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Can Cats Eat Hot Sauce? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Savanna Stanfield

By Savanna Stanfield

Can Cats Eat hot-sauce

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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One aspect of being a responsible pet owner is knowing what your pet can and can’t eat. But if you have a cat as a pet, you know that they have a mind of their own and may eat things that they shouldn’t. Cats don’t always eat our food because they find it particularly yummy. Sometimes, they do it out of curiosity due to the smell of it. One food that may attract your cat due to the smell is hot sauce. But is it okay for cats to eat hot sauce? No, cats should not eat hot sauce. A small taste likely won’t hurt your feline, but it provides no benefit and can irritate your pet’s mouth.

Eating hot sauce can cause your cat to become sick. In this article, we’ll explain why hot sauce isn’t safe for cats to eat and when you should be concerned if your cat does eat some. Continue reading to learn more.


Do Cats Like Hot Sauce?

Us humans use hot sauce primarily to give our food flavor and add a little bit of heat. Most people love the taste of it and add it to everything as a result. But what is it about hot sauce that might attract cats to it? Do they even like it, and can they taste it the way that humans can?

To best answer this question, let’s look at the primary diet of cats. Being obligate carnivores, a cat’s primary diet should consist of meat. Meat isn’t naturally spicy, which is why we often add different spices and condiments such as hot sauce to it.

But since cats have to have meat in order to survive, they have taste buds that can only taste certain flavors. Plus, cats only have a few hundred taste buds as opposed to 9,000 in humans. However, it’s thought that the only flavor cats can’t taste is sweetness.

cat licking mouth after eating
Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

Can a Cat Taste Hot Sauce?

Despite their limited number of taste buds, it’s very likely that cats can taste hot sauce. But it doesn’t taste the same way that it does to humans due to the cat having fewer taste buds. It is very likely that if your cat tastes hot sauce, they won’t like the taste of it due to the main chemical in hot sauce that gives it spiciness: capsaicin.

Even though cats don’t taste hot sauce the same way that humans do, the capsaicin in it can still cause irritation in their mouths. The same thing is true if humans eat too much hot sauce, but it may take less hot sauce to irritate a cat’s mouth than it does a human’s mouth. If your cat tastes some hot sauce, it’s very likely that they were not attracted to the hot sauce itself, but rather, the food that it was on. If you used the hot sauce to flavor meat, then it was probably the meat that attracted your cat to it. In trying to eat the meat, your cat may lick some of the hot sauce as a result.

In most cats, the burning sensation of eating the hot sauce is enough to deter the cat from the meal. If your cat’s mouth becomes irritated, they will assume that the food is just bad and won’t try to continue eating it.


Is Hot Sauce Safe for Cats?

Not only is hot sauce not essential to your cat’s diet, but it also isn’t really safe for cats to eat it either. Although having just a taste of some hot sauce isn’t likely to cause significant harm to your cat, eating a lot of it could make them sick if they aren’t already deterred by the burning and irritation in their mouth.

It actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it because hot sauce can even make humans sick if eaten in large amounts. Even though a little bit of hot sauce goes a long way on our food, that’s not the only reason why we use such a small amount.

Due to the capsaicin found in hot sauce, eating too much of it can cause indigestion and stomach issues in humans in addition to the burning sensation and irritation that might occur. Hot sauce also affects cats in the same way. It can cause an upset stomach, digestive issues, and irritation.

We’ve already touched on this a little, but the reason that hot sauce isn’t safe for cats is that it takes a lot less to make them sick due to them being much smaller than humans are. And eating larger amounts of hot sauce can have a greater effect on your cat due to their stomachs being more sensitive as well.

tomato sauce
Image Credit: Piqsels

What Other Ingredients in Hot Sauce Are Risky for My Cat?

Capsaicin is not the only ingredient found in hot sauce that can be potentially harmful to your cat. Hot sauces often contain vegetable ingredients such as garlic, onions, peppers, and tomatoes that are used to give them a certain flavor.

Some of these ingredients, particularly garlic and onions, are toxic to cats. Eating garlic and onions in any form can lead to serious health problems and even death. The more hot sauce that your cat eats containing these ingredients, the more dangerous it becomes.

What Could Happen if a Cat Eats Hot Sauce?

If your cat just has one lick of hot sauce, it’s unlikely that anything bad is going to happen to them. But in any case, you should still watch for changes in normal behavior, especially if your cat ate a lot of hot sauce or you aren’t sure how much they’ve eaten.

It’s very likely that your cat won’t be able to properly digest hot sauce due to having different digestive system mechanisms when compared to us. Any signs that you may see are going to be associated with digestive problems, including:

  • Swelling in the mouth
  • Drooling, or excessively salivating
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Redness of the mouth
  • A reluctance to open their mouth or eat
  • Drinking excessive water
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Lack of appetite

Depending on the ingredients of the hot sauce your cat ate, and how much they ate, they may even experience more serious symptoms, including lethargy. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms as a result of eating hot sauce, you should reach out to your veterinarian or an animal poison control hotline for advice and treatment.

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.

Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
  • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
  • WHISKER FRIENDLY - Shallow and wide metal containers with flat bottoms ensure your kitty can enjoy...

hepper cat paw divider


Hopefully, you aren’t going to be seasoning your cat’s food with hot sauce in an effort to make it taste better. But if your curious kitty tastes some of your food with hot sauce on it, it’s a good idea to watch them closely for any symptoms. Hot sauce is not good for cats, but having a small taste shouldn’t be enough to hurt your pet. However, it may be enough to deter them from eating any more hot sauce in the future.

Featured Image Credit: ccaricofe, Pixabay

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