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Can Cats Eat Pepperoni? Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Hallie Roddy

By Hallie Roddy

Can Cats Eat pepperoni

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

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

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Those of us who have extra-hungry cats know that some felines will eat anything they can grab when our backs are turned. Pepperoni is something that most of us have in our kitchens from time to time, and it’s not uncommon for our cats to sneak a bite of pepperoni off our plate during pizza night. Cats are carnivores and can eat all types of meat, right? Unfortunately, pepperoni is not a safe protein source for cats for several different reasons.

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Is Pepperoni Safe for Cats?

If your cat happens to get a bite or two of pepperoni, it likely won’t have too much of an impact on them. It is when cats start to eat pepperoni on a regular basis that this food becomes more dangerous. Again, limited quantities of pepperoni aren’t toxic for cats, but it certainly isn’t something that you should willingly feed them either.

pepperoni on a pizza
Image Credit: Jumpstory

What About Pepperoni Is Harmful to Cats?

There are dozens of brands that make pepperoni, and each one has its own signature recipe with different ingredients. Some may have foods that are more dangerous for your cats than others. What they all have in common, though, are features that are very dangerous for felines.

1. Fat

When we think about meats, not every cut is the same, and this is especially true if the meat has been processed. While pepperoni might sound like something ok to feed to a little carnivore, you would be surprised to learn that only 19% of pepperoni is protein and over 46% is fat. This is definitively not an ideal addition to your cat’s diet. 

2.  Spices

You also need to think about all the different types of spices that give pepperoni its flavor. These meats often contain peppers and garlic, which are toxic to cats!  Onion and garlic cause red blood cell destruction and consequently anemia in both cats and dogs, so they are considered a big no-no for them. Powdered onion and garlic, in particular, are concentrated and will affect our pets either acutely or cumulatively. If your cat is showing any of the following signs, you need to take them to the hospital right away:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose stool
  • Pale gums
  • Low pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
cat vomiting
Image Credit: Tunatura, Shutterstock

3. Additional Calories

Your cat needs only around 25 kcal per every pound of their body weight to maintain their body functions. Any additional calories they ingest will be accumulated as body fat. With over 50 calories in just 10 grams of pepperoni, your cat could surpass the daily caloric requirements while gaining almost no nutritional benefits, not to mention the additional risks from consuming pepperoni. As with humans, obesity is an epidemic among pet cats, and it comes with an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, urinary problems, cancers, and more. 

hepper-single-cat-paw-divider-e1614923017121What Proteins Are Safe for Cats to Eat?

Even though pepperoni isn’t a safe food choice for cats, there are plenty of other proteins that are. Cats are mostly carnivorous and eat a high-protein diet. Which of the meats are safe for cats?

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Eggs

All these foods are high in protein, low in fat, and beneficial for cats. Make sure that you avoid the addition of oils or seasoning in their preparation. Baking and boiling are great cooking options. 

siamese cat eating food from bowl at home
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Foods to Avoid Giving to Cats

While many foods are safe for cats in moderation, there are a few that need to be avoided at all times. These foods are incredibly toxic and dangerous. If your cat happens to consume some, contact a veterinarian immediately.

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Alcohol
  • Bread dough
  • Xylitol

What if My Cat Likes Pepperoni?

As a cat parent, it is your job to control what your pets eat and how much of it they are eating. We understand that some cats can be a little demanding when it comes to food, but you’d be devastated if you allowed them to eat pepperoni and something bad happened to them. If you are positive it is free from onion or spices, it wouldn’t hurt to give your cat a single bite of pepperoni occasionally. However, it isn’t necessary for a healthy diet and could create more problems. Even if they are begging, do your best to refrain from giving them pepperoni or other types of salami.

british short hair cat eating
Image By: Lilia Solonari, Shutterstock

Are There Any Benefits of Pepperoni for Cats?

The only real benefit that a cat would get from eating pepperoni is that it contains a little bit of protein. As you’ve already learned, a high-protein diet is crucial for a cat’s health, but there are much safer ways to provide it. 

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Resisting your cat’s begging face isn’t easy. All you want is to give them everything their heart desires. Unfortunately, you sometimes have to make the harder choice and refuse to give them foods that are going to harm them. Pepperonis are not a nutritious choice for your cats, especially when there are so many options that are readily available in most homes. Try to refrain from feeding your cats pepperoni and, instead, provide them with some freshly cooked turkey or salmon as a treat.

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