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Can Cats Eat Pepperoni? Nutritional Facts & FAQ

You might have left out a leftover pizza only to be interrupted by a phone call. When you come back, you find your cat chomping down on the pepperoni.

Should you be worried? Can cats even eat pepperoni? We’ll look at whether it’s okay for your cat to have the occasional processed meat snack or if you should take care to keep it out of your curious cat’s reach. Unfortunately, we definitely don’t recommend feeding pepperoni to your cat, as you’ll find out below.

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Is Pepperoni Poisonous for My Cat?

Pepperoni certainly looks like it should appeal to cats, whether it’s on a pizza or in a packet. The soft meat is full of flavor, but where exactly does all that flavor come from? That’s the problem—while pepperoni might look juicy and tasty for your cat, some of the ingredients are not good for them.

Pepperoni contains preservatives and colorings that aren’t designed for cats to eat. Some of them have the potential to make your cat sick. We’ll take a closer look at those ingredients one by one. So, while a small amount of pepperoni isn’t poisonous for your cat, it’s certainly not something you should be feeding them.


Can Cats Eat Pepperoni
Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

Interesting Facts About Pepperoni

Pepperoni is a dried salami made with pork or beef. As one of the most popular pizza toppings in the US, it’s estimated that 50% of all pizzas ordered include pepperoni!

The name pepperoni comes from the Italian “peperone,” which means “bell pepper.” So, if you try ordering a pepperoni pizza in Italy, you will likely get slices of bell pepper and not pepperoni sausage!

What Does Pepperoni Contain?

Different brands of pepperoni will contain various percentages of each ingredient and vary what they use for flavorings. Let’s take a look at popular ingredients found in most brands.


Pepperoni is high in salt, which is part of the reason it tastes so good to humans! We know that too much salt isn’t great for us, but the amount of sodium in pepperoni is sky-high compared to your cat’s daily sodium requirements. One slice, or around 2 grams of pepperoni, contains, on average, 35.2 mg of sodium. A slice of pepperoni pizza will contain almost 700 mg of sodium.

Let’s compare the amount of sodium in a small slice of pepperoni to how much your cat needs daily. Your adult cat needs no more than 21 mg of sodium per day. That’s right; one seemingly innocent slice of salami contains over one and a half times the daily sodium requirements of your cat.

Of course, if your pepperoni is coming on a delivered pizza and not out of a packet with the ingredients listed, it’s impossible to know exactly what it contains. In fact, salt is poisonous to cats if consumed in large quantities. The Pet Poison Helpline has it listed with a moderate to severe level of toxicity. Common signs of salt poisoning include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme thirst and/or urination
  • Tremors
  • Incoordination

In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to a coma and, ultimately, death. If you suspect your cat has eaten more pepperoni than may be good for them and they’re exhibiting any of the previous signs, call the Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian for immediate advice.

While the salt content of pepperoni on its own is enough to discourage us from feeding it to our cats, it also contains other substances that can harm them.

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni
Photo credit: jamesoladujoye, Pixabay


Because pepperonis are cured meat, a preservative called nitrates is often used to increase their shelf-life and stop the growth of bacteria. Unfortunately, nitrates can also be poisonous to cats if consumed in high enough quantities. That’s another good reason to keep a pepperoni pizza away from your kitty!

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Flavorings and Spices

Lastly, the flavorings and spices that give pepperoni that all-important spicy kick aren’t the best for your cat either. Pepperoni is likely to contain red pepper flakes, black pepper, and garlic. The strong flavor of these ingredients may dissuade your cat from eating too much, which is good news!

Out of all the flavorings that might be used, garlic is the one that has the potential to do your cat harm. Garlic is poisonous to cats and can cause anemia and gastrointestinal issues. Signs to look out for include:

  • Drooling
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse
  • Increased heart rate

Sometimes these signs can take a few days to appear in cats, so if your cat develops any of them and you remember them eating something garlicky in the last week or so, speak to your veterinarian as soon as you can.

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Now You Know

We hope that you’ve found the answer to your question in this article, but to sum it up, we don’t recommend feeding pepperoni to your cat. The risk of them ingesting too much salt, nitrates, or garlic is not high.

Of course, if they eat some accidentally, many factors must be considered. What’s too much pepperoni for one cat might not affect another. Considerations like the size of your cat, how much pepperoni they ate, and if they have any allergies will all play a part. If you’re unsure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so contact your veterinarian for further advice!

Your precious kitty will always be healthier and happier if you stick to feeding them a species-appropriate diet, which means no pepperoni!

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