Can Cats Eat Pepperoni? Risks and Guidelines for Feeding Your Friend





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Robert Taylor

You may have inadvertently left some leftover pizza unattended, only to have your plans interrupted by a phone call. Upon your return, you discover your cat indulging in the pepperoni topping.

Should you be concerned? Can cats eat pepperoni? In this discussion, we will explore whether it’s acceptable for your feline friend to indulge in the occasional processed meat treat or if you should be cautious and keep it out of your curious cat’s grasp.

Regrettably, we strongly advise against feeding pepperoni to your cat, as you will learn in the following information.

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni?

Can cats eat pepperoni? The short answer is no! Giving your cat a small amount of pepperoni occasionally is generally safe. However, regularly feeding your cat pepperoni can be harmful. While it’s not toxic in small doses, it’s not a recommended part of their diet.

Cats can eat pepperoni, but it is not recommended
Cats can eat pepperoni, but it is not recommended

Related Post: Can Cats Eat Cucumbers?

Pepperoni contains additives and dyes that are not intended for feline consumption. Some of these substances have the potential to induce illness in your cat.

Let’s examine these components individually. Therefore, although a small quantity of pepperoni won’t harm your cat, there are more suitable foods to provide them with.

What Makes Pepperoni Harmful to Cats?

Numerous pepperoni brands exist, each with its unique recipe comprising various ingredients. Some may pose more significant risks to your cats than others. Nevertheless, they all share characteristics that are highly hazardous to feline health.

Pepperoni Harmful to Cats
Pepperoni Harmful to Cats

High Fat Content

Not all cuts are equal when contemplating meat types, especially when dealing with processed meats like pepperoni. Although pepperoni might seem suitable for a little carnivore, it’s surprising that only 19% of pepperoni is protein, while over 46% consists of fat. This makes it an unsuitable addition to your cat’s diet.

Harmful Spices

Consider the various spices that contribute to pepperoni’s flavour profile. These meats often incorporate ingredients like peppers and garlic, which are toxic to cats. Onions and garlic can lead to the destruction of red blood cells, causing anemia in both cats and dogs. Therefore, they should be strictly avoided. 

Powdered forms of onion and garlic are particularly concentrated and can harm our pets either suddenly or cumulatively. If you observe any of the following symptoms in your cat, seek immediate veterinary attention:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose stool
  • Pale gums
  • Low pulse
  • Difficulty breathing

Excess Calories

Cats require approximately 25 kcal per pound of body weight to sustain their bodily functions. Any extra calories they consume will be stored as body fat.

With over 50 calories in just 10 grams of pepperoni, your cat could exceed their daily caloric needs while gaining little to no nutritional benefits.

Moreover, there are additional risks associated with consuming pepperoni. Like humans, obesity is prevalent among pet cats, heightening the risk of developing chronic ailments such as diabetes, arthritis, urinary problems, cancers, and more.

Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrate (NaNO3) and its close relative, sodium nitrite (NaNO2), are additives commonly found in processed meat products. These substances are incorporated into meat products to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, such as botulism, and to maintain the red color of the meat.

By including these preservatives, the shelf life of the meat product is significantly prolonged. However, the impact on health remains uncertain.

Research has indicated a potential connection between elevated levels of these chemicals and stomach and colon cancer development in laboratory animal experiments.

Considering the presence of these preservatives in pepperoni, you should avoid feeding large quantities of pepperoni to your cat as a treat.

What Are Some Foods to Avoid for Cats?

Chocolate for cats
Chocolate for cats

Certainly, it’s crucial to be aware of foods that can be harmful or even toxic to cats. Here’s a detailed explanation of why you should avoid giving them the following foods:

  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains substances called theobromine and caffeine, which are stimulants that can be toxic to cats. If ingested in sufficient quantities, these compounds can cause rapid heart rate, restlessness, tremors, seizures, and even death.
  • Grapes: Grapes and their dried counterparts, raisins, can lead to severe kidney damage in cats. The exact reason behind this toxicity is not fully understood, but even small amounts of grapes or raisins can be dangerous.
  • Raisins: Raisins are simply dried grapes, so they carry the same risk. Even a small handful of raisins can potentially harm a cat, so it’s best to keep these out of reach.
  • Onions: Onions, as well as garlic and other members of the allium family (such as shallots and chives), contain compounds that can cause oxidative damage to a cat’s red blood cells. This can result in hemolytic anemia, where the red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be produced.
  • Garlic: While garlic is less toxic than onions, it can still pose a danger to cats, especially when consumed in larger quantities.

