Maybe you're thinking of adding more vegetables to your cat's diet, or perhaps you're vegan and are wondering whether you can apply the same lifestyle to your cat as well. Whatever the reason, it's important to understand the nature of cats and what would be beneficial for their health while being aware of what's dangerous for them.
Can cats eat vegetables? | Potatoes | Broccoli | Carrots | Spinach | Lettuce | Celery | Asparagus | Cauliflower | Garlic | Kale | Ginger | Onions | Sweet Potatoes | What about herbs? | Parsley | Rosemary | Thyme | Basil | Mint | Cilantro | Lemongrass
Can cats eat vegetables?
The fact is that cats have different nutritional needs than humans (and dogs, for that matter). And while a diet that includes lots of various vegetables proves healthy for us, this doesn't quite hold true for our feline friends. Because cats are obligate carnivores, so the meat is necessary for their survival, so it should be a staple and must make up the majority of their meals.
However, offering them small amounts of certain types of vegetables (to supplement their meal or as a snack) can provide some health benefits for them as well. Being a responsible cat owner entails providing a healthy and safe environment for your cat, and this includes being aware of what kinds of food cats can and can't eat.
And if you're thinking of adding vegetables to your feline friend's diet, you might be wondering what vegetables can cats eat and how much? Which vegetables are toxic, and which ones are safe? Let's find out more about these vegetables and how they may affect our cats.
Can cats eat potatoes? Sure, if served without the skin, and in moderation. Cooked potatoes are used in some cat food to provide grain-free and gluten-free carbohydrates as a supplementary addition to meat in its ingredients. As long as it's cooked well, cats usually have no problem digesting potatoes. When it comes to mashed potatoes, they are not so great for felines. Such recipes often include cheese, butter, milk, making them unwanted for a proper cat's diet.
Meanwhile, can cats have potatoes in their raw form? Remember to never feed them raw potatoes or potato skins. It's dangerous for cats because it contains solanine, a chemical that can be toxic as it can lead to damaging your cat's nervous system as well as their digestion. The leaves and stems also contain properties that are considered toxic to cats, so remember to keep them away.
Broccoli has numerous nutritional benefits for humans, but can cats eat broccoli, and is it safe for cats? The answer is yes, and it's healthy for them as well. Broccoli is packed with vitamin C & carotenoids, is rich in dietary fiber, and is an excellent source of antioxidants for your cat. All these benefits make it one of the healthiest vegetables that you can feed your cat. For digestibility, it is best served steamed, blanched, or boiled.
Broccoli is also great for satisfying your kittie's plant-chewing cravings. If you see your houseplants ruined, serve your cat plain and unseasoned broccoli instead. Even though broccoli is non-toxic to cats, offer your kitten a small bite first. This way, you can track how your cat reacts and potentially add more broccoli later on.
Can cats eat carrots? Fortunately, yes. Rich in beta carotene and contains numerous vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin A which is essential to felines), carrots are great for your cat's health. Not to mention, it is also a good source of fiber that is beneficial for digestion, especially when your cat tends to be constipated.
Meanwhile, can cats have carrots in their raw form? It might be hard for your cat to digest raw carrots, so it's best to serve it cooked (preferably boiled, blanched, or steamed without any seasonings). Also, raw carrots can be a choking hazard, especially if served in larger pieces. If you want to offer this veg to a cat, make sure to slice it properly.
Spinach contains lots of vitamins, minerals and is an excellent source of dietary fiber. It's good for humans, but can cats eat spinach? Yes, they can, and they absolutely should. The relevant point is that top-notch cat food manufacturers add spinach for quite some time. What makes spinach beneficial for felines is a combination of nutritional factors. Its high fiber content, low calories, and plenty of vitamins are great for kittens, making it a suitable dietary supplement.
Spinach has the best qualities when steamed, meaning that it's' digested easier. Do note that feeding your cat too much spinach is wrong if she has a history of having calcium oxalate bladder stones in the past because spinach has high amounts of calcium and oxalate. But if your kitty's overall health is fine, feel free to include spinach in your feline's diet.
Can cats eat lettuce? Yes. For one thing, lettuce has high water content, making it beneficial, especially for cats who have some problems getting hydrated. Another benefit is that lettuce has low calories, so you won't have to worry about your cat gaining much weight if she has it as a snack. Lettuce is also high in fiber, which can help your cat in the poop department.
Lettuce also contains several vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and folate. Except for those health benefits, don't forget that kitties like to chew plants. That's why lettuce, being safe and healthy for felines, is a perfect pick if your cat is fond of gnawing houseplants.
We've been told that celery is good for us, but can cats eat celery? Yes, but in moderation. Similar to their reaction towards catnip, many cats have a liking for celery leaves. You see, apart from rubbing and rolling themselves on celery leaves, they like munching on it too. Good thing it's safe for cats when given in small amounts.
