Can Cats Eat Ham?

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  • The countdown to Christmas is on, and Cat-World is delving into the safety of common Christmas products and treats, which includes my favourite, Christmas ham.

    Can cats eat ham?

    The short answer is yes, but with care, and only in small amounts.

    • Ham contains high levels of sodium, which is not good for cats.
    • Ham is not nutritionally balanced or complete.
    • Most hams, especially Christmas hams contain a lot of fat, which can cause pancreatitis, a severe condition caused by an inflammation of the pancreas, due to activation of digestive enzymes which begin to break it down.

    Feeding ham

    If you want to give your cat some ham, only feed a small amount and remove all fat from the meat and never feed ham on the bone. Give one or two bites and limit the frequency.

    • Ham should not replace your cat’s regular meals.
    • If the ham has expired, do not feed it to your cat (or dog).
    • Always ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh drinking water.

    When not to feed a cat ham

    If the cat has or is at risk of underlying medical conditions which include:

    • Heart conditions
    • Kidney disease
    • Previous bout(s) of pancreatitis
    • Is overweight
    • If the cat is on a food trial for allergies
    • Is on any other prescription diet
    • Is prone to gastroenteritis (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) when given new or novel foods

    Other Christmas food dangers

    • Any food which is high in fat poses a risk of pancreatitis
    • Chocolate, which is toxic to cats
    • Alcohol
    • Grapes and raisins
    • Turkey skin (high in fat)
    • Cooked bones
    • Any food which contains onion and/or garlic
    • Deli meats (salami, prosciutto etc.)

    Key points

    Go easy on the treats, even if they are not harmful in the short term, they are not nutritionally complete.

    Treats should not make up more than 10% of your cat’s diet.

    If your cat does eat something, he or she shouldn’t have, contact your veterinarian or poison helpline immediately.


    • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

      Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio