Can Cats Eat Pastrami?

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As a cat owner, you may find yourself pondering over what human foods are safe for your feline companion to consume. One such question that often arises is whether cats can eat pastrami. Pastrami, a popular deli meat made from beef, is known for its distinctive flavor and texture. However, when it comes to your cat’s dietary needs, it’s crucial to understand what foods are suitable for their health and well-being. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore whether pastrami is safe for cats, its potential benefits, risks, and alternative options to consider for a balanced feline diet.

Can Cats Eat Pastrami?

Pastrami, being a processed meat product made from beef, is not an ideal food choice for cats. While cats are carnivorous by nature, their dietary requirements differ significantly from ours. Here are some reasons why pastrami is not recommended for cats:

High Sodium Content

Pastrami often contains high levels of sodium due to the curing and brining process. Excessive sodium intake can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and potentially kidney problems in cats.

Spices and Additives

Pastrami is typically seasoned with various spices, such as pepper, coriander, and garlic. These spices, especially garlic, can be toxic to cats in large quantities.


Processed meats like pastrami often contain preservatives such as nitrates and nitrites, which can be harmful to felines if consumed in large amounts.

Fat Content

Pastrami is a fatty meat, and cats require a controlled amount of dietary fat for optimal health. Excessive fat consumption can lead to obesity and related health issues.

Taurine Deficiency

Pastrami does not contain significant amounts of taurine, a crucial nutrient for cats. Prolonged taurine deficiency can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease and vision impairment.

Potential Risks of Feeding Pastrami to Cats

Feeding pastrami to your cat, even in small amounts, can pose certain risks to their health:

Gastrointestinal Upset

The high fat content and spices present in pastrami can cause digestive disturbances, including diarrhea, vomiting, and pancreatitis in cats.

Sodium Toxicity

Excessive sodium intake from pastrami can strain a cat’s kidneys and potentially lead to kidney dysfunction, increased thirst, and frequent urination.

Allergic Reactions

Cats can develop food allergies or sensitivities to various ingredients in pastrami, resulting in skin rashes, itching, and gastrointestinal upset.

Alternatives to Pastrami for Cats

While pastrami is not a suitable food choice for cats, there are numerous alternative options that can be included in their diet. These alternatives provide a healthier, well-balanced nutrition profile for your feline friend:

High-Quality, Unseasoned Cooked Meat

Offer your cat small amounts of cooked, unseasoned lean meats such as chicken or turkey as a protein source. Ensure the meat is boneless, skinless, and free from any seasoning or additives.

Commercial Cat Food

Choose nutritionally balanced, high-quality commercial cat foods that meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards. Look for formulas with high-quality animal protein as the primary ingredient.

Raw or Freeze-Dried Cat Food

Some cat owners opt for raw or freeze-dried cat food options, which aim to mimic a cat’s natural diet more closely. These diets are formulated to provide the necessary nutrients in a safe and balanced manner.

Cat-Specific Treats

If you’re looking to offer your cat a special treat, choose cat-specific treats that are formulated to meet their nutritional needs. These treats often contain ingredients that are safe and beneficial for cats.


Can I give my cat a small piece of cooked pastrami as an occasional treat?

While it is generally not recommended to give cats cooked pastrami, if you choose to offer a small piece as an occasional treat, there are a few things to consider. Make sure the pastrami is cooked thoroughly without any seasonings, spices, or additives. Remove any excess fat and cut the pastrami into very small, bite-sized pieces to avoid choking hazards. However, keep in mind that even a small amount of pastrami can still contain high levels of sodium and potentially harmful ingredients for cats. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new foods into your cat’s diet.

Is it safe to feed raw pastrami to cats?

Feeding raw pastrami to cats is not recommended due to the potential health risks associated with raw meat consumption. Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella or listeria, which can lead to foodborne illnesses in cats. It is safer to choose cooked, unseasoned lean meats or commercially prepared cat food that meets their nutritional needs.

What is the best way to ensure my cat’s diet is appropriate?

To ensure your cat’s diet is appropriate, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian. They can provide guidance based on your cat’s specific needs, age, weight, and any underlying health conditions. Veterinarians can recommend high-quality commercial cat foods or specialized diets that meet the nutritional requirements of cats. Regular check-ups and discussions with your veterinarian will help ensure your cat’s diet supports their overall health and well-being.

Can cats eat other types of deli meats?

It is generally not recommended to feed cats other types of deli meats. Similar to pastrami, deli meats often contain high levels of sodium, spices, preservatives, and additives that can be harmful to cats. Additionally, some deli meats may contain ingredients that are toxic to felines, such as onion or garlic powders. It is best to avoid feeding cats deli meats altogether and opt for cat-specific treats or approved lean meats as occasional treats.

Can cats eat smoked meats, such as smoked turkey or ham?

While smoked meats like smoked turkey or ham may be tempting to share with your cat, they are not recommended. The smoking process often involves the use of seasonings, brines, or marinades that can contain harmful ingredients for cats, such as high levels of sodium, spices, or additives. Moreover, the excessive salt content in smoked meats can lead to dehydration and kidney issues in cats. It is best to stick to a balanced, feline-appropriate diet and avoid feeding cats smoked meats.


While cats have a carnivorous nature, it’s essential to provide them with a nutritionally balanced diet that meets their specific dietary requirements. Pastrami, with its high sodium content, seasonings, and preservatives, is not suitable for cats and can pose potential health risks. Opt for high-quality, lean meats or commercially prepared cat food that meets their nutritional needs and consult with your veterinarian to ensure your cat’s diet is appropriate for their individual needs. Remember, providing a well-balanced diet is key to keeping your feline companion healthy and happy for years to come.

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