Long Story Short

  • Can cats eat ham? Yup (but not all the types, and never all the ham there is)  😺
  • Smoked ham and cured ham are too processed for cats’ delicate tummies. 🙀
  • Canned ham for cats is a relatively good choice (especially if it’s intended to be eaten by cats). 😺

The Pros of Feeding Your Cat Ham

The Pros of Feeding Your Cat Ham

Can cats eat ham? Well, there are several benefits cats can reap from it. Here are the most important ones:


Our feline friends are what we like to call obligate carnivores. This means that meat-based (including ham) protein is absolutely crucial. Not only does it keep their muscles, skin, and fur in tip-top shape, but it’s also key for maintaining their energy levels and keeping pesky infections at bay. 

And let’s not forget about our little baby kitties. They require three times as much protein as their adult counterparts to grow into strong, healthy cats. 🐾🐱


Ham is also a great provider of zinc. Why do we like it? Because it helps with wound healing (and we know how prone kitties are to injuries), and it supports the immune system. Quite a deal, right? There is also a flip side to it – cats who lack zinc can have fur and skin problems, and lose too much weight. 😿

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Let’s iron some things out, shall we? Iron is a must-have. It helps create strong blood cells, and gives cats a little boost of energy. Conversely, lack of iron equals anemia, which means tiredness and weakness.  


So, you know how pets often have thyroid problems, just like us humans? Well, selenium actually supports thyroid health. It won’t prevent the problems, but it will make things better. That’s not the end of the benefits of it. Selenium boosts the immune system, and helps fight off nasty disease-causing pathogens.

The Cons of Feeding Your Cat Ham

The Cons of Feeding your Cat Ham

While there are some pros to feeding your cat ham, there are also some cons that you should be aware of. After all, you need a full picture before giving your cat anything.


Ham may be a tasty snack for humans, but for cats, it’s a different story. Too much sodium in their diet (which ham has plenty of) can lead to serious health issues such as high blood pressure, kidney failure, and heart disease. If you notice your feline friend exhibiting any of the symptoms of a salt overload, like being extra thirsty or sluggish, don’t wait – give your vet a ring right away!

Nitrates and Nitrites

Some kinds of ham contain nitrates and nitrites. These are sadly toxic to cats, as they can interfere with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Kitties are particularly vulnerable to the effects of nitrates and nitrites. 


There are two types of cholesterol: the good kind (HDL) and the bad kind (LDL). While HDL helps remove excess cholesterol from your feline friend’s body, most types of ham are high in LDL cholesterol. This can be bad news for cats with heart disease or risk factors like obesity or diabetes. LDL can lead to the build-up of plaque in their arteries, making it harder for blood to circulate and potentially causing heart disease.

Editor’s Note 🐾

I hear some patients and friends complaining about their cats that the only thing they want to eat is ham or tuna. That ain’t good. You should gradually reduce the ham in their diet, until there’s little left. 

Different Types of Ham

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of feeding your cat ham, let’s take a closer look at the different types of ham that are available. Then, based on that, we will try to give you a definite answer to: Can cats eat ham?

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Smoked Ham

Smoked ham is made by curing ham with smoke. It is high in sodium, therefore it is not safe for cats to eat. Smoked ham is also high in fat and cholesterol, making it a very poor choice for cats.

Cured Ham

Cured ham is made by curing ham with salt and other chemicals, most commonly sugar. The good news is that your kitty can indulge in a little cured ham occasionally, as long as it’s in moderation. However, be sure to keep an eye on the sodium levels and those pesky nitrates and nitrites that can be harmful. So, let your kitty be a little ham thief every once in a while, but don’t make it a regular meal!

Canned Ham

Canned ham is a protein-packed treat is made from cooked pork ham swimming in its own juices or brine. Plus, it’s low-fat and low-sodium, making it a healthy option for your favorite feline. Just make sure it’s labeled “cat food.” 

Raw Ham

Ram ham, as most raw meat, is the safest ham to give to a cat. It hasn’t been cured or treated with anything, and so, it poses minimal risk for your kitty.

How to Feed Your Cat Ham

How to Feed Your Cat Ham

Want to treat your feline friend with some delicious ham? Here are three purr-fect ways to do it. Method number one: let your cat chow down on a slice of ham, plain and simple. Method number two: dice up the ham and sprinkle it over your cat’s usual food. 

And the grand finale, method number three: whip up a batch of homemade ham-tastic cat food. Just remember, start with a small portion and make sure your furry buddy is cool with it before going all-out.

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Ham-tastic or Hamful?

Cats need protein to keep their muscles, skin, fur, and other tissues healthy, and ham is a great source of meat-based protein. Ham can be high in sodium, which can lead to hypertension. 
Plus, it contains zinc, iron, and selenium – all crucial nutrients for your cat’s immunity and overall health.It also contains nitrates and nitrites – toxic compounds that you want to avoid. 
Plus, the high levels of LDL cholesterol in ham can be harmful to your cat’s heart health.

So, can cats eat ham? Some of it, yes! Just choose the one that is the least processed and seasoned. 

Can Cats Eat Ham Q&A

Still hungry for some cats and ham knowledge? We’ve got you covered! Here are some frequently asked questions that accompany “Can cats eat ham?”

Is It OK to Give Ham to Cats?

The answer is no. The only safe kinds of ham for cats are raw ham and ham that was made specifically for them.

Why Do Cats Love Ham?

Cats are curious by nature and, as such, they will often be attracted to foods that smell and taste good. Ham has a strong smell and a salty, smoky flavor that cats seem to love.

Is Ham or Turkey Better for Cats?

Ham and turkey are both high in sodium, which can be bad for cats. Turkey is a leaner meat than ham, though. 

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