It’s getting into the summer season and that means BBQ time! Burgers on the grill and happy people all around. If you’re having a burger and the cat is begging, is it safe to share? Can cats eat burgers?
Not really (but sort of). If you think about what’s on your burger and then what cats can and cannot eat, you’ll realize that some parts your cat probably could eat and others, not so much. So, all in all, it’s probably not a good idea to give a cat a whole burger, but maybe a bit of the meat will be ok.
And mooching cats.
Certainly, most cats are going to at least be curious about what the humans are doing outside cooking, and then they will be curious about the meat!
Since cats are obligate carnivores, the ground beef portion of your burger, at the very least, is going to be something that many cats are going to want to try a nibble of.
And depending on the cat, you may lose an entire burger patty if you’re not careful! (One of my cats once stole a breaded chicken patty. I’m positive that given the chance, a beef one would have gone just as readily).
Do Cats Like Burgers?
Most cats probably don’t care one bit about most of the burger – but they may care about the beef patty! The bun, lettuce, tomato, and condiments will probably be of little interest to them.
The beef patty (and possibly the cheese) will be more interesting. Cats have been regularly given ground beef to munch on and they will do so, generally quite happily, so long as it is completely unseasoned and well cooked. And cats will also eat cheese too, though cheese is far less likely to agree with them afterward.
But you have to be very careful when letting your cat have some ground beef. I would never let mine eat it because I season it with garlic powder and salt, both of which are not at all good for my cats.
Do Cats Hate Burgers?
If your cat isn’t showing the slightest interest in your hamburger, then you simply have a cat who isn’t interested. I wouldn’t worry too much about it as hamburgers aren’t an ideal food for cats to be eating in the first place. It just means you don’t have to worry about begging (or thieving!)
Can Burgers Kill My Cat?
All right, here’s where things get a little more involved.
When we think about burgers, we tend to think of the whole package: a bun, lettuce, tomato, cheese, condiments, and of course the burger patty. There may be more or less to that story (onions for example or more exotic things like a fried egg), but that’s your basic burger.
This means that if you’re looking at what your cat can eat, you have to break down each element of your hamburger and go from there.
We’ll start with the obvious part: the hamburger.
Cats can eat hamburger, as long as the following is true about it:
- It is well cooked
- It has no spices or extra seasonings (particularly no garlic, as garlic is toxic; no onion, for the same reason; and no salt as cats don’t need a lot of salt in their diet and too much can make them very ill).
- It is in very small amounts so that they don’t try to replace their regular food with it.
- It is not from table scraps but is a little bit of hamburger that is all their own.
Assuming all of this is true, hamburger is usually quite safe for cats to eat and a small amount is healthy enough as it provides plenty of protein and a bit of fat. It’s not something they should live on as it doesn’t have all of the nutrition that they require, but as an occasional treat, there’s nothing wrong with some well-cooked, plain ground beef.
Moving on to the bun. Cats can eat grains and hamburger buns, but it’s not the healthiest thing for them. They generally only need a very small number of grains, mostly in order to help move their digestive system along.
However, bread itself really has no nutritional value for cats and the carbohydrates make them gain weight far too quickly if they eat too many bread products.
This in turn can lead to joint problems and diabetes. But a nibble of the hamburger bun won’t hurt anything, though many cats probably won’t be terribly interested. Make sure it is plain with no condiments though!
Lettuce: Yes, cats can eat lettuce in small amounts. It helps them move food along, can help clear hairballs (Which is gross for you, but a relief for your cat), and contains some nice vitamins and minerals such as folic acid. But cats should only have a little bit.
Tomato: Yes, cats can eat the tomato. However! The tomato should be ripe, cut into small pieces, and have no seeds in it. The vine and leaves of tomatoes are toxic to cats as well, so make sure that there is none of that around our pet.
Cheese: Cats will eat cheese, but it’s really not good for them. Most cats are lactose intolerant, meaning that most cheeses will probably give them a stomachache and may lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and general discomfort. Some cheeses are also quite high in salt or other preservatives.
I’d never feed my cat a processed cheese slice for example, as there is too much other stuff in there that could make my cat ill. A small bit of lactose-free swiss cheese on the other hand might be safer (even then though, I’d probably still avoid it. No one wants a bad food reaction!)
Pickles: No, cats shouldn’t eat pickles. They tend to be too high in salt, garlic, and/or onion, all of which can make your cat quite ill. Furthermore, they are hard for cats to eat anyway, so they can be a choking hazard.
Other toppings: Onions are a firm no. Onions are quite toxic to cats. Eggs are safe for cats to eat, but they should be scrambled plain and well cooked. Garlic is toxic to cats.
I’d say no on all condiments. Ketchup has too much sugar and often has garlic or onion powder (or both) in it, Dijon mustard might upset your cat’s stomach and regular mustard may also cause vomiting.
So, at the end of the day, what can cats have out of a burger?
- A small bit of the bun
- Plain ground beef, well-cooked
- A bit of lettuce and a bit of chopped tomato
No onions, no garlic, no pickles, no condiments, no cheese, and most other toppings like onions or mushrooms are also a firm no.
We probably wouldn’t find that burger exciting, but it’s safe enough for a cat to eat! It’s certainly not something they should be trying to live off though since it’s missing a lot of the nutrients that cats require to stay healthy.
How Many Burgers Are Safe for My Cat To Eat?
Cats should not be eating anywhere near a full-size burger (not that they would anyway). Instead, you want to break down the safe parts into very small servings.
- A bit of lettuce
- A small amount of crumbled ground beef (think a few tablespoons)
- A piece of cut tomato with no seeds.
- A corner of a bun.
That’s about all a cat ‘burger’ should consist of and that should only be given to cats once in a great while. Don’t be surprised if most of it gets ignored too – usually, the cat is after the ground beef and not much else.
In short, as long as you prepare it separately, your cat can have their own version of a burger right alongside you. But don’t let them have this dinner too often and make sure that everything is well cooked, cut into bite-size pieces, and has no seasonings.
Assuming all of that is done, your cat may well enjoy BBQ season right along with you!
Does your cat enjoy hamburgers? (Or at least enjoy stealing them?)
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.