Does your cat get curious about human food? You probably know your cat prefers savory treats, but finding safe foods to share with your cat isn’t quite that simple. Soy sauce is a common additive to meat sauces, especially in Asian dishes. Before you let your cat share with you, hold the soy sauce. That’s because soy sauce is mostly sodium (commonly known as salt). Unlike humans, cats can’t process sodium very well. If your cat consumes soy sauce, they are at high risk of getting sodium poisoning. It’s important to keep your cat out of soy sauce to avoid poisoning.
Sodium Poisoning In Cats
We humans are healthiest with a small amount of salt in our diets, but that’s not the same for cats. In the wild, cats mainly eat low-sodium food sources, and their digestive system can’t handle salt like humans can. Sodium-ion poisoning happens when a pet eats more salt than they can process, and in cats, that amount is minimal. In fact, a cat under 10 pounds only needs .05 tablespoon of salt to begin experiencing sodium ion poisoning—that’s around 850 milligrams.
Soy sauce is used mainly to add salty flavors to food, so it’s not surprising that it’s high in sodium. In fact, a single tablespoon of soy sauce has around 879 milligrams of sodium in it. That means your cat only needs to drink a tablespoon or so of soy sauce to experience poisoning.
If your cat experiences sodium poisoning, you’ll usually see symptoms around three hours after ingestion. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, tremors, and shortness of breath.
What About Low-Sodium Soy Sauce?
There are low-sodium soy sauce options available, but these still aren’t healthy for cats. Low-sodium sauces usually have about 400–500 milligrams of salt compared to 800–1,000 milligrams found in standard soy sauces. This means that your cat is less likely to be poisoned, but it’s still very dangerous to your cat in terms of health.
What to Do If Your Cat Consumes Soy Sauce
If your cat ingests soy sauce, stop to take stock of the situation. Since soy sauce is used as a flavoring, most cats will not ingest a large amount. Other cats might consume a large amount of food with soy sauce on it or drink soy sauce straight. This is much more dangerous than a few bites of Chinese chicken.
If you think your cat has consumed less than a tablespoon of soy sauce, you can wait to see if sodium poisoning occurs. Give your cat clean water to drink as needed and watch for any symptoms. Take your cat to the vet immediately if your cat shows signs of sickness.
You shouldn’t wait to take your cat to the vet if they have ingested a larger amount of sauce. Your vet can monitor sodium levels in your cat’s body and provide treatment in the form of inducing vomiting or IV fluids. Your vet will help your cat’s sodium concentration return to normal slowly enough that it will not cause additional side effects. If left untreated, sodium poisoning can be fatal.
If you’re looking for something to mix up your cat’s diet, you might consider sticking to plain meat as a treat. Plain chicken or beef is safe and healthy for your cat, and most cats will prefer this to something more flavorful. If you really want a sauce to add to your cat’s food, then look for cat food toppers. You can buy specialty toppers or use low-sodium chicken or beef broth, pumpkin puree, or other cat-safe treats to add some moisture and flavor to your cat’s food. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is safe for your cat. Check its sodium levels and make sure it is relatively low in fat and carbs. Your cat will appreciate soy sauce-free snacking!
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