Cat food

Can Cats Eat Lemon Pepper Chicken?

Can cats eat lemon pepper chicken? Chicken is undoubtedly a nice food/treat for cats as they provide your cat with proteins, while the bones of chicken necks can be effective in cleaning your cat’s teeth if they hate the toothbrush, when prepared with lemon pepper spice, chicken could become a hazard for your pet.

Lemon pepper chicken is bad for your cat for a host of reasons: it is made with a lemon zest which can be poisonous to cats. Also, it contains black pepper which is a known cat repellent because of its pungent odor that irritates the cat’s nostrils. In this article, you will find out why lemon pepper chicken is a bad idea for cats and what you should do in cases of poisoning.

Table of Contents

What Is Lemon Pepper Chicken?

Lemon pepper chicken is purely a chef’s art where chicken meets the lovely lemon pepper spice; a mixture of zest lemon and cracked black pepper, garlic, onion, and salt.

When it comes to commercially made lemon pepper spice, some companies don’t list all they put in their seasonings. Hence, the unlisted ingredients or preservatives may not augur well for your cat, which is why many prefer to make their lemon pepper spice at home.

When making the lemon pepper chicken delicacy at home, most people opt to tweak things to their taste, either they remove some ingredients they don’t feel okay with or they increase the amounts of zest lemon, or pepper, to make the taste more imposing.

Can Cats Eat Lemon Pepper Chicken

No, your cat shouldn’t eat this tasty delicacy meant for humans. Although chicken can be effective in resolving digestive issues and cleaning your cat’s teeth, the presence of pepper, lemon, salt garlic, and onions makes it unsafe for your cat.

Many cat parents may not see lemon pepper chicken as a threat to their pets because they ate little amounts without showing signs of toxicity or poisoning, but spices have no nutritional benefit to your feline friend. So, why give them spices?

The Risks of Lemon Pepper Chicken for Cats

There are numerous risks your cat could face when they consume lemon pepper chicken; Lemon peel(which is used for the lemon zest) has a toxic compound called citrus lemon. Also, lemon pepper chicken contains piperine, a compound found in black pepper that makes it pungent—this means that, if your cat ingests lemon pepper tuna, it will experience gastrointestinal tract irritation which will lead to diarrhea and vomiting and they are also likely to show signs of lemon poisoning.

Below is the list of ingredients used in making lemon pepper chicken and how they impact your cat’s health.

Lemon zest

This is one of the major ingredients used in making lemon pepper chicken. The zest is gotten from the outermost layer of the lemon fruit which is known as the flavedo. This layer is rich in natural oil, an intense flavor but less acidic when compared to the main lemon juice.

Zest is usually done to take as much of the outer part of the lemon peel without including the bitter white part. How does this ingredient impact your cat’s health?

Lemons are usually used as a repellent for both feral cats whom you don’t want lurking in your yard or domestic cat whom you need to not enter or access certain areas in the house. This means that lemon could interfere with how your cat processes its environment—impacting its respiratory system.

Psoralen, linalool, and limonene are toxic compounds found in lemon that could cause your cat’s life and skin burns as psoralen is considered phototoxic. These compounds have numerous uses from citrus fragrance to flavoring to being used in treating skin diseases, but they should not be ingested by your cat. below are coming symptoms of lemon poisoning.

  • cold limbs
  • diarrhea
  • photosensitive
  • weakness
  • depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting

If you’re unsure if your cat has been poisoned by lemon, get in contact with your veterinarian, they will be able to determine if it’s the lemon or any other spice that is making your cat sick. If caught on time, many measures can be used in saving your cat’s health.

Black Pepper

Not all peppers are bad for cats, cats can eat some pepper without experiencing pungent aroma or flavors and burning sensations. These safe peppers are ball peppers which are healthy because of their vegetable-like properties.

On the other hand, black pepper is everything wrong for your cat. Black pepper’s pungent odor irritates your cat’s nostrils. In little amounts, your cat may not be harmed, but large quantities will eventually harm your kitty.

Cats have superior smelling abilities. Their sense of smell is over 15 times stronger than that of humans. A quick logic: if you as a human will sneeze in reaction to black pepper, how do you think your cat will feel? Especially now you know their sense of smell is 15 times stronger?

