Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can Cats Eat Pastrami? Health Advice & Alternatives

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Can Cats Eat pastrami

Can Cats Eat Pastrami? Health Advice & Alternatives


Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo


Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

We come back to our plate to find that our precious kitty has helped themselves to our pastrami sandwich, and we have no idea whether it’s toxic to them. Unfortunately, this happens often to cat parents. It feels nearly impossible to know whether every food is safe, and they seem to have an affinity for whatever it is we are eating.

The good news is you can put the guilt away. While pastrami is not the healthiest treat for your cat, it most likely won’t put them in any immediate danger. Crisis averted!

Now that you can take a deep breath, let’s explain more about pastrami and why cats should avoid large amounts of this and most other deli meats.

yarn ball divider

What is Pastrami?

The process of making pastrami is a long one. It is typically made of corned beef, but beef, turkey, or lamb could also be used. The meat is cured in salt brine for several days, and then it is encrusted in a thick layer of herbs and spices before being smoked. The result is a meat that is tender and flavorful. Because it is cured, pastrami can last longer without refrigeration.

Some who have more adventurous felines may have noticed some red flags here. If not, no worries. We’re going to point them out and explain why they are important.

Image by: apazuhanich, Shutterstock

Is Pastrami Safe for Cats?

Eating a few bites of pastrami won’t put a cat in any immediate danger, which is good! However, you don’t want to make a habit of feeding them these tasty morsels. While it is essentially beef, turkey, or lamb, the salt and other ingredients used to turn it into pastrami make a potentially healthy meal for your carnivorous pet into one that can become harmful over time.

3 cat face divider

Why Is It Unhealthy?

We mentioned red flags in the process of turning meat into pastrami. How many did you spot? There are three! Let’s learn more about them.

Cured, Salty Foods

Sodium is a necessary part of our diet and, in moderation, is okay. But we are humans, and that’s not the case for our feline-legged friends. Cats are sensitive to salt and even a relatively small amount, could be considered toxic and cause illness. Cats should not have salt added to their meals unless instructed by a vet.


Many herbs, including catnip, basil, and rosemary are safe for cats. However, pastrami recipes call for many seasonings harmful to cats, especially in large quantities or over long periods:

  • Garlic, Onion, and Chives: Small amounts may not cause noticeable changes right away. However, a larger quantity could lead to digestive issues, or long-term exposure to these ingredients can also cause severe anemia.
  • Cloves: This can cause acute liver toxicity and long-term damage. Cloves also are made into essential oils which are more toxic as they are concentrated and should be avoided in homes with cats.
  • Coriander and Cilantro: These herbs may have some benefits when provided to cats in small quantities but don’t need to be a regular part of a cat’s diet.
smoked duck meat
Image Credit: eak_kkk, Pixabay

Smoked Meats

Meats that have been smoked have higher levels of carcinogens. They are common in deli meats like smoked turkey and increase the risk for cancer in humans as well as possibly cats. Are you rethinking your favorite sub sandwich too?

3 cat divider

Are There Any Benefits of Pastrami for Cats?

No, there are no benefits to feeding your cat pastrami. You may want to consider providing them with healthier meats, however. There is more on that down below!

Can Cats Eat Other Deli Meat?

Many deli meats will include similar ingredients as pastrami. Some will also be smoked or have smoke flavoring. While pastrami is preserved with salt, other deli meats will include different preservatives that may be just as unhealthy to both humans and cats.

High levels of preservatives have become a concern in some foods formulated specifically for cats. Choosing a high-quality cat food with fewer preservatives helps to ensure a healthy pet, as will avoiding large amounts of deli meats.

Assorted deli meats and other finger food
Image Credit: FotoshopTofs, Pixabay

What Meats Should Your Cat Eat

Cats prefer a diet of meat over plants. Meats provide whole proteins that your fur baby needs to stay lean and healthy. As obligate carnivores, cats enjoy a variety of meats, including:

  • Beef
  • Pork or rabbit
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, or duck)
  • Fish (salmon or tuna)

Cats don’t need fancy flavors or food additives. It’s best to stick to the basics and boil or bake the meat without seasonings as a treat. Never feed your kitty raw or undercooked meat. For all-natural treats, try dehydrating it into small pieces.

cat paw divider

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the risks of feeding your furry family members pastrami regularly, we hope you will consider speaking to your cat’s veterinarian about adding healthy meats to their diet instead. A feline nutrition specialist can help you create a balanced diet to keep your kitty fit, happy, and active.

Featured Image Credit: DronG, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.