We’ve all been there. You’re sitting down to enjoy a delicious bologna sandwich when your cat comes sniffing with interest in the food. Maybe your cat has even stolen a bite or two of your bologna while you weren’t looking. Most pet owners know that cats tend to avoid foods that aren’t safe for them to eat, so this leads to a natural question; Can cats eat bologna?
Cats cannot eat bologna. Bologna is high in salt and fat content while relatively low in other important nutrients. Some bologna recipes can also have toxic or harmful ingredients that help boost the flavor but cause problems for your cat’s digestive system.
Don’t worry too much if your cat has stolen a bite or two of bologna. As long as they are well-hydrated and have an otherwise balanced diet, your cat will be just fine after eating a small amount of bologna.
Is Bologna Safe For Cats
Bologna isn’t safe for cats in large quantities. A small amount of bologna might be safe, but it should never be a large part of your cat’s diet. More importantly, your cat shouldn’t ever eat too much bologna at once since a large amount of bologna can stress your cat’s kidneys, liver, and other organs.
So, if you want to feed your cat bologna, make sure you keep it to an occasional treat, not a regular part of your cat’s diet.
Remember, cats associate certain foods with being part of their diet. Once you’ve given your cat some bologna, they’ll probably think that it’s food for them. That means you’ll need to be more watchful anytime you’re eating bologna yourself. Your cat is a lot more likely to try and sneak a bite or two after they’ve been given a little. Not to mention that they might try to steal the whole piece of bologna!
We’ll get more into the details of why bologna isn’t safe for your cat in large quantities in the next few sections.
Can Cats Eat Beef Bologna
Beef bologna is often recommended as a healthier bologna alternative for people, so it’s reasonable to wonder if it’s also a better option for your cats.
To understand whether beef bologna is better for cats than the regular kind, we need to look at why it’s recommended for people first.
Beef bologna is generally considered better for people because it’s less likely to be made from meat by-products and other more heavily processed meats. Single-meat products have long been considered healthier than multi-meat options (Bologna is often made from chicken, beef, and pork products).
The reasons for this are varied, but it often comes back to religious dietary requirements that either doesn’t allow pork products or don’t allow for mixed meat ingredients rather than dietary science.
The truth is that all beef bologna products are often better for you than alternatives. But, that’s mostly because all-beef bologna producers generally use higher quality cuts of meat rather than the inherent benefits of all-beef recipes.
So, when we think about feeding beef bologna to cats, there are some pros and cons. On the one hand, it’s made from better quality meat which can be a good thing. On the other hand, beef is more strongly flavored than many more traditional bologna meats, which means more salt and seasoning in all-beef bologna.
It’s also important to remember that beef tends to be high in fat and is very calorie-dense meat.
Ultimately, all-beef bologna isn’t going to be any healthier than regular bologna and may be worse depending on your cat’s dietary needs.
Can Cats Eat Turkey Bologna
Turkey bologna is a slightly different story. Like beef bologna, it’s made from entirely one meat. However, turkey bologna is usually leaner than the regular version and is lighter on calories, which can mean it’s a better option.
Turkey also has a naturally more mild flavor, which means some recipes call for less seasoning and salt than regular bologna. That still doesn’t mean that the seasoning is safe for your cats, but it’s less likely to cause problems than the regular kind.
Turkey bologna can even have some ingredients that are beneficial for your cat, like turkey organ meat. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a good source of those foods. If you want to give your cat a healthy turkey treat, consider feeding them unseasoned and fully cooked turkey meat you’ve prepared at home. White, dark, and organ meats are all good choices.
If you must feed your cat bologna, this is probably the best option. But, for reasons we’ll discuss in the section on bologna ingredients, it’s still not a portion of good food in large quantities.
How Much Bologna Can A Cat Eat
Since bologna isn’t safe for your cat in large quantities and especially isn’t safe as a dietary staple, it’s best to stick to feeding as little bologna as possible. Small pieces (roughly the size of a regular cat treat or the tip of your finger) generally aren’t harmful. But even as little as a quarter of a regular-sized piece of bologna can have too many toxic ingredients to be safe.
Try to stick to never giving your cat more than a bite or two of bologna at a time. The less often your cat eats bologna, the better off they will be in the long run.
What Are The Ingredients In Bologna
Bologna is made from a combination of meat products, just like most processed lunch meats. It’s typically made from the unusable scraps of other meat cuts, especially the fattier portions that can’t be used for anything else.
Bologna also contains a high percentage of salt to improve the flavor and alter the bologna’s texture.
Most importantly, bologna contains various spices and seasonings that aren’t good for your cat to eat. Those seasonings include black peppercorns, sugar, corn starch, mustard, coriander, and paprika. Your typical bologna lunch meat is also high in nitrates and generally contains monosodium glutamate or MSG to enhance the umami flavor.
But the signature ingredient of bologna gives it its characteristic flavor no matter what meats and other spices are used? That’s myrtle berry. Unfortunately, myrtle berries are toxic to cats. So, while there’s a relatively small amount of myrtle berry in your average slice of bologna, it still means that all bologna is mildly toxic to your cats.
Many bologna recipes also replace the sugar in the recipe for corn starch. Corn is a relatively difficult grain to digest, even after it’s been processed, so bologna that uses corn starch can be even harder for your cat to digest.
Is It Okay To Feed Cats Lunch Meat
We don’t generally recommend feeding cats lunch meat of any kind. Almost all lunch meat is highly seasoned and processed meat with lots of salt and other potentially harmful ingredients included.
However, if you’re going to feed your cats lunch meat, deli meat is likely the best bet. It’s still brined and seasoned, which means it likely contains too much salt for your cat and may contain other harmful ingredients, but it’s also the closest to plain meat you’re likely to get.
If you make your lunch meat at home, you can prepare some for your cats without the extra seasoning, and that may be an even healthier option.
Still, if possible, we recommend only feeding foods designed specifically for your cat to eat, like cat treats, kibble, and canned cat foods.
What Meat Is Bad For Cats
Cats in the wild mostly live off small game animals like mice, rats, and occasionally squirrels and rabbits. They also occasionally catch and eat birds or eat the relatively fresh carrion from larger predators’ kills.
What do all of these food sources have in common?
They have relatively low-fat content compared to domesticated animal meats.
That means that your cat will typically do better eating low-fat cuts of meat. Dark meat also tends to contain a slightly higher level of nutrients and trace minerals, which means that your cat’s diet should have at least some dark meat included, even if you’re feeding fresh meat.
Organ meat can also be a valuable part of your cat’s diet, but it’s important to make sure it’s balanced with other nutrient sources.
Avoid process meats, meat with added salt or seasoning, and particularly fatty cuts of meat. Chicken, duck, and turkey are all solid options. Beef should be fed in moderation, and you should stick to lean cuts of pork. Fish is also a safe option, though carnivorous fish like salmon and tuna have higher mercury levels and should be fed in small quantities.
We’ve talked a lot about bologna not being a good food source for your cats in this article, but that isn’t because we want to shame owners who give their cats bologna from time to time. Ultimately, the care of your pets is your decision, and it’s up to you to make the best choice for you and them.
If that means feeding a little bologna occasionally, that’s your choice. The information in this article is intended to help you make an informed decision, not to shame pet owners for the choices they’ve made or will make in the future.
Almost no pet diet is perfect; even kibble and canned cat foods can have problems that make them less than ideal for your cat. It’s up to you to find the best option or combination of foods for you and your cat.