Feline owners often share their spaghetti and meatballs dinner with their cats but can cats eat meatballs? Meatballs are a high protein meaty food perfect for carnivore cats, so they should be safe, right? The problem isn’t the meatballs; all the other ingredients go into them.
Meatball is one of the human foods you find in every part of the world. Different meatballs are available in different cuisines – from Italy to America and Turkey to India. It’s also known by many names like kofta, kefta, Köfte, Albondigas, Skilpadjies, Ffagadau, Polpette, Bakso, and the list goes on…
What else is found all over the world? Answer: Cats.
So, it won’t be far stretched to say that ‘can cats eat meatballs’ is a common concern shared by cat owners globally. And yet, most pet parents continue to feed their feline friend meatballs.
Did you know the onion, garlic, spices, and seasonings in meatballs are all harmful to cats?
Continue reading to learn more. Today we will tell you everything you need to know about why cats shouldn’t eat regular meatballs and how you can safely feed meatballs to your cats.
Can Cats Eat Meatballs: Yes, or No?
Yes, technically, cats can eat meatballs. Meatballs are made of meat, and cats eat meat, so meatballs fall into a cat’s natural diet.
So, your cat will never refuse if you give it a meatball. However, you shouldn’t. Cats shouldn’t eat meatballs because some of the ingredients in meatballs are bad for a cat’s health.
To determine whether ‘cats can have meatballs,’ you need to know about the ingredients in meatballs.
Ingredients In Meatballs
Common ingredients found in nearly all versions of meatballs include:
- Ground beef or chicken
- Spices and seasoning
Some of these ingredients are safe for cats to eat, but others, like onion, garlic, chives, and spices, are bad for your cat. Feeding these ingredients to your cats can lead to serious health risks like anemia, food poisoning, gastrointestinal issues, etc.
Don’t worry; that doesn’t mean your cat can’t have meatballs. Before you share meatballs with cats, check the ingredients. You can also prepare homemade meatballs for your cats without any harmful ingredients.
Are Meatballs Safe For Cats: Dangerous or Not?
Meatballs are safe for cats because they are nontoxic or poisonous. The key ingredient in meatballs is meat, and cats can eat meat, so they are safe.
That said, feeding your cats certain types of meatballs can be hazardous to a cat’s health. These include:
- Raw meatballs: While it’s unsafe for cats to eat raw meat, it can contain bacteria and other pathogens harmful to cats. As per ASPCA, raw meats should be avoided to feed cats.
- Processed meatballs: The prepackaged meatballs you get from the store are unhealthy for cats as they are high in sodium and preservatives.
- Frozen meatballs: Frozen meatballs are usually hard and can be a choking hazard for your cat.
- Spicy meatballs: Cats do not need to eat spicy food as it can cause an upset stomach. So, do not give spicy food to your kitty.
Meatballs containing onion, garlic, or chives: Onion, garlic, and chive are unsafe for cats. Cats can suffer from onion toxicosis and face many problems like hemolysis, diarrhea, renal damage, etc. Similarly, eating garlic and chives can cause serious health issues in cats, including diarrhea, vomiting, bleeding gums, irregular heartbeat, and breathing issues.
Thus, meatballs are safe for cats as long as you feed your cat plain meatballs made of beef, mutton, fish, or any other meat without any spices and harmful ingredients.
Are Meatballs Good For Cats: Any Benefits?
Meatballs are made of ground beef, or chicken rolled into balls. While many of the meats are an excellent food for cats, unfortunately, all the other things we put in meatballs are not.
So, are meatballs good for cats?
Yes, meatballs can be good for cats if prepared without onion, garlic, chive, leeks, and all the other things your cat must never eat.
Here are some ways meatballs can be good for your cat’s well-being:
1. High Protein
Meatballs are made of meat which is a great source of protein. All kinds of meat are high in protein no matter what the source. Why is that good for cats?
Protein is one of the essential nutrients for cats. Cats don’t need much fat or carbohydrates to thrive and survive. On the other hand, protein is the main source of energy for cats and helps them grow.It is necessory for cat owners to know how much protein cats need in their diet. AAFCO recommended 26g/100g dry matter. It fuels many bodily functions of a cat, such as:
- Hair growth and strength
- Muscle building
- Strengthening of bones
- Blood glucose maintenance
- Improves liver function
2. Low Carb
The ideal cat diet should be 60% protein, 40% fats, and only 1-2% carbohydrates. So, food low in carbs and protein is good for cats.
