Nutrition

Can Cats Eat Bacon?

Wondering if your cat can eat bacon? Cat owners always wonder what human foods are safe for their kitties, and bacon is an often asked about subject. Can cats eat bacon? Should they? Learn all about if this food is safe for cats in this quick guide.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: August 14, 2023 | 7 min read

Cat looking at a plate of bacon trying to eat it

This article should not substitute contact with a veterinarian. Contact your local vet immediately if your cat is reacting poorly after consumption.

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There is no doubt that bacon is delicious, but is it safe for cats? The smell of savory pork cooking is alluring enough to lure creatures and critters of all sizes into the kitchen, hoping to get a bite. It can be very tempting for owners to share a little nibble, and extremely common for curious kitties to hang around the kitchen, hoping to scoop up any crumbs or accidental morsels that fall to the floor. Cat owners often ask, can cats eat bacon?

Felines eat meat, and bacon is meat, so it might seem logical to assume that this delicious fried protein is safe for them. Unfortunately, the answer is not always as open and shut as that. To begin with, there is a lot to consider when feeding cats human foods, especially things like bacon, which are not considered to be super healthy.

We jump in to answer the question of cats eating bacon. Starting with taking a look at what exactly it is and then discussing if this is a safe food for our purr babies to eat. Without further ado, let’s get into the details about cats eating this crispy, salty meat.

What Is Bacon?

When we talk about bacon, most people are referring to salt-cured meat taken from a pig’s back or belly. Most commonly, at least in the United States, this pork strip is cut from the pig’s side. Back cuts are more common in the United Kingdom and are sometimes referred to as Canadian bacon. Back pork tends to be more ham-like, whereas side cuts, when cooked in just the right way, yield those crunchy, irresistible strips of salty pork that are hard to put down.

The pork is soaked in a mixture of nitrates and salt. In some cases, sugar may be mixed in. This process cures the cuts, which are then smoked, packaged, and sold. Once home, the pork is generally fried until crispy and delicious. This food is very fatty. The fat is what makes it so crispy and delicious. Usually, this food has at least one-half to two-thirds fat to meat content before fully cooked. As it cooks, the fat renders off, though some remains. Even cooked, it is high in fat, calories, salt, nitrates, and triglycerides.

There is also a turkey option, which is an alternative to the pork strips. Though this is often touted as a healthier alternative, the turkey variety is still extremely high in sodium and saturated fat. This option is made from light and dark cuts mixed together, seasoned to taste similar to pork, and then pressed into strip form. It has a little less protein, somewhat lower fat, and fewer calories.

Can Cats Eat Bacon?

This is one of those questions that must be answered very carefully. Technically speaking, yes, cats can eat bacon in that they have the ability to chew it up and swallow it. However, felines should not eat this food. This is animal protein, so kitties will be attracted to the smell and taste, but this is not the high-quality kind of animal protein that felines need. There is nothing in this food that is considered poisonous or toxic to felines, and they may enjoy the salty taste, but it has very little nutritional value for them.

Is Bacon Safe For Cats?

Felines are obligate carnivores. They need animal protein to survive and crave its taste. Not all protein is the same though, and pork is not at the top of the list for best feline foods. While eating a nibble or two will not cause irreparable harm to a feline, this food is not considered very safe for them to eat. While it will not poison them, it does not do anything good either. Eating too much can be a problem and lead to some long-term health conditions, including obesity, dehydration, high blood pressure, and clogged blood vessels. This is in part due to the high salt content. This cured pork offering is very high in calories and not healthy for felines to consume regularly. So, while this food may not be poisonous to them, it’s not safe for them either.

Is Bacon Good For Cats?

No, this pork cut is not good for cats. It is high in fats and salts, two things that can be very detrimental to a feline’s health. Additionally, this food is very greasy and can clog up your cat’s digestive and circulatory systems. In the short term, eating too much of it may cause your kitty to have gastrointestinal distress and stomach pain. In some cases, it may be too greasy and rich, and if your cat has eaten too much of it, they may even start to throw it up. It can also be stringy and may get caught in their throats.

A cat overindulging in these fried pork strips will make for an uncomfortable couple of days, but things should pass through and clear up without much trouble. Kitties who are fed cured meats regularly will not be as lucky. The excess salt and fat are very unhealthy for them. Pepperoni is another example of a cured meat that is not advisable for kitties to consume.

Can Bacon Hurt My Cat?

