Can Cats Eat Prosciutto? 14 Facts You Need To Know

If your cat loves human food and is a big beggar, you might not see the harm in giving it a slice of prosciutto. After all, prosciutto is meat, and cats eat meat. It’s probably not a good idea to feed your cat charcuterie, though.

Thin slices of cured ham are a tasty addition to many human foods, but giving your cat too much could make them sick.

As an infrequent reward, it poses no health risks so long as you exercise moderation.

While it’s unlikely that giving your cat a small amount of cured meat will hurt them, it’s best to avoid giving them any at all.

Can Cats Eat Prosciutto?

At first glance, it would seem that prosciutto would be fine for cats to eat, as it is essentially ham and cats can eat ham (in small amounts).

However, most cats will have digestive issues after eating prosciutto because of its high salt and fat content.

So, to sum up: no, your cat won’t die from eating prosciutto, but they also shouldn’t eat it regularly or in large quantities.

What Is Prosciutto?

The Italian word for “ham” is “prosciutto.” Prosciutto is a dry-cured, uncooked Italian ham.

Meaty, salty, and buttery in flavor, it is typically served sliced thin. The meat is saltier than the meats typically found in a cat’s natural or domestic diet because most curing processes use salt.

Wait… Aren’t Cats Carnivores?

Although cats are carnivores and derive the majority of their nutritional needs from animal products, not all meats are suitable for feline consumption. Small, lean birds and mammals found in the wild will provide the majority of their caloric needs.

Good food for cats today use a wide range of meats including chicken, beef, and salmon, but they all share a common goal: providing your cat with an optimal balance of nutrients. Well-balanced cat food is very different from cured deli meat.

Himalayan cat lying on the floor

What Cats Need in Meat

Protein, fat, and essential vitamins and minerals must all be present in a cat’s diet for optimal health. Their digestive system is better suited to consuming raw meat from the wild than cured ham from Italy.

Cats must rely on food as their sole source of many essential nutrients because their bodies are unable to produce them. The term “essential nutrients” describes these substances.

In addition to the other 23 nutrients necessary for optimal health, cats need the 10 amino acids (protein building blocks) they cannot produce on their own, as well as 5 fatty acids and 3 vitamins.

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Cats can handle a diet with a fair amount of fat because of their anatomy.

Some fat is necessary, but wild carnivores typically consume mostly lean meats, and they require a diet high in protein and low in fat.

At least 25% of your cat’s diet should come from protein, and no more than 10% should come from fat. Cats can become overweight if fed excessively fatty foods.

Prosciutto Hang-ups

Keeping all that in mind, we can evaluate the prosciutto. When comparing the contents of the meat to what should be in your cat’s dinner bowl, a few warning signs emerge.

raw slices of prosciutto

Sodium in Prosciutto

Sodium is one nutrient that is difficult for cats to process. Although we may feel a little more thirsty after consuming salty foods, the human digestive system can handle quite a lot of salt.

Cats are one of a kind. If they consume too much salt, they could develop sodium-ion poisoning.

There may be other symptoms as well, such as vomiting, tremors, lethargy, and even seizures. In most cases, less than a teaspoon of salt is all that is needed.

Sodium ion poisoning is unlikely to occur from feeding prosciutto to your cat. A teaspoon of salt isn’t a lot, but it’s probably too much for your cat to eat in one sitting.

However, the sodium content of prosciutto is still significantly higher than what is considered safe for cats. The recommended daily sodium intake for a cat is only about 42mg, but a single slice has an average of 345mg. They can’t stomach the salt in the meat.

Prosciutto’s Fat and Protein

Some types of prosciutto are leaner than others in terms of fat content. However, depending on the cut, prosciutto can have a fair amount of saturated fat. Prosciutto typically has too much fat and not enough protein for cats.

prosciutto meat in a charcuterie

Prosciutto Spices

Depending on preference, prosciutto can be cured with a wide variety of herbs and seasonings. Cats react differently to spices than humans do, and some of them should never be given to felines.

Check the ingredients list to see what curing spices were used if you plan on feeding your cat prosciutto.

Keep an eye out for garlic in particular, as it is toxic to cats and can cause them to have stomach issues.

Contamination Risks

Contamination is the last possible danger. Uncooked prosciutto is the norm because it is a cured meat.

Care should be taken when storing and preparing this meat, whether it’s for humans or cats, even though the dry curing process kills bacteria and inactivates pork parasites when done to food standard agency standards. Salmonella and other bacteria can quickly become fatal for your cat.

close up of a prosciutto meat

Is Prosciutto Okay for a Treat?

Okay, we get that prosciutto isn’t exactly the healthiest meal option. From the warnings, we can deduce that prosciutto isn’t the healthiest food option, but it shouldn’t kill your cat either.

