Cats are obligate carnivores and need meat in order to survive but not all meat are safe or good for them. What about processed meat? Can cats eat sausage?
Sausages are among the most consumed processed meat and there are thousands of sausage varieties. Almost all cultures have some form of sausage. This is how much humanity loves sausages. Also as cat lovers we know that cats need and love meat but sausage does not contain meat alone. So can cats eat sausage?
When we talk about feeding sausage to cats, I categorize sausages into two categories. Plain sausage coming straight from the butcher and supermarket sausages. There are many reasons behind this rather unusual distinction.
Can Cats Eat Supermarket Sausage?
The sausage I call “supermarket sausage” is the typical commercial brand sausage you see on the supermarket shelves. The simply answer for those kinds of sausages is no, cats should not eat such sausages because they are not safe for cat consumption.
These sausages are generally very tasty for us humans but the reason behind that aroma is the very same reason why it is bad for cats. They include garlic, onion, spices or herbs which are harmful to cats and some of them are even extremely toxic such as garlic and onion. Garlic can cause hemolytic anemia, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, decrease heart rate, pale gums, abdominal discomfort, increased respiratory rate and many other issues.
Also they contain chemicals categorized as additives or preservatives. The most common chemicals in sausage are sodium (salt), sulfites, and nitrate in order to give it a longer shelf life, increase its aroma, etc. Even small amounts of nitrates can cause inflammation to cats and if consumed in high amounts it might cause vomiting. Nitrate is used in almost all processed meat and is a known cancer-causing substance as explained by the Guardian.
Another issue with such sausages as mentioned above is the amount of salt used in them. Too much salt can cause diarrhea and vomiting leading to dehydration. It can also lead to salt poisoning which is a very serious condition for cats causing even death if not treated properly. The other health issues caused by salt are walking drunk, abnormal behavior, injury to the kidneys, tremors and seizures.
Trans fat found in these sausages are bad for cat health. Extra fat consumption can lead to obesity therefore urinary problems, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, liver disease, lameness, pancreatitis and many other serious issues. High fat consumption in cats is also associated with cancer and gastrointestinal diseases.
Can Cats Eat Plain Butcher Sausage?
What I call plain butcher sausage is fresh sausage without any seasoning, additives, or preservatives. It is generally hard to find such a sausage as almost all sausages are made with spices or seasonings, etc. If you want to feed sausage to your cat, the safest option would be to ask your butcher to prepare some plain sausages.
Even if you give your cat plain sausage, there are a few things to consider. First of all, you should not give it in high amounts because sausage is a processed meat and cat digestive system is not good at processing such food.
Another thing to keep in mind is not giving raw sausage to your little friend. Sausage may contain salmonella and trichinellosis diseases. Both of these diseases are caused by consuming raw or undercooked meat as the bacteria and parasites causing these diseases can be avoided by cooking the meat well.
Trichinellosis is caused by trichinella spiralis parasite, aka nematode. This parasite lives in undercooked or raw meat and can setup camp in your cat’s body when it is consumed. It may become fatal if untreated. While some cats do not show any symptoms, it is important to watch for signs such as;
- vomiting and diarrhea,
- unkempt fur,
- loss of appetite and anorexia,
- muscular pain.
It is also contagious through feces and hard to treat. Since nematodes can live in sub-zero temperatures, freezing the meat is not an answer either.
Salmonella does not affect cats as seriously as it does humans but still below symptoms would require taking your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible because it can still be fatal:
- high fever
- lack of appetite
- abdominal pain