Salt in extremely large quantities has the potential to be poisonous to felines. Kitties who have ingested too much salt may start to show signs of distress. They can experience stomach pain, excessive thirst urination, vomiting, decreased appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, incoordination, and in severe cases, seizures and even coma. A cat who is suffering from salt poisoning needs medical attention immediately. This can be life-threatening. If you suspect your pet has eaten a lot of salt through cured meat or otherwise, it is important to seek medical care immediately.

It is important always to use caution when feeding felines human foods. These are often made with ingredients that are toxic to animals or high in chemical content. Some foods may contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is highly toxic to them. In high enough doses, it can even be fatal. Additionally, bacon is a known carcinogen, as with many other processed types of meat. It contains high levels of chemicals and has been linked to a higher risk of cancer in humans, meaning it certainly is not healthy for our four-legged family members.

What Should I Give My Cat Instead?

top view of a cream colored Maine Coon cat eating dry and wet pet food from feeding dish with copy space
Felines love the taste of protein, so meat-based treats and foods are a good choice.

While the occasional bite of salty meats will make your purr baby’s taste buds dance, there are some better and healthier alternatives. Try to stick with treats made for feline consumption rather than giving your purr baby bites from your plate. There are plenty to choose from, including freeze-dried treats, meaty sticks, and crunchy treats. Kitties also love the taste and smell of catnip, so catnip treats are always a good option. These come in catnip only, as well as protein and catnip.

CBD cat treats can also be a wonderful choice. These treats taste great, help calm kitties down, and help with different things like pain management. Some treats even use a bit of pork as flavoring, so your kitty can still have that delicious taste.

There are some fruits and vegetables that can be given to cats, in moderation, as treats. Additionally, cooked meats, without any added ingredients, are also ok. These should not be given every day, but they can be a nice boost of flavor now and then. Never feed kitties food prepared with spices like onion or garlic. These are toxic to them.

What Should My Cat Eat?

Felines need meat, and they require animal proteins to survive. They should always be fed food that lists this as the first ingredient. Named protein is key. Stay away from any kind of unnamed meat or unnamed by-product. Wheat gluten is often used to create meaty chunks in cheaper pet foods, so be on the lookout for that. Chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, and fish are all good choices for protein. Kitties need a lot of protein, so picking a healthy one is very important.

Look for foods that state they offer complete nutrition, as well as meet the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) pet food nutritional guidelines. Stick with food that is formulated for the stage of life your pet is in, kitten, adult, or senior. Always consult with your veterinarian about any nutritional or growth concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can kittens eat bacon?

No, this is not an appropriate treat for kittens. It has too much fat, salt, and grease for them to digest. It will likely cause them some digestive distress for several days, so avoid feeding them this if possible.

Is turkey bacon better for my cat?

A cat should not eat turkey bacon. They technically can consume it but should not. It holds very little nutritional value and is high in saturated fats and sodium. Though it does have less fat and calories than traditional, this option is still not healthy enough to be considered good for felines to consume. Even though turkey is an ingredient in many pet foods, turkey bacon is simply not appropriate or suitable to feed to felines.

Can cats eat bacon bits?

No, cats should not eat these. These are not always made from real meat and often contain a lot of artificial ingredients and chemicals. They tend to be highly processed to keep a long shelf life, and like other foods made this way are simply not healthy for our fur babies.

Can cats eat raw bacon?

This one is a tricky question. Raw meats can be beneficial for felines and can also be an occasional delicious treat. Your pet will likely love the raw taste of this food, but it will not add much to their diet nutritionally. Raw meat must be prepared and served fresh to a cat, and owners must be careful as raw meat runs the risk of bacteria. Always discuss giving your cat raw meat of any kind with your veterinarian first, if possible.

Final Thoughts

Bacon is delicious, and while we humans might like to eat it a lot, it simply is not food safe for cats. Technically this is meat, which they need, but it is very high in fat, high in sodium, and is a low nutritional food. While this meat may not be toxic to felines, it is not suitable for them, and too much salt can lead to long-term, very serious health issues. If possible, try to avoid feeding your cat cured meats. An occasional bite will not do lasting harm, but it should never be food our purr babies should consume a lot of or be given often.

As purr parents, our responsibility is to look out for our pets. This includes making sure they are getting proper nutrition. While it may be tempting to share our food with them, especially tasty meat snacks, it is best to stick to treats and foods made for felines to eat. Cats and bacon are simply not a good match.

The cat catches a donut with its paws owner holds it in hand

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