Every time I bring home some spicy Indian or Mexican food, my cat follows me around like crazy.
One time it even jumped onto the dining table in a wild attempt to get a taste. Well, what can I say, cats are crazy indeed but it got me thinking, can cats eat spicy food?
Did I let my cat taste the spicy food? Or, more importantly- can cats have spicy food?
The answer is tricky. Because what counts as spicy can vary.
For some, even a little pepper powder can be considered spicy. Some consider onion and garlic to be spicy. In short, several substances decide if a food is spicy.
Some of them are okay for your furry little friend, while some can be absolutely horrendous.
It all boils down to what you’re using to make your food spicy. Traditional spicy food has a lot of spices in it including capsaicin, which is a BIG NO! It can give your poor cat gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhea.
Moreover, your kitty’s tongue doesn’t have flavor buds like you to process the complexity of spices and their flavors. They can’t even taste it.
Then why give them?
Much like humans, spicy food can also lead to a runny nose and watery eyes.
Can Cats Eat Spicy Food? (In Short)
Cats have many heightened senses in comparison to us humans. However, taste is not one of them.
Can cats taste spice? Yes, they can, but it is not good for them at all. Do not purposely give your cat spices, chillies, jalapeno or any type of spicy food.
They will thank you for it and so will your carpets.
Why Do Some Cats Beg for Spicy Foods?
Cats are curious by nature. They love imitating their favorite human.
If their owner is enjoying eating spicy food, they want it too. The rich and tempting aroma of spicy food doesn’t help either.
Its distinct smell is enough to entice a kitty who just had its dinner. Plus, spicy meals are usually meat-based. Do you see where we are going with this?
But no matter how much they beg for it, it’s never a good idea to give it to them. Especially if you have no idea of the ingredients.
While several cats get attracted to spicy food because of its smell, some steer clear of it for the exact same reason. It smells terrible to them. In that case, congratulations, you have got nothing to worry about.
It’s almost like you won some lucky cat jackpot!
Can Cats Taste Spice?
Your kitty does have heightened senses. ]Their sense of smell is indeed sharp. They have greater peripheral vision, amazing hearing power, and can balance their bodies rather well.
But unfortunately, the same is not true for their taste buds.
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means they need fewer taste buds to actually ‘taste’ their food. The story is different with herbivores. They need to be careful with what they are eating.
Hence, they have much more evolved robust taste buds. That’s why you don’t see a cow craving a pizza!
Moreover, cats eat dead things they hunted a while ago. Imagine what it would feel like if they had much more complex taste buds to give them the experience of every unique flavor and texture.
They only need to know that the meat isn’t poisonous, toxic or rotten and their basic taste buds do this job rather well.
This brings us back to our question- do cats enjoy eating spicy food? Well, the aroma might tempt them. The presence of meat is certainly a big thumbs up.
But your fur baby cannot taste the most spicy foods.
They may be able to sense the presence of spices but the experience won’t be anywhere near what a human will taste. That’s the sole reason why your adorable little goofball might not even react strongly to the presence of spices in the food.
But that doesn’t mean you take it as a positive nod.
Your kitty isn’t reacting strongly because it cannot taste the spiciness. There’s the full potential of it getting affected by it later. As we talked about before, spices can give your kitty an upset stomach.
Let’s discuss which spices are an absolute NO for your kitty.
Capsaicin is a compound found in different types of peppers. Capsaicin is the reason why your nose gets runny and your eyes watery when you eat spicy food.
That’s your body’s way of trying to flush this compound away. It can even irritate your skin.
So, can cats taste Capsaicin and should it be avoided?
Capsaicin is not at all safe for cats. They won’t be able to taste the spice but it would still wreak havoc with their digestive system. It would also irritate the inside of their mouth and their skin. If you don’t want your kitty to end up with diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, do not give her spicy foods.
Because most, if not all, spicy foods have capsaicin.
You might think onions are harmless but they contain a compound called thiosulphates that damages your kitty’s red blood cells.
You might wonder if this makes onions dangerous for us humans as well.
Technically, it does but you would have to eat lots and lots of onions to get affected by the thiosulphates.
But our fur babies are tiny little adorable beings. They are petite and even a small amount of onions can affect their health. And why are we talking about onions? Well, just in case you didn’t know most spicy foods contain onion or onion powder.
The cat community is currently divided on this one.There’s a lot of back and forth going on about the effects of turmeric on the health of cats.
One thing is for sure- it isn’t dangerous for cats. Some pet parents even claim turmeric has awesome health benefits for their kitties. Whatever you do, just remember moderation is the key.
Don’t go overboard.
Garlic isn’t as dangerous as some other herbs and spices out there. But make sure your kitty doesn’t have any access to garlic whatsoever. It can cause digestive upset in cats.
Though most spicy food usually does not contain nutmeg. In the rare case, they do, keep them away from your kitty. Nutmeg has the toxin myristicin, which can cause gastrointestinal issues in cats.
If your kitty eats too much nutmeg, the results can be disastrous. It can cause high blood pressure and even seizures.
Can Cats Eat Spicy Foods? The Verdict
The can cats eat spicy foods verdict is in.
If you have ever been wondering can cats eat jalapenos or can cats eat chili, well the answer is a resounding no.
It really isn’t very good for them. On the off chance that your kitty just snagged a bite of spicy food from your plate? You probably have no reason to worry if.
A bite or two won’t hurt.
But you cannot let your cat eat the entire dish. It’s best not to give your furry friend spicy food.
Firstly, they cannot taste it. Secondly, it’s not good for their health.