My cats are not the types who want everything on the table. The male one, Ouzo even favors his dried cat food more than anything else. Tzatziki, the female one on the other hand wants everything! And I mean it, everything! But neither of them beg for food when we eat. A few days ago, as we was having our breakfast, both of them wanted bacons for the first time in many years and the question was just clear to me: can cats eat bacon? And the inevitable happened. I found myself reading articles and talking to vets about bacon and cats.
The answer I found was a bit confusing because the answer depends on the question you ask. Can cats eat bacon? Yes they can. Should cats eat bacon? No, they should not! Here is why.
Is Bacon Safe For Cats?
In order to know if bacon is safe for cats, we need to know how it is made and what it includes. Bacon is made using the pork belly in US or pork loin in Europe. Both are salt-cured meat if we simplify it. The first warning sign for me is right here, it is salt-cured which is a terrible thing to give to your cat.
High Salt Content
Upon further research I found out that only one thin slice of bacon had 135 miligrams of sodium which equals to around 10 times the amount of daily sodium intake of a cat.
Sodium is one of the worst things you can give to a cat. It is so toxic to cats that there is even something called “salt poisoning” or “sodium ion poisoning” which is not a joke. Salt poisoning cat cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite, abnormal fluid accumulation within the body, incoordination or walking drunk, excessive thirst or urination, potential injury to the kidneys, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death if untreated.
If your cat shows any symptoms after eating anything that is salty, consult your veterinarian immediately.
High Fat Content
Another issue with bacon is it has so much fat and cholesterol that it may lead to diabetes, heart disease and obesity if the consumption is excessive. Fats can also clog the arteries and cause circulation problems. Bacon contains up to 40% of unsaturated fat and 10% of polyunsaturated fat as well as lots of cholesterol. We all know that our cats like to sleep around 16-20 hours a day. This means they don’t have much time for exercise for a healthy life.
Bacon is a processed meat which means that it can lead to heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. There are so many scientific researches about processed meat and so many doctors warn about it that people even get bored if you talk about the health risks of the processed meat. The issue is not any different for cats, either (not getting bored part, the health risks).
Yes, I know, the cats are obligate carnivores and processed meat is still meat. Big news; being a carnivore does not mean wild cats used to catch a pork and processed its meat. Meat processing belongs to humans and humans alone. There are no creatures in the wild that thrive on processed food. Actually, if you take the issue from a natural perspective, you can not see any cats that are the size of your domestic cat attacking a pork or any pork sized wild animal to consume it.
The preservatives used in bacon are giving me headaches. While the meat is cured nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines are used, all of which present serious risks for your little friend’s health. These substances are known to promote the development of cancerous cells both in humans and in cats.
Can Cats Eat Raw Bacon?
The answer is still yes but just like cooked bacon the answer to the question “should cats eat raw bacon” is still no because the fat, the salt and all the other health risks are still there. Also raw bacon may have some harmful bacteria like any other uncooked meat that can cause food poisoning or other health issues.
How to Give Bacon to Cats?
If your cat is crazy about bacon and you are at a point where you feel there is no escape or that your cat deserves a treat, you can give a small amount of bacon to the little fella. In addition to the small amount, the frequency of the bacon consumption should not be more than maybe 10 times a year.
If you decide to give bacon to your cat, please keep in mind that unlike us cats are really not good with fat and oils so instead of pan-frying, boil the bacon without any salt, seasoning, spice, or anything else, boil with just plain water and then give a small amount to the fur ball.
How About Turkey Bacon?
We hear turkey bacon is healthier than the pork bacon all the time but this argument is relative. It is not healthy, it is just healthier than the pork. When the issue is cats, although it is healthier, it is still processed, cured and prepared almost the same way with pork and it also has high amounts of unhealthy content for cats.
“But There Are Bacon Flavored Cat Snacks”!
Please don’t be fooled by the wording used by the companies. Bacon and bacon flavored are two different things. Bacon flavored means that either there is no bacon in the product or there is so little bacon that it is negligible. Also those “flavors” does not mean anything to your cat because it does not know the taste or the smell of a specific flavor until you give it to your cat.
Those words on the package are for you, not your cat. They are bacon flavored because you like bacon, not because cats instinctively seek bacon due to their wild genes. But on the bright side, those snacks are perfectly safe for cats and if your cat likes it, give the little rascal something to enjoy, why not?
In short, if you give small amounts of bacon to your cat and if it is not frequent. Your cat would love it and it will be OK unless it has another health condition that prevents it to eat bacon. But if you ask me, while there are a lot healthier snacks for cats, I would not give bacon to my cats.