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Can Cats Eat Italian Sausage? (Or Too Spicy?)

If you have some leftover Italian sausage you may be wondering if your cat would appreciate some of it…

Can cats eat Italian Sausage?

Cats should not eat Italian sausage. Cats are carnivores so they can eat meat, however, they should not eat any processed meats like sausage or bacon as they are high in salts and preservatives that cats have trouble digesting.

So, now you know. But, are there any health benefits with this? What about risks? Could it give your cat diarrhea? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

What is Italian sausage?

In Italy, there are lots of different varieties of sausage which vary by region and cuisine. In North America, Italian sausage refers to pork sausage which is primarily flavored with fennel as well as garlic and other seasonings.

In North America, Italian sausages are usually grilled and eaten in a bun or are added to pasta dishes.

Nutritional Content of Italian Sausage

Source: USDA (per 100g) *

Name Amount Unit
Water 50.9 g
Calories 322 Kcal
Protein 18.2 g
Carbs 2.15 g
Fat 26.2 g
Fiber 0.00 g

* See the source for the full list

What is the difference between Italian sausage and regular sausage?

In North America breakfast sausages are viewed as “regular sausage” and the sausages are flavored with fennel and garlic as Italian sausages. Italian sausage is pork sausage and is usually flavored with fennel and garlic, but hot Italian sausage will contain some chili peppers.

For the most part, when you buy Italian sausage, it will be raw and need to be cooked thoroughly. Italian sausage is usually about 6 inches in length and is not sold as patties.

The Breakfast sausage

The other most common sausage that you will see in North America is breakfast sausage. You can buy breakfast sausage as links or patties, and they are usually seasoned heavily with herbs and salt and pepper.

Many people may pour syrup on their breakfast sausages and eat them with pancakes or eggs. There are many varieties of sausages that vary by culture. Almost every culture has some sort of sausage of their own and the flavors, cooking, or curing process and size will vary by type of sausage.

Are there any health benefits of Italian Sausage?

If you include sausages in your diet, you may be curious to know of any health benefits…

01. Good source of protein

Italian sausages are a good source of complete protein. Proteins are the building blocks of muscles and are necessary for many bodily processes.

02. B Vitamins

Italian sausages also contain some B vitamins. B vitamins are related to nervous system function as well as red blood cell formation.

Are there any health risks of Italian Sausage?

Italian sausages are tasty and can be enjoyed in moderation. There are a few health risks associated with eating large quantities of Italian sausage such as:

01. High calories & fat

Italian sausages are high in calories and fat, with about 200 calories and 16 grams of fat per serving. If you are trying to lose weight, then Italian sausage may be a high-calorie choice regularly.

A single serving of sausage also contains about 16 grams of fat, which includes 6 grams of saturated fat. Saturated fat is something that should be limited in our diets. Saturated fat can build up in blood vessels and eventually clog them over time. This can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Of course, our bodies need fat, but it is best to get most of our fat intake from healthy sources such as avocado, nuts, and seeds. Italian sausages can be part of a healthy lifestyle as long as they are consumed in moderation.

02. High cholesterol

Italian sausages are high in cholesterol which may be a problem for some people. As mentioned above, cholesterol can clog blood vessels and lead to heart attack and stroke. Having high levels of cholesterol in your blood makes you much more likely to have heart disease.

03. Processed meats

Processed meats, when eaten regularly, increase your risk of stomach and colorectal cancers. Processed meat is classified as any meat that has been preserved by smoking, salting curing, or adding preservatives.

Sausages, deli meats, hot dogs, and jerkies are all considered to be processed meats and should be consumed sparingly.

In general, Italian sausages can be consumed in modest amounts and they shouldn’t cause you any problems. However, overconsumption of saturated fat, high cholesterol foods, and processed meats may put you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Should you feed your cat Italian Sausage?

You should absolutely not feed Italian sausage to your cat. Cats are carnivores, so most types of meat and fish are okay for them. They may benefit from consuming things like tuna or chicken. However, they should never consume sausage or any type of processed meat.

High levels of salt are toxic to cats, and salt is abundant in Italian sausages. Italian sausages also usually contain garlic, which is very toxic to cats and can harm their red blood cells.

If you want to give your cat a treat other than their regular food, try offering them some tuna or mackerel, chicken, or even beef.

Is Italian Sausage OK for Kittens?

A scared looking kitten.

A scared-looking kitten.

Italian sausage is not suitable for kittens. Kittens who are younger than about eight weeks need to be drinking their mother’s milk. After that, Italian sausage is still not suitable for kittens because, as listed previously, it is high in salt and garlic which is toxic to cats.

Once your kitten is old enough to eat cat food, you can start giving them some oily fish or chicken as a treat outside of their meals.

Are there better food alternatives than Italian Sausage for cats?

There are lots of foods that you can give to your cat as a way to give them a treat or to diversify their diets. Some great things to give your cat are:

  • Oily fish like tuna or mackerel
  • Cooked chicken
  • Cooked turkey
  • Cooked beef
  • Cooked carrots – don’t give your cat raw carrots as they may choke
  • Pureed pumpkin – many cats love pumpkin and it can help with issues related to constipation or hairballs
  • Melon – many cats love the sweet taste of melons like watermelon, honeydew, or cantaloupe
  • Cheese
  • Berries – especially blueberries and strawberries as they are sweet but low in sugar
  • Eggs – make sure to thoroughly cook them first
  • Alfalfa and bean sprouts – may help your cat with constipation

Can Italian Sausage cause cats diarrhea?

Italian sausage can cause cats to have diarrhea. Because Italian sausages contain a high amount of salt, it would be possible for a cat to have vomiting and diarrhea after eating Italian sausage.

Italian sausage also contains garlic, another toxin for cats, which may lead to them having diarrhea.

Does Italian Sausage go bad?

Italian sausages can go bad if they are improperly stored or kept in the fridge for too long. As a rule of thumb, raw meats should not be left at room temperature for any longer than two hours as bacteria grows rapidly at room temperature. When you buy Italian sausage, it is best to either cook it right away or put it directly in the fridge.

Raw sausage will last in the fridge for about 1-2 days after purchase. After this time, make sure to cook them or you could freeze them for later use. Raw sausages can last at their best quality in the freezer for about 1-2 months but will be safe to eat for many more months after that.

Once you cook Italian sausage, you can leave it in the fridge for about 3-4 days before it will go bad. You will be able to tell if your sausage has gone bad because it will have a sour smell, and it may begin to discolor and look slimy. If you expect that it has gone bad, discard it.

Lindsey Browlingdon