Cat Questions
can cats eat ham a comprehensive guide

Can Cats Eat Ham? - A Comprehensive Guide for Cat Owners

Written by Steph McCulloch


Uncover the dos and don'ts of feeding ham to your furry friend. Learn about potential health risks, nutritional considerations, and find expert insights on maintaining a balanced diet for your beloved cat. Get the scoop on whether ham is a treat or a potential hazard for your feline companion.
a cat eating ham from a plate


As our feline companions continue to capture our hearts with their playful antics and endearing quirks, it's only natural for us pet owners to want to share our meals, even occasionally.

One such human food that often sparks curiosity is ham. While it may seem harmless to treat your cat to a nibble of this savoury delight, a closer examination reveals a complex interplay of pros and cons.

In this article, our food experts are finding the answer to 'Can cats eat ham?', whilst also exploring if it's safe for them and if so, what types of ham they can eat.

Delving into the
curious behaviour of cats eating ham highlights how important it is to understand your cat's unique dietary demands for optimal health and happiness.

Can cats eat ham?

a cheeky cat trying to swipe some ham from a worktop chopping board

Understanding the dynamics of incorporating ham into a cat's diet is essential for responsible pet ownership.

This overview delves into the advantages and drawbacks of using ham as a food choice for cats, shedding light on the considerations that arise when navigating the culinary choices for our feline family.


  • Protein content: Ham is an excellent source of protein, which is essential for a cat's overall health. Protein is crucial for muscle development, immune function, and various metabolic processes.

  • Palatability: Many cats find ham appealing due to its savoury flavour and aroma, making it an enticing special treat. This can be useful for pet owners looking for alternative ways to administer medication or to encourage a picky eater to consume necessary medications or supplements.


  • High sodium content: Ham is often high in sodium, which can be detrimental to a cat's health. Excessive sodium intake may lead to increased blood pressure and contribute to conditions like kidney disease or heart issues in cats.

  • Additives and preservatives: Processed ham may contain additives, preservatives, and other ingredients that are not suitable for cats. Some additives may be harmful to feline health, and the preservatives used in processed meats might not align with a cat's dietary needs.

  • Fat content: Ham can be high in fat, which, if consumed in excess, may contribute to obesity in cats. Obesity can lead to various health issues, including diabetes and joint problems.

  • Potential for gastrointestinal issues: Feeding ham to cats in large quantities or too frequently can lead to digestive problems. Cats may experience upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhoea due to the rich and fatty nature of ham.

  • Nutrient imbalance: While ham provides protein, it lacks the essential amino acids that are specifically required by cats, such as taurine. Depending solely on ham can result in an imbalanced diet, leading to nutritional deficiencies over time.

Can cats eat ham slices?

cat sitting at white table eating ham

The distinction between ham slices and other forms of ham lies not only in their physical presentation but also in their preparation and composition. Ham slices, typically obtained from larger cuts of ham, are thinly sliced portions that can vary in thickness.

Other forms of ham may include whole hams, ham steaks, or diced ham, each offering a unique texture and taste. The processing methods can also vary, with some hams undergoing curing, smoking, or extra seasoning processes that contribute to different flavours and textures.

Feeding ham slices to cats can have both potential benefits and risks. On the positive side, ham is a good source of animal protein, which is essential for a cat's overall health.

Cats, being obligate carnivores, require high-quality protein in their diet for muscle development and other physiological functions. However, ham slices also come with drawbacks, primarily related to their high sodium and fat content.

Excessive amounts of sodium intake can contribute to health issues like elevated blood pressure, while the high-fat content may lead to obesity and associated complications.

Processed ham may also contain additives and preservatives that could be harmful to feline health.
It's crucial for cat owners to strike a balance, offering ham slices as an occasional treat while ensuring the majority of their cat's diet consists of nutritionally balanced cat food designed to meet their specific dietary needs.

Can cats eat cooked ham?

cat sitting politely at table staring at ham

Cooking ham can alter its nutritional composition, affecting both the positive and potentially harmful aspects for cats. The cooking process may enhance the digestibility of ham for felines, making certain nutrients more accessible for absorption.

However, it's essential to note that high-temperature cooking methods can also lead to nutrient losses. Heat-sensitive vitamins, such as B vitamins, can degrade during cooking, potentially diminishing the overall nutritional value of the ham.

Additionally, cooking may increase the concentration of certain compounds, such as sodium, which could pose health risks to cats in excess.

Feeding cooked meat to cats presents both safety tips and potential benefits. On the positive side, cooking eliminates harmful bacteria and
parasites that raw meat might harbour, reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses for both cats and their owners.

Cooked ham also becomes more palatable for cats, making it easier to incorporate into their diet.

However, caution is warranted due to the sodium and fat content often found in processed and cooked ham. Excessive amounts of sodium intake can contribute to health issues like hypertension, while high-fat content may lead to obesity and related complications.

Moreover, additives and preservatives present in processed ham can be detrimental to feline health.
To ensure the safety and well-being of cats, cooked ham should be offered in moderation, as an occasional treat, within the context of a balanced and nutritionally complete cat diet.

Can cats eat honey roast ham?

Yes, cats can eat honey roast ham - but it's important to exercise caution and offer it in moderation. Honey roast ham is a variant of ham that is seasoned or glazed with honey, adding sweetness and flavour.

When considering this type of ham for cats, it's crucial to be aware of the potential impact of honey and other additives on feline health.

Honey roast ham differs from other types of ham primarily in its flavour profile. The addition of honey introduces sweetness, and sometimes other seasonings, which can make it more appealing to some cats.

Other types of ham may include plain cooked ham, smoked ham, or cured ham, each with distinct flavours and textures. However, the nutritional composition remains similar across different types of ham, with protein being a primary component.

