January 27, 2021

Can Cats Eat Bacon?

Vets Explain the Dangers

Veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Is there anything nicer than the smell of sizzling bacon on the skillet when making breakfast? How about the crumble of bacon over your green salad, paired with some delicious cheddar shreds and ranch dressing?

Indeed, bacon is delicious, and cats tend to agree. Cats are true carnivores, meaning they have to have meat; their bodies require it to function. But is bacon a good source of energy and nutrients for cats?

It can be a big temptation to offer your cat a piece of bacon as you eat breakfast or enjoy your club sandwich. But because bacon is loaded with calories, fat and sodium, it's important to think twice before offering your feline friend a piece.

Can Cats Eat Bacon?

Yes, cats can eat bacon, but they shouldn't. Bacon is not toxic to cats, so a small piece won't harm them. Still, it is very high in fats and salt (sodium), and you should follow our feeding guidelines as eating too much bacon may cause health problems like obesity, salt poisoning, high blood pressure, or pancreatitis in cats.

The concept that cats should eat bacon or any other processed meat is a myth.
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Cats are carnivores, and most of their diet should consist of high-protein cat food. Although bacon is meat, it should not be fed to cats. In addition to a balanced diet provided by commercial cat food, you can offer some foods as treats. But before you feed any new foods, you should always make sure it's safe.

That said, continue reading to find out what the risks are if you decide to feed bacon to your kitty. We'll explain everything you need to know.

See, here's the bottom line:

If a small piece of bacon were to fall on the ground, and your cat was to eat it, nothing would happen. The cat would enjoy the treat and move on –cats love bacon.

In small doses and served on rare occasions, bacon won't bother your cat as it is not toxic to them. A small piece is not likely to make them sick. Actually, veterinarian Ivana Crnec advises that: "It's acceptable to feed bacon when trying to give your cat a medicine. Cats are finicky eaters, and hiding a pill in a bacon made blanket is a nice and efficient trick". But bacon is a processed meat that is loaded with fat and salt. It's not exactly nutritious for cats.

Also, it's important to note that kittens should avoid eating bacon as it can upset their developing digestive system and cause diarrhea. You should also avoid giving your pregnant kitty bacon. Keep her food intake strictly to high-quality cat food and fresh water to ensure the health of the newborn kittens when they arrive.

bacon strips

Types of bacon can you offer

You might also wonder about the types of bacon you can offer. Let's find out:

Raw bacon

Raw bacon is definitely off the menu. Cats should never eat any raw pork products. Bacteria can live on the meat before it is cooked, which is why owners must take care to prepare it properly before serving.

Bacon grease

Although some pet owners have been known to pour bacon grease over their pet's dry food to make it more appetizing, bacon grease should also be avoided.

The grease contains lots of saturated fat and sodium, which your cat is better off without.

Bacon bits

The same goes for bacon bits, which you use as salad toppings. They are very high in sodium and provide no nutritional value whatsoever to your cat.

Cooked bacon, fried bacon, and smoked bacon

Raw bacon is definitely a no-no, but a small piece of cooked bacon will not harm your cat. A properly prepared, bite-size piece of fried bacon or smoked bacon is OK as a rare treat.

Turkey bacon

Turkey bacon is not a better alternative to pork bacon- small, bite-size pieces are OK, but nothing beyond that. Take care to prepare it safely.

As you can see, it's not quite straightforward when it comes to cats and bacon. It's not healthy in any way, but a small piece as an occasional treat will not harm your kit. Now, let's find out more about the risk and benefits before we get into how much and how often you can feed bacon if you want to ensure your cat's safety.

Health Benefits: Is Bacon Good for Cats?

The answer to this question is one we can keep short and sweet. No, bacon is not good for cats.

Bacon lacks in any serious health benefits for cats. It's only OK to offer it to them in tiny, bite-sized amounts, and only on rare occasions at that.

It is certainly not toxic to cats, but because it is a processed meat that is loaded with fat and sodium, it is better to avoid it.

Related reading: How To Choose Cat Food? – Cat Food Guide

Health Risks: Is Bacon Bad for Cats?

Bacon is actually a very risky food to serve to your cat, and here, we will break down the reasons why.

Obesity

Cats sleep a lot, so they don't get a lot of exercise. And, if your cats are indoor felines, they are not going to get as much exercise as, say, barn cats or outdoor cats who only come inside at night. So, offering up high-calorie bacon regularly and in large amounts is a surefire way to cause your cat to become obese.

Obesity in cats often leads to diabetes, which shortens their lifespan and causes serious discomfort to the animal. Combine this with the fact that some breeds are more prone to diabetes, such as the Siamese or the Burmese, and the case for limiting bacon to small bites very rarely becomes even more apparent.

Salt Poisoning

Salt is actually poisonous to cats (and dogs). It is common knowledge that bacon is a salty food – part of why it is so appealing. Eating bacon in large amounts can cause salt poisoning in your pet as a small slice of bacon contains over 10 times more salt than the cat's daily need.

If this happens, you will notice your pet walking as though they are intoxicated, acting lethargic, and experiencing diarrhea. They may be very thirsty and urinate excessively, and in the worst-case scenario, can experience coma, seizures, or death. If you suspect this is the case, contact a vet immediately for an assessment of the symptoms.

