Cats will try to eat anything we feed them as long as it appeals to them.
Cats are big fans of snacking on any dish that’s rich in flavor, especially if it’s something they see us, humans, enjoy, too.
But they can’t eat every single thing we eat, right? There have to be some form of limitations.
If we’re such big spicy food enthusiasts, can our furry little ones be the same, too? Can cats eat spicy food? Well, if that question is something you’ve been dying to hear an answer for, you’re in luck.
This post will talk about just that. Even though some spicy dishes can be harmful to cats, a few of them enjoy the zing.
There are usually two reasons for this—either they’re dedicated to trying to copy us, or it is just an innocent quirk they enjoy taking on. Whatever you think their case is, one thing’s for sure: letting your four-pawed baby eat spicy food isn’t encouraged.
Can cats eat spicy food?
Studies say that cats can relish the flavor of bitterness but are unable to process the taste of spices.
This only means that no matter how delectable your curry is, your cat is bound to find it mundane.
“Use It Or Lose It”
Furthermore, felines adapt to the use-it-or-lose-it mentality in that they’ve lost their ability to savor sweets because there is no need for them too.
A simple Google search will tell you right off the bat that cats are obligate carnivores. That said, all they ever need is meat to make it out alive.
Wild cats are no different—and no, we’re not talking about Troy Bolton and his friends over at High School Musical. We’re talking about those who grow up in the jungle.
Because cats have zero access to sugar, artificial or otherwise, their tastebuds have evolved so that it doesn’t regard sweets all that much.
Here’s a fun fact: dozens of bitter-tasting plants in the wild can be deadly, so the capacity to process bitterness is understood to be a survival mechanism for our feline pals.
Similar to sugar, cats have also been kept from tasting the complex variety of spiciness during their evolution.
Because humans can mix and experiment with food, the concept of hot and spicy dishes is ours to share.
This also means that the whole idea of mixing food varieties, tastes, and spices can be foreign for our furry little ones.
Spice is heat
But don’t take it the wrong way: just because cats are unable to understand that something is spicy doesn’t mean they’re also spared from the impact of zing.
Remember that spicy food is associated with heat, and this comes from chilies in a recipe.
Spices that bring about a hot sensation contain a compound referred to as capsaicin. When the chili is bitten, capsaicin is unleashed.
Once it’s released, the mouth feels it, and it registers as a familiar but bearable kind of pain. This is precisely the reason why specific hot chilis trigger runny noses and wet eyes.
Cats are no different. They encounter the same flame-y experience when they sink their teeth into anything spicy.
Perhaps the only difference is that cats don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. Once your fur baby encounters capsaicin, likely, they won’t want more.
If they’re able to smell it at least, they’re most likely to draw farther. Additionally, capsaicin can be found in pepper, which is used by a lot of people to repel cats.
Unfortunately, curious cats will have their way.
Understanding the relationship between cats and spicy food
When your cat eats something spicy, the impact transcends your cat’s mouth. Their digestive tract can also suffer. Once they feel the burn, they can either spit or swallow the dish.
Should they choose to digest it, they’ll be prone to experiencing stomach lining and trouble and the throat’s irritation.
All these noted, why do some cats crave for it in the first place? Science doesn’t have a solid answer just yet.
Just know that what gets cats to eat is dictated by more than just their need for a meal, but also by how a dish smells.
They can be served the most aesthetic-looking dish, but if the smell is terrible, the chances are high that they’d stay away.
More often than not, spicy food has such strong, distinct smells. If your cat sees you enjoying your meal, this will encourage them to try whatever you’re having.
Should I serve my cat spicy food?
The truth is straightforward with this one: there isn’t anything that’s both spicy and safe for cats. As their human, you should serve them food that’s well within a healthy feline diet.
If, by any chance, they munch on a spicy leftover, encourage them to drink water.
This is also why keeping water bowls in several areas of your home is strategic and helpful for your little kitty of a child, so they have access to water anytime they need it.
If symptoms persist, a quick visit to the vet is the best solution. Always bear in mind that cats are carnivores, so incorporating meat in their meals is the best way to keep them healthy.
Premium canned goods, while not the best for humans, is an excellent source of protein and other nutrients essential for our furbabies to have.
You can find several ones available in pet stores, but asking your vet what YOUR cat should eat is important.
Also, remember that what your cats eat is dependent on how big and how old they are, so don’t always play it by ear. Overall, cats are different from each other.
And while there may be universal rules about what they should and shouldn’t eat, nothing beats doing your research and asking the experts.