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Can Cats Eat Salami? Risks & Healthy Alternatives

Since cats are carnivores, it may seem like they can enjoy eating different kinds of meat that humans eat, such as cured meat. However, whether cats can eat cured meat is a question that isn’t very cut and dry. Although cats will most likely enjoy salami as a tasty snack, it’s not the best option for them.

Cats can technically eat small portions of salami without feeling sick, but it’s definitely not a food that’s healthy for them. There are much better options that are equally tasty for cats that don’t have as many health risks as salami.

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Reasons To Skip the Salami

Although salami is an animal meat product, it often contains additives and ingredients that can be harmful to cats.

Too Much Sodium

To begin with, salami has a very high salt content. An average slice of salami can contain about 214 mg of sodium. The daily recommended amount of salt for an average adult cat is just 42 mg.

Cats may be able to handle a little bit of extra salt in their diet, but excessive salt can potentially lead to sodium ion poisoning. So, if your cat snuck in and ate a slice of salami while you weren’t looking, it might start displaying the following symptoms of sodium ion poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disorientation

Most symptoms occur within 3 hours of consuming too much salt. If you suspect your cat ate too much salami, make sure to contact your veterinarian right away and have helpful information at hand.

Your veterinarian may ask for the following:
  • Amount of sodium per serving
  • Amount of salami your cat ate
  • Any symptoms
  • When your cat ate salami

Always make sure to leave out plenty of water for your cat to drink. In serious cases, you may have to take your cat to the veterinarian or emergency animal hospital. There isn’t a set treatment for sodium ion poisoning, but something veterinarians may do is administer water using a stomach tube. Some cats may also go on a temporary regimen of drinking electrolytes to recover.

Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Tunatura, Shutterstock


Along with too much salt, most salami gets preserved with nitrates or nitrites, and nitrate is harmful to cats. Similar to sodium, they can experience both acute and delayed nitrate poisoning.

An animal with nitrate poisoning may exhibit the following symptoms:
  • Rapid, weak heartbeat
  • Low body temperature
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Anxiety
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Painful abdomen

Most treatments for nitrate poisoning include introducing fluids into the cat’s system using an IV.

Other Unhealthy Ingredients

Depending on the brand, salami can contain other ingredients that aren’t good for cats. For example, some types of salami contain spicy peppers, which can cause an upset stomach.

Other kinds of salami can contain garlic powder or onion powder for flavor. Garlic, onions, and other plants in the Allium family in any form can have damaging effects on a cat. A cat that continues to consume garlic and onions can eventually develop anemia.

Sliced salami
Image Credit: DesignOil, Pixabay

Too Much Fat Content

Salami contains a lot of fat, and it can exceed a cat’s recommended daily fat intake. Cats only need a moderate amount of fat in their diet, and it’s best if they get this fat from healthy sources. For example, salmon is a great source of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. It promotes healthy skin and coat, and it also contains anti-inflammatory properties.

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Healthier and Safer Alternatives to Salami

Because of the risks associated with salami, it’s best to avoid this food and provide safer alternatives for your cat. Your cat can still enjoy plenty of meat-based treats.

Jerky Treats for Cats

You can easily find jerky for cats in pet stores and online retail stores. Retailers selling premium treats often have jerky treats made completely out of animal meat. You can also find jerky treats that contain grain or other binding agents to help hold the treats together.

Pure jerky treats are the healthier option since they only contain meat. However, mixed ingredient jerky treats aren’t too bad of an option, and they’re much better than salami. As a reminder, jerky should be given only as an occasional treat, so we don’t want to overindulge cats with them.

beef jerky
Image Credit: Mark Valencia, Pixabay

Freeze-Dried Treats

These types of treats are becoming more common, and you can easily find some sort of freeze-dried treat in most pet stores.

When a treat gets freeze-dried, it undergoes a preservation process where it gets dehydrated in low temperatures. It often puffs up, so the freeze-dried form looks bigger and airier than the original form.

Freeze-dried treats commonly come in two forms. They can either be mixed with other ingredients or they can be dehydrated pieces of whole meat. They have a light and crunchy texture, and many cats love eating them as meal toppers.

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Salami & Cats

It’s best to avoid salami because it can contain many unhealthy and unsafe ingredients for cats. Although it can be difficult to refuse a begging cat, it’s important to refrain and remember that you are ultimately responsible for your cat’s health and wellbeing.

There are many safer alternatives to feed your cat that don’t risk having a negative impact on your cat’s health. So, make sure to stock up on other tasty cat treats so that your cat has something that it can enjoy eating with you as you eat salami.

See also:

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Featured Image Credit: SteffanLewis, Pixabay