Cat food

Why Lemon Pepper Chicken is Harmful for Cats

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.

Lemon pepper chicken for cats

What Is Lemon Pepper Chicken?

Lemon pepper chicken is a chef’s creation of lemon zest, cracked black pepper, garlic, onion, and salt.

Some commercial lemon pepper spice manufacturers don’t specify their ingredients. Since unlisted substances or preservatives may be harmful to your cat, many opt to prepare their own lemon pepper spice.

Most people adjust the lemon pepper chicken recipe to their liking by removing components they don’t like or adding extra zest or pepper.

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 an important part of lemon pepper chicken. The zest comes from the flavedo, which is the lemon’s top layer. This layer tastes strong because of the natural oil, which is less acidic than the 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 widely utilized as a repellant for both feral cats which 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 eats its environment—impacting its respiratory system.

Lemons contain phototoxic chemicals like psoralen, linalool, and limonene that could kill your cat and burn its skin. These chemicals are used to add flavor to citrus scents and treat skin diseases, but cats shouldn’t eat them. These are the signs of lemon poisoning.

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

Talk to your vet if you’re not sure if lemon is poisonous for your cat. They can tell if it’s lemon or something else. If you catch it early, there are many ways to save 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. While commercial foods have the right amount of every ingredient, homemade cat food or lemon pepper chicken may have too much salt, which can lead to sodium poisoning.

Onions and Garlic

What could be worse than pepper? Having garlic and onions. These two compounds are common in numerous snacks and foods around the world, such onion rings, but cats should not eat them.Onions and garlic can make you anemic.

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

When your cat eats harmful plants or treats, they may not display symptoms immediately as they tend to hide their discomfort. If you discover them asleep or in pain, don’t panic. They may not be able to hide how they feel.

Get In Contact With Your Vet

Do not try any home remedies unless you’re a professional or the vet tells you to. You may exacerbate the cat’s condition. If you can stay cool, examine the cat’s symptoms and call your vet immediately.

Your vet may give you instructions to treat the pet or need you to take it to the hospital.

Follow Up

Cats need supportive care after being poisoned or having surgery. 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 cat should only eat small amounts of watermelon because it gets most of its calories from eating meat.


Oats are a healthy and delicious treat for cats. To prepare them, simply cook the oats according to the package directions. Soak them in water for a while and then add them to the food you cooked.. You can also add some shredded chicken, fish, or meat to the oats to make a more complete meal for your cat.

Lemon pepper chicken for cats

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.


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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