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Can Cats Eat Rotten Meat – Is It Safe

As a species, cats are not known for having the most discerning palettes. When it comes to meat and protein, they will usually try to eat anything, with no regard for the freshness of the meat. But, can cats eat rotten meat?

Cats cannot eat rotten meat. Rotten meat can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and fever for cats. While cats can eat old meat, discolored or moldy meat is unsafe for cats to eat.

While giving your cat rotten meat is dangerous, eating meat that’s a few days past expiration that is not smelling or discolored is usually okay. Read on to learn more about how to safely give your cat meat.

Reasons Cats Should Not Eat Rotten Meat 

Giving your cat rotten meat is a terrible idea. However, you still might be curious as to the specific problems it can cause your cat.

Rotten Meat Will Make Them Vomit 

Usually, when a cat eats something that does not agree with them, the first response is for them to start throwing up. When meat is rotten, this is likely to trigger that reflex for your cat.

Vomiting from rotten meat can last for a few days, which may result in your cat becoming dehydrated as well. This will lead to an expensive vet bill to re-hydrate your cat, so it’s best to prevent them from eating spoiled meat in the first place. 

They May Contract E. coli

Both humans and animals are warned to avoid eating spoiled or rotten meat because of the bacteria and infections it can cause, with E.coli being one of the most prevalent types of bacteria.

Ground beef is the variety of meat that is most likely to spread E. coli, so be extra cautious about feeding old ground beef to your cat. 

Your Cat May Contract Botulism 

Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin found in a type of bacteria. This is most often contracted by cats who eat roadkill or contaminated meat.

This specific type of bacteria grows on the meat and can be passed on to your cat when they ingest it. 

Symptoms of botulism usually develop only a few hours after ingesting the contaminated meat. The first symptom is weakness in the rear legs, which eventually spreads to the front legs, and then your cat’s face.

Botulism can be treated when caught early enough, and the cat will be given an antitoxin. However, this is not an illness to mess around with, as it can lead to hospitalization for your cat, and they may become more likely to develop a secondary infection. 

It Could Put An Older Cat’s Life In Danger

When cats begin to age, it becomes harder for them to fight off dangerous viruses and illnesses. You want to do everything you can to preserve their health and keep them from getting sick, and that includes avoiding rotten meat. 

Rotten Meat Will Upset Your Cat’s GI Tract 

Cats should avoid eating any form of spoiled meat because it is a massive contributor to spreading food-borne illnesses. Your cat will likely suffer and be in pain for at least several days after eating spoiled meat, as it can induce fever, cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting for your cat.  

Can Cats Eat Expired Meat

It is usually ok to offer a cat deli meat or chicken one or two days past its “best by” date from the grocery store.

Make sure you smell the meat yourself first and double-check nothing looks off before serving it to your cat. Never feed a cat anything that has changed color or has mold growing on it. 

Cat’s stomachs are much more accustomed to eating various questionable items, so cooked meat that is a little past its prime shouldn’t bother them. 

Can Cats Get Food Poisoning From Old Meat 

Yes, cats can get food poisoning from eating old meat. Usually, the first sign that your cat has food poisoning is similar to flu-like symptoms. Your cat may start vomiting or having diarrhea, and they are likely to have a fever or an extreme increase in their heart rate.  

It’s even more likely for a cat to contract salmonella or food poisoning from raw meat. Avoid feeding your cat anything besides fully cooked meat to minimize their chances of contracting this.  

Do Cats Know If Meat Is Spoiled 

Cats primarily use their sense of smell to tell if food has gone bad, and they should know when something is spoiled. If they smell something and don’t like what they are sniffing, they usually will jerk away and walk off without eating it.

However, this is not an exact science, and cats are far less picky when it comes to expired meat than a human would be. It’s best to use your judgment before feeding anything to a cat. 

What Happens If My Cat Eats Spoiled Food

Cats have stronger stomachs than humans do, but it will likely upset their stomach if your cat eats spoiled food. They cannot communicate and let their owners know this, which will likely result in them getting sick.

Usually, food poisoning or an upset stomach will take a day or two to go away. Make sure to monitor your cat during that time and ensure they are drinking enough water.  

Things To Consider

When considering what human food to feed your cat, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Some cats are very picky, and others will happily eat any table scraps you give them. 

Cats are true meat-eaters, and any food with protein is going to be their top choice. While spoiled meat is never good for animals, it is ok to feed your cat-cooked meat in general.

Meats like cooked beef, chicken, lean deli turkey, and chicken are all table scrapes that are safe to give you cat. As a bonus, your cat will be thrilled to receive any of these leftovers! 

While raw meat is not as dangerous for cats as humans, it is still not best to feed them any raw protein.

Raw meat can carry bacteria that can make your cat very sick. The safest option for your cat is to stick to a strict cat food diet! 

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