Can Cats Eat Salt? 2 Reasons Why Salt is Bad for Cats If Consumed in Excess?

Do you ever sprinkle a little salt on your cat's food? You're not alone! A lot of people do it because they think it's good for their cats. But is salt good for them? Or is it bad for cats? In this blog post, we'll tell you whether you should be giving your cat salt.
Can Cats Eat Salt? Is Salt Bad for Cats?

Sometimes cats do things that are not good for them, and stealing human food is one such thing. Salt is the most common ingredient found in food we eat. So, each time your cat gets her claws on human food, she is indirectly consuming salt. But can cats eat salt? Is eating too much salt bad for cats just like it’s bad for us?

Cats can eat salt in small quantities. However, consuming large amounts of salt (more than 41 mg./day) can lead to health problems such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. So, it’s best to keep salt out of your cat’s reach and not intentionally feed her salty food. If you think your cat has consumed too much salt, monitor her closely for signs of distress and contact your veterinarian immediately.

In this article, we will dig deeper on the topic of feeding salt to cats in any form and discuss the effect it can have on them.

Do Cats Even Like Salt? 

The short answer is yes; cats enjoy the taste of salt from any food source. It is one of the three tastes that cats can detect, and just like we all enjoy sweet and spicy food, they will as well enjoy added salt to their meal.

So, next time you cry, and your cat licks your face, maybe it’s not out of compassion – maybe your cat is just enjoying the salt from your tears.

Is Salt Bad for Cats? 

Yes, like other human food, salt is bad for cats. More specifically, it can lead to dehydration. This can make your cat thirsty with increased water consumption.

On the other hand, large quantities of salt can lead to poisoning.

Will a Little Quantity Hurt My Cat?

According to veterinarians, salt in little quantities cannot harm your cat. However, you can sleep tight knowing that your cat will never dare to eat pure salt!

Often, vets use the Latin proverb “sola dosis facit venenum” meaning that the dose makes the poison. This could mean that even if we drink too much water to stay healthy, that water can do more harm than good.

What If My Cat Eats Something Salty?

Before you panic that your cat ate something salty, remember that even cat food contains salt. However, it has regulated ingredients for a balanced diet from veterinary nutritionists to provide normal metabolism.

You should be concerned only if your cat ate salami, preserved meat, or soy sauce.

Salted Fish
Salted Fish

Can Salt Make Cats Sick?

Yes, salt can make your four-legged furry friend sick if given without moderation.

Although salt should be included in cats’ nutrition, excessive consumption can disbalance their electrolytes. This can lead to salt poisoning, known as hypernatraemia in the medical world.

Is Salt Necessary in Your Cats Diet?

Yes, salt should be a part of your cat’s diet. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, cat meals need to contain a minimum of 0.2% salt. With the appropriate amount of salt, cats can maintain normal development and growth.

Of course, there are some exceptions. If your furry friend has liver failure, chronic or acute kidney failure, or heart issues, your vet may recommend medical food to normalize the high blood pressure level and regulate the kidney function.

Even though older cats are more prone to such diseases, they can eat regular cat food if the cat is healthy.

Can Cats Have Salt Every Day?

Despite the warnings, cats should have salt included in their food. Commercial cat food formulations are made by professionals, and they provide the exact salt content that your pet must take for one day.

Even when you give treats, ensure they don’t contain extra salt and don’t make up more than 10% of your cat’s daily diet. 

How Much Salt Can Cats Have Per Day?

Although sodium is required in each diet, cats’ tolerance for salt is much lower than humans. Cats have about 13.6 times smaller bodies than humans, which means their approved salt intake should be much lower.

For example, humans can consume approximately one teaspoon or 2,300 milligrams of salt per day, while cats tolerate up to 41 mg. 

See What Your Vet Recommends

If you notice any side effects after changing the cat’s food or after your “kitchen helper” cleaned the floor, immediately call your vet.

The moment you arrive at your vet, you’ll be required to describe the symptoms and what is the possible underlying medical issue of the poisoning.

Sometimes pet parents may be wrong. Therefore, your vet must know your cat’s previous medical history and records to diagnose excess sodium intake.

Sausages On a Grill
Sausages On a Grill

What Quantity of Salt is Poisonous to Cats?

More than 41 mg of sodium can be poisonous to cats and lead to several health issues. Even 4 grams of sodium per 2 pounds can cause harm to cats.

What Happens If a Cat Has Too Much Salt?

First things first, ensure you know the underlying cause of your cat’s vomiting. If your cat overate salt, expect it to be dizzy and uncoordinated.

Additionally, your cat may show the three most common signs of poisoning:

  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea, and
  • lack of appetite.

Symptoms of Too Much Salt Intake in Cats

Excess salt poisoning can be a life-threatening condition to cats and cause the following signs of salt toxicity:

  • Lack of response
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal fluid retention
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Coma
  • Death (in extreme cases)

Treating Salt Poisoning in Cats

Untreated salt poisoning can become a life-threatening condition; therefore, you should immediately seek professional advice if you notice any strange symptoms.

First off, salt poisoning therapy includes electrolyte monitoring since it leads to hypernatremia; although, hypernatraemia is very rare in healthy animals. Then cats need to get IV fluids and symptomatic treatment such as antiemetics or emetics (depending on the poisoning stage).

Luckily, most excess salt poisonings have a good prognosis after providing intravenous fluids to recover the sodium-water balance in cat’s body.

On the other hand, if salt poisoning interferes with other illnesses like diabetes and chronic kidney illness, more intensive treatment for salt poisoning will be required. 

Foods that Can Be Sources of Salt for Your Cat

There are times when we cannot prevent cats from eating “people foods”. At other times we just cannot resist their kind eyes, and we give them the pleasure of enjoying our food.

Popcorn in a Metal Grill Basket
Popcorn in a Basket

The following foods can be less obvious sources of salt poisoning in cats:

  • Salt in dry or wet cat food 
  • Salted fish 
  • Salted popcorn
  • Sausages
  • Salami
  • Soy sauce
  • Crisps snacks

Some other home items with salt:

  • Table salt
  • Salt dough
  • Salt lamps
  • Rock salt

To Sum Up

Having a pet is like having a baby. So, it’s advisable to keep an eye on your cat and her movements around the kitchen.

Can cats eat salt? Yes, but in small quantities. Salt, or sodium chloride which is “just a mineral”, but keep in mind that foods with higher sodium levels can be poisonous to cats.

Always remember that prevention is the best cure!

Other Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are some more questions related to salt consumption by cats.

What to Do If Cat Consumes Salt Water?

If your cat consumes salt water, you should provide your kitten friend with a large amount of freshwater or consult with your vet.

Is there More Salt in Canned or Dry Food for Cats?

Dry food contains more salt than canned food to improve the flavor and act as a preservative. However, canned wet food is essential for cats since a lot of their consumed water comes from the canned food.

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