into. This makes them appealing to felines with strong teeth. Pork legs and shoulders are also typically filled with flavor.
As always with pork, a little goes a long way. Never offer a cat a full pig leg – cut off small slices. Pork legs and shoulders are leaner than other body parts, but not considered a health food.
Pork Loin and Tenderloin (Pork Chops)
These meats are sliced from a pig’s loins, hence the name. Tenderloin comes from the middle of the animal. This is considered the tastiest cut of pork as it’s the leanest.
If you want to try your cat on pork, this is the meat to choose. A well-chosen, butcher’s quality pork chop will maximize health benefits and minimize risks. Avoid cheaper supermarket cuts, though. These will be packed with additives and preservatives.
You may be tempted to add a little apple sauce for additional flavor. Felines cannot detect sweet tastes, so this will be wasted on a cat. You’ll just risk rotting teeth with no tangible reward.
Pork mince can be mixed in with your cat’s meal or pureed. This is a tasty way to bring pork in your cat’s diet. It’s also easier to chew and digest than a larger, tougher cut of meat. Unfortunately, mince is also the fattiest way to serve pork.
It’s difficult to find pork mince with a fat content below 20%. Many packs of pork mince will be even fattier than this. A cat should never consume this much fat.
You can still serve pork mince if you carefully drain fat and juices. It’s an ingredient to approach with caution. Fat will sink into the meat while it cooks. Beef mince is just as tasty and safer to serve.
Never feed pork ribs to a cat. While succulent and tasty, these ingredients are comprised almost entirely of fat. In addition, they will invariably be attached to the bone. This creates a choking hazard. Keep spare ribs for human consumption only.
Sausages are the most common form of cured pork meat. Cats will invariably be attracted to sausages. They carry a strong scent once cooked. Sausages are simple for a cat to eat as they are softer to chew.
If you want to offer your cat sausage, ensure it is fresh and well-cooked. The meat should have come straight from the butcher, with no seasoning, additives or preservatives. The sausages that line the shelves of a typical supermarket are inappropriate for cats.
These sausages come with a variety of different seasonings to enhance taste. Many of these additives will harm a cat. Garlic and onion, for example, are popular ingredients. These are both toxic to cats.
Some sausages are also seasoned with spice. The cat will not taste this, but likely experience a stomach upset once digested. Cats and spicy food make for uneasy bedfellows. Keep a cat far away from chorizo and similarly zesty sausage meat.
In addition, sausages contain particularly high levels of fat and salt. They are also calorie dense. There is little for a cat to gain from eating pork sausage.
If your cat likes eating sausages, they don’t need to be made of pork. Chicken sausages are just as appealing, and healthier for cats. Avoid feeing a cat any kind of sausage meat that has been seasoned.
Like sausage, bacon comes in a variety of forms. Bacon is taken from the side of a pig, where the meat is smoked and cured. Artificial flavorings are also sometimes applied to bacon, especially cheaper ranges. On top of this, bacon is naturally high in salt and fat.
As you may have assumed, bacon is not really suitable for cats. If you must offer it to a cat, invest in Canadian bacon. While still fat from ideal, this is leaner than traditional bacon. This is because Canadian bacon is trimmed from a cat’s back.
Never offer a cat pancetta. This Italian bacon comes from the fattiest part of the pig’s body. In addition, it will be treated with a range of potentially harmful additives.
Ham and gammon are essentially large bacon joints. This means that these foods come with all the warnings associated with bacon. One positive is that cured ham tends to contain more water. All the same, it’s still fatty and salty. This makes it best avoided by cats.
You’ll be able to get away with offering a cat a little ham. This is assuming that you have invested in a high-quality lunch meat, though. Once again, we’re referring to a butcher-class cut, not something from the supermarket.
Cheap ham is designed to last longer in the refrigerator. This means it contains more artificial preservatives than protein, water or taurine. As always with low-quality pork products, the risks outweigh the benefits.
If feeding animal products to a cat, internal organs are advisable. These typically contain the highest levels of taurine, which is vital to a healthy feline diet. This is certainly the case with pig livers. The fact that these ingredients taste great to cats is an additional bonus.
In addition to taurine, animal liver is high in Vitamin A. This ingredient is essential to cats and will particularly benefit senior felines. Vitamin A is linked to good eyesight, healthy skin and fur and a robust immune system. There are all things that older cats struggle with.
It’s possible to have too much of a good thing, though. The Canadian Veterinary Journal explains how Vitamin A toxicity is just as dangerous as taurine deficiency. Feed pork liver as an occasional nutrient top-up and nothing more.
If your cat enjoys pork-based meats, they are fine as an occasional treat. However, if your cat struggles to digest pork, becomes dehydrated or gains weight, cease feeding this meat. There are healthier alternatives available.