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Can Cats Eat Salt – Is It Harmful?

It’s no secret that cats love food. With so many food options on the market, you can find a bit of anything to fit your cat’s nutritional needs. Sometimes when cats don’t like food, you may be tempted to add salt to taste. But, is too much salt a bad thing? Can cats eat salt?

Cats should not eat salt that is not already a part of their balanced diet. Salt in excess of 42 daily milligrams can have an adverse effect on cats. Too much salt can cause vomiting, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance in cats.

While salt is a normal ingredient in cat food, it must be properly measured so that your cat does not experience adverse effects. We’ll share some helpful information about how salt works in a cat’s diet, and how much they should have on a normal basis.

How Much Salt Is Safe For Cats

21 – 43 milligrams of salt are generally safe for cats. Anything in excess of that can cause your cat to have problems, likely resulting in vomiting and severe dehydration.

If you are not adding additional salt to your cat’s food, then it’s important to keep the overall percentage of salt in your cat’s dry food under 0.2%. This supports your cat and allows them to grow at a normal rate and have normal bodily functions.

Below is a comparison of sodium content for some of today’s most popular cat foods. The chart also has a mix of prescription foods as well as standard cat foods.

BrandFood TypeSodium Percentage
Hills PrescriptionWet0.23 – 0.27
Blue Vet Wet0.3
Blue BuffaloDry>0.2%
Royal CaninDry>0.2%

Is Salt Harmful To Cats

Salt is harmful to cats in large amounts. It can actually be poisonous and the effects of it are damaging to your cats overall health.

Cats that ingest too much salt can start to have kidney issues and even experience tremors. In more severe cases, a cat who has taken in too much salt on a regular basis may start to develop brain swelling.

All of this can lead to physical issues such as your cat showing an inability to balance, or to have issues using the litter box properly.

Salt comes in many forms and sometimes it’s not always easy to know where your cat may have gotten excess salt from. Below are a few common household items and ingredients that contain large amounts of salt:

  • Seawater
  • Rock salt
  • Salt shakers
  • Salt lamps

If you have a home with aquatic pets, it’s important to monitor your cats activity around the water tank. Cats can easily walk up to a fish tank and start drinking the water, however it may be loaded with salt without them realizing it.

Any seasonings laying around the home should also be put away to prevent your cat from accidentally spilling it over and licking up the salt. Even something as simple as a salt lamp can cause issues for your cat if they were to lick it.

Rock salt is one of the more dangerous ways that pets get salt poisoning. It can get stuck in a cats paws, and naturally being the clean animals they are, they will try to lick it.

You see this issues happen with cats that live up north and walk through snow at any point. In this case your cat will need immediate care to treat the condition, rehydrate them, and ultimately bring their sodium levels back into balance.

Do Cats Like Salt

Yes, cats do like salt. However, just because cats like it doesn’t mean it should be given to them freely. Salt can be added to a cats meal in moderation, and must be carefully measured.

Cat food already has some salt in it, and anything else you add may significantly impact how much they consume. As the chart above shows, most cat food is regulated to have levels below 0.2% of sodium content. However, some wet foods may go just beyond that percentage.

Salt is a basic form of taste. Just like salt, cats enjoy sweet things, and bitter things, and even sour. So salt isn’t much different. Your cat will naturally welcome it, but you have to be careful to not give in to their demands.

Before adding salt to any food, consider changing the food altogether. This way you know you’re still giving your cat the right balance of sodium without altering the food.

Does Salt Make Cats Sick

Yes, salt can make cats sick. The salt that is normally a part of your cats food already is not likely to make them sick, however additional salt seasoned on top or mixed in can cause severe problems.

In some cases, the excess salt can be fatal to your cat.

What Happens If A Cat Has Too Much Salt

If a cat has too much salt it can experience terrible effects. This includes the following:

Vomiting

Vomiting is one clear sign your cat has had too much salt. Much of the food it recently ate will come right back up. Salt naturally induces vomiting when consumed in large amounts, so it’s not question it’ll do the same to your cat.

When this happens, it’s time to make sure your cat gets plenty of water. Afterward, consider limiting their overall food intake for the day.

Perhaps give them treats instead of a complete dish so you can gradually add sodium into their diet for the day.

When your cat is well again, you can start reintroducing them to the food they had, or consider switching it for something that’s less impactful on their stomach!

Diarrhea

When cats get diarrhea, it’s a pretty painful experience. They will make frequent trips to the bathroom. If you notice this happen suddenly after giving your cat too much sodium, then that’s likely the cause.

Lethargy

When a cat has too much sodium, they begin losing their energy shortly after. A once bouncy and energetic cat will become extremely lethargic, and lose interest in everything around it. Whether it be toys or treats, the behavior is noticeable right away.

The lethargic behavior is often accompanied by weakness. At this point your cat will have an electrolyte imbalance. A lethargic cat can display additional symptoms such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Aggression
  • Increased urination

Lack Of Appetite

In addition to lethargy and diarrhea, a cat may lose their appetite after eating too much sodium. It works a little differently for cats than humans.

When a cat has a lack of an appetite, other aspects of their daily functioning are affected. Your cat is then more likely to experience some of the following problems:

  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Coordination And Balance Issues

All of these are equally concerning. When a cat has seizures due to too much salt, then it’s likely salt poisoning at play. This happens when an excessive amount of salt is ingested, and it will require immediate medical attention.

Dehydration is also very common. Although salt typically makes people hungrier and less thirsty, it works differently in cats. You’ll probably start to hear your cat panting shortly after eating their meal.

After that, it’s not uncommon to see your cat frequently returning to the water bowl. Be sure to watch how they drink as excessive gulping can occur which can make your cat sick and vomit too. All of that can lead to severe dehydration.

Cats are known for being extremely coordinated, so anytime they lose their balance it’s a reason for concern. A cat that has consumed salty food might start to show signs of losing balance or in a way, looking bewildered.

How Do You Fix Salt Poisoning In Cats

Even with great monitoring of your cat, sometimes accidents happen. If you suspect your cat has salt poisoning, there are a few things you can do to help fix it.

First and foremost, get your cat to the vet immediately. Vets will be able to administer your cat IV fluids to help flush out all the excess salt in their bodies. This is the most effective method and helps restore the balance of sodium in your cat’s body.

A vet will also be able to perform tests on your cat and monitor other stats. This includes things like electrolyte balance monitoring, treating for further dehydration, and also monitoring your cats brain activity.

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