One of the trials you face as a conscientious pet owner is keeping “people food” away from your fuzzy companion. Many of the foods we enjoy every day with no ill effects can make a cat or other animal very sick indeed. Even if they don’t immediately result in symptoms, human foods are often an unhealthy choice for your pet. This includes a lot of sauces and condiments. In some cases, the issue is self-correcting (I’ve never seen a cat try to sample chilli sauce twice) but some of our favourite ingredients are high in salt or have other ingredients that are bad for cats.
Can cats eat soy sauce? Cats should not be allowed to consume soy sauce. While small amounts aren’t likely to harm your pet, soy sauce is high in sodium. This can dehydrate your cat. Excessive consumption can result in salt poisoning. Soy sauce also contains phytates, which are toxic to cats.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have concerns about your cat consuming soy sauce. Maybe you’ve just caught your cat eating food that’s had soy sauce added. Perhaps your cat is refusing the food you offer, and you’re trying to think of a way to make it more palatable. Maybe you’re just curious about what your cat can and can’t eat. Whatever the reason, you’ve ended up in the right place. Read on to find out more about soy sauce and other seasonings, and whether they can harm your cat.
Can Cats Eat Soy Sauce?
Cats really shouldn’t be allowed to eat soy sauce. A tiny taste probably won’t do any harm; there’s no need to rush your cat to the vet if she licks up a stray drop of sauce from your plate. Larger amounts, though, can be a serious concern. Regular consumption of soy sauce is likely to cause dehydration in your pet. Cats are highly prone to dehydration, as they tend not to drink enough water (they’ve evolved to get most of their fluid from their food).
If consumed in high enough quantities, the sodium content of soy sauce can cause salt poisoning. This can be a very serious health issue. Cats suffering from salt poisoning may exhibit excessive urination, lethargy and a lack of coordination. They may vomit and suffer from diarrhoea. In very severe cases, the cat might fall into a coma. Organ damage is a real possibility.
Another problem with soy sauce is that it’s made from soy. While this is fairly healthy food for most humans, it’s not good for cats at all. Soy — no matter how green or organic it is — contains compounds called phytates. These don’t do much to humans, but in cats, they can block the action of important enzymes. This in turn prevents your cat from being able to digest proteins. Since protein should make up the bulk of your cat’s diet, anything that prevents them from digesting it is a real hazard.
If you’re using a flavoured soy sauce rather than plain varieties, there could be other dangerous ingredients. Sauces containing garlic or onion derivatives can be especially dangerous to cats, as these plants have compounds in them that are toxic to felines. Many soy sauce products are made with monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is another problem ingredient. The dangers of MSG in the human diet may have been over-stated, but cats are different. MSG can cause a range of medical problems in cats, including pancreatitis.
Why Does My Cat Want Soy Sauce?
Cats often have some odd ideas when it comes to what they should or shouldn’t be eating. It’s often a bit of a struggle to keep them away from foods (and non-food items like plastic). Sometimes they will develop a fixation on a particular type of food, and you’ll have to work quite hard to keep the cat away from it.
Your cat may want to try soy sauce simply because she sees you eating it. Cats are essentially social animals, forming colonies when living in their feral state. If a cat sees one of its colony members eating something, it’s probably good and safe to eat. In the context of a domestic living arrangement, you become your cat’s colony-mate. She sees you eating something with soy sauce on, and assumes that it’s both desirable and safe for her to eat.
Soy sauce also has a lot of savoury flavours, which are appealing to cats. Because some elements of soy sauce are similar to flavours found in meat and fish, your cat might naturally pick up on this and assume that soy sauce will taste meaty too.
In general, it’s a bad idea to let cats eat food prepared for people. It might be tempting to give your pet a scrap of salmon leftover from your sushi platter, but there are just too many ingredients in our food that are bad for cats.
Can I Put Soy Sauce On My Cat’s Food?
For the reasons given above, it’s a very bad idea to put soy sauce on your cat’s food — even in very small quantities. It’s deeply frustrating when you’ve laid in a supply of a particular food, only to find your cat turning her nose up at it, and you might be tempted to try a bit of flavouring to get her to eat it. Unfortunately, soy sauce is not the solution. Here are some things you could try adding to your cat’s food to persuade her to eat it.
Water: mashing some water into your cat’s wet food might make it easier for her to eat. Cats, as we’ve already discussed, are bad at staying properly hydrated; adding water to her food can make it easier for her to get the fluid she needs.
Plain yoghurt: Adding a spoonful of yoghurt to your cat’s food contributes both fluid and flavour. Not all cats like yoghurt, of course, but my British Shorthair goes absolutely wild for it. Make sure you only offer plain, unflavored yoghurt with no added cream or milk products.
Cat milk: This is milk made for cats, not milk from cats. It’s lactose-free and safe for them to consume, unlike cow’s milk. Mashing some into your cat’s food may make it more appealing.
Eggs: Eggs are a bit tricky, but can sometimes work as a food additive. Don’t give your cat raw eggs, as they can interfere with vitamin absorption. Cooked eggs are fine, but need to be used sparingly as they contain a lot of fat. My British Shorthair will take your hand off for egg yolk, but can’t have them too often.
Baby food: Choose plain meat or poultry flavour, and mix a spoonful or two with your cat’s wet food for a tasty treat.
What Should I Do If My Cat Eats Soy Sauce?
There’s no need to panic if your cat eats a little soy sauce. As long as the amount consumed is small, your cat should be fine. A lick or two of soy sauce isn’t ideal, but should not cause any problems. Monitor her condition and make sure she has access to plenty of fresh, clean water to drink, as she’ll probably get thirsty.
If she consumed a lot of soy sauce (more than a spoonful) or is showing signs of lethargy or other symptoms of salt poisoning, you should speak to your vet. Apparent dizziness, disorientation, vomiting, loose stools, and passing out are the cause of serious concern. It’s very unusual for cats to make themselves this ill simply by eating high-salt foods or condiments, but it does happen. If your cat shows these symptoms, you should take her to the vet. In serious cases, your pet might need intravenous fluids to put her right.
Some cats are more prone to hypernatremia (high levels of salt in the blood) due to underlying health issues. There are various acute and chronic illnesses that can cause your cat’s salt levels to become dangerously high. If your cat suffers from one of these, she may become very ill if she eats soy sauce. As well as treatment for the immediate issue, she’ll also need care for the underlying health problems.