5 Vegetables Cats Can Eat (And 5 To Avoid!)

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As us cat owners know, one way to keep our feline friend as healthy as possible is by giving them good nutrition.

However, many cat owners are not always aware of what foods our cats can and cannot eat, aside from their normal cat food. So, can vegetables have a role in your cat’s diet? Read on to find out if cats can eat vegetables and if they’re a healthy choice for your cat.

Can Cats Eat Vegetables?

The simple answer to this is yes, although there are cautions with some vegetables.

It is perfectly fine to feed your cat some veggies, such as cooked carrot or broccoli, but avoid giving your cat certain vegetables such as onions or garlic, as these are toxic and can cause serious health problems.

Remember that cats should never be fed an all-vegetable diet and should always receive much of their nutrition from a meat-based diet.

Dogs and humans are omnivores, meaning we need meat and vegetables. Cats being carnivores mean that the animal protein they get from meat is the only type of protein that will fulfill a cat’s nutritional need. So, a high-quality cat food should have all the correct nutrition that your cat needs. You can certainly look at replacing high calorie treats with those found in lower-calorie vegetables.

Always check with your veterinarian before introducing new food to your cat’s diet.

Safe Vegetables For Cats

1. Broccoli

Not only is broccoli tasty, but it is also safe for your cat to eat. It is extremely easy to prepare and contains lots of antioxidants. Broccoli is also a good source of roughage, which will help your cat with better bowel movements and a healthy digestive system.

2. Carrots

Similarly, carrots are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, which is an essential vitamin for your cat to remain in good health. Carrots make a great snack, but these should be given in moderation.

Carrots can be given cooked or raw, but ideally should be cooked first to avoid becoming a choking hazard for your cat.

3. Green beans

Many other green vegetables are perfectly safe for your cat to eat and can play an important role in a healthy diet, including peas and green beans.

Fresh or frozen green beans (when cooked) can have many health benefits. If you are opting for canned green beans, make sure they are low in sodium and salt, as too much of this can be bad for your cat.

Green beans may be the most beneficial of all because they serve as a source of fibre and can help in your cat’s digestive system and weight loss control.

4. Spinach

In addition to providing vitamins and minerals, spinach can have an anti-inflammatory effect in felines. However, it is especially important that spinach is only given in low amounts, as it contains calcium oxalate. In small doses, this is harmless, but in larger quantities, it can contribute to serious urinary tract issues in your cat.

5. Apples

The simple answer is yes- cats can eat apples. Apples are a safe human food for cats to eat, although many cats will not like the taste. Some sources will claim that, because cats are ‘obligate carnivores’, they cannot digest apple.

This is not true. ‘Obligate carnivore’ simply means that cats need to eat meat to survive, as they can’t get all the nutrition they need from plant sources. Cats are still able to digest apple and other plant-based foods.

Apples should not be given to cats with diabetes, as they are high in sugar and can cause them to become destabilised. Apples should be given very cautiously to cats with IBD, sensitivity, and chronic gastroenteritis, as these cats are more prone to getting side effects from eating apples. The large amounts and combination of fibres in apples can be hard to digest, causing excess gas, an upset stomach, and diarrhea.

Are There Any Negatives To Feeding Cats Vegetables?

Cat eating lettuce

There are some downsides to feeding your cat vegetables. Most of these revolve around feeding too much vegetable matter or the wrong vegetables.

Cats are obligate carnivores, so they lack the digestive enzymes that are needed to break down vegetables in large quantities, so too many vegetables could cause your cat digestive upsets.

While vegetables do contain fiber, which is beneficial for the digestive system, vegetables also contain carbohydrates. Overloading cats with carbohydrates is one of the leading causes of the growing problem of feline obesity. Therefore, while cats can safely eat vegetables, it is important that they are only given to them in small amounts.

Whilst it is generally considered safe to feed your cat most vegetables – if they are perfectly cooked and prepared – some vegetables do need to be avoided because they are hazardous to cats, or because cats have difficulty digesting them.

Some of the vegetables to stay away from include:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes*
  • Chives
  • Leeks
  • Avocados

Vegetables To Avoid

Onions, Chives, and Garlic

Onions are toxic because they contain thiosulphate, which has the potential to damage a cat’s red blood cells.

This vegetable is toxic in all forms (from raw to cooked and even onion powder). Onions can cause an unpleasant reaction, even in small doses, while large enough amounts of onion can be deadly to some cats.

Garlic, chives, and leeks also produce remarkably similar effects to onions (as they are in the same vegetable family), but garlic has been found to be several times more potent than onion. Symptoms of your cat that has eaten onion include vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and general irritation of the mouth.

Tomatoes

Ripe tomatoes, on their own, are not dangerous for cats to eat. However, tomato leaves, stems and other parts of the tomato plant are toxic, and a tomato which is not yet ripe can cause gastrointestinal problems.

Avocados

Avocados are a healthy and on trend snack for us, but for cats they can cause problems. Avocados have a fat content which is just too high for cats. It also contains a toxin for cats called Persin. If a cat has even just a small slice of avocado then it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even a painful condition called pancreatitis.

Read More: Pancreatitis in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Benefits Of Vegetables For Cats

Cat eating salad

Though they’re not an essential part of the feline diet, vegetables do have some nutritional benefits for cats.

Remember, vegetables are not an essential part of your cat’s diet and although cats cannot eat vegetables alone, they can provide nutritional health benefits.

In general, cats can eat most vegetables, with many being mixed in with their normal diet. As vegetables contain nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants, which are all beneficial for your cat’s body, helping to boost a cat’s immune system and aid in digestion.

Vegetables can serve as a low-calorie alternative to normal cat treats, but as with all dietary plans, you should first consult your veterinarian about your cat’s specific needs.

You will find many different vegetables on the market, but be sure to only offer your cat veggies which are safe and beneficial.

Conclusion

In general, most vegetables are considered safe but should only be given as an occasional treat and should not make up the core of a cat’s diet.

Always consult your veterinarian and do research into what vegetables are suitable. If vegetables do cause an upset for your cat or your cat seems unwell after eating vegetables, then you should seek advice from your veterinarian.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much vegetable can I give my cat?

If you want to give your cat some vegetables, then bake or steam and cut them into small pieces. Offer the vegetables alone or puree them and mix them into your cat’s regular food.

At least 90 percent of your cat’s recommended daily calorie intake should be through high-quality cat food, with no more than 10 percent coming from treats, but these treats could include vegetables.

Are vegetables good for cats?

Cats do not actually require vegetables in their diet, but they are able to safely eat most of them. In small doses, vegetables can be of value to your cat, but they should not form a major part of their diet. To ensure your cat is getting all the nutrients they need, you should invest in a good quality cat food.

Can cats eat vegetables every day?

You do not need to provide your cat with vegetables every day, with cats getting most benefits when they are given a few times a week as a treat.

Even though vegetables are considered extremely healthy for us, exceeding the 10 percent mark of your cat’s daily calorie intake will mean you risk problems with too many carbohydrates, which could lead to obesity.

Can I give my cat too much vegetable?

Any food has the potential to make your cat unwell, if eaten to excess, so it is important to remember that cats can be allergic to any kind of food.

Dawn Prime, RSQP

About Dawn Prime, RSQP

Dawn Prime is an RSQP (RAMA - Registered Animal Medicine Advisor) and an Animal Nurse Assistant within a companion animal veterinary practice on the Norfolk/Suffolk border in England. Drawing on her background as an award-winning SQP, Dawn shares her own work and that of the animal health industry through her own social media and blogs.

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