Can Cats Eat Barbecue Sauce? Potential Risks You Should Be Aware Of!

It is nearly impossible to resist the smell of aromatics and flavorful charred meat. We can’t really blame our felines whenever they lift their little paws and try to get a hold of that tasty meat coated with savory barbecue sauce.

Can cats eat barbecue sauce? What about cream and condiments? Can cats have ketchup? Can cats have whipped cream? Ketchup, whipped cream, and barbecue sauce are all unhealthy for cats.

Technically speaking, barbecue sauce is not directly harmful to cats. But cats’ bodies are naturally designed to digest animal-based proteins.

So, the answer to the question is “NO.” There are ingredients in it that may cause intestinal problems and other side effects.

As much as we fur parents would like to give our cats pretty much the world, we have to do some checking before feeding them our food, as most human foods are actually not at all good for them. 

Potential Risks of BBQ Sauce for Cats

Are cats allergic to BBQ? Can cats eat barbecued meat? What exactly are the reasons why BBQ and BBQ sauce are both risky for cats?

The following are the most common ingredients of barbecue sauce that may cause problems to your cat’s health when ingested:

Onions and Garlic

Most of the popular brands of barbecue sauce use garlic and onions as the main ingredients. These two are known spices that are toxic to cats.

Allowing your cats to ingest these spices may cause intestinal problems that can escalate to more serious health conditions if not treated immediately.

Onions and garlic are both in the Allium family which are both poisonous to cats and dogs. Between these two, garlic is more dangerous to animals.

barbecue sauce

Garlic and onion poisoning include the following symptoms:

  • Gastroenteritis such as nausea, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Oxidative damage to the red blood cells
  • Lethargy and anemia
  • Relaxing of heart muscles
  • Dilation of blood vessels causing circulatory problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weakening
  • Difficulty in getting oxygen to vital organs


The high sodium content in most barbecue sauces is dangerous to cats. Salty food can make cats thirsty and if your cat is not drinking enough water, it can make your cat dehydrated. 

Eventually, your cat will suffer from sodium poisoning or severe dehydration which can be lethal.   

Here are the common symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Incoordination
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Seizure
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Coma


Cats, as everyone knows, are obligate carnivores. They can only get the nutrients needed by their body by eating animal meat. Although they can have small amounts of carbohydrates and fiber, their bodies are not designed to eat plant-based food. 

Table sugar and other modern sweeteners are not natural to felines. Cats do not digest sugar efficiently. When they ingest sweet treats in any form like candy, cakes or sweet sauces, they result in intestinal problems.

While cats are attracted to sweet food, there really isn’t anything sweet about the health issues they can get from eating sweets. Here are some of the tragic things you can expect when your cat has had a lot of sugar:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Discomfort
  • Tooth problems
  • Diabetes

Spicy Seasonings

Spicy food and seasoning are not good for your cats. It may not be the worst food to feed your cat but allowing your cats to ingest spicy food will result in a runny nose. 

barbecue ribs

On a more serious note, most spicy foods get their flavor from a natural chemical called capsaicin. It is the chemical that makes chili peppers hot. When this unfamiliar ingredient enters the cat’s digestive system, it can cause trouble. 

It can lead to serious vomiting or even pose a serious danger to your cat’s health. Here are few of the things to look out for when your cat has eaten spicy food:

  • Watery eyes
  • Upset stomach
  • Vocalize discomfort
  • Diarrhea

Other Potential Hazards of BBQ 

Aside from the health troubles that barbecue sauce can give your cat, here are other potential hazards that you need to know as well.

Choking Hazard

Feeding your cats with one whole BBQ can be a choking hazard. Make sure that you cut the meats into chewable pieces to give your cats the opportunity to properly chew the meat. 

If you are serving chicken barbecue to your cat, it’s best to get rid of the chicken bones first. Chicken bones can be deadly to cats because of the chance of getting stuck in the cats throat, intestines and stomach.

If you want to be extra careful, supervise your cat as it eats chicken BBQ, just to be certain that there are no small chicken bones they can ingest.