While honey roast ham may be enticing to cats due to its sweet glaze, it's essential to be mindful of the potential consequences.

Honey, in moderation, is generally safe for cats, but it is high in natural sugars. Excessive sugar intake can contribute to weight gain and may even lead to conditions like diabetes in susceptible cats.

Other additives, preservatives, or flavourings used in honey roast ham may not align with a cat's dietary needs. Cats are obligate carnivores, and their digestive systems may not tolerate certain ingredients found in processed or seasoned meats.

It's advisable to offer honey roast ham sparingly, ensuring that it constitutes only a small part of a well-balanced cat diet, and to choose options with minimal additives to minimise potential health risks.

As always, we recommend consulting with a veterinary professional before introducing new foods to a cat's diet to ensure their overall well-being.

Waggel members get access to unlimited vet video calls at any time of day or night with Joii. All you need to do is download their app and get connected to a professional in minutes.

Can cats eat processed ham?

Cats can consume processed ham, but it should be approached with caution and limited to occasional treats. Processed ham typically includes ingredients like pork, water, salt, sugar, and various additives such as sodium nitrate and flavourings. Some varieties may also contain honey, spices, or artificial flavourings.

However, there are potential health risks associated with feeding processed ham to cats. The high sodium content in processed ham may lead to elevated blood pressure and kidney-related problems.

Additives and preservatives used in these products may not align with a cat's specific dietary needs, potentially causing digestive issues. The relatively high fat content in processed ham could also contribute to obesity and other health issues in cats.

Moreover, the negative effects of salt poisoning should be considered, especially since processed ham, similar to other lunch meats, often contains higher amounts of sodium.

On the positive side, processed ham does offer protein, which is essential for a cat's overall health. However, it's important to note that this type of protein is not as high quality as lean protein found in more natural options such as the animal proteins from plain chicken breast.

While it can be a good option for administering medications or encouraging a cat to eat, especially if they are picky, processed ham should not be a primary protein source. Instead, a well-balanced complete food or specific types of cat food designed to meet feline nutritional requirements remains the preferred option.

Can cats eat deli ham?

white cat looking up at ham on kitchen counter

Deli ham, often found at supermarket counters and independent stores alike, may impact cat health due to its high sodium content, potential additives, and processing methods.

Excessive sodium intake in deli ham can contribute to elevated blood pressure and kidney issues in cats. Additives and preservatives used for flavour and preservation can also cause potential digestive problems. To break it down further, we've created a pros and cons list.


  • Palatability: Cats may find deli ham appealing due to its savoury flavour, making it a suitable cat snack or useful for administering medications to picky eaters.

  • Protein source: Deli ham provides protein, essential for a cat's overall health and muscle development. However, cat owners should consider leaner options or healthy treats that offer a more balanced nutrient intake without the high fat and sodium content.


  • High sodium content: Deli ham is often high in sodium, and excessive intake can lead to health issues such as hypertension and kidney problems. This risk of sodium overload is particularly concerning for cats with sensitive stomachs or those prone to stomach upset.

  • Additives and preservatives: Some deli hams may contain additives and preservatives that can be detrimental to a cat's health. These could include fatty meat derivatives or additional seasoning that are not ideal for your furry friend's diet.

  • Potential for gastrointestinal issues: The rich and fatty nature of deli ham may contribute to digestive problems, including upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhoea. This is especially true for cats who may not be used to eating human snacks or processed meat products like deli ham.

  • Nutrient imbalance: Relying solely on deli ham may lead to an imbalanced diet, as it lacks essential nutrients specifically required by cats, including lean proteins and certain animal proteins.

In summary, while deli ham can be offered to cats occasionally, more natural options for healthy snacks are advisable. Prioritising animal products and animal proteins that align with a cat's daily calories and nutritional needs is key to maintaining their health.

Can cats eat ham fat?

The nutritional content of ham fat can vary depending on the type of ham and its preparation. Generally, ham fat is high in calories and contains a significant amount of saturated fats.

The fat content in ham can contribute to a cat's caloric intake, and while fat itself is an essential component of a
cat's diet, excessive fat consumption can pose several dangers to feline health.

The dangers of too much fat for cats include:

  • Obesity: Excessive fat intake can contribute to obesity in cats. Obesity is a serious health concern that can lead to various issues, including diabetes, joint problems, and a decreased lifespan.

  • Pancreatitis: High-fat diets may increase the risk of pancreatitis in cats. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas and can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and other digestive issues.

  • Liver disease: Too much fat in the diet can strain the liver, potentially leading to hepatic lipidosis, a severe liver disorder that can be life-threatening for cats.

  • Digestive upset: Cats may experience gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea or vomiting when consuming high-fat foods, disrupting their digestive balance.

As a cat owner, it's crucial to be mindful of the fat content in your cat's diet and avoid offering fatty foods like ham in excess. While some fat is necessary for a cat's well-being, maintaining a balanced diet with an appropriate balance of nutrients is essential.

Consulting with a veterinary professional to determine the optimal diet for your cat based on their age, weight, and health status is recommended to prevent potential health issues associated with excessive fat intake.


In conclusion, the decision to feed ham to cats warrants careful consideration, given the potential health risks associated with various types of ham.

Whether it's processed ham, deli ham, or honey roast ham, common concerns include high sodium levels, additives, and a high fat content, all of which may pose risks to a cat's well-being.

While ham may be tasty for your cat and provide a source of protein, it should be regarded as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of their diet. Excessive consumption may lead to issues such as hypertension, digestive problems, and an imbalanced nutrient intake.

If you're a cat owner, it's important to prioritise a nutritionally complete cat food diet that aligns with your feline companion's needs. Consulting with a veterinarian is recommended so that you can establish a feeding plan tailored to your cat's age, weight, and health conditions if they have any.

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