Does your cat like to snuggle up on pizza night? Perhaps you think they’d love just a little piece with yummy melted cheese, tomato sauce, and pepperoni?
Pizza is a seriously popular food, so most of our cats will likely get the chance to take a sneaky bite at some point in their lives.
But the question is, should you indulge your little furry friend? Is pizza safe for cats to eat? Probably not!
Is Pizza Poisonous for My Cat?
Pizza sure does look tasty from a cat’s point of view, especially if it’s loaded with plenty of cheese and meat. So, will it do your kitty any harm, or can you go ahead and indulge them with a little taste now and again?
Sadly, it’s probably not such a good idea. Some of the ingredients aren’t going to do your cat any favors, and others could even make your cat pretty sick. That’s not something any loving cat parent wants to risk.
While a very, very small piece of pizza likely won’t do your cat any permanent damage, it’s not something you want to get into the habit of feeding them, even if they do seem to like it!
Interesting Facts About Pizza
In America, 350 slices of pizza are ordered every single second!
The word “pizza” has been around since 997 A.D., where it was first used in Gaeta, Italy.
Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the U.S.A., closely followed by sausage.
What Does Pizza Contain?
Different pizzas will have a range of different ingredients, but given that pepperoni is one of the most popular varieties, let’s use that as our example.
Pizza dough is, of course, full of carbohydrates, which as an obligate carnivore, your cat does not need. It’s also calorie-dense, so your cat could pile on the pounds and get little nutritional benefit. Once the pizza dough is cooked, while it’s not great for your cats, it won’t do them too much harm.
Raw pizza dough, on the other hand, is downright dangerous. The activated yeast can make the dough expand in your cat’s stomach. This can result in either bloat or something called gastric-dilation volvulus, or GDV. Both of these are serious conditions requiring immediate veterinary attention. Also, the alcohol produced by the yeast as it ferments can make its way into your cat’s bloodstream and cause alcohol poisoning.
Pizza dough also contains sodium. You can probably guess that pizza provides way more than your cat needs, into potentially dangerous levels.
Now let’s look at the toppings.
The tomato sauce used on most pizzas is not something your cat should be eating with any regularity. It’s packed with ingredients that taste pretty good to us but can cause your delicate cat all sorts of problems.
The green parts of tomato plants are considered poisonous to cats, but the ripened fruit that’s used in our pizza sauce shouldn’t cause your cat too many problems if consumed in small quantities. That’s good news, but the other ingredients used in most sauce recipes are more problematic.
Many pizza sauce recipes contain onions, and they’re also used as a topping. Onions are bad news for cats, as they can cause gastroenteritis and anemia.
Another common ingredient is garlic, which is poisonous to cats and roughly five times worse than an onion. Garlic is listed on the Pet Poison Helpline as causing the following symptoms if consumed in too great a quantity:
- Abdominal pain
- Pale gums
- High heart rate
These symptoms can take a few days to show up, so stay vigilant if you suspect your cat may have eaten a particularly garlicky pizza.
The high-fat content of cheese is part of what makes it taste so good! Unfortunately, they’re not so good for your cat and another good reason that you should avoid feeding them pizza. A 10-pound cat needs roughly 200 calories per day, but a reasonably small amount of cheese, let’s say 28 grams, on a piece of pizza can contain 104 calories.
Feline obesity can lead to diabetes, joint problems, and plenty of other issues. So, feeding pizza that’s dripping with cheese to your cat is not a good idea.
As an obligate carnivore, your cat has absolutely no need for cheese in their diet, and it can end up doing them more harm than good. Due to their digestive system being designed to process meat and meat only, cats are lactose intolerant. Feeding your cat cheese can give them an upset stomach. Cheese is also high in sodium.
Unfortunately, pepperoni is not good news for cats. While it might contain plenty of ingredients that make it taste pretty fabulous to some humans, those same ingredients could potentially harm your cat.
We briefly touched on the fact that pizza dough and cheese both sodium earlier, but so does pepperoni.
Pepperoni contains huge amounts of salt, which is poisonous to your cat in large quantities. One small piece of pepperoni, weighing in at a measly 2 grams, contains 35.2 mg of sodium. That might not seem that much, especially for a fully grown human. But when we compare it to a cat’s daily sodium requirement of just 21 mg, that one little slice of pepperoni contains way more sodium than your cat should be eating in one day.
When considering the sodium content of a whole slice of pizza (though your cat isn’t likely to eat that much, or at least, we hope not), the numbers get astronomically high in comparison to your cat’s daily requirements.
One slice of pizza, judged by the USDA to weigh 107 grams, contains 639.9mg of sodium. That is way too much to be consumed safely by your cat.
Salt poisoning can happen, with symptoms including:
- Excessive thirst
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive urination
We’ve already touched on the garlic that may be hiding in the tomato sauce on your pizza, but pepperoni also contains garlic. To preserve pepperoni and give it long shelf life, nitrates are added. These can also be poisonous to cats if consumed in large enough amounts.
Now You Know
We’re sure that by now, you’ve figured out that pizza is absolutely not a good food to feed your cat, even as the most occasional treat.
Almost all the ingredients used to make pizza contain something that can potentially harm your cat if they eat too much of it.
From calorie-dense cheese to garlicky sauce and salty pepperoni, this is definitely a food best enjoyed by us humans and not our cats.
If your cat does eat a large amount of pizza by mistake and exhibits any of the symptoms we listed above, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline.
And remember, as pet parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our cats eat a diet that provides all the nutrients they need to stay healthy. You’ll just have to break it to them that this doesn’t include pizza!
Featured image credit: Milada Vigerova from Unsplash, Engin Akyurt from Pexels