Celery is high in fiber and contains lots of vitamins and minerals that can benefit your cat. Just remember not to give too much of it because it might cause a stomach upset. Overeating might cause stomach irritation, and in extreme cases, severe diarrhea is possible. What's more, slicing celery is a must since it can become a choking hazard.
Cats can eat asparagus, but only in small amounts. Asparagus is high in dietary fiber, which can be good for your cat's digestion and help facilitate a healthy bowel movement. It's also good if you're trying to manage your cat's weight because asparagus will allow them to feel full longer. Not to mention, it also has a low-calorie content.
Too much asparagus can be detrimental to your cat's health because of its high alkaline content. Specifically, too much of it can affect the pH of your cat's urine, which can lead to bladder stones. Because of this, it's best to limit the amount if ever you want to feed it as a snack or as a supplement to your cat's meaty meal. That's why you should serve asparagus bites only with caution, not to harm your kittie's well-being.
Cauliflower is entirely safe for cats. One benefit of cauliflower is that it contains antioxidants that reduce inflammation, especially for cats with conditions such as arthritis. Vets also suggest that this veggie has anti-cancer properties. Finally, it is high in fiber for better digestion and bowel movement. Feel free to serve boiled cauliflower, combined with broccoli, as a healthy treat.
As with other vegetables that are safe for cats, remember that too much is not entirely safe. With cauliflower, for example, too much of it can mess up your cat's digestive system and may result in explosive diarrhea. It's particularly true when it is given in its raw form. It is better to steam it to make it more digestible. Remember to remove the leaves and stems as well before feeding them to your cat.
Well-loved by many humans, garlic has been a staple in every kitchen. Meanwhile, a common question that cat parents ask when feeding their cat is — Can cats eat garlic? Unfortunately not. Cat parents must understand that even just one clove of garlic can be very toxic to cats. Garlic toxicity is severe, possibly resulting in organ damage or organ failure, and can even be fatal.
Garlic is part of the family of allium, together with onions, leeks, chives, and shallots. While humans can easily digest these vegetables, they don't sit well with a cat's digestive system. Ingesting these vegetables can lead to hemolytic anemia as a result of damaging the red blood cells. Not to mention, it can also lead to anemia in dogs.
But what makes garlic especially concerning (compared to other vegetables in the allium family) if ingested by cats? Pet Poison Helpline states that the toxicity of garlic is about five times more than onions & leeks. And while a cat's breed, overall health, and weight may also be factors for garlic toxicity in cats, there is an undeniable risk for all felines.
Cats can indeed eat kale, and it's safe to be given either raw or cooked and in small amounts. Kale has high fiber content, making it suitable for your cat's digestive system. It also contains enzymes that can help your cat digest meat better. Once you serve kale with other vegetables to your cat, ensure it makes up to five or ten percent of a diet.
Just make sure not to give your cat too much kale as there is a risk of it causing Heinz body anemia in your cat (although the risk is much lower than onions and garlic, for example). Except for anemia risks, serving too many vegs, including kale, is dangerous for your kittie's health in the long run. Don't mind making veggie rotations to enrich your four-legged friend's diet.
Ginger is one of the few spices that aren't toxic to cats. And if your cat has gastrointestinal issues, ginger may help provide relief. It is well tolerated and safe for digestion, with small amounts benefiting the digestive system. When ginger provides stomach relief for hoomans, it can also do so for felines. A more significant serving, in turn, can mildly irritate your kitty's stomach.
However, if you want to feed your cat some ginger, just give it in moderation. While mean should be a diet staple, ginger can become a great dietary addition. An exact safe dosage for your kitten depends on a variety of factors. Consider your cat's breed, weight, age, and overall condition before adding ginger to a diet. And yeah, hide gingerbread cookies and other treats due to their high sugar content, which can cause weight gain and tooth issues.
Can cats eat onions? Cat parents must be wary of foods that are part of the allium family (where onion belongs) because these are considered dangerously toxic to cats. Even small amounts may endanger your cat's health. Ingesting onions can lead to Heinz body anemia, organ damage, and organ failure in cats. Some of the symptoms of onions' toxicity include weakness, vomiting, lethargy, and fainting.
In some cases, it can even be fatal if your cat is not given immediate veterinary care after having ingested it (especially if it's raw). Don't either try to mix onions, either raw or cooked, with your kitty's food. While a small slice might only produce a minor upset in some cats' digestive systems, it's best to lean on the side of caution by keeping onions far away from your cat, as you never know what might happen.
It's safe to give your cat some sweet potato if cooked -- ideally by steaming, boiling, or baking it without any seasoning. Rich in fiber, sweet potato can help your cat's poop department (especially if she suffers from constipation) if given in small amounts. On the other hand, too much of it can cause digestive issues, vomiting, diarrhea, and obesity.
