Can Cats Eat Pepperoni Safely? What You Need to Know

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Can cats eat Pepperoni? Yes. A cat can eat pepperoni because it is mainly meat. However, pepperoni is spicy and fatty, which might be difficult for your cat’s digestive system to handle.

I have lived with my two feline friends – Dom and Kitty, for over 10 years. Pepperoni is something I’m careful not to feed my cats.

While a small amount of pepperoni isn’t poisonous, your cat’s digestive system can’t process its spices, preservatives, and colorings.

In this post, I will explain:

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni?

Cats are carnivores and thrive well on food that’s over 70% meat. Pepperoni technically fits the requirements for a cat’s diet. Given a chance, your cat will definitely eat pepperoni.

However, pepperoni has ingredients that aren’t ideal for cats to eat, such as:

  • Spices
  • Preservatives
  • High-fat levels

The ingredients above might cause nausea, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach upset.

Interesting Facts About Pepperoni

Pepperoni is a dried salami of beef or pork. According to YouGov (a public opinion and data company), 52% of Americans say pepperoni is their favorite pizza topping.

Nearly everyone loves pepperoni pizza, and cats are no exception. The pepperoni topping is also the go-to choice in my home, and my cat is always begging to share in the fun.

But one question brings everything into perspective.

What Does Pepperoni Contain?

Pepperoni content differs from one brand to another. However, all pepperonis are relatively similar.

While the meat, spices, and preservatives percentages might vary slightly, the main recipe is essentially the same. Some common ingredients in pepperoni include:


Pepperoni is dried pork or beef. The manufacturer makes it by grinding pork or beef, a composition that makes pepperoni have high-protein content.

Nearly all pepperoni products have 75-85% protein.

Ideally, the high protein nature of pepperoni could make it excellent for your cat, but the spices and preservatives added during processing make it inappropriate.


One of the major flavoring ingredients in pepperoni is table salt. Salt enhances pepperoni’s flavor to appeal to both humans and cats.

Salt, while good in the kitchen, is potentially poisonous to cats. Anything that contains sodium calls for moderation when considering your cat’s food.

The amount of sodium in pepperoni is high for a human and astronomically high for your cat. A small slice of pepperoni has about 32mg of sodium. If you consider a typical piece of pizza, you’ll have approximately 700 mg of sodium.

An adult cat only requires 21 mg of sodium a day. Giving your cat a tiny slice of pepperoni will exceed its daily limit by 22 mg.

Excess salt intake has a dangerous health impact on your cat, called salt toxicity. Too much salt can induce::

  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Incoordination
  • Decreased or no urination

If your cat eats excessive pepperoni and, consequently, excess sodium, you should take it to a veterinary for immediate evaluation.

Nitrates and Nitrites

Pepperonis are cured meat. Manufacturers always add preservatives called nitrates and nitrites to improve the shelf life and stop bacteria from growing.

Unfortunately, nitrates are poisonous to your cat when taken in large quantities.

Studies have established that high nitrate levels are a risk factor for stomach and colon cancer in lab animal studies. Besides, it has several other potential effects, such as:

  • Nitrate toxicity: When your cat eats a significant amount of nitrate from pepperoni, it can experience nitrate toxicity. Nitrates damage the red blood cells, limiting your cat’s ability to transport oxygen to other body parts.
  • Digestive system irritation: Your cat’s digestive system can’t process nitrates. As a result, your cat might experience stomach upset, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Anemia: Nitrate toxicity might convert many red blood cells into a compound called methemoglobinemia resulting in an anemic condition. Your cat might then show signs of weakness, fatigue, and paleness.

The presence of nitrates in pepperoni is a huge reason to keep pepperoni away from your cat, even if it’s a treat.


Pepperoni makes pizza mouth-wateringly yummy because it contains spices. The manufacturer ponce dried beef or pork and mixed it with spices to add flavor.

Some of the spices in a pepperoni include:

  • Black pepper (which provides the spicy kick to the sausage)
  • Red pepper (adds heat and spiciness to the sausage)
  • Paprika (that adds a reddish color and mild, sweet flavor)
  • Garlic (to give the sausage a distinct aroma and flavor)
  • Fennel (contributes a slightly sweet and licorice-like taste)
  • Ground mustard (adds a tangy and slightly pungent flavor)

While the spices are safe for humans in moderate consumption, they can wreak havoc on your cat’s more delicate metabolism and digestive system.

Your cat is an obligate carnivore, and its system is only excellent at processing meat (and nothing more). The simple digestive system can’t handle the spices, herbs, and pepperoni ingredients.

The spices can induce:

  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramping and pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating.

At worst, garlic is highly toxic to cats and causes hemolytic anemia. However, it’s unlikely that your cat will physically ingest enough pepperoni to cause garlic toxicity. The toxicity occurs because garlic destroys a cat’s red blood cells.

What in Pepperoni is Harmful to Cats?

Several ingredients in pepperoni can harm your cat. The most dangerous ones include:


No question. The protein content in pepperoni might sound suitable for your cat. However, you’ll be shocked to learn that only 19% of pepperoni is protein and 46% fat. 

An average pepperoni is known to have high-fat content compared to other meat. High-fat foods aren’t excellent for cats because their digestive system is not well-suited to process large fat amounts.

If you continuously feed your cat pepperoni, it will risk developing health problems such as:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Obesity


As we’ve seen earlier, pepperoni has different spices that give it flavor, such as peppers and garlic, which could be cat toxins.

