Can Cats Eat Pepperoni?

Our feline friends might show a lot of interest in cured meats like pepperoni. Is pepperoni a safe treat for your cat? Is this food even good for cats? Learn more about the risks of cats eating pepperoni right here.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: October 16, 2023 | 8 min read

Overhead photo of cat with pepperoni pizza on table

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Cat owners know how crafty their purr babies can be when they want something, especially food. Felines love the taste of meat and are drawn to our kitchens and tables when they smell something meaty cooking. Most people know cats need to eat meat, but should they eat deli meat or cured meats? One common question people ask is, can cats eat pepperoni?

Pepperoni is something many of us humans love. It tops our pizzas, adorns our sandwiches, and even finds its way to embellish our salads. While it may not be the healthiest food choice, it is a popular one. Because cats eat meat, it is often assumed that all types of meats and meat products are safe. This is a misconception, as many human foods are unsafe for feline consumption.

Purr parents need to be careful about the human foods they let their cats eat, and it is essential to learn about this before a cat eats something harmful. We look at the issue of cats eating pepperoni and what owners need to know.

What Is Pepperoni?

Pepperoni is a cured meat, meaning this food is not traditionally cooked. Instead, cured meat is made by mixing ground raw pork and beef with flavors and spices, then loaded up with sodium nitrate and salt, which work to cure the meat. This also helps kill any bacteria growing in the meat. After that, lactic acid is added, which lowers the pH. Like sausage, everything is then stuffed inside a casing.

Once in the casing, the meat mixture ferments and then gets dried out for over two weeks. Once dried out enough, things are ready to eat. Salami is prepared in the same way, and technically pepperoni is a form of salami. Salami contains chopped beef, pork, veal, and sometimes poultry like chicken and turkey. These proteins are mixed with ingredients like salt, white pepper, vinegar, garlic, herbs, minced fat, and nitrate. The mixture is stuffed in a casing, fermented, and air-dried.

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni?

Technically cats can eat pepperoni, but they definitely should not. Felines love meat, and technically this is meat, but it is not a healthy protein source for them. This food has very little nutritional value for humans and even less for kitties. While they can chew it up and swallow it, this food does not do anything for them and is not a part of a healthy diet.

Is Pepperoni Bad For Cats?

Yes. Pepperoni is very bad for cats and is not very healthy for humans, either. This is never food they should share with a feline friend. This snack is bad for kitties for a few different reasons. For starters, it has an incredibly high salt content.

Along with that, the meat is not cooked and carries a risk of contamination by harmful bacteria. These include infection from Salmonella, Bacillus cereus, and Trichinellosis. Pepperoni has been the subject of multiple product recalls, specifically due to bacterial contamination.

Cats who are affected by a bacterial infection may experience stomach pain, gastrointestinal distress and discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, slowed pulse, lack of appetite, a high fever, dehydration, lethargy, and low energy. It carries higher risks for pregnant kitties and kittens. Dehydration alone can be a severe condition, and kitties will need care and attention to recover. Eating one or two bites of cured meat will not cause irreparable harm, but this is not a food that kitties should eat often.

Along with being hard to digest and having low nutritional value, cured meats often contain ingredients like garlic and onion, which are toxic to felines. These meats also contain high levels of additives and chemicals that can cause damage and disruption to the feline circulatory system.

This meaty snack tastes delicious, which is why felines may be drawn to it. While it does contain animal proteins, they are not high in quality and will not sustain a cat. Additionally, eating this high-salt, high-fat, very flavorful foods may cause felines to develop a taste for them. Eating these foods can lead to obesity issues and too much salt consumption. Cured meat is not a healthy food for humans to consume in large amounts, and certainly, not one our feline companions should be eating.

Can Cats Eat Salami?

Gray British cat with yellow eyes eating sausage salami
Salami and all other cured meats should be treated the same as pepperoni.

Felines should not eat salami, as it is prepared the same way and carries all the same risks. Salami may be somewhat easier for kitties to digest because it contains milder spices, but it does not have any nutritional benefits and carries the same risk for bacterial infection. Salami is also very high in sodium, so it always is food that pets should avoid.

Felines are very sensitive to salt, more so than owners may realize. The amount of salt that is harmful to a cat is extremely small, and they can start to show symptoms of salt poisoning after ingesting just 0.5 to 1 gram of salt. Sodium chloride poisoning in felines can be especially serious and even fatal. Felines who are experiencing salt poisoning may have symptoms including excessive thirst, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, body trembling or twitching, muscle stiffness, trouble breathing, shaking, long-term kidney damage, internal bleeding, and even a coma. It can have long-term effects on blood pressure, heart function, bone density, and kidney function. Feeding kitty foods that are incredibly high in salt puts them at risk of developing salt poisoning.

Risks Of Feeding Cats Pepperoni And Salami

The delicious taste of meat, fat, and salt does not outweigh the risk these foods pose to felines. These risks include:

  1. Gastrointestinal distress and pain
  2. Dehydration
  3. Leads to obesity
  4. Salt poisoning
  5. Bacterial infection
  6. Addiction to taste
  7. Septicemia and endotoxemia risk in pregnant cats
  8. Miscarriage risk
  9. Damage to the immune system, especially for kittens
  10. Risk of hypertension and kidney disease
  11. Damage to blood
  12. Lowered pulse
  13. Toxic ingredients like garlic and onion

What To Do If My Cat Likes Pepperoni?

If your fur baby develops a taste for cured meat, your responsibility as an owner is to ensure they do not eat it. Avoid giving your cat this and other cured meats. As we have mentioned, an occasional bite or nibble will not cause extreme long-term harm. However, kitties who consume this regularly will not be healthy. Taking this food away from a cat who has already developed a strong desire for it may be challenging. Owners will have to set boundaries and provide more nutritional treat alternatives. Your cat may be giving you those big, sad kitty eyes, but you need to be strong and not give in.

