Can Cats Eat Spam? Expert Speaks Out

As you might know, Spam is a well-known brand of processed pork meat in a can. Brought into pop culture by a Monty Python sketch, in which the famous comedians kept being offered Spam in all kinds of situations, its origins are in the need to provide people with a low-cost cut of meat. It turns out, cats are big fans of this type of snack, and will nip at it any time they are given the chance.

But can cats eat Spam? Cats cannot eat Spam. As a pork meat product, it is not toxic or poisonous to cats. However, you should not feed Spam to your beloved feline. Spam is a processed meat that contains over 800 mg of salt in one sixth of a can that is above the daily recommended salt intake for a cat.

Many cat owners assume that, because it is a meat product, Spam can be an appropriate meal for cats. Cats do seem to be happy whenever they receive a slice of this delicacy. This idea, though, rests on a wrong assumption: That is, that any food containing protein is good for their pet.

However, while the high protein content (7 grams for every 100 grams of Spam) does make it a bit less harmful, there are healthier options to satisfy the daily requirements of your cat. While cats are meat eaters, not any type of meat will do. In other words: Avoid feeding Spam to your cat and always prefer cat food or unsalted meat.

Is Spam Ok for Cats? What the Results of Recent Research Say

As stated above, although Spam is not toxic for cats, it shouldn’t be offered as a meal either. Let’s try to explain the reason this is not the best idea by illustrating the dietary needs of cats. Cats are true carnivores, needing high amounts of protein to sustain themselves. Food items such as those offered by the brand Hill’s Science Diet store, which can be found on Amazon, prioritize giving meat with a high protein content. Have a look here, for more information.

However, excessive quantities of fat and sodium are bad for them, as the first sharply increases the calorie count of the food, and the second can bring about serious vascular, renal and bone issues. 2006 research revealed that an excessive sodium intake can cause a decline of renal functions even in otherwise healthy cats with no pre-existing conditions. 

To be sure, cats do need a certain amount of sodium in their diet to maintain a healthy urinary tract. However, this quantity needs to be limited. For a long time, veterinarians recommended not to exceed 20 mg of sodium a day not to disrupt the well-being of your cat.

More recent research by the European Pet Food Industry Federation has found that an amount of 740 mg is the maximum that a cat can eat in one day without developing heart or kidney problems. That seems a lot, but if you consider that ⅙ of a can of Spam contains 800 mg of sodium, you will immediately see why it is not a proper meal for your pet.

One other essential element that every cat owner should know about is that Spam should not be offered as a treat either. While the amount of salt contained in it is not good for your cat’s health, it does make it extremely tasty. Because of that, if your cat gets accustomed to salty snacks, it will be likely to refuse its nutritious but bland cat food. A way to combat these effects if they are already taken, would be to offer wet food as an alternative. A great alternative would be Purina Fancy Feast, which can be found on Amazon. You can find out more about its quality taste for your cat, here.

What Happens if a Cat Eats Spam?

If you left an opened can of Spam on the kitchen counter and your cat made a feast out of it, there is no reason to be too worried. If this is a unique occurrence, it is highly likely that your pet will not suffer any adverse consequences. In fact, Spam only contains six ingredients: pork meat, water, salt, potato starch, sodium nitrite and sugar. None of which is poisonous for cats.

At any rate, you should make sure this does not happen again. Once again, an occasional blowout on Spam will not damage your cat’s well-being. But, if consumed over a longer period, this innocent snack will cause a weight increase that can lead to obesity. Obesity, in turn, can bring about serious illnesses, such as diabetes, arthritis, liver diseases and skin and urinary tract problems.

And, with cats, the risk of getting overweight is always behind the corner. In this regard, you need to consider two things. For a starter, some cats are naturally prone to develop some form of obesity. Moggies and neutered cats are more likely to get obese than purebred, intact cats.

