Can Cats Eat Tomato Sauce?

(Last Updated On: July 8, 2021)

Owners who love their cats will sometimes want to share their food with their furry friends. Although giving a small amount of human food to your pet may be tempting, it can also be extremely harmful to your cat. Or maybe you are busy cooking in your kitchen, and your pets are hanging out with you, ready to lick up anything you drop, as soon as it hits the floor.

Either way, whether it’s accidental or not, there are simply some foods your cats should not eat. It is important to be extremely careful with what you share with them or allow them to eat. 

As a general rule of thumb, it is best to research every food before you allow your pet to eat it. Yet, since tomato sauce comes in so many forms, the answer can be a little confusing.

In this article, we will explain not only the safety of tomatoes, tomato plants, and tomato sauce for your cats but also the toxicity of the extra ingredients commonly found in tomato sauce.

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Can Cats Eat Tomatoes?

Tomato plants can be quite harmful to cats. So it may come as a surprise to know that fully ripe tomatoes are not only completely safe for your cat, but also a common ingredient used in cat foods and treats. This is because it not only works as a great binder but also provides some useful nutrients to your pets.

Furthermore, cooking tomatoes does not change their effects on cats. Cooking tomato leaves, stems or their unripe fruits will not make them less toxic to your pets, and cooking ripe tomatoes will not make them unsafe for your cats.

Overall, ripened tomatoes are perfectly safe for most cats. However, as with humans, cats can experience unique allergies, even to ripened tomatoes. So it is best you still keep your eyes out for any side effects just to be safe. 

Can Cats Eat Tomato Sauce?

So, can cats eat tomato sauce? Now you know that almost all cats, safe of those with allergies, can eat ripened tomatoes, which are used to make tomato sauce. You probably guess that tomato sauce would be fine for your cats, too. Unfortunately, that is not completely the case.

If you were to make a tomato sauce or puree with simply ripened tomatoes, that would be fine for a non-allergic cat. However, most tomato sauces are not that simple.

Almost all manufactured tomato sauces and other tomato products such as ketchup will include additives such as spices, herbs, onion, garlic, dairy products, or oils. These can be harmful to your cat.

So many typical tomato sauce ingredients are very harmful to your cat, equal to and in some cases even more harmful than tomato plants themselves. 

Onions, for example, can cause all types of side effects to cats from diarrhea, abdominal pains, and vomiting to anemia. Garlic contains the same harmful oxidants as onions but is actually around five times more harmful to your cat than onions.

Some other common tomato sauce ingredients that are extremely harmful to your cats include leeks, chives, and oregano.

Even the smallest amount of these ingredients can have extreme effects on your cat. The symptoms may not appear for a few days, so if you have an inclination that your cat may have ingested some of your tomato sauce it is best to take them to a vet to prevent any more serious issues. 

Essentially, plain, homemade tomato sauce or even homemade tomato sauce with basil or other cat-friendly ingredients will be okay. However, most store-bought sauces will have additives that will harm your cat. Keep your cat safe and avoid feeding them any tomato sauce that you haven’t made yourself. 

stirred tomato sauce

Tomato Plant Toxic to Cats?

Any avid or even casual gardener with cats is likely aware that certain plants, even the most common house, and vegetable plants can be quite toxic to our furry friends. Tomato plants are most definitely on that list.

Tomato plants, referring to the stems, leaves, and unripe fruits, are actually filled with solanine compounds. These are common in most nightshade plants such as potatoes and eggplants. 

Solanine is essentially a natural pesticide of sorts that the nightshade plants use to defend themselves from pests and predators. Since tomato plants have a pesticide growing within them, there should be no surprise that their leaves, stems and unripe fruits can be quite poisonous to not only pests and predators but cats and children as well.

The way the tomato plant’s solanine affects predators varies by the size of the creature and the amount ingested. Hence, if your cat ate a small amount of the tomato plant, the most extreme side effects would likely be lethargy, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and general fatigue and confusion.

Although ingesting tomato plants will not be fatal to your cat, it can cause some serious long-term internal issues. Even after eating a small amount, it is recommended that you bring your cat to a vet to be sure.

Some other side effects your cat may experience if they ingested tomato sauce are excessive salivation, general behavioral changes, depression, enlarged pupils, and lack of appetite. In general, as a rule of thumb, keep an eye out for any strange actions or typical sickness symptoms.

tomato sauce with sliced tomatos

Has My Cat Been Poisoned By Tomato Sauce?

The main issue with diagnosing what poisoned your cat is that many issues your cat may experience will actually appear through the same symptoms. Both ingesting tomato plants and tomato sauce can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and weakness, as can a myriad of other foods, allergies, or illnesses.

Tomato sauce symptoms will most likely be symptoms of the additional ingredients in the sauce, specifically onions, garlic, oregano, or other chemical preservatives. 

Some other common symptoms of cats ingesting unsafe foods may include asthma attacks, which can appear through wheezing, coughing, or other breathing or respiratory issues.

Since both onions and garlic contain compounds that can affect your red blood cells, which are necessary to regulate the oxygen in your body, it is not uncommon for a cat who ingested onions or garlic to develop anemia. Anemia may actually present itself in your cat through pale gums, fainting, black stool, and general fatigue and weakness. 

As mentioned above, many of the symptoms of ingesting tomato sauce are similar to the effects of other situations your cat may find itself in, whether it be allergies to foods, lack of nutrients, lack of sleep, or other illnesses.

In general, it is best practice to just see a vet anytime your cat begins acting differently from their normal as any strange behavior can be a sign of something more serious.

If you are able to catch your cat in the act of ingesting tomato sauce then it is best to just simply bring them to the vet as well. 

Conclusion

Overall, the answer to ‘can cats eat tomato sauce’ is somewhat of a complicated one. Cats can technically eat tomatoes themselves, so long as they are ripe. However, they cannot eat unripe tomatoes or any other part of the tomato plants. This is because they can include a natural pesticide known as solanine which is toxic to most animals.

While cats can technically eat tomatoes, and the ingredient is actually commonly used in cat foods and treats, tomato sauce is somewhat of a hit or miss. 

Most store-bought tomato sauces are made with onion, garlic, oregano, or other flavoring or preserving ingredients which actually can be extremely harmful to your cat. Although technically it would be safe for your cat to have homemade tomato sauce that is simply just made from tomatoes, most tomato sauces you will find will not be safe for your cat at all.

While it can be difficult to catch your cat in the act of ingesting tomato sauce or plants, keep your eyes peeled for any side effects or out of the norm behaviors which could indicate that they have eaten some toxic products. 

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