Can Cats Have Ranch? Is it Healthy and Safe as a Treat?

If there are pictures we can smell, then there are certainly words we can taste, and one of them is “ranch.” Just hearing the word makes us want to dip chicken tenders in a deep cup of this herby creamy dressing. If we could ranch everything, we would. 

Ranch may be one of the most famous sauces in the US, but can cats have ranch? The answer is NO.

But don’t worry in case you’ve fed your cat ranch on some occasions. If it was just tiny amounts of the dressing, it’s not likely to cause any serious health issues to your cat. 

In this article, we’re going back to what ranch is made of, and why its ingredients are not suitable to be eaten by cats.

We’re here to break down everything there is to know about feeding your cat this creamy sauce, so you can go for better food choices based on this helpful information. That way, your cats can live long and healthy lives!

Why Are Cats So Fond of Ranch Dressing?

Cats are attracted to dairy products because they can smell the fat and protein of milk. Just like any mammal, cats drink milk after birth.

It is normal for them to crave for milk because it tastes good and familiar to them. Some ingredients of ranch, namely buttermilk and sour cream, are made out of milk, so cats can’t help but be drawn to ranch.

What Is in the Ranch?

The ingredients used in making ranch vary from one recipe to another, but the six essential ingredients in every recipe are: onions, chives, garlic, mayo, sour cream and buttermilk.

Is ranch unhealthy? If you’re a well-informed fur parent, you might already have an idea that all the six main ingredients of ranch contain properties that are big waving red flags to cats.

ranch dressings

But if some of these items and their components are not that familiar to you, we’re here to explain why they are not advisable to be eaten by your feline friend.

Onions, Chives, and Garlic

Onions, chives and garlic are the three ingredients in ranch that are most toxic to cats. If a cat eats them regularly, it is more prone to Heinz body anemia.

The toxins found in these aromatics can can affect a cat’s red blood cells, causing these threatening symptoms: fever, anorexia, weakness and skin discoloration.

We almost always put these three ingredients in our food recipes, because they add flavor and intensity to our dish. But if you’re keen on protecting your cat, always avoid serving them any food that includes these 3 toxins.

Mayonnaise, Sour Cream, and Buttermilk

News flash: Cats are lactose intolerant. Yes, you read that right. So why do we always see cats drinking milk in movies and TV commercials?

Cats may find milk irresistible to drink because of its fat and protein, but felines, just like us and all mammals, are prone to allergy to dairy substances. Sour cream and buttermilk are both made of milk, while mayonnaise has high fat content.

If your cat’s lactose intolerance gets triggered by a dairy product, it may experience diarrhea, gassiness and stomach cramps.

If you are yet to know whether your cat is lactose intolerant or not, we don’t recommend for you to risk them suffering those symptoms.

What Happens If My Cat Accidentally Eats Ranch?

Don’t fret! If your cat has eaten just a tiny bit of ranch, it’s less likely to get sick. But, if it ate a considerable amount, you have to monitor it regularly for the next few days.

cat eating on white food bowl

Look out for the symptoms we mentioned above and any unusual behavior. If any of these occur, contact an emergency vet straight away.

How Much Ranch Is Too Much For Cats?

All ranch recipes differ in portions of ingredients, so there is no telling how much is too much for your cat.

The safest and healthiest answer is to not consider feeding your cat any amount of ranch at any time. Although if you really want your furry friend to try it, a little bit of ranch won’t be a problem at all.

Are there Any Alternatives to Ranch Dressing?

If you ever have to explain ranch to someone who’s never had it before, tell them this: Ranch is like elevated mayonnaise.

So if you want to feed your cat something tangy and creamy without the toxic garlic, onions and chives, and the milk content of sour cream and buttermilk, you can turn to the lesser evil, mayonnaise. 

Be careful though, as mayonnaise is high in fat. Don’t feed your cat too much fatty foods, as this might lead to cat obesity.

It won’t hurt to let your curious feline taste a small amount of mayo, but do not include mayo or other high-fat foods in your cat’s regular diet, because it does not hold any nutritional value that cats’ bodies actually need.

What Foods Are Appropriate for Cats?

We thought you’d never ask. Here are the best types of food you can feed your cat so it will grow strong and healthy:

Meat is a cat’s ultimate source of protein. A cat is an obligate carnivore with a digestive system that is designed to process meat protein in the most effective way.

cat eating meat

Every feline needs a meat-based diet with minimal carbs. Your best choices for meats and treats are: beef, chicken, lamb and turkey.

Eggs are also a great protein source. Just be sure to serve your cats cooked eggs, as raw eggs can contain e-coli bacteria and salmonella. If you have an overweight cat, it’s safer to feed it cooked egg whites as the yolks are high in fat.

Seafood contains fatty acids that help a cat’s eyes, heart, skin and bones. However, we don’t recommend processed seafood due to their additives and preservatives.

It’s always best to cook fresh unseasoned seafood to ensure no harmful ingredients are ingested by your cat.

Since a cat’s digestive system processes meat protein better than plant-based protein, cats don’t need to eat a lot of veggies.

They also don’t taste sweetness, so they won’t enjoy fruits a.k.a. nature’s candy. If you want to feed them some veggies, you can steam these in smaller portions without any seasoning: broccoli, spinach, carrots and green beans.

We advocate for these foods to feed to our cats, as these align best with a cat’s required nutrients. These choices check every box, and it’s our duty to prep these foods correctly to avoid toxic ingredients from penetrating our cats’ systems.

FAQs to Prevent Any Cat-astrophe

Make sure your cat is free from any cat-astrophe. Check out our answers to these FAQs that other fur parents ask when it comes to feeding ranch and other sauces to their cats:

Can Cats Have Salad Dressing?

Many salad dressings are made of the same ingredients that ranch is made of. They may contain onions, garlic and chives which are toxic to cats.

salad dressing

Some dressings like vinaigrette may even contain large amounts of vinegar. Even savory sauces like barbecue sauce are just as acidic.

It makes you wonder, “Are cats allergic to BBQ sauce?” Barbecue sauce and vinaigrette have high acidity levels that can give your cat an upset stomach.

Bottom line: Do not feed your cats any salad dressing.

What About Tuna With Ranch Seasoning?

Ranch seasoning is just as dangerous as ranch itself. Though it’s been powderized, the essential contents are the same toxic ingredients that are harmful to a cat’s health. Seasoning also has a high level of sodium, which can cause blood pressure changes, kidney diseases and cardiovascular problems to your cat.

Our tip: Skip the seasoning. Instead, prepare a cooked and unseasoned chunk of tuna for your fur ball.


Is it OK for cats to have ranch? As responsible pet owners, we want to make sure that we provide a healthy and balanced diet for our cats.

Based on the points we discussed above, ranch can do more harm than good. It has zero benefits for your cat’s health, and contains plenty of toxins that can make your cat sick.

We don’t want our cats to experience those painful symptoms leading to more complicated health problems. Even if we’re tempted to let them explore different flavors, let us not forget that their bodies are designed differently from ours.

The food that they take has to match their needs as carnivores. So before you feed your fur baby tasty sauces like ranch or ketchup, ask yourself “is ketchup bad for cats?

Let’s all be dedicated fur parents together and improve our ways to take care of our pets for them to enjoy longer, fuller lives.

If you want more paw-some content, let us be your resource. You might see a lot of doggos licking pup cups from coffee shops on social media, which begs the question for felines “Is it OK to give my cat cream?” Click on the link to know more.

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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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