My Cat Ate Ketchup: Is that OK? (Solved & Explained!)

We know that certain foods are bad for cats, but it’s easy to forget about condiments. Mustard, mayo, ketchup… they’re usually part of the equation, so they need to be considered. So, if your cat ate ketchup, is that a bad thing?

While it won’t hurt if your cat steals a lick or two, ketchup has a lot of ingredients that go into that signature flavor, and while the tomatoes aren’t bad you have to consider additives such as salt, along with garlic and onion powders – with the last two being highly concentrated and definitely toxic for kitties.

If your kitty has developed a taste for ketchup, it’s not the end of the world, but it is vital that you understand exactly what it is that your cat is eating in that cheery red condiment. Let’s talk about the realities of ketchup and your cat!

What’s in ketchup that is bad for cats?

Ketchups come in many varieties, and that’s not even counting that delicious ambrosia known as homemade ketchup that a small percentage of the population is lucky enough to have someone making for them. As such, the best thing to do is to go with a popular brand and so we’ve selected Heinz as our example today.

While Heinz has a lot of varieties, the base is typically going to be the same – tomatoes, sugar, and vinegar – but what about the spices? Well, here’s a range of spices that you might in your Heinz ketchups:

  • Allspice
  • Coriander
  • Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Mustard

Optionally, celery, cinnamon, and ginger are sometimes present as well. Now, in the main ‘spice profile’ we’ve just presented, 5 out of the 7 totaled are ‘red flag’ ingredients. Let’s look at those:

  • Allspice – Contains Eugenols, which are compounds that can lead to liver failure in cats if ingested in high enough amounts.
  • Cloves – Also contains eugenols, making cloves and clove oils off-limits for cats.
  • Garlic – Can cause anemia resulting in reduced capacity of the red blood cells to carry oxygen, due to Thiosulfates.
  • Onions – Another Thiosulfate source, though not as high in Thiosulfate content as garlic and other Allium plant family members.
  • Mustard – All mustard is made from mustard seeds, which are known to be toxic to cats and dogs

Don’t forget the aforementioned salt, either. While we don’t have exact amounts of the spice content, when 5 out of 7 of the spices are toxic, we can’t really recommend letting your cat have ketchup.

How much ketchup is toxic for kitties?

Without having access to the full amount of each toxic spice included in your average bottle of ketchup, producing the toxic amount is a little trick. That said, we’re going to go with the meanest of the bunch in our ingredients array, which is the garlic powder.

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All it takes is ingestion of 1/8 of a teaspoon of garlic powder to put your cat at risk of hemolytic anemia, which is where your cat’s red blood cells become damaged and cannot carry sufficient oxygen to your cat’s organs. This can cause them to fail and become a lethal scenario.

If your cat has gotten into the ketchup, they would likely need to ingest a good amount of it, so a few licks might just let them off with a tummyache, but consider this: it can take a few days to a week before your cat shows any signs that they are sick.

By that time, a lot can happen, so we cannot recommend letting your cat have even a little ketchup.

As much are our furry feline friends can be like little people to us, their physiology simply isn’t equipped to digest all of the same foods as we do. Cats are obligate carnivores, getting most of their nutrients from meat, and cannot digest a number of plantstuffs that we take for granted. You’ve got to monitor their diets very carefully.

Will meatloaf with ketchup make my cat sick?

Meatloaf is a practical example of something you might not think twice about giving your cat, but it’s going to depend on how it’s made. For instance, ketchup is a common topping on meatloaf, and we already know that it qualifies as ‘mostly bad’.

With meatloaf, however, there’s the added danger of onions and garlic in the mix, in veggie or in concentrated powder form. A meatloaf made without these is fine to share, in small amounts, because it’s still high in carbs and calories from the breadcrumbs and eggs involved.

It’s really better just to cook the ground beef for them and give it to them that way. Your cat won’t mind!

Is it okay if my cat eats tomatoes?

If your cat likes tomatoes, the heart and soul of delicious ketchup, then we have some bad news. Tomatoes are really recommended and the ASPCA tell sus that they have a chemical called Solanine, which is considered toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses.

Unripe tomatoes, tomato leaves, and stems are also a recipe for gastrointestinal distress and while your cat might be fine eating a small piece or two, it’s much better to give them something more cat friendly, like a nice bit of cooked fish, pork, or beef.

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Presented with both options, we can almost guarantee your cat will go for the meat, though some of these quick and quirky characters will simply gobble up both. That’s cats for you and just one of the many reasons that we love them!

Some closing comments on Ketchup

The verdict is in and ketchup is officially ‘not considered fit for kitty consumption’. While this condiment is cheerfully colored and seems innocuous, too many of the ingredients of the French Fry’s best friend are well and truly toxic for feline physiology.

Thankfully, most cats will leave it alone, but if your cat has developed a love of ketchup then you’re going to need to find a substitute treat that’s better for them. They’ll give you a little grief for it, but your cat loves you and they’ll forgive you… eventually.