However, we didn’t mention that onion and garlic have compounds that destroy cat red blood cells and cause anemia. Your cat’s body will destroy red blood cells faster than it can replace them, causing anemic conditions. 

The worst is that powdered onion and garlic are concentrated and can affect your pet acutely or cumulatively.

If your cat took pepperoni and is showing signs such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Loose stool
  • Low pulse
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale gums
  • Breathing difficulties

You should see a vet right away.

Extra Calories

Your cat only needs 25 calories per pound of body weight to maintain body function. Any extra calories you feed will accumulate as body fat.

A pepperoni has over 50 calories per every 10 grams, meaning your cat could surpass the daily caloric requirement while getting no nutritional benefit. As with a human, obesity in a cat increases the risk of developing chronic diseases such as:

  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Urinary tract issues
  • Cancers

What Should You Do If Your Cat Likes Pepperoni?

As a cat parent, you are responsible for controlling what your pet eats and how much they eat. 

No question. Your cat may be demanding when it comes to food. Your cat may be curious about the smell and taste of pepperoni due to its keen senses. However, allowing it to eat pepperoni and develop serious issues can be devastating.

Pepperoni isn’t necessary for a healthy diet and can only create more problems. Even if your cat is begging, refrain from giving your cat pepperoni or other salami types.

The only real benefit your cat can get from pepperoni is its protein, but there are much safer ways to provide it. 

This begs the question:

What Foods Are Safe To Give To Cats as a Treat?

Though pepperoni isn’t toxic, and your cat can eat it, the high fat, salt, nitrate, and spices content make it an unideal treat.

But you can find safer food alternatives to delight the taste bud of your kitty. Here is a table of the best foods you can share with your cat.

Food TypeProtein Percentage
Animal protein, including:
Chicken (raw or cooked)Pork, ham, or baconSalmonLiverPrawnsSardinesTurkeyBeefMackerelTuna

Other foods you can consider as a treat include:


Cats love cheese and can tolerate it well in small amounts. Try tiny nibbles of cheddar, muenster, or Swiss.


Most crackers will work, though many cats prefer cheese-flavored varieties such as Goldfish, Cheese Nips, and Cheez-Its.

Whether you’re sharing your lunch or last night’s dinner leftovers, a tiny bite of your main dish can make your cat happy.

Always consider the main muscle meat and avoid skin and spiced options because they can upset your kitty’s stomach. 

Regardless of your choice, you should consider your cat’s food preference when choosing a treat. Some cats love fish, chicken, or beef. Others prefer dry and crunch treats to moist ones.

Always start with your cat preference so that you feed them the treat when you’re having fun with your pepperoni.

What Food Should You Not Give Your Cat?

Avoid anything toxic in your cat treats. Some common examples include:

  • Onions (contain components that damage your cat’s red blood cells)
  • Garlic (like onions, garlic will destroy your cat’s red blood cells)
  • Grapes (can cause kidney failure)
  • Caffeine (will cause restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, tremors, or seizures)
  • Alcohol (even a tiny amount can be lethal because of liver and brain damage)
  • Raisins (can cause acute kidney failure)
  • Macadamia nuts (ingestion can lead to weakness, vomiting, and elevated body temperature)
  • Any food with artificial sweeteners, xylitol (cause a rapid decrease in blood sugar lever)

You can also go for store-bought treats as they’re easy and safe. However, limit the treat to 5-10%  of its total dietary calories.

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni: The Bottom Line

It’s common for cats to show interest in human food, especially when it has a strong aroma, like pepperoni.

And resisting your cat’s begging face isn’t easy.

However, sometimes you must make difficult choices and refuse to provide your cat with foods that can potentially harm it. Pepperoni isn’t nutritious for your cat, especially with many options readily available in your home. 

Instead of pepperoni, give your cat the best alternative,  like freshly cooked salmon, turkey, beef, or chicken.


Are cats allowed to eat pepperoni pizza?

No, cats should not eat pepperoni. Pepperoni is a processed meat high in salt, fat, additive, and nitrate. These ingredients can be harmful to cats, risking some health problems, including:
Pancreatitis: (pancreas inflammation caused by overeating fatty food).
Diarrhea: The high salt and spices in pepperoni can cause cat diarrhea.
Nausea: The spices like garlic and onions in pepperoni can also cause nausea in cats.
Kidney problems: The high levels of nitrates in pepperoni can damage the kidneys in cats.

Can cats eat salami?

Salami is unhealthy for cats because of:- high-fat content, too much salt in the preparation, use of garlic powder and other species that can be toxic to cats. All these ingredients in a salami make it unsafe for a cat’s consumption.

What to do if my cat ate pepperoni?

You shouldn’t be concerned about toxicity if your cat ate pepperoni only once. While pepperoni may cause stomach upset, your cat should be fine once the pepperoni is off its system.
If you see symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain, try a bland diet or probiotics for a few days to transition her back to normal.

What are some safe human foods for your cat to eat?

The number of human food you can share with your cat is unlimited. However, here are some safe options you can try:- cooked chicken or fish, lean ground beef, eggs, plain yogurt, green beans, carrots, pumpkin.
Whichever food you choose to give your cat, avoid seasoning. Seasoning with salt or spices like garlic and onions risks your cat’s health.

About Laura Martin

I'm Laura Martin. I get excited about all things cat related. I love my two cats - Dom and Kitty. When I'm not playing with my two feline friends, you can probably find me hiking. And yes, I have a 9 to 5 job. Although if you asked me I'd rather spend my time blogging and educating other cat moms and dads about what it takes to raise a healthy cat.

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