Risk of Cancer

Although it seems normal to eat a bit of burnt meat in BBQ, both the BBQ and the barbecue sauce can result in your cat’s vomiting and other digestive discomforts. Also, experts say that burnt meat is one of the many causes of cancers in humans and animals.

cute gray cat

Lymphoma, bone cancer, and mast cell tumors are a few of the most common cancers in cats.

If you notice your cat’s lack of energy and appetite, series of vomiting, rapid weight loss, and change in personality, have it checked by a vet. These are common symptoms of cat cancer. 

Cats tend to hide their illnesses and pain. This is their way of protecting themselves from other animals. This is also the reason why the discovery of serious illnesses in them such as cancer takes a few months or years.

More often than not, cancers in cats are only discovered when it has already developed to an advanced type and can no longer be treated.

So, knowing the symptoms and a getting regular check-ups at the vet will truly make a difference. Even in cats, early detection and prevention matter.

Food Poisoning

Raw meat is full of bacteria and we know how harmful these bacteria are to cats. Talk about salmonella and listeria which can not only make your cat have an upset stomach but may put its life in serious danger. Cats are so sensitive when it comes to food poisoning. 

A few of the symptoms of cat poisoning are;

  • Salivation and drooling
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Twitching and seizure
  • Skin inflammation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Unusual Weakness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression and lethargic
  • Jaundice

These are only a few of the many reasons why feeding your cats with barbecue sauce is not recommended. Never feed them barbecue and barbecue sauce to save yourself and your cat the trouble. 

What Happens When A Cat Eats Barbecue Sauce?

First, never panic. Know that barbecue sauce, if ingested in small quantities by your cat may not do serious harm. Though there may be frequent rounds of intestinal problems, they can be resolved with a few cups of fresh water.

scoop of bbq sauce

Monitor your cat for any signs of allergies or poisoning. If you think something is wrong, go to the vet immediately. Barbecue sauce can make your cat feel thirsty and it may even lead to dehydration if you take it for granted. 

So, make sure that you keep fresh clean water accessible to your cat. It is a great help to let the salt and other spices go down. 

FAQs: The Purrr-fect Answers

Can Animals Have BBQ Sauce?

Is bbq sauce for dogs or cats? Most animals, especially dogs and cats are NOT supposed to eat barbecue sauce.

It has a lot of unfamiliar ingredients in it which may upset the animals’ stomachs. Salt and sugar are in the barbecue sauce too which may cause dehydration and intestinal issues. 

Can Cats Eat Barbecued Meat?

Yes but only occasionally. Barbecued meat also means burnt meat or raw meat which are both not good for cats or any animals, even for humans.

Burnt meat adds to the possibility of cancer while raw meat consists of bacteria that can lead to poisoning. 

Is Barbecue Sauce Acidic?

Just like any other sauce, barbecue sauce has acid-forming properties. So, consuming too much of it will result in acid reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). It contains high levels of sugar, vinegar and tomato base which can trigger acid reflux symptoms.

Cats can also get acid reflux from their diet. If they’re used to eating low-quality cat food or human food, they’re more likely to experience acid reflux.

So it is very important for you to pay attention to the ingredients in your cat’s food in order for it to have a balanced diet. Feeding your cat barbecue sauce will increase its chances to get acid reflux due to the sauce’s ingredients.


Barbecue and barbecue sauce can be great treats for cats. The only problem with them is that their ingredients do not exactly sit well with cats and most animals. 

So, no matter how tempting both barbecue meat and barbecue sauce are, never give in to the longing eyes of your felines. Do not give them these yummy meat treats.

The effect of the barbecue sauce on your cat depends entirely on the ingredients it has. You can always find a brand that has no sugar content or has a less acidic formula.

However, it is best for your cats to just avoid barbecue sauce in general to keep health problems from happening in the future. Intestinal issues are still something to be worried about even if they can be resolved with a few home medications or water.

If you’re wondering whether it’s okay to feed a certain type of food or condiment to your cat, reach out to us and we’ll tell you everything we know. We’re always happy to help a fellow fur parent!

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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