What about raw sweet potatoes? Can cats have sweet potatoes in raw form? The same with humans, eating sweet potatoes in such a form is harmful to your cat's digestive system, so be sure not to give it to her when it's uncooked. But overall, regardless of form, sweet potatoes are not so easily digested, making them generally unwanted as a dietary staple.
What about herbs?
While giving an occasional veggie to your cat is absolutely fine, you might wonder what herbs to share. Generally, felines are fond of herbs because of their recognizable looks and odors. After all, haven't you seen a cat chewing a leafy leaf at least once?
When it comes to digestion, cats are not able to metabolize the same way we do. Still, most herbs, despite such digestive nuances, are still great for felines. Some of them can be beneficial for felines because they provide your cat with many antioxidants and other nutrients. Read on to find out which herbs work well with your kitty's diet and in what amounts.
Parsley is quite a controversial herb, especially if you browse through credible studies. As stated by ASPCA, parsley is toxic to cats. The problem with this conclusion is that it is highly toxic, but only if eaten in large amounts. For casual use, it means that you might share some leaves with your kitten, but only a few.
The good thing about parsley is that it is rich in calcium, potassium, antioxidants, folic acid, and Vitamins (A, B-Complex, C, and K). All these vitamins and minerals are undoubtedly beneficial to your cat. Even though this herb has numerous benefits, controlling how much you offer is crucial. Don't forget that parsley should only be given in small amounts to omit any unwanted health complications.
Rosemary is considered non-toxic and safe to cats, being a superb source of vitamins A and C and minerals such as Calcium, Iron, Manganese, and Folate. While too much rosemary may be harmful, you won't have to worry because cats usually don't take over a few nibbles since they are discouraged by the intense flavor that the herb emits.
Rosemary also contains volatile oils that might hypothetically upset the feline's stomach. But once again, due to this herb's intense flavor and odor, it is unlikely that your kitten will gnaw rosemary all the time. If you're cooking feline's meals on your own, adding a rosemary nibble won't harm your kitty.
Both according to ASPCA and valid studies, thyme is non-toxic and safe for felines. This herb is also a great source of antioxidants, dietary fiber, Vitamins A & C, Iron, Calcium, Riboflavin, Manganese, Copper, and Magnesium for your cat if given in moderate amounts.
These benefits can help your cat improve their immune system and prevent bacterial or fungal growth. Thyme is both flavorful and a versatile herb, which you can serve to various cat meals. Feel free to experiment with this herb since its beneficial impacts on the digestive system are too good to resist.
Basil is non-toxic to cats and contains Vitamin C, iron, calcium, and potassium that is good for them. You can serve a few chewy leaves or let your cat gnaw on them at ease. Basil is rich in antioxidants and contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. In small amounts, some of the health benefits of basil to cats include: preventing cellular damage, calming your cat down, and providing relief to those with arthritis.
As with other herbs, it should be served cautiously, offering only a tiny amount as a dietary supplement. What's more, your cat will enjoy basil cooked or in a raw form. But since felines' receptors work differently from humans, your kitty won't enjoy basil's taste and aroma as much as you do. It means there's no point in perking up cat's meals with some extra basil.
Unlike catmint or catnip, mint and cats might not go well together. Its plants (including stems, leaves, and flowers) are not safe for cats to ingest. After all, they contain essential oils that are considered toxic to cats as well as other animals such as dogs and horses.
The garden mint variety contains essential oils that relax a cat's esophageal valve. And when a cat is not feeling well, this is likely to result in vomiting. It also causes adverse effects in cats with pre-existing conditions such as intestine, bowel, or liver disease (especially in the pennyroyal mint species).
Other possible effects of ingesting mint in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, allergic reactions, skin irritations, heartburn, nausea, and anaphylaxis.
For those wondering if cats can eat cilantro, the answer is positive. Raw cilantro leaves contain carbohydrates, trace amount of proteins and fats and are a good source of vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, E, and K) and minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, potassium, zinc, and sodium). Thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, cilantro seems to be a decent addition to your cat's diet.
However, remember not to give too much of it as it can cause vomiting, stomach upset, gas, and diarrhea in your cat. You can also find cilantro in dozens of nutritionally balanced commercial foods. That's why you should somewhat limit how much cilantro your cat gets. Sometimes, a kitty can "prey" it in your garden if you have some.
Is lemongrass safe for cats? Unfortunately not. Lemongrass is toxic to cats, dogs, and other animals such as horses. The properties in lemongrass that are toxic to cats are essential oils and cyanogenic glycosides. They can mess up your cat's digestive system as cats do not have the enzymes necessary to digest these chemicals well.
Cats are attracted to lemongrass, and a few nibbles may not cause harm. However, you must lean on the side of caution and make sure that your cat doesn't eat much of it, if at all. To know more about which plants (including vegetables and herbs) are toxic and non-toxic to cats, you can check out the list by ASPCA .