The classic ham – one of the most versatile pieces of food ever invented in human history. You can use slices of it to whip up anything from sandwiches and salads to entire chunks as the main event in a 4-course meal – the possibilities are seemingly endless.
Ham is an incredibly rich source of protein, and contains nine essential amino acids. These amino acids play an important role in muscle building, and mood stabilizing. In addition to that, ham is also abundant in phosphorus, which is a compound that maintains bone and tooth health, and provides subtle yet effective protection for your kidneys, liver, and central nervous system.
What is inside ham?
Ham is made by curing a portion of meat that is normally cut out from pork leg. The meat is cured by coating it with salt and an assortment of spices, and letting it dry under varying degrees of heat over an extended period of time.
The final product is a tasty and succulent piece of meat that is absolutely versatile. What brings most people to love the taste of ham is the saltiness and savory flavor it gets from being cured and absorbing all the spices over time.
Is ham safe for cats?
So, you enjoy a piece of ham or two from time to time, and you want to share some of this wonderful meat with your kitty. Cats are obligate carnivores after all, right? So a piece of ham (or two!) couldn’t do them any harm, could it?
Well, the truth is, ham isn’t that good for cats when it comes to their overall health. Sure, they can definitely consume ham without any issues, that’s for sure. But the problem actually lies in the ingredients that are used in curing and preparing the ham.
Cats have very different digestive systems than their human counterparts do, and their tummies can be very sensitive, especially when it comes to sharing food with their favorite humans.
And when it comes to ham, precaution is key. A cat’s digestive system doesn’t have the necessary enzymes required to process all of the many different spices, rubs, and ingredients used in the ham curing process, let alone the incredibly high amount of salt that is used and absorbed into the meat during the making of it. Too much salt in a cat’s diet leads to a condition called salt poisoning, which is characterized by diarrhea, vomiting, excessive thirst and lethargy.
Is ham good for cats?
Well, ham, just like any other processed and cured meat, isn’t necessarily what we would recommend you feed your cat on a daily basis. Just like us humans, overfeeding ham, or just overfeeding in general, will lead to some serious health complications in the future. And with ham tasting that good, chances are you’ll end up losing track of how much you’ve fed your cat (and how many bites you’ve stolen for yourself).
The seasonings and oil that are present in the ham production process also makes it important not to feed this tasty meat product to your cat on a regular basis. In cats, too much ham can lead to complications such as pancreatitis and obesity. This is also not to mention the enormously high amount of grease and salt that is produced during the curing process.
How should I feed ham to my cat
If you’re planning to feed ham to your cat, always remember that ham is a treat or snack food, and should not be a big part of your cat’s daily diet. In fact, scientists and experts agree that snack foods should not exceed more than 10% of your cat’s diet.
When feeding ham to your cat, it should always be a tiny bite-sized portion at a time, and not a huge piece. This helps kitty enjoy the ham better, and avoids any risk of choking hazard altogether.
Avoid feeding deli ham to your cat, as most deli hams contain a far larger amount of nitrites, fat, and spices and make it oh so tasty, but also incredibly unhealthy. And the general rule of thumb? If it’s unhealthy for you, it’s most probably unhealthy for your cat, too.
Considerations before feeding ham to your cat
Your cat deserves only the very best, which is why it is always a good idea to do your research and fully understand what foods she cannot eat and share with you.
Ham is high in salt and fat content, so a small amount (not every day!) is fine. Include ham as a part of the recommended 10 percent snack proportion of a cat’s daily diet.
Ensure that the ham is fully cooked or cured properly, and contains no obviously raw parts. Raw meat is a breeding ground of bacteria like salmonella and E-coli, which can spell disaster for your cat’s overall health and digestive system. In addition, parasitic worms may make themselves comfy in raw meat, which, if consumed, can lead to some serious infectious diseases.
Healthier snack alternatives to ham
Here are some healthier choices that you can feed your cat in place of ham.
- Celery. The crunchy, fresh taste of celery not only gives kitty a fun eating experience, it is juicy, tasty and super healthy too.
- Peas. Peas are commonly found in cat food to boost nutritional content, so feeding your cat peas means you won’t be risking any serious side effects in your cats after consumption.
- Pumpkin. Creamy, rich in taste and high in fiber, pumpkin is a popular snack choice amongst many cats and their human besties.
- Eggs. Cats love the taste of eggs in any way – scrambled, poached, or sunny side up.
These snacks, however healthy, should always take up no more than 10% to 15% of your cat’s daily diet, with the rest of the diet going to commercial cat food which is packed with all the nutrients they need for a balanced, healthy life.
So, the verdict is: Yes, your cat can eat ham. So you can go on ahead and share that little morsel of ham with your pleading kitty. But always remember – moderation is the key to keeping your cat healthy, happy and full of energy to spend their days together with you.