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Can Cats Eat Pepperoni? What You Need to Know!

You might have left out a snack of 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? Let’s find out whether it’s okay for your cat to have the occasional salami snack or if this is one foodstuff you should take care to keep out of your curious cat’s reach.

Let’s get started!cat face divider 2

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 packed 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 all manner of preservatives and colorings that aren’t designed for cats to eat.

Some of them do 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
Photo by: 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 at all!

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What Does Pepperoni Contain?

Different brands of pepperoni will contain different 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 us humans! We know that too much salt isn’t great for us, but the amount of sodium in pepperoni is sky-high in comparison 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 one small slice of pepperoni to how much sodium your cat needs per day. 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. Yikes!

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 symptoms 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 that your cat has eaten more pepperoni than may be good for them and they’re exhibiting any of the above 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 contains other substances that can harm them as well.

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.

Another good reason to keep that pepperoni pizza away from your kitty!

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Flavorings and Spices

Lastly, the flavorings and spices used to give pepperoni that all-important spicy kick isn’t the best for your cat either. Pepperoni is likely to contain powdered pepper, black pepper, and garlic. The strong flavor of these is likely to put your cat off 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 be seen in cats, so if your cat develops any symptoms such as these and you remember them eating something garlicky in the last week or so, make sure to speak to your veterinarian as soon as you can.cat + line divider

Now You Know

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

Of course, if they eat some accidentally, there are many factors to take into consideration. What’s too much pepperoni for one cat might not affect another so badly. Things like the size of your cat, how much pepperoni they ate, and if they have any existing allergies will all play a part. If you’re unsure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so ring 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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Featured image credit: Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels, Mustafa ezz from Pexels