The scene in Lady and the Tramp where the two dogs eat spaghetti and meatballs together is a classic. You may remember thinking at the time that you’ve never actually seen a dog eat anything like that. How about cats, though? Meatballs—can kitties eat them?
After all, felines have a biological need for a meat-based diet. They devour roast meats like beef, turkey, and chicken with gusto. The other ingredients in meatballs, however, could be dangerous for your cat.
Can Cats Eat Meatballs?
Meatballs are not good for cats to eat. Meatballs are not among the safe meats for cats, but there are some. Cats shouldn’t eat meatballs because of the spices and other ingredients they usually contain. Keep your cat away from them as a precaution.
Ingredients That Made Meatballs Unsafe for Cats
Meatballs, as is common knowledge, are spheres of ground meat that have been seasoned and flavored with herbs and spices. Some of these are fine for cats to eat, but others are not. Let’s check out each one individually.
1. Ground Meat
When it comes to meat, I’m an expert. After all, people call me a butcher’s cat. Meatballs are typically made with ground meat, and there are some things you should know before giving it to your cat.
As carnivores, cats thrive on a diet rich in meat. All meats are not the same, though. For feline consumption, not all meats are created equal. Chicken, turkey, and fish are examples of lean meats that are great for cats. The protein content of these meats is high, and there is almost no fat.
Avoiding fatty meats like pork and beef can help prevent obesity and other health issues. There is a higher risk of bacteria contamination in these meats, which could make your cat sick. Consuming lean meats is recommended.
It’s also more common for bacteria to thrive in ground meat than in whole cuts. This is because bacteria on the meat’s surface can be transferred to the interior during the grinding process. Therefore, make sure the ground meat your cat eats is fully cooked.
2. Bread Crumbs
Meatballs typically use bread crumbs as a binder. They serve to bind the meat together and provide structure to the meatballs. However, cats shouldn’t eat bread crumbs.
The protein in bread, known as gluten, can be toxic to felines. Gluten is linked to gastrointestinal distress and inflammation. Therefore, you should keep your cat away from bread.
Meatballs often include egg as another ingredient. It’s what makes the meatballs so solid and helps keep everything together. Cats should not eat eggs, however.
A protein in eggs called avidin can block the body from taking in biotin. Biotin is a vitamin that helps keep skin and fur in good condition. Hair loss and other skin issues can occur when biotin is deficient. Therefore, you should keep your cat away from eggs.
Meatballs benefit greatly from the addition of onion to their flavor. It adds a delicious flavor that is loved by many to the meatballs. It’s not uncommon for me to sneak a couple of meatballs from the counter when no one’s looking. Onions are one of my favorite foods, but unfortunately for cats, they shouldn’t eat them.
Toxic thiosulfate is found in onions and can be harmful to cats. Red blood cell damage and anemia can be caused by thiosulfate. If you have a cat, don’t give it any onion.
Meatballs often feature another common ingredient: garlic. Similar to onion, it’s used to boost the meatballs’ flavor. Like onion, cats shouldn’t eat garlic either.
Thiosulfate, which is present in garlic, can be harmful to cats. Anemia can develop if red blood cells are damaged by thiosulfate. Garlic is about five times more toxic to cats than onion, according to a study conducted in 2007. Garlic is toxic to cats, so don’t give it to them.
I’m guessing you already know that salt is bad for you. Did you also know that it’s bad for cats? There can be an electrolyte imbalance and dehydration from too much salt.
The ASPCA warns that cats should not eat meatballs due to the high levels of salt and other potentially toxic ingredients.
Meatballs often contain pepper, which is also toxic to cats. Pepper can cause irritation in a cat’s respiratory tract. Pepper can obstruct airways in sensitive people.
Therefore, you should refrain from giving your cat any pepper. Be careful not to overpower the meatballs with pepper if you must use it.
8. Dairy Products
Meatballs are frequently prepared with the addition of dairy products such as milk, cheese, and sour cream. They improve the dish’s texture and flavor. Cats should not consume dairy products due to potential health risks.
Cats have a problem digesting milk because they are lactose intolerant. Some people experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea after consuming dairy products. You should probably avoid giving your cat meatballs that also contain dairy.
Meatballs can have a sweeter taste with the addition of sugar. It can add sweetness and depth of flavor to the meatballs. However, cats should not consume sugar.
Your cat will appreciate it if you don’t feed it any sugary treats, like meatballs. Obesity, diabetes, and other illnesses are just some of the side effects of a sugary diet.
10. Fat Trimmings
Trimmings are the bits of fat cut from meat before it is cooked. They’re great for giving meatballs more flavor and moisture.
I’m sure it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Never use fat scraps in the kitchen. Pancreatitis is a potentially fatal condition that can be brought on by your cat eating fat trimmings.
What’ll Happen If My Cat Eat Meatball?
The possible outcomes of a cat eating a meatball are listed below. I will also share my personal observations regarding potential alterations in your cat’s behavior after eating meatballs.
1. May Experience Gastrointestinal Upset
This happens frequently when cats eat things they aren’t used to, like human food. There’s a chance your cat will get sick. Second only to injuries, gastrointestinal upset is the most common reason cat owners take their pet to the vet. This is according to the ASPCA.
2. May Become Intoxicated
Some meatballs contain onions or garlic, which are toxic to cats, the ASPCA warns. Anemia and damage to red blood cells can be caused by eating onions and garlic.
