Do Cats Like Salt?


Who doesn’t love a salty pretzel or a few pieces of pepperoni? While your feline friend may be meowing and pawing at your legs for a chance to taste such treats, you can’t help but wonder, do cats like salt? Being that salt is one of the three tastes cat tongues detect, they do love salty things. However, that leads to the next question: Is salt healthy for cats?

This is an important topic for cat owners to know, so let’s not waste another second!

cat staring at owner

Table of Contents

Do Cats Like Salt?

Yes, cats like salt. Or maybe it’s better to say that they love salt. Either way, anything salty is a tempting treat to cats, and they will find anything salty appetizing (even nonfood items). This is one of the reasons cats like to lick at your tears or sweat.

Can Cats Have Salt?

Yes, cats can have salt. In fact, they need salt to survive. Like most creatures with sentience, salt is needed for nervous system processes and nutrient movement. Salt also helps signals move through the body for when a cat has to use the litter box. Without salt, a cat’s body would shut down and be unable to function properly.

Check out this educational video on whether cats should have salt:

How Much Salt is Safe For Cats?

Take a look at cat food—wet or dry, it doesn’t matter. You will notice that there is far more sodium in cat food than you probably thought. But how much salt do cats really need? About 21-40 mg of salt a day.

That’s it.

To humans, that doesn’t sound like much. For cats, it’s plenty. Now, keep in mind that some larger cats can consume a bit more salt.

You do have to be mindful, though, of just how much of the salty stuff your cat is munching on. Salt is present in wet and dry food, as well as treats. If you notice that your cat’s urine has changed or that they are displaying signs of urinary or kidney issues, start removing some sources of salt from their diet.

What is Sodium Deficiency in Cats?

There is a delicate balance between too little and too much salt for felines. Many cats need some salt in their diet, otherwise they may suffer from sodium deficiency. This means that your cat doesn’t have enough salt in their bloodstream for proper functioning. Since sodium is essential to all living things, you will have to give your cat additional salt to help with the lack of it.

Sodium deficiency can cause neurological complications. If you notice your cat acting strangely, please take them to the vet.

Furthermore, sodium deficiency can be caused by other medical issues, such as kidney failure, hypothyroidism, congestive heart failure, nephrotic syndrome, and more. Again, veterinarian care is the only way you will know for sure what is happening.

Does Salt Make Cats Sick?

In the appropriate quantities, no, salt won’t make cats sick. If your feline companion does manage to consume more than 42 mg of salt a day, they could end up getting sick. Large doses of salt could be downright damaging.

When a cat has too much salt, they can develop salt poisoning. The symptoms of salt poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Seizures
  • Aggression
  • Fever

Any time you see these symptoms, don’t wait. Take your cat to the veterinarian immediately, as salt poisoning can be deadly if left untreated.

Furthermore, you want to keep certain kinds of salts far away from your feline. Rock salt, salt water (seawater), Himalayan salt lamps, and table salt can all be incredibly dangerous.

A Case of Salt Poisoning

Do cats like salt? Too much, in some cases. Take, for example, the New Zealand cat named Ruby who had a bit too much Zen around the salt lamp. Ruby’s owner, Maddie Smith, had brought home a Himalayan salt lamp. She didn’t know that Ruby had been licking at it until the cat was behaving very strangely—walking with her head down.

Startled by the change in her four-legged companion, Maddie swept up Ruby and took her to an emergency vet. At the vet, Maddie learned that her cat had toxic levels of sodium in her bloodstream. This, in turn, caused Ruby’s brain to swell, which manifested as staggered walking and a drooped head.

Maddie figured it out—that Ruby had gotten to the salt lamp. It was the only change she had made. So, if you plan on getting a salt lamp, make sure you keep your cats far away from it.

How Do You Treat Salt Poisoning in Cats?

Accidents do happen. Maybe Tiger happened to push the salt shaker off the countertop and started licking at the spilled salt on the floor. Maybe your cat started drinking water from the fish tank (also a no-no). Should you anticipate that your cat has an overdose of salt, monitor them for any symptoms. If you notice even the slightest change, call the veterinarian and let them know what happened. You should get in right away.

The vet may administer IV fluids to help flush the sodium from your cat’s body. This method is highly effective at bringing your cat’s sodium levels to normal. Tests will also be performed to see how your cat’s organs are faring and if their brain activity is normal.

After that, your cat will need some fluids and plenty of rest.

When spotted early, salt poisoning is easy enough to treat; the prognosis is also good. However, it’s when you wait that permanent brain damage could occur. So keep your eyes peeled to your curious cat whenever they are around salt.

himalayan salt

Keep Your Paws Off The Salt Lamp

Do cats like salt? They certainly do! Cats will lick salt lamps and go after any salty morsel they can find. In fact, cats like salt so much that they are at constant risk of sodium poisoning. It’s best to keep track of how much salt your cat is consuming, especially if they are older or at risk of urinary or kidney issues. In short, make sure your cat is on a low-sodium diet.


Is it OK for cats to eat salt?

No, it’s not recommended for cats to consume salt in excess. While small amounts of salt are essential for various bodily functions, including maintaining proper electrolyte balance, too much salt can be harmful to cats just as it can be for humans. Cats’ bodies are not well-equipped to handle excessive salt intake, and high levels of sodium can lead to health issues.

What does it mean when cats crave salt?

Cats, as obligate carnivores, don’t have a natural craving for salt in the same way that humans might. If you observe a cat seemingly craving salt or exhibiting unusual behaviors around salt, it could indicate an underlying issue that needs attention.

Can I put salt in my cats water?

It’s generally not recommended to add salt to your cat’s water. Cats have different dietary and nutritional needs compared to humans, and their bodies are sensitive to changes in electrolyte balance. While small amounts of sodium are essential for bodily functions, too much salt can be harmful to cats.