There are a few big things owners can do, like not have pepperoni in the house or put the cat in another room if they do have it. Always keep cured meats wrapped up securely and stored away from where kitties can reach them. This may seem like stating the obvious, but kitties are incredibly dexterous, intelligent, and clever. They will learn where something is kept and can eventually access it if they are determined enough. This goes beyond just cured meats. As many feline owners can attest, cats are excellent thieves and use their cunning and highly developed hunting skills to get what they want. The best way owners can prevent them from eating it is to remove all possible access to it.

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni Pizza?

No, cats should not eat pizza of any kind for a variety of reasons. While we agree pizza is delicious just about any time, this is not a healthy choice for them. Some ingredients may not be too harmful to them independently. Still, some, like onion, garlic, and tomato sauce, are not things felines should be eating regularly due to the risk of toxicity and digestive upset. Tomatoes alone carry a high risk of toxicity because they contain solanine, a compound that is very dangerous for felines. Onions and garlic are not safe for kitties to consume.

Pizza is most often covered in greasy cheese and then baked with plenty of toppings. Cats should not consume high fat and high grease content, nor should they have heavy pizza crusts. Even though some felines may develop a liking for pizza, it truly is not healthy for them. The best choice for purr parents who want to sneak a bite of their pizza is to keep pets in the other room when they eat. Do not allow a feline to develop a habit of sharing human food with you. While some foods are safe when prepared appropriately and in small quantities, many human foods are unsafe for feline consumption. Research is important before allowing your cat to try anything from your plate.

Safe Feline Friendly Proteins And Pepperoni Alternatives

Felines are obligate carnivores, meaning they must consume animal proteins to survive. This does not mean that they only eat meat, but in the natural environment, raw meat is what would primarily sustain them. To keep kitties healthy, well-balanced cat foods and treats contain the appropriate blend of animal proteins, fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and nutrients and minerals. While cured meats are not a safe choice for kitties, there are plenty of tastier, healthier alternatives that owners can try.

Some owners will occasionally give their cats raw meat, like fresh chicken, or share appropriately cooked proteins like steak or poultry. There are some fruits and vegetables, like apples, carrots, pumpkin, bananas, blueberries, broccoli, zucchini, and sweet potato, that can be added to their diets to increase flavor and add fiber. Along with that, plenty of raw, fresh, freeze-dried, and catnip treats are available on the market. Owners can try a meat stick for kitties who need that feel of cured meat.

Freeze-dried cat treats and food are a fantastic way to give felines a flavor boost with high nutritional content. Freeze-dried foods are slowly cooked, and then the moisture is removed. Kitties can eat freeze-dried food as is or with added water and get the taste of fresh protein.

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Dinner

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw
  • Cooked in small batches.
  • Responsibly sourced meats.
  • Raw meat flavor.
  • No artificial ingredients.

Stella and Chewy’s makes a variety of freeze-dried cat food products. They can be served as meals or treats or mixed with your kitty’s regular kibble. Cats love the taste of raw meat, and products are made from responsibly sourced proteins.

Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Treats

Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Treats
  • Freeze-dried turkey giblets.
  • No preservatives or fillers.
  • Great taste.
  • High-protein

Vital Essential provides a high-rated freeze-dried cat treat that is pure animal protein and full of flavor.

JustFoodForCats Fresh Meals

JustFoodForCats Fresh Meals
  • Human-grade, fresh meals.
  • Delivered to your door.
  • Top nutritional value.
  • Great taste.
  • Top quality animal proteins.

JustFoodForCats prepares human-grade fresh meals that are delivered to your door. Gluten and grain-free, high-quality protein, and a great flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will pepperoni hurt my cat?

A bite or two once will not cause long-term harm to your cat, but this should not even become an occasional treat. This food is too salty, has added chemicals, carries a risk of bacteria, and has no nutritional value. A bite or two will not cause long-term harm, but more than that has the potential to and is not worth the risk.

Can cats eat cooked pepperoni?

Kitties should not eat cooked pepperoni. This is no better for them than cured meats that have not been cooked. While frying it up to make it crispy may reduce the risk of bacteria, it does nothing to make this food any healthier or add nutritional value.

How much pepperoni is too much for my cat?

Felines should only ever have a nibble of pepperoni, if at all. If your cat happens to get into a large quantity, it is best to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. They may want to examine and monitor your pet for signs of salt toxicity, gastrointestinal issues, or even poisoning. While a cat gobbling up a large amount of cured meat may not always be an emergency, it is best to contact your veterinarian immediately for advice. Do not try to make your cat vomit or try to remove any bits of food from their throat. Leave this to your veterinarian, where it can be done safely and at less risk to both pets and humans.

Can pepperoni kill a cat?

No, pepperoni is not toxic to cats and won’t kill them.

Final Thoughts

There is no secret about the fact that our feline companions love to share our food. As pet owners, we might start to feel warm and fuzzy when we get those thankful cuddles after letting them have a snack off our plates. Unfortunately, most human foods, especially cured meats like pepperoni, are just not safe for kitties to eat. While a nibble or two occasionally will not cause long-term harm, it is not a good idea either.

Felines should not consume cured meats as they contain high levels of salt and added chemicals, as well as are cured, not cooked, so they carry the risk of bacteria. It does not have any nutritional value for cats, and other than giving them a small amount of protein and a wallop of flavor, there is no legitimate benefit to feeding it to them. Cats who are exposed to it too much may start to develop a taste and preference, which can disturb their regular eating habits. It is best to avoid feeding your cat pepperoni in any circumstance. Look for a nutritional alternative that does put them at risk.

Sphynx cat licking its lip

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