As obligate carnivores, cats have a limited diet. They must eat meat, or their bodies will not function optimally. Chicken and fish are well known feline favorites, but is pork good for cats?
We will look closely at the advantages and disadvantages of cats eating pork. Follow the information in this guide, and your cat will remain healthy while enjoying the occasional pork-based snack.
Can Cats Eat Pork?
Pork has a poor reputation among cat owners. Many people refuse to serve their cat any food that originated from a pig. It’s a matter of personal choice, and pork isn’t essential to cats. Countless other meats will satisfy their nutritional needs. However, neither is pork quite the dietary disaster that you may have been led to believe.
Firstly, let us dispel the myth that pigs are dirty animals. In fact, as How Stuff Works explains, they are among the cleanest. Pigs roll in mud to cool off as they do not sweat, this is true. They do not ingest this mud, however, and keep their distance from their waste. Your cat would likely approve of a pig’s hygiene.
Also, pigs are no more likely to carry viruses or diseases than other animals. The colloquialism, “as greedy as a pig” leads people to believe that pigs will eat anything. This leaves some cat owners understandably worried that pork contains all kinds of toxins. While it’s true that raw pork is dangerous, the same is true of many raw types of meat. Once the pork has been cooked thoroughly, it is completely safe for cats to eat.
Many people prefer not to feed pork to their cats on cultural or religious grounds. Well, their cat is not missing out, as long as they are fed alterative meat sources. This may even be advisable, as pork is by far the fattiest meat on the market. If you decide to add it to your cat’s diet, ensure that you purchase lean joints.
Is Pork Healthy for Cats?
As pork is high in water and protein, there are some benefits to serving it as an occasional treat. Cats that eat pork may enjoy boosted energy, a healthy, glossy fur coat, and improved digestion. They may even lose weight, despite the fat content. Pork is so protein-rich that your cat should find it filling, and want to eat less.
Again, we should point out that these benefits can also be obtained from alternative meats. It’s a judgment call as to whether you wish to offer your cat pork. By all means, do so as a treat if they like it. Do not feel obligated to make it a key part of their diet, though.
What Kinds of Pork Can Cats Eat?
We have established that pork does not need to be removed from your cat’s diet. However, that does not mean that anything goes. To paraphrase literature’s most infamous pig, “all porks are equal, but some porks are more equal than others.”
Let’s take a look at the varied pork foodstuffs available, and their suitability for cats. We have not included pork-based cat treats, as these are prepared under different circumstances. Use your judgment when selecting cat treats. In theory, they will be safe, especially if produced by a reputable brand. Pork treats can be very fattening though, so feed in moderation.
Can Cats Eat Pork Rind, Crackling or Scratchings?
Pork scratchings and crackling (which is essentially pork scratchings cooked twice) are highly salty and savory. Naturally, this makes them almost irresistible to cats. Sadly, pork scratchings are dangerous for cats.
One or two of these favorite bar snacks will not do any harm. If your cat devours an entire bag, however, they risk organ damage. The biggest danger is to the pancreas, which can become inflamed through excessive fat.
Pancreatitis in cats is treatable is caught early enough, but can prove extremely problematic. These snacks and leftovers are best kept away from your cat.
Can Cats Eat Pork Sausages?
Sausages are generally best avoided as a meaty treat for your cat. This is unfortunate, as many felines consider them to be a favorite.
The trouble with pork sausages for cats isn’t the meat – that’s no more or less dangerous than other pork-based foods. It’s everything that comes with it. Many sausages are loaded with preservatives during the production process. Also, a great many spices are added for flavor. Garlic is a common example. Large amounts of garlic and be hazardous to the health of felines.
If your cat steals a sausage from your plate, don’t panic. One will not do any long-term damage. Just don’t make a habit of chopping them up and slipping them in with cat food. That could lead to health concerns in the longer term.
Can Cats Eat Pork Chops?
If you are looking to introduce your cat to pork, a well-cooked pork chop is an ideal way. Just ensure that it’s a high-quality chop, as cheaper alternatives tend to be packed with preservatives.
All the concerns about salt and fat in pork are magnified in a cheap pork chop. Ensure that any pork chop that you feed your cat is thoroughly deboned. Even the smallest bone can be a choking hazard for a cat.
Also keep the chop clear of any sauces, which can be harmful to your cat’s teeth. Your cat would not be interested in the sweet taste of applesauce anyway. Offering it will potentially cause damage with no hint of a reward.
Can Cats Eat Pork Mince?
Pork mince can be a fine treat for your cat if served in small doses. Much of the fat will drain away in the pan while you fry it, after all. Just be aware that some of these juices will sink into the meat. This can make the mince fattier, and thus less health-conscious than you initially realized.
Can Cats Eat Pork Liver?
Pork liver is an exciting ingredient for cats. The liver of any animal is high in Vitamin A. This can offer a health boost to felines. Vitamin A improves night vision, promotes healthy skin, and enhances the immune system. It’s also filled with antioxidants, which reduce the risk of cancer and other serious illnesses.
As we all know, however, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. If Vitamin A is consumed to excess, it can become toxic. As Wag Walking explains, Vitamin A poisoning can harm your pet’s liver and bones. If your cat is uncharacteristically stiff, they may be getting too much Vitamin A.
Use liver as an occasional treat meal, and your cat should not encounter any problems. Just ensure that you are not over-providing this vitamin through additional supplements.
Can Cats Eat Ham or Gammon?
See our response to pork chops (above). A high-end lunchmeat is fine for your cat, served in moderation. A cheap alternative, however, is potentially harmful. This is because cured meats often contained preservatives and nitrates to prolong shelf life. These are rarely anything less than healthy.
