Every responsible cat guardian knows that cats are obligate carnivores, which means that their diet should mostly be composed of protein and fats. While carbs normally shouldn’t be present in the food you feed them, there are some veggies that they can safely eat.
In today’s article, we’re answering the question ‘Can cats eat vegetables?’ and we’re also looking at which ones are good and which ones can cause problems.
Veggies contain heaps of minerals and vitamins, many of which are essential for the good functioning of an animal’s body. However, cats are genetically programmed to get their essential nutrients mostly from the prey they hunt, which is why their diet contains very small quantities of veggies.
In fact, some cats eat greens only when they feel that something might be wrong with their digestion, in which case they might nibble on some cat grass, for example.
The best benefit that your cat can enjoy from vegetables is that they are low in calories. Compared to fruit, they contain minimal amounts of sugar, which means that they’re not going to cause a spike in your feline friend’s blood sugar levels.
While it is not recommended for you to feed a lot of veggies to your cat, adding some to her diet can help prevent obesity. Most cats are prone to becoming obese these days, partially because they are fed a commercial diet that not only contains good ingredients but also stabilizers, additives, artificial colors, and grain — all of which can influence your cat’s weight and health on the whole.
Some of the nutrients that your cat can get from vegetables are the following:
- Vitamin C
- B vitamins
- Healthy fiber (compared to unhealthy fiber, which would come from grains)
What Vegetables Can Cats Eat?
You might have noticed that many canned cat food varieties contain green beans, which could be odd at a first glance. But the truth is that green beans are rich in fiber, so they can improve your cat’s digestion, especially if she’s been experiencing digestive distress.
Some cats like to eat raw green beans as they are crunchy and sometimes even a little sweet. Try to opt for organic varieties or get them from the Farmer’s Market – and ask about whether they’ve been sprayed with pesticides or weed killers, just to be on the safe side of things.
Being rich in manganese, magnesium, as well as potassium, zucchini makes a healthy vegetable for humans and cats alike. It’s mostly harmless, and it’s also low in calories. Another similar veggie that you can safely feed to your pet is cucumber.
Pretty much all types of squash are healthy for cats as they contain good fiber. This means that feeding winter squash and even cooked or canned pumpkin (so long as it’s organic) to your feline friend every once in a while can regulate her digestion.
Squash can be particularly helpful for cats that have chronic constipation.
Peas have a good amount of protein, so they are fitter for a cat’s diet. However, they also have a lot of carbs. Some cats might show no interest in peas at all, and that’s fine – you can simply feed them other types of veggies without worrying that they’re not getting all the right nutrients from their diet.
Carrots are low in calories and rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and they also contain a good amount of fiber. But only small amounts are safe, and cooked carrots are better than raw ones. Make sure to chop them up into small pieces so that they present no choking hazard.
Small amounts of steamed broccoli or asparagus can also be fed to cats. Broccoli is very fibrous, so large quantities can lead to bloating, gas, and even diarrhea, in some cases.
What Veggies Are Unsafe for Cats?
The following vegetables should not be fed to cats:
- Spinach (as it contains calcium oxalate and could lead to urinary tract health issues)
- Tomatoes (dangerous due to their solanine content)
Kale is another unsafe vegetable that you should never feed to your feline companion. Unfortunately, kale can cause anemia, and it is also rich in calcium oxalate, like spinach, so it can cause your cat to develop UTIs or kidney problems.
What Is the Safe Amount of Veggies That a Cat Can Have?
Given that cats are carnivores, you should think of vegetables as treats. Since most veterinarians recommend feeding as few treats to your pets as possible, you can tell that veggies should be fed sparingly.
Treats should make up around 5 to 10% of a cat’s diet, so that’s the safe amount of veggies for pets.
Depending on your cat’s size, the safe amount of veggies that you can feed her can range between one teaspoon and one tablespoon per week. Try not to overdo it as too many veggies can cause digestive issues, and the last thing you might want is to end up at the vet clinic for this reason.
Last, but not least, make sure to talk to your veterinarian before adding any type of new food to your cat’s diet, and make sure to do it gradually.