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Can Cats Eat Gravy? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

Can Cats Eat gravy

Vet approved

Dr. Maja Platisa Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maja Platisa

In-House Veterinarian, DVM MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

What cat could resist the opportunity to suck down a plate of leftover gravy? Broth, fat, and savory goodies made of animal protein—everything your cat loves. But is gravy safe for cats to eat? The truth is that it really depends on how the chef prepared it.

Some gravy can have certain ingredients that can be pretty harmful to a cat—especially in high quantities.

Before changing your cat’s diet or introducing new ingredients or supplements that they haven’t eaten before, especially when it comes to human food, make sure to consult your veterinarian first. Every cat is different and requires an individual approach to nutrition, depending on their age, health, level of activity, and medical history. The guidelines offered in our article have been fact-checked and approved by a veterinarian but should be used as a mere guide on food safety, rather than an individual nutrition plan.

What Is Gravy?

If you’re familiar with any kind of soul food, you probably are accustomed to slathering gravy on certain recipes—especially around the holidays. But unless you are the hands that created it, you might not know exactly what gravy is composed of.

Gravy is a sauce usually made of meat juice, flour or cornstarch, and seasonings. Some have actual hunks of hamburger meat or chicken, while others offer just a thicker liquid. You can buy premade gravy, gravy packets, or make it from scratch.

gravy on a cooking pot
Image Credit: victoria., Unsplash

Gravy Ingredients: A Closer Look

Gravy always uses a protein source as the base of the sauce. The meat of choice is slowly cooked, sometimes in milk, butter, or water.

You can make all sorts of recipes using meat sources like:

At its most basic, no core ingredient can really hurt your cat. It’s not about the broth or flour—but the seasonings and dairy are different stories entirely.

Homemade plain gravy prepared with cats’ health in mind, without any harmful ingredients, can even be beneficial to your feline if offered in moderation, as it provides a source of protein, fat and moisture. It may help when cats are recovering from an illness in providing a tasty addition to their main meals.

Potentially Harmful Gravy Pairings or Seasonings

It’s highly common to add potentially harmful ingredients to gravy that just don’t agree with cats. Some examples are garlic, onion, and chives. These are all in the allium family, which is highly toxic to dogs and cats.

These plans produce a compound called n-propyl disulfide, which is an oxidant. Since cats are highly prone to oxidative damage in their red blood cells, it is highly problematic when your cats eat even small amounts of these aromatic plants.

Cats are, in most cases, completely lactose intolerant. This means that after they are weaned from their mother’s milk, kittens after a certain age no longer produce appropriate amounts of an enzyme called lactase that breaks down dairy in the intestines. If you served your gravy up on a delicious platter of mashed potatoes, you might have added milk and butter.

Cats Should Stay Away From Some Types of Gravy

Unless you know for sure that there is nothing in the gravy that can be harmful to your cat, it’s best to avoid offering it to them at all. However, if you made it at home and know it’s totally kitty-safe, a few licks won’t hurt.

If you prepare it at home, just leave out the flour and make sure there are no added seasonings. Essentially, you’re just offering broth, which you can add to dry kibble or make your own little savory medley.

Commercial gravy is a “people-food” high in fat with potentially toxic ingredients to cats. So, your cat should stay away entirely. If, however, your cat has somehow managed to get some, check the list of ingredients for potentially toxic substances, such as garlic and onions, and give your vets a call straight away.

Dangers of Premade Gravy

You can easily find gravy in jars and packets that make the entire recipe creation process easier when you’re making a big meal. However, this convenience has its downfalls when it comes to your four-legged feline friends.

Many of these selections contain extra ingredients that gravy from scratch does not. It’s crucial to look over the ingredient label if your cat got into the goods.

If there is any garlic or onion in it, your cat will need to go and see the vet. Mostly, however, when no toxic ingredients are present, gravy might cause some issues in the digestive tract, resulting in vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea.

Turkey Gravy in a gravey boat
Image Credit: Mike J. Wolfe, Shutterstock

Alternatives to Cats Eating Gravy

There are plenty of healthy alternatives to offer your cat in place of gravy. For instance, many companies produce lickable snacks now that are broths and gravies designed just for felines.

You can also just boil up some chicken or other fresh meat if you can spare. You can also dehydrate meat to make jerky, so it stretches farther and stores longer.

There are tons of DIY recipes that inspire your creativity on healthy cat treats, too.

Now that you know what you can safely feed your cat, it’s just as important to find a bowl that supports their health and well-being. With whisker-friendly bowls and a wide tray to catch any spills, our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite option.

hungry white cat hepper nom nom bowl licking lip

Cats + Gravy: Final Thoughts

So, of course, your cat can enjoy gravy—as long as it is free of any seasonings that could upset your kitty’s system or be toxic for them. If you made your gravy with milk and butter, it might cause some gastrointestinal upset, as many cats are lactose intolerant, but they should still recover, hopefully without a vet visit.

However, if you think your cat consumed any riskier or toxic ingredients, you should call or go in right away for further evaluation. It is always better to be safe than sorry—just in case.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: victoria., Unsplash

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