Weakness, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea are all symptoms of onion or garlic toxicity. Get in touch with your vet ASAP if your cat exhibits any of these symptoms after eating a meatball.
3. May Suffer from Nutritional Deficiencies
Your cat won’t be getting the proper nutrition from meatballs alone. Protein and fat are especially important for cats, while carbohydrates should be kept to a minimum. Taurine and arginine are two essential nutrients they require.
Your cat’s health, including its heart, eyesight, and reproduction, could deteriorate without these nutrients.
4. May Become Overweight
Meatballs contain more calories than cats are used to eating, so they may begin to gain weight if given to them regularly.
This is a contributing factor to the rise in obesity that has been linked to numerous health issues like diabetes, joint pain, and breathing difficulties.
Keep an eye on your cat’s weight if you feed her meatballs, and consult your vet if she gains too much.
Your cat may be allergic to meatballs because cats can develop food allergies to almost anything. Take your cat to the vet immediately if you notice any signs of an allergic reaction (such as swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing).
6. Intestinal Obstruction
Meatballs, which are both high in fat and difficult to digest, can cause a blockage in the digestive tract. This is a very serious problem that needs surgical intervention.
Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, can be brought on by eating too many fatty foods. Pancreatitis is potentially fatal, so if your cat exhibits symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain, she needs to see the vet immediately.
8. Your Cat May Have a Change in Behavior
Finally, after consuming a meatball, your cat’s behavior may alter. They may become more sleepy or lethargic, lose their appetite, or show outward signs of pain. Changes in your cat’s behavior should prompt a trip to the vet.
How Can You Keep Your Cat Away from Meatballs?
Here are some ways to discourage your cat from eating meatballs:
1. Keep the meatballs out of reach
Make sure your cat can’t get to any raw meat while you’re cooking it. Cats are naturally nosy and might sneak off with a bite of meat if given the chance.
2. Cook the meatballs in a closed space
It’s best to use an enclosed cooking method, such as the oven or microwave, to prepare the meatballs. Your cat will be safe from the tantalizing aroma of cooking meat if you do this.
3. Keep an eye on your cat
Try to keep an eye on your cat as much as possible while you’re in the kitchen. Do not hesitate to intervene if you discover that they are attempting to steal some meat.
4. Feed your cat before cooking
Feed your cat before hand if you plan on making meatballs. A full stomach will make them less likely to steal food.
5. Give your cat a toy
As cats are prone to boredom, providing them with a toy to play with may prevent them from sniffing at the meat as it cooks.
6. Crate your cat
Crate the cat if nothing else works while you’re in the kitchen. Because of this, they won’t be able to steal any food.
What to Do If Your Cat Eats Meatballs?
Most meatball recipes require the use of onions and garlic. Since they are so dangerous to cats, you should keep your furry friend away from any potential sources of exposure.
But what if your cat succeeds in her mission to eat everything she lays eyes on? Is it cause for alarm if your furry friend consumes a meatball or two?
A single meatball shouldn’t be a problem, but if your cat has eaten more than that, you should call your vet right away. Your veterinarian can provide the care your pet needs to feel better. The severity of your cat’s condition will determine the course of treatment.
Your cat may show symptoms of food poisoning like vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and fever. Your cat may not show severe symptoms if she ingested the amounts of onion and garlic typically found in meatballs.
Keep an eye on things and do what you can to prevent a recurrence.
What Meats are Safe for Cats to Eat?
After discussing what you shouldn’t give your cat, we can move on to discussing what you can give them. Some examples of meats that are fine for cats to eat are listed below.
Cats can safely consume chicken because it is a lean protein source. It’s low in fat and contains plenty of healthy vitamins and minerals. One of the most common meats in cat food is chicken, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
However, store-bought rotisserie chicken is toxic to cats. Many of the seasonings used on rotisserie chicken sold in stores are toxic to cats. Therefore, it is recommended that you only feed your cat cooked, plain chicken.
Cats can safely consume lean proteins like turkey and chicken. It’s a healthy option because it contains many essential nutrients. However, your cat should avoid eating turkey skin because it is extremely fatty and can trigger pancreatitis. If you’re going to feed your cat turkey, you should probably remove the skin first.
Cats can also enjoy salmon as a healthy alternative. It contains beneficial nutrients like protein, omega-3s, and vitamins. However, make sure the salmon is cooked thoroughly before giving it to your cat. A cat can get sick from eating salmon that hasn’t been properly cooked.
Cats can safely consume small amounts of tuna. It’s a nutritious food full of protein and healthy fats. It’s important to note that cats shouldn’t consume large amounts of tuna because of the mercury it contains. As a result, tuna should be given to your cat only on rare occasions.
Meats like chicken, turkey, and fish are among the many that are fine for cats to eat. Always consult your vet before giving your pet any
Do you think a cat would like meatballs? Considering everything we’ve discussed, the answer to that question is an emphatic negative. There are far too many potentially harmful ingredients in premade meatballs for pets.
Do not assume that meatballs are cat-friendly simply because they are made of meat. If you feed your cat table scraps, you’re doing them no favors.
The high levels of salt, sugar, onion, and garlic in most meatballs can be fatal to your feline friend. They aren’t even meaty enough for your cat to care about.
Make your own meatballs using only cat-safe ingredients if your furry friend is still interested in trying them. It’s a surefire way to get in some quality cuddle time. How much we sacrifice for the affection of our lap monsters!