Most of us never question the amount of salt we eat, unless we are advised to cut down on its consumption by a doctor. Similarly, we may never ask ourselves if our cats can eat salt, or if it is actually bad for them.
Salt is a valuable source of sodium, which cats need to remain healthy. However, how much salt is too much salt, or can cats eat salty foods in unlimited quantities?
Can Cats Eat Salt?
No, cats shouldn’t be eating any salt other than what is already contained in their cat food-based diet. Excessive salt consumption of over 41 milligrams per day can be poisonous to cats.
Salt poisoning in cats can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, vomiting and diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination and loss of appetite. A cat may also become lethargic, experience tremors, seizures or even death.
Cats don’t need nearly as much salt as we do. The amount of salt they do need should already be contained in their regular dry cat food. As long as they are eating that, they shouldn’t be exposed to any more salt.
You can occasionally feed your cat a salty snack, but do make sure that they don’t eat any dry food on the same day, and that they have plenty of water readily available. Don’t leave foods high in salt out where your cat can get at them, as they may inadvertently eat much more than is healthy for them.
How Much Salt Is Safe For Cats?
Cats should not be eating more than 41 micrograms of salt per day, as it can be poisonous to them.
Foods that are high in salt are not considered a good diet for cats. The amount of sodium they need should already be contained in their dry cat food. In fact, the Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends dry cat foods to contain at least 0.2% of sodium, which is enough to support their normal growth and development.
How Much Salt Is Poisonous to Cats?
An excess of 41 milligrams of salt per day is poisonous to cats. They should be prevented from eating more than this amount.
Salt poisoning can cause diarrhea and vomiting, excessive thirst and urination, even seizures and tremors. It can damage a cat’s kidneys and lead to a coma or even death.
To prevent salt poisoning, make sure your cat does not have access to human food high in salt, and that you feed them the appropriate amount of dry food every day.
Do Cats Need Salt?
Yes, cats do need salt for their bodies to develop and function properly. They however need a very small amount of it, that is already contained in their food.
Sodium is important for helping your cat’s body move both nutrients and toxins where they need to go. It also ensures there is just the right amount of acid in their digestive system to promote healthy digestion.
Too much salt will have an adverse effect. To ensure your cat is healthy, feed it cat food instead of human food. If you do give them anything from your own table, make sure there is no added salt in it, and that you limit their consumption of dry cat food accordingly for the day.
Can Cats Eat Things With Salt?
A cat’s dry food will already contain all the salt they need. While they can eat human-grade foods too, make sure they are free of added sodium.
If you want to give your cat human food (some meat, for example), make sure you don’t add any salt to it. Foods that are high in salt should not make it onto your cat’s plate.
Can I Give My Cat Salt Water?
Cats can occasionally drink salt water, but consuming too much of it will be bad for them. A couple of sips from a saltwater pool are fine, just make sure your cat also has access to plenty of fresh water too.
If you are taking your cat to the beach with you, always carry a bowl for them to drink fresh water from. They can drink a bit of salt water as well, but try to keep them from doing so excessively. They may inadvertently drink too much and give themselves salt poisoning.
Can I Put Salt On My Cat’s Chicken?
When preparing chicken for your cat, make sure you don’t add any salt or seasoning to it. While it certainly improves the taste for us, it can be quite harmful to your cat.
You can give your cat raw chicken or cooked chicken, but make sure it is not seasoned like human food. All they need is the protein from the meat, as they will get all the salt they need from their regular dry cat food.
Can Salt Hurt Cats?
Consuming excessive amounts of salt can hurt cats. Make sure they have no access to foods that are high in salt, and only feed them the appropriate amount of wet and dry cat food.
Salt poisoning can lead to severe dehydration, stomach upsets, bladder issues and electrolyte imbalances.
Keep your cat away from seawater, rock salt, salt and pepper shakers, salt lamps and aquariums. Cats may drink or lick them without realizing the dangers.
Store all of your seasonings in containers that your cat can’t accidentally spill or pry open. If you spill any salt, make sure to clean it up as soon as possible, to prevent it from getting caught in your cat’s paws or fur. They will lick it while cleaning themselves and inadvertently ingest it.
Can Salt Make Cats Sick?
Yes, salt can make cats very sick, if they eat more than the amount that is actually good for them. They will get the amount they need from their regular dry food.
An electrolyte imbalance caused by too much salt will prevent a cat’s body from functioning properly. It can lead to kidney and stomach issues, and even death.
Salt poisoning symptoms to keep an eye out for include vomiting and diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, lethargy and balance issues.
Foods High in Sodium
A lot of human foods are high in sodium. It is used as a preservative in most foods, so giving your cat a human snack that contains added salt can be quite harmful to your pet.
Foods that are meant to last for a long time, like cured meats or canned goods will usually have the most salt.
Since cats are carnivores, you may be tempted to give them a meaty snack. If it’s processed and the packaging says it’s high in salt, skip it.
Is There More Salt in Canned or Dry Cat Food?
Dry cat food has more salt than wet cat food. The salt is meant to act as a preservative and help the dry food last longer.
Bear in mind that as long as your cat is eating cat food (both wet and dry) and cat snacks, and not human food, they are highly unlikely to consume too much salt. Unless they are eating a truly excessive amount of dry cat food, they won’t be exposed to sodium poisoning. If that is the case, you need to worry about the amount of calories they are eating much more than the amount of salt in their diet.
What Are the Symptoms of Salt Poisoning in Cats?
The symptoms of sodium poisoning to watch out for in cats are:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Trouble urinating
- Labored breathing
- Weakness or lethargy
- Tremors or seizures
If your cat has any of these symptoms and you suspect they have had too much salt, take them to see their vet immediately.
How Do You Treat Salt Poisoning in Cats?
Salt poisoning in cats is treated with IV fluids that will help dilute the sodium in the blood. They also help replenish a cat’s water levels.
The cat may also be prescribed antibiotics or other drugs, if the sodium levels have also damaged their digestive system or kidneys.
Depending on the severity of the sodium poisoning, your cat may be able to recover quite quickly. If the salt consumption has been excessive, it may face some permanent damage.
Wrapping It Up
While cats do need salt to survive, the amount they need is already contained in their regular food. Refrain from giving them human treats that are high in salt, as you can inadvertently cause a lot of harm.