Can Cats Eat Ham?

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Christmas ham

Image courtesy Ian Turk, Flickr

The countdown to Christmas is on and Cat-World is delving into the safety of common Christmas products and treats, which includes my favourite, the Christmas ham.

Can cats eat ham? 

The short answer is ‘yes‘, and the long answer is ‘with care, and only in very small amounts‘.

  • Ham contains high levels of sodium, which is not good for cats.
  • Ham is not nutritionally balanced.
  • Most hams, especially Christmas hams also contain a lot of fat, which can cause pancreatitis,  a serious condition caused by an inflammation of the pancreas, due to activation of digestive enzymes which begin to break it down.

Feeding ham: 

If you want to give your cat some ham, only feed a small amount and remove all fat from the meat. Give one or two bites only and limit the number of days.

Ham should not replace your cat’s normal meals.

If the ham has expired, do not feed it to your cat (or dog).

Always ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh drinking water.

When not to feed a cat ham:

If the cat has, or is at risk of underlying medical conditions which include:

  • Heart conditions
  • Kidney disease
  • Previous bout(s) of pancreatitis
  • Is overweight
  • If the cat is on a food trial for allergies
  • Is on any other prescription diet
  • Is prone to gastroenteritis (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) when given new or novel foods

Other Christmas food dangers: 

  • Any food which is high in fat poses a risk of pancreatitis
  • Chocolate, which is toxic to cats
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Turkey skin (high in fat)
  • Cooked bones
  • Any food which contains onion and/or garlic
  • Deli meats (salami, proscuitto etc)

Footnote: 

Go easy on the treats, even if they are not harmful in the short-term, they are not nutritionally complete. Treats should not make up more than 10% of your cat’s diet.

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