If you own a cat and have ever cooked a turkey, you know that the smell is usually enough to make kitty come running (and mooching). Cold cuts are often the same deal – you open a package for a sandwich and a moment later, your cat is begging for part of your lunch.
But we know that cold cuts aren’t necessarily the healthiest thing for humans to eat, given that they are often high in sodium and fat and can also contain other ingredients besides meat. So, can cats eat turkey cold cuts?
Are Turkey Cold Cuts Safe For Cats?
The main issue with turkey cold cuts is the sheer amount of salt in them. Most cold cuts, per two slices, have around 340mg of sodium in them. Not terrible for humans (though not fantastic either), but cats are a lot smaller and don’t process sodium in the quantity humans can. Cold cuts also have a lot of preservatives in them, nitrates, and often filler ingredients that make them taste good to humans, but don’t do much for our health.
Well, if these things don’t do much for human health, you can imagine that they are even less safe for cats. Sodium in particular can cause a lot of issues for cats, from dehydration to renal failure if they eat too much of it regularly. Eating a regular diet of turkey cold cuts can easily lead to weight gain as well which comes with its own problems such as diabetes.
If you’re looking at your cat happily munching on a bit of the turkey you tore off for him and panicking, you’re probably ok. Worries about your cat’s health really only come on if you are feeding your cat a slice or two several days a week. Giving a torn corner once in a while is a lot less harmful and can be used as a reward or as a way to sneak in medication.
Do Cats Like Turkey Cold Cuts?
Turkey is a favorite among many cats and fresh roasted turkey can be quite beneficial. For one thing, it contains a lot of protein, is lean, and contains taurine which is particularly good for cats. As long as it’s plain turkey, it’s generally pretty safe for cats to have and they enjoy it.
Turkey cold cuts are often another matter for cats. Some cats really enjoy deli meat and will happily gobble it down. Other cats will turn up their nose at it and won’t touch it. It really depends on the personality of your cat.
Personally speaking, I’ve had two cats who loved cold cuts and two who didn’t much care, so it’s a pretty even split.
Do Cats Hate Turkey Cold Cuts?
On the opposite side, people wonder if cats hate turkey cold cuts. This can come up with finicky felines whom owners are desperately trying to bribe to eat anything and cold cuts seem like it should be a good treat. As said before though, cats have a palate as diverse as any other animal – some cats will gobble down your offering, others will ignore it. It’s pretty unlikely that you could make a blanket statement either way about whether cats love or hate any kind of food, let alone turkey cold cuts.
Can Turkey Cold Cuts Kill Cats?
Short answer? By itself, probably not. But as usual, there are stipulations and things to watch out for.
- Too much turkey cold cuts can lead to a higher chance of renal failure, weight gain (And associated issues), and heart problems. These things can certainly be fatal in cats.
- Turkey cold cuts can cause salmonella infection and listeria infection in both humans and felines. Salmonella in cats has the same symptoms it does in humans: fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Unlike humans, cats can’t usually just sleep it off and will have to go to the vet right away. Cats can also become carriers of listeria which can be passed off to humans. Listeria is particularly dangerous to infants and the elderly, but even in adults, it can result in hospitalization or death.
- Turkey cold cuts may have seasoning that can cause damage to a cat. In this case, it wasn’t the turkey that did it, but some other hidden ingredient. Read your ingredients lists!
By itself, turkey cold cuts shouldn’t kill your feline. However, too much consumption of them can lead to some pretty serious health issues over the long run, not to mention the risk of salmonella and listeria. Everything in moderation applies to cats as well as humans!
How Many Turkey Cold Cuts Are Safe For Your Cat?
Since the goal is to ensure that your cat doesn’t get too much from the deli department, but you may still want to use turkey cold cuts for a treat, the obvious question becomes how much is too much and how much is safe?
If we treat cold turkey cuts as treats, then there is a baseline one can work with. Vets recommend that no more than 10% of a cat’s daily intake of calories come from treats. And cats should eat about 20 to 33 calories per pound of weight, with the higher number going for cats who are outdoors more and more active. Assuming you have a five-pound cat, your cat should eat about 100-165 calories, of which, no more than 10-16 should come from treats.
The average slice of turkey cold cut is 22 calories. Therefore, a cat should have no more than half a slice of turkey cold cut and would really be better off with a lot less than that, given the high sodium and preservative count. Furthermore, if you were to use a half slice as a treat, that would be all your cat would get for the day since it maxes out the treat calorie count at 11 or so.
What’s important to note here though is that we don’t just want to look at calories to determine how much is too much. The high count of other things found in cold cuts that aren’t good for cats means that they should really only have cold cuts as a very occasional treat, not as something that is part of their daily or even weekly rotation.
Think of it as you treat something like potato chips, cake, or donuts. Sure, it’d be nice to have it every day, and maybe calorie-wise, you could fit it in. But there are so many other things that can cause health problems if you have them daily, so it’s not worth it.
If your cat adores turkey cold cuts, then rest assured that the occasional piece of a slice probably won’t hurt it. And it does make a good thing to use for medications, a reward, and a moment to share. But don’t forget that there is a lot of sodium, nitrates, preservatives, and other things in your deli meat that are even less healthy for your cat than they are for you.
Moderation and erring on the side of small portions is important, as well as making sure you don’t give in to your every cat’s whims. After all, if they think they can get it out of you once, they’ll keep trying! Not only can this lead to unhealthy habits, but socially speaking, a constantly mooching and bossy cat isn’t all that cute.
All in all, let your cat enjoy a bit of turkey cold cut once in a while but don’t make it a habit. There are better quality treats that are actually meant for cats on the market today.