My Cat Ate Hot Sauce, Now What? (Solved & Explained!)

Were you enjoying a long overdue wing night with your favorite pals and your cat joined in on the fun, only to ingest some of your favorite (and super spicy) hot sauce? Or perhaps you let it have a little taste and now find yourself curious about the effects.  Are you wondering if you should be worried about your cat’s health?  

Unless your cat ingested a large amount of hot sauce, no serious damage will be done to your cat.  However, ingesting large quantities of hot sauce could put your cat in serious danger.  Hot sauce is made of many ingredients that are not ideal for your cat’s health, like garlic.

The amount of danger your cat is in for eating hot sauce largely depends on the amount of hot sauce eaten, as well as its ingredients.  Knowing symptoms of toxicity in cats, how to prevent them from ingesting hot sauce and how it interacts with your cat is vital information for spicy-food loving cat owners.

How Hot Sauce Can Interact With Cats

Since hot sauce is made of a variety of ingredients there are different ways your cat could be affected by ingesting it.  Being primarily made of a tomato base, this alone could affect your cat’s health in a negative way.  The tomato sauce in hot sauce is loaded with salt which can be unsafe for your kitty.

Hot sauce also contains capsaicin in the peppers the sauce was made of which can cause your cat gastrointestinal discomfort and abdominal pain.  If your cat got a hold of a particularly spicy hot sauce, its mouth, throat, stomach and digestive tract may become irritated.  Cats can also vomit or have diarrhea from ingestion.

Although most cats should be okay with the ingestion of a small portion of hot sauce, cats who ingest a larger portion and/or eat brands high in ingredients like onions and garlic are at a much more serious risk.  Garlic and onion are severely toxic to dogs and can cause hemolytic anemia.  Symptoms of this include:

  • Discolored Urine (a color similar to “port wine”)
  • Salivating
  • Lethargy
  • Panting
  • Collapse/Fainting Due To Lack Of Oxygen
  • Coughing/Hacking
  • Watery Eyes
  • Breathlessness
  • Pale, Yellow or “Muddy Gums”
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Weakness
  • Oral Irritation
  • Decreased Appetite 
  • Coma

As you can see from the list above, although hot sauce in and of itself is not particularly life-threatening to your precious feline, in high enough concentrations the various harmful ingredients in it can do some serious damage to your pet’s health.  

What To Do If Your Cat Eats Hot Sauce

If your cat happens to swallow some hot sauce, you don’t need to immediately fret.  The best course of action is to monitor your cat for any unusual symptoms such as those described earlier in this article.  If you suspect your cat of any of the above mentioned symptoms, contact your pet’s vet immediately.

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It’s very important that you don’t wait to contact the vet if you observe your cat with any symptoms mentioned as time is of the essence when treating your cat for toxicity.  Do not try to induce vomiting or administer any medications as this may irritate their esophagus and other organs. 

Diagnosing Cats Who Ate Hot Sauce

To investigate and diagnose your cat who has ingested hot sauce, the vet will first likely order a urinalysis, a complete blood count and blood chemistry profile.  Your pet’s vet will observe your cat’s blood for any Heinz bodies, evidence of anemia which can be caused by the onions or garlic ingredients in the hot sauce.

If a complete blood count comes back with results showing a normal red blood cell count, the amount of garlic and/or onion your cat ingested was likely not enough to cause any serious problems.  However, a low red blood cell count indicates hemolytic anemia.

Treating Cats Who Ate Hot Sauce

As mentioned earlier, if your cat ate just a little bit of hot sauce it will likely not require any treatment at all.  However, if your cat ingested a large portion of hot sauce and is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, you should contact their vet immediately to eradicate possible anemia.

The first thing the veterinarian will likely do after determining your cat has been poisoned is to induce vomiting with gastric lavage and activated charcoal.  After getting the hot sauce (and hopefully garlic/onion ingredients) out of your cat, oxygen therapy may be provided and your cat will be monitored. 

Your pet’s vet will likely administer an IV for fluids and medication to your cat and keep it in the clinic for a couple of days to observe its number of red blood cells.  If your pet’s red blood cell count is low and does not improve, the vet may need to order some blood transfusions to boost the number.  

Preventing Your Cat From Eating Hot Sauce

There are a number of ways we can protect our furry loved ones from harmful foods, and hot sauce is no exception.  Owners can put hot sauce up and out of reach from their animals to ensure they don’t accidentally get into it.  Additionally, refraining from feeding your cat scraps can help prevent harm to your pet.

Another way you can have your cat refrain from eating hot sauce is to explain the dangers of hot sauce and its ingredients to all your cat’s household members, making sure everyone is on board with refraining from leaving out spicy foods and giving hot handouts to your kitty.

Finally, when working with spicy foods that contain hot sauce, be sure to keep your workspace clean and organized in case any harmful ingredients or the hot sauce itself become accessible to your cat via dropping onto the floor or being left on countertops your cat can access later. 

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It can be anxiety-inducing when you learn your cat has ingested something that may be dangerous to its health.  Being instilled with knowledge of the characteristics of harmful ingredients to your cat is the first step in making sure it remains happy and healthy, and you are well on your way.