You can pick up cat-friendlier meats for the same price – or cheaper – than good ham. With that in mind, it’s rarely worth purchasing such a product exclusively for your pet. A little serving from your plate as a treat is OK. Anything else is pointless.
Can Cats Eat Bacon?
If you cook bacon, your cat will almost certainly show an interest. The smell will pique their curiosity, and as cats love savory foods, they’ll relish the taste.
Like most pork-based foods, bacon is fine as an occasional treat. If you wish to share bacon from your breakfast plate, trim the fat first. That’s the most harmful component to your cat’s health. Also be mindful of the sodium content, though. Bacon is extremely salty, and your cat gets all their sodium needs through their regular food.
Breaking up a small piece of bacon and offering it as a treat is fine. Don’t make this an everyday occurrence, though. Some bacon goes a long way where your cat is concerned.
Can Cats Eat Raw Pork?
Opinion is divided on whether raw pork is safe for cats. Some believe that it’s OK in tiny doses. Other sources claim that it’s always best avoided, due to the risk of contaminants.
According to WebMD, there has been some controversy surrounding pork in the United States. The potential presence of bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, Enterococcus, and staph should never be ignored. With this in mind, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
If offering your cat pork, it is safest to cook it thoroughly first.
How to Cook Pork for Cats
If you are going to provide pork to your cat, it should be cooked thoroughly. If you pick up a joint of raw pork from a butcher, don’t take any chances. Cook it at a temperature of 130°F for at least an hour.
This will kill any traces of trichinosis larvae that may be living within the meat. A trichinosis infection can lead to roundworm, making it the biggest risk associated with raw pork.
What are the Risks of Eating Pork for Cats?
Three primary risks are frequently attributed to pork. These also apply to humans, but they’re particularly prevalent in cats. After all, a feline body is considerably smaller. This means that their vital organs can easily be damaged.
This trinity of concerns are as follows:
- Presence of Roundworm Parasites. We have briefly discussed the possible presence of trichinosis infection in pork. Contracting trichinosis is a very real risk of eating raw pork. Roundworm is common in cats, but these parasites can be dangerous. Keep your cat updated on worm preventative medications, as roundworm often shows no symptoms.
- High Fat Content. A little fat is essential to your cat. They will, however, draw this from their regular cat food. If you over-feed pork as a treat, it could lead to a fat overload. A study from the American Journal of Veterinary Research claims that fat doesn’t increase feline cholesterol. All the same, it’s hardly a healthy food. If you feed your cat pork, pick the leanest joint possible.
- High Salt (Sodium) Content. Cats need to be careful about how much sodium they consume. As they are descended from desert animals, housecats rarely drink water. They live in a state dangerously close to dehydration most of the time. This means that pushing too far on sodium could tip them over the edge. As pork-based foods are very salty, this is something that must be taken under advisement.
Cat owners have good reason to be concerned about any of these issues. None of them are safe, or healthy, for a cat to encounter. If your cat occasionally enjoys high quality cooked pork as part of a balanced diet, great. You’re unlikely to encounter these problems. If you have concerns, however, pork may be best avoided.
Are Cats Allergic to Pork?
Cats can be allergic to pork, in the sense that cats can be allergic to anything. It’s not a species-wide allergy, however. Every cat has different sensitivities, and it’s a black-or-white scenario. Your cat is either allergic to pork, or they’re not.
Symptoms of an allergy to pork can include:
- Flatulence, diarrhea, and vomiting.
- Outbreaks of hives.
- Excessive itching, and bumps or lesions on the skin.
- Bald patches on the fur.
- Dull, listless fur.
- Loss of appetite.
- Infections to the ear or urinary tract.
- Lethargy and depression.
Of course, you should also remember that cats have delicate digestion. If your cat vomits after eating pork once, it may not be an allergy. Their stomach may just be struggling to adapt to this new food. Speak to a vet for testing if you’re concerned. Don’t force an unwilling cat to eat pork, though. They don’t need it in their diets.
Can You Give Your Cat Pork Bones?
Animal bones and cats do not always mix. You should never offer your cat a cooked bone, as they can splinter. This, in turn, becomes a choking hazard. Even a solid and uncooked pork bone is less than ideal, though.
As we have discussed elsewhere, there could be traces of bacteria remaining on the bone. Also, swallowing a bone can cause gastrointestinal problems.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry where your cat is concerned, and avoid bones. Pork is arguably the most disagreeable of all. If you find your cat chewing a bone, don’t panic.
There’s no need to call the vet unless they exhibit any signs of sickness afterward. Overall, however, try to avoid letting your pet gain access to them.
Healthy Alternatives to Pork for Cats
If you’re unconvinced that pork is ideal for your cat, there are plenty of alternatives. Any supermarket will have an array of meats to choose from, all of which are cat-friendly. These include:
Have you noticed a common theme here? All of these are animals that a cat could conceivably hunt and eat in the wild. We have not mentioned beef, as this is also considered questionable cat food in some circles. Perhaps this is an excellent golden rule to follow when offering your cat meat. If they would not choose it themselves, it’s best avoided.
Pork is a curious food, regarding its role in your cat’s diet. On the one hand, it’s meat – any meat is theoretically a good thing. It’s certainly safer for a cat than a plant-based alternative. However, as far as meats go, there are certainly more health-conscious options.
If your cat has never tasted pork, maybe it’s best to avoid testing their taste buds. Your pet cannot miss what they have never had, after all. The last thing you want is your pet developing a taste for something potentially harmful. Here are human foods that are harmful to cats.
If your cat does enjoy tucking into pork-based produce, however, it’s not the end of the world. As long as you moderate their intake, and ensure that it’s high quality, all is well. Just keep one eye on any signs of your cat gaining weight, or becoming dehydrated. In such instances, scale well back on their porcine treats.