Can Cats Eat Ketchup? Is Ketchup Safe For Cats?

Black and white stray kitten eats french fries on sidewalk.

(Picture Credit: Serhii Ivashchuk/Getty Images)

Can cats eat ketchup? Maybe you’ve wondered this if your cat begs for a taste while you’re adding ketchup to a hot dog as you enjoy a bout of barbecue weather. If humans can eat ketchup, can cats safely eat it too?

There is no short yes or no answer as to whether cats can eat ketchup safely; although, in general the answer veers more towards no. While a tiny amount of ketchup might not necessarily harm your cat, the condiment contains a few ingredients that can have more serious consequences if ingested in large enough quantities.

As always, you must ask your regular vet before sharing any human food with your favorite feline, including ketchup. Here’s what you need to know about ketchup and cats.

When Is Ketchup Okay For Cats To Eat?

Tomatoes are the main ingredient used to make ketchup, and the ASPCA has noted that ripe tomatoes are “non-toxic” to cats. So if you notice that your cat has managed to sneak in a lick or two of ketchup off your plate, there’s a strong chance that they will be okay.

A very tiny amount of ketchup likely won’t cause your cat to suffer too many negative reactions; however, it’s always important to monitor your cat to look out for any more serious side effects.

When Is Ketchup Bad For Cats?

Ketchup sauce, directly above view

(Picture Credit: Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images)

Other than tomatoes, onion powder and garlic powder are two of the most common ingredients used in making ketchup, and both can have seriously negative effects on a cat’s health.

If a cat consumes garlic or onion powder, they could end up harming their red blood cells. This could lead to the cat developing a type of anemia known as Heinz body anemia. This condition can become lethal for a cat.

Note: Heinz body anemia has nothing to do with the popular ketchup brand Heinz.

Most commercial ketchups also contain high levels of sodium, which is something you should avoid giving to your cat because too much sodium can lead to dehydration.

If you discover that your cat has eaten a significant amount of ketchup, you’ll want to look out for the following common symptoms:

  • Stomach irritation
  • Losing their appetite
  • Suffering from diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils

If you notice that your cat is showing any of the above symptoms after they’ve eaten ketchup, make sure to consult your regular veterinarian straight away.

Has your cat ever tasted ketchup? Did they feel okay afterward? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!