Can Cats Eat Meatballs? (Is It Dangerous?)
Did you ever seen the famous movie “My Wife and Kids”? In the film, there is a scene where the family’s cat eats a meatball off the floor. The cat liked it so much that he meowed for more. While this may be fiction, it begets the question: can cats really eat meatballs?
No, cats should not eat meatballs. While some meats are safe for cats to eat, meatballs are not on that list. Meatballs often contain spices and other ingredients that can be harmful to cats. So, it’s best to keep them away from your feline friend.
Here in this blog post, I’ll try to cover all the related questions which include can cats eat meat, what kind of meat can cats eat, what spices are harmful to cats, and so on. So without further ado let’s get started.
Ingredients That Made Meatballs Unsafe for Cats
As we all know, meatballs are balls of ground meat mixed with other ingredients like bread crumbs, egg, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. While some of these ingredients are safe for cats to eat, others can be harmful. Let’s take a look at each one.
1. Ground Meat
I know what I’m talking about when it comes to meat. I am a butcher’s cat, after all. Ground meat is the main ingredient in meatballs, and there are certain about it that you should know before feeding it to your cat.
Cats are carnivores, so they need meat in their diet. However, not all meats are created equal. Some meats are better for cats than others. The best meats for cats are lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish. These meats are packed with protein and have little to no fat.
Fatty meats like pork and beef should be avoided as they can lead to obesity and other health problems. These meats are also more likely to contain harmful bacteria that can make your cat sick. So, it’s best to stick with lean meats.
Ground meat is also more likely to contain bacteria than other types of meat. This is because the grinding process can spread bacteria from the surface of the meat to the inside. So, it’s important to cook ground meat thoroughly before feeding it to your cat.
2. Bread Crumbs
Bread crumbs are commonly used as a binding agent in meatballs. They help to hold the meat together and give the meatballs their shape. However, bread crumbs are not safe for cats to eat.
Bread contains gluten, which is a protein that can be harmful to cats. Gluten can cause digestive problems and inflammation in the intestines. So, it’s best to avoid feeding bread to your cat.
Egg is another common ingredient in meatballs. It helps to bind the ingredients together and gives the meatballs a firm texture. However, egg is not safe for cats to eat.
Eggs contain a protein called avidin that can interfere with the absorption of biotin. Biotin is a vitamin that is essential for healthy skin and fur. A lack of biotin can lead to hair loss and other skin problems. So, it’s best to avoid feeding eggs to your cat.
Onion is often used as a flavor enhancer in meatballs. It gives the meatballs a savory taste that many many people enjoy. I often find myself stealing a meatball or two off the counter when no one is looking. But, as much as I love the taste of onion, it is not safe for cats to eat.
Onion contains a substance called thiosulfate that can be toxic to cats. Thiosulfate can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. So, it’s best to avoid feeding onion to your cat.
Garlic is another common ingredient in meatballs. Like onion, it is used to enhance the flavor of the meatballs. And also like onion, garlic is not safe for cats to eat.
Garlic contains a substance called thiosulfate that can be toxic to cats. Thiosulfate can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. A study done in 2007 showed that garlic is about five times more toxic to cats than onion. So, it’s best to avoid feeding garlic to your cat.
You probably already know that salt is not good for you. But did you know that it’s also not good for cats? Salt can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), salt is one of the most common ingredients in meatballs that can be toxic to cats.
Pepper is another common ingredient in meatballs that can be harmful to cats. Pepper can irritate a cat’s nose and throat. In severe cases, pepper can cause difficulty breathing.
So, it’s best to avoid feeding pepper to your cat. If you must use pepper in your meatballs, make sure to use only a small amount.
8. Dairy Products
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and sour cream are often used in meatballs. They add creaminess and flavor to the dish. However, dairy products are not safe for cats to eat.
Cats are lactose intolerant, which means they cannot digest milk properly. Dairy products can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. So, it’ll be best to keep the dairy out of your cat’s meatballs.
Sugar is sometimes used as a flavor enhancer in meatballs. It can make the meatballs taste sweeter and more flavorful. However, sugar is not safe for cats to eat.
If you meatballs does not contain sugar, you’ll be doing your cat a favor. Sugar can cause obesity, diabetes, and other health problems.
10. Fat Trimmings
Fat trimmings are the pieces of fat that you trim off of meat before cooking it. They are often used to add flavor and moisture to meatballs.
I know everyone not to cook with fat trimmings, but I’m going to say it again: Do not cook with fat trimmings. Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis, which is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition if you cat eat them.
What’ll Happen If My Cat Eat Meatball?
Here I’ll provide a list of potential consequences that could occur if a cat ate a meatball. From my experience I’ll also include possible behavioral changes you may see in your cat if they consumed meatballs.
