Pulled pork is basically shredded pork, usually made from a pork roast and slow-cooked with spices and sauces. It’s popular because it’s affordable, filling, and really tasty! The amount of meat in it may well attract your cat as well, so the next time you make your favorite recipe, you may be wondering: can cats eat pulled pork?
Cats can certainly eat plain, regular pork, so long as it doesn’t have too much fat in it. It’s not something they should eat all the time, simply because even the leanest cut of pork still has a lot of fat in it, but it’s pretty harmless for a cat to have a small piece of a pork chop with nothing on it. One of my cats goes a little ballistic for ham, so I give her a small piece once in a while (too much would be too high in sodium).
Regular plain pork may be safe enough, but pulled pork is another matter. Because of the ingredients that go into making it, it’s highly unlikely that pulled pork is safe for your cat to eat. It really depends on what you put in it though.
Do Cats Like Pulled Pork?
We don’t eat pulled pork at my house, so I went digging around and found a lot of stories of cats going crazy for pulled pork. (And pork and ham in general).
It’s likely that it’s the pork part of the pulled pork that they like. After all, it’s meat, it’s high in protein and has taurine and other good things in it, and it tastes good. So, while my cats haven’t had the opportunity to try pulled pork themselves, I can see why many cats go after it.
Do Cats Hate Pulled Pork?
This will really depend on the cat. Some cats just aren’t all that into pork and so won’t care much about pulled pork.
Can Pulled Pork Kill My Cat?
This is where the whole pulled pork thing gets tricky. (And in fact, pork, in general, has this issue because it really depends on what else is going on in your meat).
Pork by itself, such as a small piece of ham or a lean chop is pretty safe for cats to eat in small quantities, once in a while. But a lot of other pork products such as bacon, sausages, smoked pork and cheap ham have a lot of extras in them: preservatives, flavoring, and salt for example, which are quite unhealthy for cats to eat.
They can cause a range of issues from simply making your cat have an upset stomach to wrecking their cholesterol, weight gain, and even sodium poisoning.
Now, take pulled pork.
Pulled pork is usually made with a pork roast such as a shoulder. It’s slow-cooked or roasted with things like liquid smoke, salt, garlic, hot sauce, and other ingredients, depending on the tastes of the cook and the people eating it.
Right away, you should see a problem: the salt is going to be too much for cats, the hot sauce will make them feel sick, and garlic is highly toxic. Many pulled pork recipes have a lot of garlic in them (to the tune of several cloves or a couple of teaspoons of garlic powder), and it only takes half a clove to make a cat seriously ill.
Other recipes use things like root beer, brown sugar, and onions (a lot of onions). The sugar is too much for cats to handle and the onions, like the garlic, is toxic.
I looked at several pulled pork recipes and while they were all tasty to humans, they all contained ingredients that were downright toxic to cats, usually garlic and often onions.
Garlic and onions can both cause anemia in cats because the sulfur compounds cause damage to your cat’s red blood cells. This in turn makes it too difficult for the red cells to do the job of carrying oxygen around and that’s when anemia could possibly occur.
A tiny amount of garlic once probably won’t have this effect, but too much garlic will certainly do it, and the damage is cumulative. Onions have the same effect (though garlic tends to be more concentrated and thus it requires more onion for a cat to get poisoned).
So your cat may be mooching for your pulled pork, but depending on what you put in it, it’s probably not a good idea to indulge them!
How Much Pulled Pork Is Safe for My Cat to Eat?
If your cat does manage to snatch a bit of pulled pork, odds are that it will be all right (Though monitor your cat for several days after for signs of garlic or onion poisoning).
A pinch of your pork will probably do your cat no harm, as long as they aren’t getting it every day and as long as you don’t use too much garlic, onion, or sugary things in your recipe.
There are certainly enough owner stories about their cat nibbling on the pulled pork and coming out fine to think that in a very small quantity, once in a while, pulled pork is probably going to be ok.
It’s important to note that how your cat reacts to something like pulled pork will depend on its medical history, breed, size, and overall sensitivity to food. I probably would never have fed pulled pork to my part Siamese cat that I had growing up because she was extremely sensitive to food.
On the other hand, my Persian mutt, when she was much younger, had a more iron stomach and could probably have handled it. (She probably still could, but she’s gotten picky in her old age). If you have a sensitive cat, pulled pork might be too rich for them to handle, no matter how careful you were with the ingredients.
Another thing to keep in mind is that unless you make the pulled pork yourself and know exactly what’s in it, it’s best not to give it to your cat because you can’t be sure what someone else has put in theirs. With your own recipe, you can adjust for your cat if you think they will want a little, or at least you’ll know what you put in there.
Pulled pork is a bit of a problem for owners: safe or unsafe? But it really boils down to the ingredients you used (and their quantities), the sensitivity of your cat, and making sure that if they get some, it’s only a very small amount and only once in a while.
And keep an eye on your cat for a few days after because things like garlic poisoning can take as long as four to seven days to manifest!
Does your cat go after your pulled pork or does it prefer to leave it alone?