While meatballs contain some carbs, they still contain fewer carbohydrates than most foods like bread, potatoes, etc. So, meatballs are a good option if you want to feed your feline a low-carb, high-protein food. An ASPCA suggests providing carbohydrates, a good source of energy for cats.
3. Suits A Cat’s Natural Diet
Humans are both carnivores and herbivores, which makes us omnivores (animals that eat both plants and animals). However, cats are carnivorous animals, meaning they need to eat other animals’ meat to survive.
Meatballs are made from the meat of other animals, so they suit a cat’s natural dietary requirements. They get all their nutrients from eating meaty foods.
Moreover, since cats are built to eat meat, their stomachs are also designed to digest protein. Therefore, cats often get an upset stomach after eating a lot of plant-based and starchy foods because they do not match their natural diet.
4. Easy To Digest
Cats’ digestive system is designed to digest meat because cats’ primary energy source is protein. So, cats lack the digestive enzyme capacity to digest fats and carbs. Therefore, cats have digestive issues when they eat fatty or high-carb food.
But it can digest all kinds of meaty protein sources. So, your cat can safely enjoy treats made of meat, including meatballs (without the bad ingredients).
If your cat does get bloat, diarrhea, upset stomach, or vomiting after eating meatballs, it’s probably due to one of the following reasons:
- Your cat is allergic to meatballs
- Your cat is allergic to any of the ingredients in meatballs
- Your cat has a sensitive stomach
- Your cat is suffering from a digestive disorder
- Your cat overate
- No matter what the case, always consult your vet.
Meatballs are very nutritious. As stated earlier, it is a great source of protein for cats. Moreover, meatballs are also a great source of micronutrients like Zinc, Iron, and Vitamins. Fish meatballs are also rich in omega3 fatty acids, which benefit a cat’s overall health.
Are Meatballs Bad For Cats: Risks Involved
Meatballs are bad for cats if meatballs are given along with all toxic ingredients or in raw form. We discussed why meatballs could be a good meal or snack for cats. However, we must recognize that certain meatball ingredients greatly threaten a cat’s health.
Let’s tell you why meatballs can be bad for your cat if you are not careful about the ingredients and a few other things:
1. Harmful Ingredients
There is no one fixed recipe for meatballs. It has many variations, and different people prepare it differently. However, some ingredients are common in most of the standard meatball recipes you find around the globe. A few of these ingredients are not safe for cats to consume. Here they are:
- Onions are a healthy vegetable, but they are a big NO for your feline family member. Onions are toxic to cats; even a small amount can cause severe side effects such as vomiting, upset stomach, lethargy, blood disorders, etc.
So, to protect your cat from onion toxicity, you should never give your cats onions. So, if your meatball has onions, you shouldn’t give it to your cat.
- Garlic is an aromatic and flavor enhancer used universally in all cuisines. It is also used in many herbal and ancient Chinese medications. While eating garlic has many health benefits for humans, it can be deadly to your cat.
They are ten times more toxic than onions. Even ingesting a small amount can cause garlic poisoning in cats, leading to many serious issues, such as organ damage. Thus, meatballs with garlic are bad for cats and should be kept away.
- Salt and seasonings are primarily flavor enhancers, but your cat does not need them. Cats don’t have as many taste buds as humans, so they don’t care what the food tastes like. However, salt is one of the few flavors cats can taste and like.
While salt isn’t toxic to cats, it can cause dehydration and sodium poisoning if ingested in large amounts. Anything over 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt (2-3 grams) is a cause for concern. Sodium overdose can lead to vomiting, low appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, excessive thirst, etc.
So, if you want to give your cat meatballs, they should not have any of these ingredients. You can get away with sodium if it does not cross the safety threshold. Contact your vet if your cat has accidentally ingested any of the abovementioned ingredients.
2. Frozen Meatballs
Frozen food that is not defrosted is hard. So, frozen meatballs can be a choking hazard for your cat. Moreover, partially thawed meat is also dangerous for cats as it can contain bacteria that can cause infections and make your cat sick.