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Small amounts of cured meat as a treat for your cat are fine, but you should be cautious.

Also, before buying, read the label to see if any unwanted spices, like garlic, have been added. In moderation, it’s not the worst treat, but there are better options for tempting your cat.

Do Cats Like Prosciutto?

Since it is made of meat, most cats are likely to enjoy prosciutto. If a cat enjoys cooked ham, it is likely to enjoy all varieties of prosciutto.

You should probably prepare it far away from moochers and store it somewhere out of a cat’s ability to get into if you want to limit how much your cat eats.

Even if you’re trying to keep your cat away from the table scraps, it’s a good treat for them because of the salty flavor and rich texture.

Some people use it to covertly administer medication to their cats because of how well received it is among feline patients.

Do Cats Hate Prosciutto?

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Since it is ham, and something most cats will be able to taste, it’s unlikely that cats will dislike prosciutto.

However, you can never tell with cats because some of them are picky eaters who refuse to eat anything human-made.

Given her preference for seafood cat food and kibble, I doubt my young cat would enjoy prosciutto. They wouldn’t necessarily dislike prosciutto, but rather pay it no mind at all.

If this describes your cat, you can rest easy; they won’t go hungry without prosciutto, and you’ll have one less food to try to keep them away from.

Can Eating Prosciutto Kill My Cat?

If your cat accidentally ate some prosciutto and you’re worried about it, don’t be. The salt content of prosciutto is not high enough to be harmful to your cat unless your cat eats an extremely large amount of it.

The high levels of salt and fat in this meat make it unhealthy to eat. There is little to worry about right now with either of these options (in fact, the increased salt content may encourage your cat to drink more water!) But like in humans, if a cat consumes too much prosciutto over time, it can lead to health issues.

Gaining excess weight raises the risk of developing diabetes and other health problems down the road.

Similarly, prosciutto has a lot of salt. The salt content probably won’t kill your cat (unless your cat eats a lot of it), but the rich meat could cause stomach problems.

Common examples of these are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Temporary inability to eat

These conditions usually clear up on their own within twenty-four hours, but if they persist or worsen, it’s best to consult a vet.

Perhaps your cat is allergic to beef, or perhaps there was something else in the meat that upset its stomach.

Unless your cat eats an enormous amount of prosciutto, you probably won’t have to take it to the vet, though it may make your cat feel sick for a little while.

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Your cat should be fine as long as you limit its intake of this meat, as it is unlikely that it will eat too much of it and become ill.

How Much Prosciutto Can I Feed My Cat?

Cats should only be given small amounts of prosciutto as a treat on rare occasions. Only about 10 percent of a cat’s daily caloric intake should come from treats (roughly 20–25 calories), and 100 grams has nearly 200 calories, so a tiny piece of one slice!

It’s too rich and salty for cats to have on a regular basis, and they shouldn’t have it even once a week. Instead, cats should only be given very small amounts of meat once a month.

Cats are more likely to enjoy treats made from other types of meat, such as cooked chicken, extra-lean ground beef, or even a small piece of plain turkey or beef roast.

These foods contain much less salt and fat than their counterparts, but cats will still enjoy them. Of course, you could also just get cat treats that are intended for cats rather than humans.

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Are There Any Nutritional Benefits of Prosciutto for Cats?

Prosciutto offers no nutritional value to a cat. The marginal health benefits of meat protein and iron are outweighed by the negative aspects of curing and excessive salt content.

Your cat will appreciate the treat, but it’s clear that not all meat is created equal, and prosciutto isn’t it.

What Happens if my Cat Eats Prosciutto?

There probably won’t be any ill effects from your cat eating a corner or two of prosciutto. The only way your cat’s life is in danger from eating prosciutto is if it is tainted with harmful bacteria or parasites, which is highly unlikely. Overfeeding your cats can lead to health issues.

Even though your cat probably won’t get sodium poisoning from eating prosciutto, it still might not be a good idea to feed it to them. Excessive consumption may result in gastrointestinal distress or other symptoms.

What Is a Healthy Diet for a Cat?

In order to survive, cats must consume meat as their primary food source. Prey animals provide the majority of a wild cat’s nutrition.

The diets of domestic cats should be as similar as possible to those of their wild ancestors.

This necessitates a diet high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Final Thoughts

You can find other meats that are a little more balanced if you’re looking for a healthy treat for your cat. Options such as cooked chicken, turkey, or beef are always welcome.

Salmon and tuna are also great, but watch out for the mercury content! Cats can also have small amounts of cooked eggs.

These are all safe alternatives to cured meats like prosciutto that you can give to your cat.

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