If you’ve ever brought home some spicy food, you may notice your cat following you around the house or even trying to jump on your chair and get a taste. But can cats eat spicy food? Unfortunately, the answer is no. You should avoid letting your cats nibble on spicy food because it might upset their stomachs and leave them feeling sick.
The Capsaicin in Spicy Food Isn’t Good for Your Cat
You may love spicy food, but don’t give any to your kitty. Many spicy foods get their flavoring from capsaicin, which can give your poor cat a lot of stomach troubles, including vomiting.1 Your cat’s eyes might get watery and he might have a runny nose from it too. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper is so unpleasant that some people even use it in their gardens as a natural cat repellant.2
Capsaicin can be found in a lot of human foods, including jalapeños and chili peppers. Small amounts may even be found in spices you might not expect, like oregano, cinnamon, and cilantro.3
Spicy Food Might Have Other Dangerous Ingredients
Capsaicin isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. Spicy food can have all sorts of flavorings that are toxic to cats. Onions, garlic, and dairy products can all harm your cat’s digestive system, and they might all be used in a spicy batter.
Have you ever been eating a little spicy fried chicken and noticed your cat begging for it? Don’t give in. The high fat content in fried chicken isn’t healthy for your little furball, and the batter might have any number of spices your cat shouldn’t eat. The same goes for spicy fish, Indian food like curry, Mexican dishes, pepperoni, or any other spicy human food. Err on the side of caution and just avoid it.
Why Does Your Cat Beg for Spicy Food?
So if spicy food is so bad for your cat, why does she beg for it? Interestingly, humans and tree shrews are the only mammals that legitimately like spicy foods enough to purposefully try to eat them.4 Most animals want to avoid the spicy taste because it causes pain. If your cat’s seeking out spicy food, it’s probably not because she loves the taste. More than likely, she’s drawn to the unique smell, texture, or the warmer temperature.5 Cats love warm food because it reminds them of prey.
Give Your Cat an Alternative Treat
If your cat’s begging for spicy food, consider giving him an alternative treat. Healthy human foods that are safe in moderation and can be warmed as a snack for your kitty include steamed carrots, asparagus, squash, cooked eggs, and avocado.
You might also treat your cat to some canned food with a unique flavor, like AvoDerm’s Chicken & Duck Entree in Gravy, Sardine, Shrimp & Crab Entree in Gravy, or Tuna & Crab Entrée in Gravy. These foods include omega-rich avocado oil and help promote healthy skin and coats.
No matter how much your cat begs for a nibble of your spicy food, don’t give her any samples. Instead, offer a treat that’s safe for her, so you can both enjoy a delicious meal together. Many human foods are safe for cats, and you probably have quite a few in your pantry right now.
1. Parker, Richard. “Can Cats Eat Spicy Food?” Senior Cat Wellness, https://www.seniorcatwellness.com/can-cats-eat-spicy-food/.
2. Paretts, Susan. “Does Cayenne Pepper Keep Cats Out of the Garden?” The Nest, https://pets.thenest.com/cayenne-pepper-keep-cats-out-garden-5828.html.
3. Haas, Ryan. “Foods Containing Capsaicin.” Jillian Michael, https://getfit.jillianmichaels.com/foods-containing-capsaicin-2063.html.
4. National Geographic. “Only Two Known Mammals Like Spicy Food.” NationalGeographic.co.uk, 23 July 2018, https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/animals/2018/07/only-two-known-mammals-spicy-food.
5. Parker, Richard, https://www.seniorcatwellness.com/can-cats-eat-spicy-food/.