Can Cats Eat Ham?
If you have studied your cat keenly, you know just how skilled and graceful it is when hunting. Cats have many traits, but the defining one has to be their love for meat. They need meat to survive. Being a carnivorous animal, cats need meat to survive. Unfortunately, this is not a trick that pet specialists use to get you to buy more meat foods for your cat. Believe it or not, without meat, your cat may die.
Luckily, cats are created with powerful and sharpened predatory instincts that are designed to ensure that they get meat when they need to – again, for survival purposes. Note that some meats have more flavour and are better tasting than others.
Ham is a meat product with a distinctive taste and that has got many people hooked. Given how much cat parents enjoy ham, it is only natural that they would want to share some with their felines. But being a cautious parent, before you stuff ham into your cat’s mouth you need one question answered, no make that two questions answered. First, can cats eat ham? Second, is ham safe for cats?
Today, mainstream media is flooded with images of felines enjoying some of the finest canned foods available from colourful cat dishes. Note that while most of these wet canned foods contain a wide range of meat products including turkey, liver and chicken, you will not come across canned ham designed for cats. Heck, ham is not used as an ingredient in cat foods.
Ham as Part of Your Cats Diet
Should you make ham the main ingredient in your cat’s diet?
Before I answer this, I should point out that your cat’s diet should mimic what your cat would eat if it was in the wild. This is actually the reason why most cats are crazy about canned meat products. With canned cat foods, your cat gets a meat filled and moisture-rich diet.
Cats are carnivores. To be specific, they are what animal professionals refer to as obligate carnivores. Meat is the only food they need in their diet. Yes, even the dry cat food is designed to provide animal protein that your cat would otherwise consume if it were in the wild.
It is important that you choose only high quality canned foods. These are usually rich in moisture and help in the hydration of your cat. This is especially if your cat does not love drinking water from its bowl.
Since cats are carnivores and need meat, it only makes sense that ham would be great for your cat, right? Well, not quite. Whether or not your cat can eat ham does not have a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. It is slightly more complicated than that. There are several factors to be considered before you decide to feed or not to feed ham to your cat.
Is it Advisable for Cats to Eat Ham?
Ham is an animal meat. Ideally, meat should be great for your cat. But why is it that some professionals advice against it? Ham is a tricky food to feed to your cat. Some types of ham are rich in sodium.
Always remember that cats, yours included, are not exactly water lovers as mentioned above. Most cats obtain their moisture from their diets.
Cold cut ham especially contains a high sodium content. According to professionals over at the CDC, about 40% of all sodium consumed by humans is acquired from this packaged ham. A tiny piece of frozen ham that is cured and salted provides about 40% of the recommended daily sodium intake for humans.
That said, it is important to note that sodium is not exactly detrimental to your pet’s health.
According to the ‘Pet Food Safety: sodium in Pet Foods’ study (conducted by Chandler, ML), healthy cats and dogs can adjust to varying levels of sodium in foods by using the rennin-angiotensin-aldosterone mechanisms. No substantial evidence is found to signify that an increase in sodium in food increases the risk of both dogs and cats developing hypertension. However, it is recommended that for hypertensive cats, you avoid high levels of dietary salts.
But on the other hand, if your cat suffers from a renal disease, an increase in sodium intake could very well have adverse effects on the kidneys.
Overall, pet professionals recommend ham is fed to cats as a snack and not the main diet.
What About Raw Ham?
There is a misconception doing rounds in the pet industry that feeding your cat raw meat (including ham), is great for your cat’s health.
The reasoning is that the raw meat is similar to what a cat would have in the wild. And since the diet is close to the natural diet, then it means it makes cat’s happy and healthy. But this could not be further from the truth.
If you are thinking of joining in on the raw meat trend, you should think twice about it. Medical experts evaluated cat’s raw diet and came to the conclusion that cats feeding on raw meat are highly susceptible to developing diseases like clostridial diarrhoea and salmonellosis courtesy of exposure to enteropathogens.
But while there are risks of feeding your cat on raw meat, there also some benefits. Before you make the choice of which is best for your furry friend, you should read up on the pros and cons of raw and undercooked meat as part of a cat’s diet.
Can Kittens Eat Ham?
Cats are still classified as kittens even when they are a year old. With kittens, things are slightly different. Kittens feature a delicate digestive system. Most times they are under stress of being moved from on environment to the next and as such need time to adjust physically and emotionally.
Courtesy of their delicate digestive system for sensitive stomachs, they cannot feed on most ‘human foods’ that are in the grey area for cats. For your kitten, you best stay away from ham and stick to feeding it on a kitten food diet (mostly high protein cat food). This will ensure that they have enough proteins to fuel their growth and development and in the process, reduce tummy problems.
Does Ham Have Any Health Benefits?
Unfortunately, ham is not one of those meats that have a myriad of health benefits to cats. As a matter of fact, ham does have any health benefits to your cat. While the meat is rich in protein, some lean meat options with lower sodium content including fish and chicken are better in comparison.
Cooked ham, on the other hand, can serve as a great treat if it is fresh, unseasoned and is only served in very small amounts. Ham makes for a perfect treat meat which gives your feline the much-needed protein boost.
So can cats eat ham? Yes, they can, but only sparingly. Although it is not toxic to cats, the high sodium content is a major concern for most. It could easily degrade your cat's health. Sodium is generally not harmful to cats but just like it is the case for humans, too much of it could lead to health problems.
The freshly cut ham, the kind gotten from butchers are a great choice. But even these, when compared to other meat pieces, are higher in sodium than other animal meats.