Can Cats Eat Tamales? What You Need to Know About Feeding Mexican Food to Your Feline Friend


As a cat owner, you may have wondered if it is safe to share some of your favorite Mexican dishes with your feline companion. While it may be tempting to offer your cat a taste of tamales or other Mexican delicacies, it’s important to understand that not all human food is suitable for cats. In this article, we will specifically discuss whether cats can eat tamales and provide you with important considerations when it comes to feeding Mexican food to your furry friend.

The Ingredients in Tamales

Before we can determine whether cats can eat tamales, it’s crucial to understand the ingredients typically used in this traditional Mexican dish. Tamales are made from masa, which is a dough made from corn, and they are usually filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, vegetables, or even sweet fillings like chocolate or fruit. Additionally, tamales often contain spices, such as chili powder or cumin, to enhance their flavor.

Potential Risks of Feeding Tamales to Cats

While corn and plain masa are not toxic to cats, the other ingredients commonly found in tamales can pose risks to their health. For example, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their diet should primarily consist of animal protein. Feeding them tamales with meat fillings might seem reasonable, but it’s important to note that these fillings can contain seasonings, spices, and additives that may be harmful to cats.

Spices like chili powder or cumin, which are frequently found in tamales, can irritate a cat’s digestive system and may cause gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting or diarrhea. Additionally, certain toppings like cheese can be high in lactose, and most adult cats are lactose intolerant, which means consuming cheese can lead to digestive discomfort or even an upset stomach.

Safe Alternatives for Your Cat

While tamales may not be an ideal treat for your cat, there are several safe alternatives you can offer instead. Commercially available cat treats are specifically formulated to meet your cat’s nutritional needs and are a safer option when it comes to rewarding your feline friend.

If you still want to share a taste of Mexican cuisine with your furry companion, consider offering small amounts of cooked, plain chicken or fish. These protein sources are generally safe for cats and can provide a delicious alternative while avoiding the potential risks associated with tamales and other highly seasoned dishes.


While cats are curious creatures and may show interest in your plate of tamales, it’s crucial to remember that their dietary needs are different from ours. Feeding tamales to your cat can lead to potential health issues due to the ingredients and seasonings used in the dish.

As responsible cat owners, it’s essential to prioritize your cat’s well-being and provide them with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements. If you have any concerns or questions regarding your cat’s diet, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian.

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