Alternative Proteins for Cats

Cheese, meat, and canned tuna or salmon are safe and healthy alternatives to pepperoni for cats. Read more to discover the best protein options for your feline friend!

Alternative Proteins for Cats
Alternative Proteins for Cats


Cheese is often considered a tempting treat for cats, but it’s essential to understand that it may not be the healthiest option for our feline friends. While cheese does contain protein, which is necessary for cats, it can also be high in fat and lactose.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their digestive systems are specifically designed to process animal proteins rather than dairy products like cheese.

Consuming too much cheese can lead to digestive issues and potential weight gain in cats. Many cats are lactose intolerant, which means they lack the necessary enzymes to break down lactose found in milk-based products like cheese.

Related Post: Can Cats Have Oat Milk?

This can result in stomach upset and diarrhea. It’s best to offer alternative protein sources such as meat, canned tuna, or salmon instead of relying on cheese as a dietary supplement for your cat.

A balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs will help ensure their overall health and well-being.


Meat is essential to a cat’s diet as they are obligate carnivores, requiring animal protein to thrive. Cats need a high-protein diet of more than 70% meat to meet their nutritional needs.

Meat provides cats with vital amino acids and nutrients for their health and well-being.

While pepperoni, a type of processed meat made from pork and beef, may contain protein, it is not considered a safe source for cats due to its high-fat content, sodium levels, and potential hazards such as nitrates and spices.

Canned Tuna or Salmon

Canned tuna or salmon can be a great alternative protein source for cats. Tuna is known to be addictive for cats, so it’s important not to rely on it too heavily as their primary diet.

However, offering canned fish like tuna or salmon packed in water and low in salt can provide a tasty treat and additional nutrients for your feline friend.

Salmon is especially beneficial as it contains high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids essential for a cat’s overall health.


Can a small amount of pepperoni be given as an occasional treat?

It is not recommended to give pepperoni as a treat for cats. There are safer and more suitable options, such as catnip or cat-specific treats.

What should I do if my cat accidentally eats pepperoni?

If your cat ingests a small amount of pepperoni, monitor it for any signs of digestive upset. Contact your veterinarian immediately if they show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.

What are some safe alternatives to pepperoni for cat treats?

Safe cat treats include commercial cat treats, freeze-dried meat treats for cats, or small pieces of cooked chicken or turkey (without seasoning).

Can cats eat any type of meat?

While cats are obligate carnivores and primarily eat meat, they must be provided with lean, unseasoned, and well-cooked meat as part of their balanced diet. Avoid giving them processed or heavily seasoned meats.

Is it okay to give my cat a taste of human food occasionally?

In moderation and with caution, you can occasionally offer small amounts of cat-safe human foods like plain cooked chicken or turkey. However, it’s best to stick to cat-specific treats and their regular cat food to ensure a balanced diet.

What is the best diet for a cat?

The best diet for a cat consists of high-quality commercial cat food designed to meet their nutritional needs. Consult your veterinarian for guidance on the appropriate diet for your specific cat.


In short, Can cats eat pepperoni? It can be quite challenging to resist your cat’s adorable begging expression. Your heart desires to fulfil their every wish. However, there are moments when you must make the tougher decision and decline to offer them foods that could be detrimental to their health. 

Pepperoni is not a healthy option for your feline companions, especially when numerous alternatives are common in most households. Instead of giving your cats pepperoni, treat them to some freshly cooked turkey or salmon.

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Robert Taylor

I love cats, I have more than 10 years of experience in raising cats. I want to share with everyone useful knowledge about cats.

Robert Taylor

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