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Can Cats Eat Hamburgers? What You Need to Know!

Cats are meat-eaters, and what is more carnivorous than a juicy burger made with ground beef, pork, chicken, or other meat? As long as the burger is properly cooked, is not processed, does not contain additional ingredients, like onion or garlic, and is not spoiled, your cat can enjoy a burger as a very occasional treat.

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Meat Eaters

Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they are not only capable of eating meat, but they also need it in their diet. Most of their daily protein needs should be met through meat-based protein, with minimal plant-based protein being added to their diet. In the wild, the only vegetables, fruits, and greens that they would eat normally would be from the stomachs of their prey.

However, the cats in our homes are not wild, and the domestic cat does get vitamins and minerals from plants included in commercial food. For example, they can get antioxidants from blueberries, which are common additions to dry kibble. Many foods also contain grain because it helps maintain kibble structure and helps your cat digest their food.

For the most part, though, we should ensure that our cats are getting most of their nutrition from meat sources. Meats that are considered healthy for cats include chicken and turkey, rabbit, small amounts of pork, and occasional pieces of fish. They can also eat beef, although beef is fattier than other meats, and it is highly unlikely that a wild cat would have ever taken down a cow, so beef may be considered species inappropriate.

red cat is waiting for the meat cutlets burger
Image Credit: Vova Shevchuk, Shutterstock

Good Protein Source

Beef is considered a beneficial protein source for cats. It doesn’t contain the mercury levels that fish has, and it is known to be high in protein. It should be cooked, rather than fed raw, though, because cats are susceptible to many of the same meat-based bacteria as humans, such as E. coli.

Lean steak also contains the following:
  • Iron: Iron is essential for ensuring a healthy body. An iron deficiency causes your cat’s body to produce smaller red blood cells than necessary. These can struggle to move oxygen around the body and will not effectively remove carbon dioxide. Beef is a good source of iron and can help prevent and even combat anemia in your cat.
  • Niacin: Niacin, or vitamin B3, helps break down fatty acids, glucose, and certain amino acids. Early signs of niacin deficiency include dry and itchy skin, and it can lead to dermatitis, diarrhea, and even death.
  • Protein: Cats need high levels of protein, higher than dogs and many other animals. This is because they use protein as energy and amino acids to build muscle and retain a healthy body. Protein deficiency in cats leads to muscle loss and bald spots and can eventually prove fatal.
  • Selenium: Selenium is a type of antioxidant, and deficiency can lead to signs of aging. Antioxidants can also help stave off certain cancers and degenerative diseases. Beef, including the ground steak used to make burgers, has high levels of selenium.
  • Zinc: Zinc plays a vital role in eyesight and in cognitive functions like memory, learning, and general brain function.
  • Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is found in ground beef and helps maintain a healthy immune system. It is also central in ensuring good digestive health. Deficiency can cause weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting and needs careful management.

How to Prepare a Hamburger for Your Cat

So, lean ground beef is safe when fed in moderation and on occasion. It should be cooked before feeding, however, and you should avoid buying processed and packaged burgers because these tend to include additional ingredients, like onion and garlic, both of which are toxic to cats and should be avoided.

Choose a lean ground beef. Fatty beef can be difficult for your cat to digest if they are unaccustomed to this kind of food. It also contains high levels of fat, and too much fatty food leads to obesity.

Since you shouldn’t be feeding your cat bread, cheese, or other burger ingredients, you can just grill the ground beef and use water to bind the meat together. Alternatively, just feed the ground beef as it is. Your cat won’t mind that it isn’t in the shape of a burger patty.

hamburgers being grilled
Image Credit: Rudy and Peter Skitterians, Pixabay

No Cheeseburgers

Avoid adding cheese to your cat’s burgers. Many cats are lactose intolerant, and cheese may be too rich even for those cats that can stomach a little dairy. It is also fattening and doesn’t provide much nutritional benefit to your cat.

No Fried Onions

Other ingredients, including onion and garlic, are toxic for cats. Theoretically, any amount of these ingredients could cause poisoning, although if your cat has stolen a small amount of garlic-laden burger from your plate, they should be fine but will require careful monitoring.

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Can Cats Eat Hamburgers?

Cats are carnivores. They need animal protein in their diet. Beef, including the ground beef used in burgers, is a good source of protein, though even lean beef may be too rich and fatty for your cat to stomach regularly. Alternative ground meats, like lamb and chicken or turkey, are also healthy. Ensure that the meat is cooked, do not add extra ingredients, and avoid serving with bread or other constituent components of a human-style burger, and your cat can enjoy an occasional burger treat.

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Featured Image: moerschy, Pixabay