Chorizo has gained popularity in the realm of human cuisine, making its way into diverse eateries, from Chipotle to Blaze Pizza. While the savory aroma of traditional chorizo may entice our feline friends, it’s crucial to remember that not everything we enjoy is suitable for our cats’ consumption.
Did you know that over 50% of cat owners have offered human food to their feline friends? While rewarding your cat with a taste of your dinner may seem harmless, some human foods can be toxic to cats. So what about chorizo? Can cats eat this spicy sausage?
The Short Answer
No, cats should not eat chorizo or other spicy, fatty sausages. The spices, salt, fat content, and preservatives found in chorizo can cause digestive upset and even toxicity in cats. There are much safer human foods and cat treats to reward your feline friend.
What Is Chorizo?
Chorizo is a type of spicy cured pork sausage originating from Spain and Portugal. It gets its signature red color and smoky, spicy flavor from paprika and other seasonings like garlic, salt, vinegar, oregano, and cayenne pepper.
There are many varieties of chorizo:
- Spanish style is smoked and firm in texture.
- Mexican style is fresh, unsmoked, and soft.
- Portuguese linguiça is seasoned but not smoked or cured.
Other ingredients, like fat, nitrates, nitrites, and sometimes fillers, are also used to make chorizo.
Why Chorizo Is Bad For Cats
There are several reasons why chorizo and other spicy, fatty sausages are unhealthy for cats:
Too Much Fat
The high fat content in chorizo can cause pancreatitis in cats. Pancreatitis is a serious and potentially fatal inflammation of the pancreas that requires emergency vet treatment.
Spices and Seasonings
Onions, garlic, salt, chili peppers, paprika, and other seasonings in chorizo can be toxic to cats. Compounds in onions and garlic have the potential to harm red blood cells. Excess salt can cause sodium ion poisoning. Capsaicin in spices like chili powder and paprika can irritate the digestive tract.
Nitrates and nitrites used as preservatives in cured meats like chorizo convert to compounds that restrict oxygen transport in the blood. This can lead to methemoglobinemia, which causes lethargy, breathing difficulty, coma, and even death in high doses.
May Contain Fillers
Some types of raw or cheap chorizo contain fillers like soy protein, wheat, grains, and MSG that cats cannot properly digest. This can cause gas, bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea.
So in summary, the fatty, salty, spicy, and processed composition of chorizo makes it a big no-no for feline consumption.
Healthier Treats For Cats
It’s perfectly normal to want to share a little bite of your meal with your cat. But there are much healthier human foods and treats to offer your cat instead of chorizo:
- Cooked, unseasoned chicken or beef
- Small pieces of baked or poached fish (like salmon or tuna)
- Scrambled or hard-boiled eggs
- Plain popcorn without salt or butter
- Unsweetened yogurt or cottage cheese
- Small pieces of cheese (in moderation)
- Fresh fruits like banana, blueberries, and cranberries
- Green beans, carrots, peas, and sweet potato
- Oat meal or whole wheat bread crumbs
There are also many cat treats on the market made with high-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals specifically formulated for cats. Offer these as a special reward instead of table scraps.
Signs Of Chorizo Poisoning In Cats
If your cat managed to snack on chorizo, watch for these signs of digestive upset or poisoning:
- Excessive drooling or vomiting
- Abdominal pain or bloating
- Loss of appetite
- Fast or troubled breathing
- Pale gums
If you notice any of these symptoms after your cat ate chorizo, call your vet or an emergency animal hospital right away. Timely treatment can prevent life-threatening complications.
How To Keep Your Cat Out Of Human Food
The smartest way to prevent food-related illness in cats is to avoid feeding them table scraps at all. Here are some tips to keep chorizo and other people’s food out of your cat’s reach:
- Feed cats separately, in a different space from humans. Don’t let your cat beg at the table.
- Store human food out of reach of cats, like in cabinets or refrigerators with child locks.
- Place food waste directly into garbage cans with tight-fitting lids. Make sure trash cans are securely closed.
- Never leave unattended human food within reach of your cat.
- If your cat persistently begs for food, use a pet carrier or confinement area during human meal times.
- Consider using puzzle toys or activity boards to feed your cat instead of a bowl. This promotes healthy mental and physical stimulation.
- Provide plenty of appropriate toys and activities to keep your cat entertained and distracted from human food temptations.
- Consider investing in timed, portion-controlled cat feeders that open on a set schedule. This removes the temptation of free-feeding.
With a little management and environmental control, you can keep your cat safe from counter-surfing and consuming unhealthy human foods like chorizo.
The Bottom Line
Chorizo may look like a tasty treat to your cat, but it does not align with your cat’s nutritional needs. The spices, fat, salt, and chemicals can wreak havoc on your cat’s digestive system and organ function. No amount of chorizo is considered safe for cats.
There are far healthier and safer human foods and commercial cat treats that you can offer instead. When in doubt, stick to your cat’s normal diet of quality cat food according to portion recommendations. Save the chorizo for yourself, and keep it out of your cat’s paws.
Can cats eat spicy food?
No, cats should not eat spicy foods seasoned with ingredients like black pepper, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, curry, or other hot spices. Cats’ taste buds cannot detect “spicy” flavors, but the capsaicin and other compounds in spices can irritate their gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. Mild gastrointestinal signs like vomiting or diarrhea may occur, but there are also risks of internal chemical burns or breathing difficulties. Avoid offering spicy human foods to cats.
Can cats eat pork?
In small amounts, plain cooked pork without seasoning, fat, or bones may be safe for cats. However, pork is not ideal nutritionally since it is high in fat and salt compared to animal proteins like chicken, turkey, or fish. Also, raw or undercooked pork poses a risk of bacterial contamination and parasites in cats. It is best to avoid giving pork products like ham, sausage, bacon, or chorizo to cats, which contain excessive fat, salt, and chemicals. Lean, plainly cooked pork occasionally, as a rare treat, should not harm healthy cats.
What human food can I give my cat?
Some human foods are safe for cats in moderation, such as cooked boneless chicken or turkey (no seasoning or onions or garlic), fish, scrambled eggs, yogurt, veggies, or small amounts of cheese. Avoid giving cats spicy, seasoned, fatty, sugary, salty, processed “people foods” or pet foods containing dyes, wheat, soy, or corn, by-products, or artificial preservatives. Consult your veterinarian for appropriate occasional human foods cats can enjoy. Focus on a balanced commercial cat food diet and use human foods sparingly.