Black pepper has two dangerous compounds that could cause kidney damage to your cat: essential oil and terpenes. Since there is no particular measurement of black pepper that will cause adverse health issues(different cats react differently) it’s best to keep black pepper away from your cat’s meals.


Salt can be harmful to cats because of its sodium content. A cat shouldn’t consume more than 1.25g of sodium per kg daily, if not, sodium poisoning is likely to occur. Diarrhea, vomiting, lack of coordination, and weakness are symptoms common with sodium poisoning in cats.

Salt is amongst the 3 tastes(sour and bitter) cats can get. Your kitty may fall in love with salty foods and treats but this doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Commercial foods have been designed to give accurate amounts of everything, but lemon pepper chicken or homemade cat food may have higher than the required amount of salt content which could lead to sodium poisoning.

Onions and Garlic

What could be worse than black pepper? Onions and garlic. These two ingredients are used in many treats and foods across the globe, including onion rings, but they are not safe for your cats. Onions and garlic are known to cause anemia(depletion of the red blood cells).

The primary work of red blood cells is to move oxygen around the body. If your cat ingests onions or garlic even in powdered form, it is likely to suffer from anemia and other onion poisoning symptoms.

If The Cat Eats the Lemon Pepper Chicken Without You Knowing, What Should You Do?

You might have taken all possible precautions, but your cat ate some of your leftover lemon pepper chicken from the bin or your plate. Or you were careless and fed your cat some peppered chicken, so, what should you do?

Don’t panic

Most times your cat eats something that isn’t good for them like poisonous plants or snacks, they may not show symptoms immediately, as they would try to hide their pains as much as possible. In severe cases, they may not be able to hide how they feel; if you find them in an unconscious state or in pain, the first thing you should try not to do is to panic.

Get In Contact With Your Vet

Don’t try any home remedy except if you’re a professional or the vet instructs you to, cause you may end up worsening the cat’s situation. Once you’re able to keep your calm as advised in the header above, observe the symptoms the cat is showing then call your vet right away.

Your vet will be able to get the first aid done by giving you a few instructions or they may require you to bring the pet to the hospital right away.

Follow Up

When a cat survives poisoning or undergoes surgery, supportive care is usually required. You also need to give the medications(if any) at the right time and watch out for any abnormal changes in your cat.

Alternative to Lemon Pepper Chicken

If lemon pepper chicken is bad for cats, what else can you feed them instead?


Pumpkin is a nutritious food for cats, providing them with essential vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin is a good source of fiber, which can help with digestive issues. It’s also rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can boost the immune system.

To make pumpkin treats, you just need canned pumpkin seeds or you can take out the seeds from the fresh pumpkin. Roast the seeds, but don’t add pepper or salt and you’re done. Give your cat when needed.


Guava is a tropical beauty, its alluring taste is enjoyed by both humans and cats. Guava is rich in Vitamin C and it has lots of dietary fiber which makes it effective in treating constipation. Most cats prefer this exotic fruit without the rind, cut the fruit with or without the rind and see how your cat reacts, then make a decision.


Watermelon is excellent for cats but in small quantities because of its high carbohydrate content. Your kitty gets most of its nutrients from animal-based foods, so, watermelon should only be used as an occasional treat.


Oats are a healthy and delicious treat for cats. To prepare them, simply cook the oats according to the package directions. Once they’re cooked, let them cool slightly, and then add a bit of water to make a porridge. You can also add some shredded chicken, fish, or meat to the oats to make a more complete meal for your cat.

Can Cats Have Lemon Pepper Chicken? – Final Thoughts

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they require animal protein to survive. A diet rich in animal protein helps them maintain a healthy coat, strong muscles, and a sharp immune system. But, can cats have lemon pepper chicken?

While chicken is a good source of animal protein, lemon pepper seasoning can be harmful to cats. The citrus oils in lemon pepper can cause gastrointestinal upset and even liver damage in cats. So, it’s best to avoid feeding your cat lemon pepper chicken.

Joshua Kaynard

I am Joshua kaynard, an avid cat lover. Our pets provide an excellent way of connecting with nature; I am committed to helping you understand all the aspects of your feline friend's life. Enjoy!

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