Can Cats Eat Ketchup? What You Need to Know!
By Misty Layne
Cats are curious creatures who sometimes like to get into things, including our food. When they decide to explore your coffee, or eat that piece of food that just dropped on the floor, there’s often a moment of panic. Is what they just ate okay for them, or is it toxic?
Since we want to keep our cats out of harm’s way, it’s always good to know what human foods are safe, and which aren’t. Take ketchup, for example. Can cats eat ketchup, or is it harmful to them? The short answer is that no, cats should not have ketchup. Curious to know why? Read on!
Why Cats Shouldn’t Eat Ketchup
While cats should avoid eating ketchup, if your kitty has gotten a lick or two of it, they’ll likely be just fine. It’s when they have more than just a taste that things start to go south. Why is that?
Though ketchup is made primarily from tomatoes, it also contains other ingredients which can be harmful to felines. For example, ketchup can have garlic and onion powder, and both garlic and onion are toxic to cats. Ingestion of garlic and onions by your pet can cause harm to their red blood cells and possibly lead to Heinz body anemia. Symptoms of this condition include loss of appetite, weakness, skin discoloration, fever, and more.
Ketchup also contains quite a bit of salt, which can harm cats. If your cat has too much salt at one time, they could become very dehydrated, leading them to overdrink water and get sick. Worse than that, they can develop a condition known as hypernatremia, also referred to as salt poisoning. Salt poisoning can lead to increased thirst, seizures, confusion, vomiting, and more. If you suspect your cat has overdone it on the salt, it’s vital you get them to your veterinarian right away.
There’s still more in ketchup that could hurt your cat, though. Sugar is another offender. Sugar isn’t toxic to felines, but because they are carnivores who don’t eat carbohydrates often, their systems have a more difficult time breaking down sugars. And, as with humans, too much sugar can lead to diseases such as diabetes.
Finally, ketchup is a processed food, meaning it can contain artificial flavorings, colors, and sweeteners, none of which are healthy for cats. The artificial sweetener xylitol can be found in some ketchup products. Fortunately, it doesn’t have the same toxic effects that you would find in dogs.
As you can see, ketchup offers no health benefits for your cat, only the potential for illness if consumed in large amounts.
What To Do If Your Cat Eats Ketchup
If your cat has licked some ketchup off your plate, don’t immediately panic! In minimal doses, ketchup shouldn’t be harmful. Typically, cause for concern comes when your cat manages to get their paws on a large amount of ketchup—like if a bottle has been knocked over and they’ve eaten everything that’s spilled out.
Whether your cat gets into a large or small amount of ketchup, though, keep an eye out for symptoms such as stomach upset, diarrhea, reduction in appetite, or dilated pupils. Also, watch for any signs of anemia listed above, like weakness, fever, or skin discoloration. If you notice that your cat isn’t feeling quite themselves, get them to their veterinarian as soon as you can, so they can be evaluated.
Can Cats Eat Tomatoes?
You might also be wondering if cats can eat tomatoes, since they weren’t mentioned as an ingredient that’s bad for them. While the tomato plant is toxic to cats, ripe tomatoes are not, and even contain vitamins and minerals that can benefit your cat. However, it’s always best to feed your cat food specifically designed for their needs, rather than supplement their nutrition with human foods. If you decide you want to try giving your cat a little taste of a ripe tomato, make sure to consult with your veterinarian first.
When it comes to cats and ketchup, the two aren’t a good mix. Ketchup contains a host of ingredients – such as garlic, onion, salt, and sugar – that can result in serious harm to your beloved feline if consumed in large amounts. While the damage they can cause ranges from mere stomach upset to much more severe, it’s best to avoid letting your cat near ketchup altogether.
That said, if they do manage to sneak a taste, so long as it’s a tiny amount, they should be fine. If your cat is experiencing any symptoms after ingesting ketchup, please have them evaluated by your veterinarian, to determine if treatment is necessary.
Featured Image Credit: Tolganay Sultangaliyeva, Shutterstock