It’s extremely unlikely that your cat will come into contact with salt and pepper on its own (and it’s certainly not something that you would find in cat food); however, there may be salt and pepper on a piece of meat that your cat mooched or outright stole. If this has happened to you, you may immediately wonder if salt and pepper is all right for cats to eat or not. Can cats eat salt and pepper?
Short answer: Not really. Too much salt is bad for cats and black pepper, while nontoxic, doesn’t do anything except make cats not want to eat the food because it’s too bitter and in too high a quantity, it can cause illness or discomfort.
Do Cats Like Salt and Pepper?
Cats are generally attracted to salt and will eat it, given the chance. Salt is required by any mammals to help with proper organ functioning, moving waste products out, and generally keeping an animal healthy. Cats have been known to go after salty food and quite enjoy it. (My old cat got her head stuck in a potato chip bag the other day chasing salt crumbs…). Cats do require a small amount of salt every day to stay healthy, but for the most part, this is already accounted for in their regular food.
Pepper on the other hand, it’s less likely that cats will enjoy. It’s too bitter for cats to really enjoy and will often make them sneeze! Pepper has even been used to repel cats, so you can imagine that most of them don’t like it very much. (Though there are always anecdotes of that ‘one cat’ that does…) Black pepper has historically been used to keep cats and kittens out of places they ought not go such as gardens and garages precisely because most cats don’t like it.
Do Cats Hate Salt and Pepper?
Most cats hate pepper and will completely ignore it. They are repelled and irritated by the odor, causing them to sneeze if they sniff any of it, and they do not like the bitter or spicy flavor of black pepper. It may also irritate their throats.
Most cats like salt, though they may not necessarily like the way you present said salt or food that the salt is on. So, a little of both, to be honest.
Will Salt and Pepper Kill My Cat?
Salt and pepper probably won’t kill your cat, but it may cause some discomfort and too much salt over a long period of time can contribute to long term health problems.
Eating too much salt in humans is tied to things like greater risk of heart problems, hypertension, and high cholesterol, though humans do require a certain amount of salt to stay healthy. Cats on the other hand seem to tolerate salt a bit better than humans because their kidneys are better at extracting salts and dealing with it. That being said, a cat should really only have 42mg of sodium per day and eating too much salt will send that rocketing up. Too much salt intake is tied to dehydration (which cats commonly have anyway since they don’t tend to drink enough water) and can sometimes lead to sodium poisoning which causes all manner of severe health issues and even death. Fortunately, this is pretty rare as the amount of salt a cat would have to ingest to get sodium poisoning is fairy astronomical.
Cats dealing with a kidney or renal disease should have a very low sodium diet as their kidneys are not up to the task of handling even a normal amount of sodium, let alone higher amounts.
Pepper is also unlikely to kill your cat; however, unlike salt, pepper is not something a cat needs in its diet and it can cause some discomfort. Cats don’t like the smell of pepper and they don’t usually like the taste either as it’s too spicy and too bitter. But is it toxic?
Not precisely, but it can build up over time and cause damage to the kidneys. This assumes though that the cat is exposed to pepper regularly and is eating it regularly which again, most cats probably won’t do. Pepper can also cause digestive issues in cats such as vomiting, diarrhea and a generally upset stomach since it is a spice and cats aren’t really built to handle spices.
It is important to note though that no long-term studies have been done on the toxicity of black pepper on cats, so we just don’t know for certain. What is known is that cats are generally repelled by the smell and taste of pepper and even putting a bit on their food will be enough to make them probably not touch any of their dinner.
How much Salt and Pepper Can My Cat Eat?
Cats should have no more than 42mg of sodium in their diet and do remember that their regular cat food will have sodium in it. A sprinkle of salt on homemade cat food is probably all they will need. And as for pepper, cats don’t (And probably won’t) need to eat it at all, so I wouldn’t bother with it. Pepper does nothing for cats, has no nutritional benefits, and will likely make them not want to eat their supper, so leave the pepper to the humans to enjoy.
Salt and pepper are absolutely ubiquitous in home kitchens and they get used on just about everything. But for cats, salt and pepper may not be something that they want on their food. While salt is important for cats to eat, in small amounts, pepper will irritate and repel them and even if they did eat it, the spice is likely to give them digestive problems after. Both salt and pepper in too high a quantity can cause health problems in the long term for cats, so it’s definitely something you want to monitor. All in all, be mindful and minimal with the salt and keep the pepper well away.
Does your cat enjoy salt and pepper? Or just the salt? (Or maybe just the pepper!)
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.