High Blood Pressure 

Elevated blood pressure in cats is very real and can come about as a result of obesity. The term for this is hypertension, just as it is in humans. This is the reason why bacon, and even bacon treats for cats, should be served on a rare basis.

Clinical symptoms of hypertension in cats include blood inside the eye chamber, pupils that fail to constrict when in contact with light, and worst of all, blindness. Blindness happens when the blood pressure of the eye causes the retina to detach. You will likely notice your cat bumping into various objects as they navigate your home.

Again, it's important to ask a vet for help if you suspect your pet may be suffering from high blood pressure.

fried bacon strips

Digestive Stress

Bacon, ham, bacon grease, and the fat trimmings are loaded with fat.

Fatty foods are not healthy for your cat's digestion, and eating foods that are high in saturated fats can cause cats to experience digestive stress. Signs of digestive issues include soft stools, diarrhea, vomiting, and indigestion.

A balanced diet and avoiding foods that are high in fat will promote better digestive health.

Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a vital organ that produces insulin and glucagon hormones that regulate blood sugar and digestive enzymes, which help your cat digest food. The inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis, and it can result from feeding your cat too many high-fat foods like bacon.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, poor appetite, low body temperature, dehydration, and increased thirst and urination. It can be a life-threatening condition, and early treatment is vital.

Often the symptoms are subtle, and the severe condition is underdiagnosed, so contact a vet if your cat shows possible signs of pancreatitis.

Dehydration

Eating salty foods makes animals very thirsty. They can drink all their water, and if you're not home to serve them more, or you simply forget, they could end up dehydrated. Avoiding salty foods and keeping plenty of fresh water around will ensure your pet stays perfectly balanced in terms of hydration.

It's Processed and Has No Nutritional Value

Processed human foods are not ideal for animals, and bacon is one of the most highly processed foods out there. It is packed with salt, preservatives, fats, and cholesterol, sometimes even sugar. This is a food that provides no nutritional value whatsoever to your cat, and if not served properly, will do more harm than good.

If you're wondering how often you can give your cat even that tiny treat of bacon, the answer is very seldom. Let's find out more.

Feeding Guidelines

How much bacon can I give my cat?

If you REALLY feel inclined to give your cat bacon (it's better not to), tear off a small piece of fully cooked bacon that is no bigger than a pencil eraser. This is small enough for your cat to enjoy a tasty morsel but avoid serious health risks. It's best to stick with bacon flavor cat treats, or other healthy cat treats, though.

How often can I feed my cat bacon?

We advise only giving your cat a small, pencil eraser-sized piece of bacon just once per week. It's best to stick with treats designed for cats or other healthier human foods.

How to prepare bacon for cats?

For starters, you will prepare the bacon as you would for yourself, following proper food handling techniques and cooking the bacon as per the package directions. Once that is complete, you will tear off a small piece the size of a pencil eraser and offer it to your cat.

Never feed your cat raw bacon, as it may contain harmful bacteria. Cooking the meat by frying or smoking will kill the bacteria, although you should keep in mind that even cooked bacon is not recommended.

Nutrition Facts

In 100g of bacon, you will find the following: 

  • 541 Calories
  • 42g of fat
  • 110mg of cholesterol
  • 1717 mg sodium
  • 37g protein

Here are the vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin D

What we can see here is that bacon is a high-calorie food that contains a lot of salt, fat, and cholesterol. On the other hand, there are very few vitamins present.

Although bacon is high in animal protein, which should be the main energy source for cats, it's just not suitable and will do more harm than good.

Bottom Line: Can Cats Have Bacon?

Cats can eat bacon without fear of dying- it is not fatal to them when fed as a small treat on rare occasions.

But bacon should not be given to your cat on a regular basis. In fact, there are numerous better alternatives if you want to treat your cat to something delicious. Cat treats are far healthier, as are many other human foods.

Your cat will no doubt enjoy bacon and savor the taste, but it is not good for them thanks to the high salt and fat content, not to mention the preservatives contained in bacon.

As a result, it's better for your pet to avoid bacon.

Vet's Comment

The classic depiction of a cat eating bacon is engraved deeply in our minds. A plethora of cartoons and commercials have reinforced the presence of that image. However, the concept that cats should eat bacon or any other processed meat is a myth.

It is essential to understand that certain human foods should not be given to cats. Some foods are not only inappropriate but also dangerous. The "do not feed" list for cats includes many human foods such as dairy, table scraps, chocolate, certain fruits, and certain vegetables, and processed meats like bacon rank highly on that list.

All in all, if your cat eats a slice of bacon, now and then, accidentally, do not worry. On the flip side, if thinking about using bacon as a treat, look further – there are far healthier alternatives.

- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Ivana Crnec doctor of veterinary medicine

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Ivana Crnec

DVM

Ivana Crnec is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine specialized in domestic carnivores. She graduated from the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. Ivana is a certified canine nutritionist and also certified in HAACP food safety system implementation. She currently works as a veterinarian while completing her postgraduate studies. Her research has been published in international journals.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your cat's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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