1. May Experience Gastrointestinal Upset
Yes this is a common occurrence when a cat eats something it’s not used to, such as people food. Your cat may vomit or have diarrhea. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), gastrointestinal upset is the second most common reason cats are brought to the vet.
2. May Become Intoxicated
The ASPCA also warns that some meatballs contain onions or garlic, which can be toxic to cats. Onions and garlic can cause anemia and damage red blood cells. Symptoms of onion or garlic toxicity include weakness, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. If your cat ate a meatball and is showing any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.
3. May Suffer from Nutritional Deficiencies
If your cat is only eating meatballs, she’s not getting the nutrients she needs to stay healthy. Cats require a diet that’s high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. They also need certain vitamins and minerals, such as taurine and arginine. Without these nutrients, your cat may suffer from health problems, such as heart disease, blindness, and reproductive problems.
4. May Become Overweight
Cats who eat meatballs may start to gain weight, since they’re consuming more calories than they’re used to. This can lead to obesity, which can cause a host of health problems, such as diabetes, joint pain, and respiratory problems. If your cat is eating meatballs, be sure to monitor her weight and talk to your vet if she starts to gain too much.
Cats can develop allergies to just about anything, so there’s a chance your cat could be allergic to meatballs. If your cat has a reaction (such as swelling, hives, or trouble breathing), get to the vet immediately.
6. Intestinal Obstruction
Eating something like a meatball, which is high in fat and not easily digestible, can lead to an intestinal obstruction. This is a serious condition that requires surgery to fix.
Eating fatty foods can also cause pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis can be fatal, so it’s important to get your cat to the vet right away if she shows symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, and abdominal pain.
8. Your Cat May Have a Change in Behavior
Lastly, you may notice a change in your cat’s behavior if they eat a meatball. They may become more lethargic or sleepy, they may not have an appetite, or they may start to exhibit signs of pain. If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior it’s important to seek medical attention.
How Can You Keep Your Cat Away from Meatballs?
Here I’ll share some tips on how to keep your cat away from meatballs:
1. Keep the meatballs out of reach
If you’re cooking with raw meat, make sure to keep it out of your cat’s reach. Cats are curious creatures, and they might try to steal a piece of meat while you’re not looking.
2. Cook the meatballs in a closed space
If possible, cook the meatballs in a closed space like the oven or microwave. This will prevent your cat from being able to smell the cooking meat and getting temptation.
3. Keep an eye on your cat
As much as you can, try to keep an eye on your cat while you’re cooking. If you see them trying to steal a piece of meat, stop them immediately.
4. Feed your cat before cooking
If you know you’ll be cooking meatballs, try to feed your cat beforehand. A full stomach will discourage them from stealing food.
5. Give your cat a toy
Cats can get bored easily, so giving them a toy to play with might distract them from the cooking meat.
6. Crate your cat
If all else fails, you can always crate your cat while you’re cooking. This will prevent them from being able to steal any food.
What to Do If Your Cat Eats Meatballs?
If your cat does manage to steal a meatball, don’t panic. Observe your cat for any signs of illness, and call your veterinarian if you’re concerned. Most likely, your cat will be fine. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Here I’ll share some signs that your cat might be sick:
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not try to make your cat vomit unless your veterinarian tells you to do so.
What Meats are Safe for Cats to Eat?
Now that we’ve gone over some of the ingredients that you should avoid feeding your cat, let’s talk about some of the ingredients that you can use. Here are some of the meats that are safe for cats to eat:
Chicken is a lean protein that is safe for cats to eat. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, and it is low in fat. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), chicken is one of the most common meats found in cat food.
But, rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is not safe for cats to eat. Store-bought rotisserie chicken often contains seasoning that can be harmful to cats. So, it’s best to stick to plain, cooked chicken when feeding it to your cat.
Like chicken, turkey is a lean protein that is safe for cats to eat. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals. However, turkey skin is very fatty and can cause pancreatitis if your cat eats it. So, make sure to remove the skin before feeding turkey to your cat.
Salmon is another safe option for cats to eat. It is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins. However, it is important to cook salmon properly before feeding it to your cat. Salmon that is not cooked properly can contain harmful bacteria that can make your cat sick.
Tuna is safe for cats to eat in moderation. It is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, tuna does contain mercury, which can be harmful to cats if they eat too much of it. So, it’s best to only feed your cat tuna occasionally as a treat.
These are just a few of the meats that are safe for cats to eat. When in doubt, always ask your veterinarian before feeding any
In conclusion I must say always avoid meatballs. While it’s technically possible for cats to eat meatballs, it’s not something that’s recommended. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they require animal protein to survive. Meatballs are typically made from ground beef, pork, or turkey, and don’t contain enough of the nutrients that cats need.
In addition, meatballs usually contain onions and garlic, which can be toxic to cats. If you’re looking for a treat to give your cat, there are many commercially-available cat treats that are specifically designed to meet your cat’s nutritional needs.