I’m known to my friends as the ‘boring eater’. When I make Italian food at home, it will be only aglio olio or spaghetti bolognese.
It was Italian Tuesday at home and fate was cruel to just leave me with a bottle of Alfredo sauce in the cabinet.
As I was warming up the sauce, my cat was busy licking up some of the sauce from the cover. My instinct tells me that a visit to the vet isn’t necessary.
But can our cats eat Alfredo sauce safely?
Cats should not be eating Alfredo sauce as it contains ingredients that can be harmful to their health. The high dairy content can cause digestive issues while the garlic and onions commonly found in the sauce can be toxic to felines.
In this article, we’ll embark on a gastronomic journey to unravel the impact of Alfredo sauce on your cat’s health.
How Did The Alfredo Sauce Come About?
There are no prizes for guessing that the Alfredo sauce was invented by a guy called Alfredo, Alfredo di Lelio to be exact.
In 1908, Mr Alfredo won the Husband of the Year award by creating a dish made from noodles, cheese and butter for his wife.
She had just given birth to their child and he thought his new dish can help whip up her appetite.
She liked it so much that they started to offer it at their family restaurant.
It is one of the most popular pasta dishes in America today.
What Is Alfredo Sauce Made Of?
Alfredo sauce is usually thick and creamy that is made with these ingredients:
- Parmesan cheese
- Heavy Cream
- Salt and pepper
The nutritional value for 100g of Alfredo sauce is:
Calories: 130 kcal
Can Cats Eat Alfredo Sauce?
At first glance at the ingredients, it might seem ok for your cat to have some Alfredo sauce.
But the devil is always in the details.
Let’s take a much closer look at the ingredients to further understand why feeding your cat Alfredo sauce might not be a good idea.
There’s Dairy In The Sauce
What makes Alfredo sauce such a big hit with so many people is its creaminess. Some people don’t like the taste of the common tomato pasta sauce.
The creaminess comes from the use of heavy cream, cheese and butter.
The combination of these three dairy products might sound good to you but it spells bad news for your cat.
Dairy is bad for cats as they are lactose intolerant.
Many cat owners are taken aback when they learn this fact.
Cats are also seen to enjoy drinking milk and eating cheese which they do for reasons that I will get to later.
My cat is in love with butter and he gets a small serving every now and then.
When a cat is lactose intolerant, it means that it does not have the necessary enzyme (lactase) to break down lactose.
Just to be clear, cats like humans are not lactose intolerant at birth.
They still need to consume milk as kittens to grow but once they start to wean off milk, the body will gradually stop producing lactase.
Feeding your cat Alfredo sauce which is so dairy heavy can lead to major gastrointestinal issues.
This can cause diarrhea, bad flatulence, lethargy and poor appetite.
It Is High In Fat
I doubt anyone would look at a plate of chicken Alfredo and go “Gee, that looks mighty healthy for me.”
Dairy products are high in fat and with butter, parmesan cheese and heavy whip as the main components, Alfredo sauce is high in fat content.
Cats love the taste and smell of fat.
My cat loves parmesan cheese and won’t stop bugging me until I feed him some.
It is within your cat’s evolutionary programming to seek out fat as it’s a concentrated source of energy.
This helps the cat increase their chances of survivability.
Although your cat requires some amount of fat in its diet to support certain body functions, too much fat can cause serious health problems in the long run.
A fatty diet can make your cat fat.
As adorable as a chonky cat might be, it carries the same health risk as an obese human.
This can lead to diabetes, heart disease and joint problems which can affect your cat’s quality of life.
Risk Of Pancreatitis
Another risk of being obese is getting pancreatitis.
The pancreas is the organ that is responsible for secreting enzymes to aid in digestion and insulin to control sugar levels.
When the pancreas becomes inflamed, this causes the enzymes to attack the pancreas which causes a lot of pain for your cat.
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of appetite
Pancreatitis can become life-threatening for your cat if nothing is done to manage it.
High Salt Content
Alfredo sauce is also very high in sodium content due to the parmesan cheese.
Most cheeses are very high in salt content as salt is added during the manufacturing process for taste and to stop bacteria from growing.
Some Alfredo sauces also use bacon which further adds to the salt content.
Similar to fats, salt is needed by your cat to stay healthy.
Please do not let your cat eat fish sauce as it is very salty. Just because it is made from fish doesn’t make it safe for cats.
Some of the main benefits of salt for cats include:
- Fluid balance
- Nerve and muscle function
- Electrolyte balance
The problem occurs when your cat consumes too much salt than required.
According to the (Association of American Feed Control Officials) AAFCO, the minimum recommended daily allowance of sodium for adult cats is 0.2% on a dry matter basis.
If you are feeding your cat a good diet, that’s all the salt that it needs.
A 100g serving of Alfredo sauce contains 452mg of sodium which is too much for any cat.
This can lead to sodium poisoning with symptoms such as:
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy or weakness
- Incoordination or unsteady gait
- Seizures or muscle tremors
- Elevated heart rate
If you suspect your cat has consumed a large amount of salt or is showing any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention.
Early intervention can help prevent severe complications and improve the chances of recovery.
Garlic Is A No No
Garlic is considered toxic to cats because it contains compounds called thiosulfates and disulfides.
These compounds can cause damage to your cat’s red blood cell production.
The cat’s body can’t produce enough red blood cells to replace the damaged ones.
When this happens, less oxygen can be carried to other parts of the body and results in amenia.
Symptoms of anemia in cats include lethargy, rapid breathing, pale gums and a rapid heart rate.
Garlic belongs to the Allium family, which also includes onions, leeks, and chives.
One clove or 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder can lead to organ damage, organ failure, or death in a cat.
If you suspect that your cat has been poisoned by garlic, it needs to receive medical treatment immediately.
Is Alfredo Sauce Toxic To Cats?
I understand if you start to see Alfredo sauce as cyanide for your cat but it is better to be safe than sorry.
If your cat has eaten Alfredo sauce, there’s no need to push the panic button just yet.
It depends on the amount that your cat has eaten and the ingredients used.
If the sauce contains a lot of salt and garlic, then it might be worthwhile just checking with your vet for peace of mind.
Can Cats Eat Pasta Safely?
If you are just referring to the pasta noodle itself, then yes. Pasta is ok for cats.
But it has to be given in small amounts as a treat and not part of your cat’s daily diet.
Cats are obligate carnivores and derive their energy sources from animal protein and fat.
Your feline friend doesn’t have the necessary enzymes to break down carb sources like pasta for energy.
And when feeding your cat pasta, please ensure that it is just plain pasta.
Do not add any tomato sauce or any type of sauce for that matter.
Can My Cat Eat Any Kind Of Pasta Sauce?
Maybe your cat is part Italian and loves some sauce on its pasta treat.
If that is the case, you can make some cat-safe sauce to add to the pasta.
To create a cat-safe Alfredo sauce, you’ll need to modify the traditional recipe to exclude ingredients that are harmful to cats, such as onions, garlic, and excessive dairy.
Below is a simple cat-friendly Alfredo sauce recipe:
- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or lactose-free milk
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or all-purpose flour
In a small saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over low heat.
Mix the cornstarch or all-purpose flour with a small amount of almond milk or lactose-free milk to create a smooth paste.
Slowly add the paste to the melted butter, stirring continuously to combine.
Gradually add the remaining almond milk or lactose-free milk, whisking continuously to ensure a smooth consistency.
Cook the sauce over low heat, stirring regularly until it thickens.
It’s best to treat this recipe as an occasional indulgence for your cat.