While the latter present a lower coefficient of risk, this is where the second issue comes into play. In fact, while cats have been domesticated thousands of years ago, the life of a house cat is much different from that of a wild cat. While tomcats will be constantly moving around their territory scavenging for food, our homegrown balls of fur will lead a more sedentary lifestyle. Less activity, of course, means a lower recommended caloric intake.

Learn more about the interesting behaviors a cat might take with a Professional Veterinary, by looking at the video below.

The Following Chart Showcases Some of the Most Popular Foods for Cats Told by Forum Users:

What do you feed your cat?Percentage of total results
Felix AGAIL is salmon-based cat food with a jelly consistency, although a little expensive, cats love it.7.69%
Doubly Delicious Felix is often mentioned by many forum users for its remarkably delicious smell! This is another wet food, with a mixture of fish and meat.11.54%
Although less popular than some of the other cat foods on the list, Whiskas is a inexpensive wet cat food. 3.85%
Among cat owners, the brand Fancy Feast consistently pops up as a treat for their cats. Although continuous consumption isn’t entirely healthy, Fancy Feast is a delicious meal that any cat would enjoy.15.39%
A highly recommended brand of cat food was Purina (click to order on Amazon), with many pet owners praising it for being healthy and genuinely enjoyed by their cats.23.08%
Another popular choice for wet cat food is Wellness Complete’s grain-free cat food, with many cat owners remarking its health benefits. See it on Amazon by clicking here.15.39%
Merrick’s canned cat food is loved by many owners and their cats, but it’s worth acknowledging the above-average pricing.19.23%
Few people tend to feed their cat’s Harringtons dry food, likely because of its lack of nutrition.3.85%
Data derived from multiple pet-loving forums online

Can Cats Eat Spaghetti? Find Out if It is Safe or Not

When it comes to spaghetti, the same rule that stands for Spam applies. There is no ingredient in spaghetti that could harm cats, as flour and eggs are not among the foods that could potentially intoxicate felines. However, flour has little to no nutritional value to cats, given its high carbohydrate content. As such, it would be best to keep this treat for special occasions only.

Moreover, you should be careful about the sauce. While it is safe to serve a mouthful of spaghetti with a little bit of tomato sauce, you should be extremely careful that it does not contain garlic or onion. These, in fact, are poisonous for cats.

Other Foods That Cats Cannot Eat: A Comprehensive List

The list of common human foods that cats cannot eat include:

  • Milk: Despite what most people believe, most cats are lactose intolerant. After the end of the nursing periods, kittens cannot drink milk anymore, and it should not be served as a comfort food. Otherwise, they could show signs of intoxication and experience great discomfort.
  • Tuna: While a little bit of canned tuna won’t immediately hurt your cat, it doesn’t have all the necessary nutrients for its diet either. Furthermore, the extended consumption of tuna prepared for humans can lead to mercury poisoning.
  • Potatoes: Raw potatoes contain a substance called solanine, which is poisoning for cats as well as humans. On the other hand, cooked potatoes may serve as a treat on rare occasions — if they are unsalted and unflavored.
  • Bread or Cookie Dough: As a rule, you absolutely need to avoid any uncooked dough that contains yeast. The yeast will keep growing in the stomach of a cat, as it doesn’t have the enzymes to process it. Not only will this cause a lot of pain, but a sub-product of the digestion of yeast is alcohol, which can poison your pet.
  • Nuts: Cats can eat a small amount of most nuts. However, it is not an innovative idea to serve them as a treat, as they contain a high number of oils that they cannot digest. And be extra careful, as macadamia nuts are actually toxic for felines.
  • Chocolate: While a treat for humans, chocolate contains theobromine, which will cause immediate heart troubles for your kitten. Furthermore, cats are not attracted by the taste of chocolate. So, do not coax them into accepting it into a treat.
  • Caffeinated products: A cat’s heart is a delicate organ. For this reason, even a small amount of caffeine could cause heart palpitations or even turn out to be fatal. Make sure that coffee and other caffeinated drinks are out of their reach.

