Tacos are so beloved by many households that for a while there, people had dedicated taco nights (not helped by advertisers, but they wouldn’t push what wasn’t working).
Versatile, affordable, filling, and easy to customize, tacos are well up on the list of popular suppers in North America, as well as all over the world.
And since it is so common and popular, it only makes sense that cats will come into contact with it, particularly any dropped meat from cooking.
If this has happened to you, you’re probably wondering, can cats eat taco meat?
Technically, they could, but it’s really not good for them, and depending on your cat and what’s in the meat, could make them quite ill. So, we wouldn’t advise letting your cat eat taco meat unless it has been specifically prepared for them.
Do Cats Like Taco Meat?
This will depend on the meat and what else is in it. Taco meat is often made with ground beef, chicken, and sometimes seafood, and is seasoned with a variety of things such as chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, and other things, depending on what type of taco you’re making.
While the meat itself is generally popular with cats (though some will have preferences), the spices can cause trouble. Some cats simply won’t like the blend you use while other blends could make your cat quite ill.
As a general note, the spicier a food is, the less a cat will like it (and the less it will agree with their stomach which could lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or other issues), the sweeter it is, the less a cat will care (since they don’t taste sweets anyway) and the texture can put them off as well.
However, some cats really enjoy certain taco meats. My cats will show interest in ground beef, so I have to be careful to set a little aside with no spices for them if I want to give them a treat.
Do Cats Hate Taco Meat?
Some cats will have little to no interest in taco meat, usually dependent on what it is made from. My old cat has never shown the slightest interest in chicken chili tacos, which is good since she wouldn’t be able to eat it anyway!
Cats will also generally be put off if it’s too spicy, saucy, or sweet – they will just want the meat and not really care about the trimmings.
Considering how much seasonings and extras go into taco meat, it’s probably just as well if your cat ignores it.
Can Taco Meat Kill My Cat?
A small bit of taco meat is extremely unlikely to kill your cat, though depending on how much they ate and what else was in there, it could make your cat sick.
Taco meat is usually made with the following meats:
- Ground beef or sliced beef
- Ground pork
- Ground turkey
By themselves, none of these things are harmful to cats and in fact can be quite beneficial. Cats are obligate carnivores and quality meat provides them with a good balance of fats and protein.
Quality ground beef for example is an excellent snack for cats because it’s easy to digest, has lots of good protein, and cats usually like it. If they don’t like ground beef, they usually like chicken or seafood or all of it!
However, this assumes that the meat is a) well cooked and b) unseasoned. Taco meat is never plain, so at this point, we are looking at what else went into the pan when you started cooking.
Common taco seasonings are made from:
- Chili powder
- Smoked Paprika
- Garlic salt
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Red pepper flakes
It’s the seasonings that cause cats grief and the worst of the list is the one that is most common: garlic powder and onion powder.
Garlic and onion are part of the same family of plants and while they are very popular for humans, they are poisonous for cats.
Garlic and onion can both cause anemia in cats because the compounds in them attack the red blood cells and make it harder for them to carry oxygen around.
If cats eat too much garlic or onion or have it too regularly, they can become extremely ill and even die from it.
Garlic and onion powder are probably the most toxic ingredients on that list, but the others are offensive as well. Chili powder and pepper will usually irritate your cat’s stomach, as well as the cumin and smoked paprika. And Oregano is not usually something cats will want to eat.
On top of that, most people also put quite a bit of salt in their tacos, and cats really don’t need very much salt at all in their diet.
Too much sodium can lead to excessive thirst, dehydration, and if they eat way too much, sodium toxicity which can cause its own problems and may require a trip to the vet.
At best, these things will probably make your cat feel sick for a while after and no one wants a vomiting cat or a gross litter box!
How Much Taco Meat Can My Cat Have?
Assuming you want to set aside some meat before spicing it for your cat or cook a bit separately, how much should you serve?
Usually, a tablespoon or two of meat is enough for a cat. The cooked meat shouldn’t replace their usual meals, but a tablespoon or two can give them a nice snack with a good kick of protein and fats.
It’s important to note though that it should be good quality meat, well-drained (not greasy), and properly cooked and chopped up so that your cat can eat it safely.
It’s probably not something you want to give your cat daily, but it does make a good treat or a special way to entice a stubborn cat to eat something.
Making Cat-Friendly Taco Meat
There are ways to make a cat-friendly taco, but it takes some extra work. For example, you could use some of your cat’s favorite meat and sprinkle on a bit of catnip, or use a very tiny amount of cheese (keeping in mind that cats are lactose-free, so one tiny crumb or two is more than enough).
And some cats even like pita chips or a bit of a tortilla wrap, as long as it has no sugar or garbage fillers.
Honestly, though, most cats will be happy with a bit of cooked meat and let you enjoy your seasoned, toppings-loaded tacos on your own.
And since most tacos are stuffed with things like peppers, salsa, cheese, and sour cream, among other things, this is just as well. After all, a sick cat is no fun for anyone!
Does your cat try to go after your taco meat?
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.