3. Nutritional Deficiency
Another reason why meatballs can be bad for cats is nutritional deficiency. If you only feed your cat one type of food, they become deficient in certain nutrients. No doubt, meatballs are a good protein source, but cats also need micronutrients for a healthy body.
So, give your cat a versatile diet, including wet cat food, dry cat food, some fruits & veggies, etc. This will ensure that your cat is getting all the nutrients it needs.
4. Weight Gain
Eating too many meatballs can lead to weight gain for cats. Meatballs contain many ingredients that can add to daily calories and result in weight gain. Ensure your meatball recipe does not include much oil, eggs, breadcrumbs, and other fattening ingredients.
Cats can be allergic to different foods. For example, most cats are lactose intolerant and allergic to dairy products. Sometimes meatballs include such ingredients that can cause allergic reactions in cats. So, watch out for such allergens before feeding meatballs to your cat.
6. Fat Trimmings
Many meatball recipes are made of meat that includes fat trimmings. This makes the meatballs juicy and yummy, but it can be hazardous to a cat’s health. Additional fat in meatballs leads to weight gain and other problems like pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction, and heart disease. Ensure the meatballs you give to your kitty are made of lean meat with no fat trimmings.
Do Cats Like Meatballs?
Yes, cats like meatballs.
Most cats love meat, so naturally, many enjoy eating meatballs. So, your cat will never turn down the offer of eating meatballs. Your cat will quickly gobble down the whole thing before you know it!
Don’t be tempted to give them more than they should eat, and make sure the meatballs are safe for your kitty.
How To Feed Your Cat Meatballs?
There are different ways to feed your cat meatballs, but you must remember a few things first.
Things To Remember:
- The meatballs should not have harmful ingredients that can cause damage to your cat’s health.
- Avoid processed, frozen, and store-bought meatballs.
- Avoid feeding raw meatballs to your cat, so always cool them. You can grill, boil, bake, or air fry the meatballs.
- Watch the portion size, and do not overfeed your cat.
Now, let’s tell you to feed meatballs to your cats:
- Food Topper: You can add a few dry meatballs to your cat’s kibble.
- Serve with Gravy: Meatballs with gravy is a great meal for cats, and your cat will surely love it!
- As a snack: You can also give small meatballs to your kitty in between meals. Serve on a plate, in the bowl, or let your kitty eat it from your hand!
- With pasta: Pasta is safe for cats so next time you make some spaghetti with meatballs (without onion and garlic), feel free to share some with your furry friend.
- With wet cat food: You can add meatballs to wet cat food like morsel, canned tuna, broth, etc.
Homemade Meatballs For Cats
The internet has a ton of cat-friendly chicken meatball recipes that you can try. You can also make cat meatballs using fish, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, mutton, etc.
Here are three homemade meatball recipes for cats that you humans can enjoy too!
Meatballs Made from turkey (Bird)
Meatballs made from turkey-cock contain a high amount of protein, low fat, and various vitamins and minerals like zinc, iron, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. These vitamins and minerals are beneficial for a cat’s health. Cats can eat turkey-cock meatballs because of their nutritional benefits. Before feeding turkey-cock meatballs to cats, pet owners need to consider how these meatballs are made. The reason is turkey-cock meatballs are also made with onion, salt, garlic, and pepper. If Turkey-cock meatballs have these ingredients, then pet owners should avoid giving turkey-cock meatballs to their cats.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Common Concerns
Many pet parents have other concerns about meatballs for cats, so let’s check them out:
Cats can eat all meats, including chicken, turkey, pork, beef, mutton, and raw fish.
You can feed your cat raw meat. We recommend cooking the meat before giving it to your cat to kill bacteria and pathogens that may make it sick.
If your cat ate a meatball with toxic ingredients, it could not be good for your cat. You don't need to panic if it's just a small bite. However, if your cat has eaten a significant amount, then take your cat to the wet.
Conclusion: The Recap
Can cats eat meatballs? Considering what we discussed in the article, the answer to this question is subjective.
But here’s a quick recap:
Cats can eat meatballs if they don’t contain any of these ingredients as they can have negative impacts on a cat’s health:
- Fat trimmings
- Dairy-based ingredients (cheese or milk)
Make pet-friendly meatballs using one of the recipes above to add meatballs to your cat’s daily menu!