But the list could go on and on. As a rule of thumb, only feed your pet cat’s food, and offer other treats infrequently and in lesser amounts. While a bite of human food can be ok, replacing an entire meal with the leftovers of your lunch is not a clever idea.

What Real Human Food Can Cats Eat? Safe Treats for Your Pet

Although cats should always be fed cat food, there are some human foods that can be used as an occasional treat without putting their health at risk. These include:

  • Meat: You can serve your furry friend some meat that is meant for human consumption, if it is well-cooked and unsalted.
  • Fish: While you don’t want your cat to eat canned fish, an occasional meal of fresh, unsalted tuna or mackerel will provide it with fish oils that can contribute to keeping its eyesight healthy.
  • Cheese: Cats are absolute cheese lovers! However, you need to be careful what type of cheese you choose to offer. Gouda, cheddar and other seasoned types of cheese are ok, as they do not contain lactose, which is harmful to cats.
  • Eggs: With their high protein content, eggs can be served to cats with no second thought. Just make sure they are cooked to avoid the risk of salmonella or E. coli. Plus, remember that cats cannot digest avidin, a protein contained in raw eggs and can lead to metabolic issues according to Pastoor, F.J.H. , a faculty member at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
  • Some fresh fruit: Melons, bananas and berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins and low in calories. For this reason, a few bites will serve as an appreciated treat for your cat.
  • Oatmeal: Rich in protein and B vitamin, it could be a nutritious snack for your cat. However, many cats don’t seem to appreciate it too much.
  • Spinach: Among vegetables, spinach is particularly appropriate for cats because of their content of vitamin A, C, and K. However, if your cat has a history of bladder stones, avoid serving them.
  • Rice: Although it is of little nutritional interest for a cat, rice is usually a treat that pets appreciate, especially if accompanied by a portion of meat.

Can Cats Eat Corned Beef? Pros and Cons of This Type of Meat

You may think that corned beef is quite similar in nutritional value to Spam. And this, in principle, is true. They are both types of processed meat, mixed with other ingredients to increase their shelf life. However, while Spam is not immediately harmful for cats, corned beef is a different story.

As a rule, you should never feed your cat with corned beef. Unlike Spam, in fact, it is cured in salt. Therefore, the sodium content of this delicacy is sky-high. Even a small portion of corned beef could provoke an intoxication, and larger quantities will damage the kidneys of your pet.

Of course, there is a difference between homemade corned beef and canned corned beef. A single bite of the first one is quite safe — if you cooked the meat without onion and garlic. If you followed the traditional recipe and added them to your broth, avoid serving this treat to your pet.

As for canned corned beef, you should make sure your cat always stays away from it, as it contains not only too much salt, but also other chemical preservatives that could represent a threat to your cat’s health.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food? Professional Vets Tell You the Truth

If you have both a dog and a cat at home, you might have noticed that many of the ingredients in their specific foods are the same. Because of this, you might think that there is no harm in inverting their diets, right? Many pet owners think the same, especially considering that dog food is usually cheaper. Unfortunately, things are not that simple. Let’s see why.

Cats are obligate carnivores: This means that their main sources of nutrients need to be protein and fat of animal origin. You may occasionally enrich their diet with vegetables and some sugary treats, but meat is essential.

On the other hand, dogs are omnivores that can survive on proteins of different origins. Furthermore, their food usually contains higher levels of carbs, as they have higher calorie requirements than cats.

In addition to their different natures, dogs can synthesize taurine and arginine, whereas cats cannot. Therefore, these two proteins need to be supplemented by their diet. In fact, taurine is necessary for their heart to work properly, whereas arginine is essential for the health of their brains according to K.C. Hayes, DVM.

Therefore, cat and dog food are formulated differently. If you cat nips on dog food once, nothing bad is going to happen. But if the substitution is systematic, it won’t be long before your cat develops serious health issues. Therefore, be careful and always choose good-quality cat food!

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