One of the most important ways I ensure my cat’s health is through good nutrition. Apart from the typical commercial cat food, a lot of cat owners don’t know what kinds of food they should or shouldn’t give to their feline friend(s). In particular, many are not sure of the role of vegetables in a cat’s diet. As you already know, vegetables are healthy for humans; they are a great source of vitamins, fibre, potassium, and more. But does this apply to our feline friends? After all, they are obligate carnivores, meaning they get all the nutrients they need from a meat-based diet.
So, is it okay to feed vegetables to your cat? Yes, but there are some limitations. Although some vegetables are safe for your cat, some are not. Plus, since vegetables are not part of a cat’s natural diet, including too many vegetables in your cat’s diet can cause diabetic or digestive issues over time.
Vegetables are safe, but whether or not they are actively healthy for cats is another question altogether. You may have heard of Taurine; this is an essential amino acid that cats really need but can’t produce on their own. This nutrient can only be found in animal-based proteins. In fact, cats have the highest protein requirement than any other domesticated animal. Even so, they can still benefit from eating vegetables. In this article, I am going to share all there is to know about feeding vegetables to your cat and most importantly, how to do it right. Without further ado, let’s get started:
Can Cats Eat Vegetables
Although British Shorthair cats have the reputation of being independent, they depend on their owners for many things, feeding being one of them. The feeding of your feline friend should be of great importance to you as it plays a huge role in their health and overall wellbeing.
The issue of feeding felines vegetables is quite controversial. For some, it’s as simple as cats are obligate carnivores and don’t need vegetables. This doesn’t, however, mean that they can’t eat vegetables. Although they are not an essential part of a cat’s diet, the truth is they can offer some gastrointestinal and nutritional benefits for your cat.
How can cats benefit from eating vegetables?
Vegetables are a rich source of healthy ingredients like potassium, riboflavin, antioxidants, vitamins, magnesium, fibre, and more. All these can help boost your cat’s immune system, reduce the effects of ageing, and even aid digestion. Cats don’t like drinking water; given the high water content of most vegetables, they can also help keep your kitty hydrated.
Vegetables can also play an important role when your cat is overweight. Adding some veggies to her diet will help keep her weight down since they are low in calories.
What vegetables can cats eat?
At this point, I should mention that vegetables are such a diverse food group. There’s a wide variety of vegetables out there that are suitable for cat consumption that creating a comprehensive list is almost impossible. In that case, we’re going to identify those that are not only safe but also beneficial for your cat.
The first solid option is broccoli because it’s safe, easy to prepare, and most importantly, contains beneficial antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of cancer. Broccoli is also a great source of minerals, vitamins, dietary fibre, and roughage, all of which are beneficial to your cat’s health in one way or the other.
Carrots are another great option. They are low in calories and high in fibre, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B, and also calcium. Crunching on them is also great for your cat’s teeth. You should, however, avoid giving cats raw carrots since they are hard, rigid, and may present a major choking hazard. Cooked carrot is the safest way to serve it to your cat.
Winter squash is another beneficial vegetable for cats. As a rich source fibre, it can help your cat feel full so she doesn’t need to eat more. This is a perfect way to manage your cat’s weight without any dangers. Your British Shorthair will also benefit from other nutrients contained in this vegetable, including vitamins, iron, lutein, and more. Winter squash can also be essential for your cat’s hairball treatment.
Many other vegetables are safe for cat consumption and play a role in providing a healthy diet. Other obvious choices are peas, asparagus, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, corn, and green beans.
What Vegetables Are Unsafe For Cat Consumption?
While most vegetables are considered safe for British Shorthair cats to eat, some need to be kept away from your cat’s diet because they are either toxic/harmful to cats or are difficult for them to digest.
This category also includes several different vegetables, so thorough research is a must. Onions are the first kind of vegetables you should keep away from your cat. They contain thiosulphate –an oxidant that can react to a cat’s red blood cells, damaging or even causing them to burst. Garlic, leeks, and chives affect cats the same way as onions. These vegetables are toxic in all forms, whether raw or cooked, whole or chopped, and even powdered onions or garlic.
Tomatoes are rich sources of vitamins, dietary fibre, and potassium, but only the ripe ones are safe for cat consumption. Other parts of this plant, including the leaves, stem, and vine contain solanine –a natural pesticide that is toxic to cats. Unripe tomatoes can also cause gastrointestinal problems.
Although spinach is recommended for its anti-inflammatory properties, it should only be offered in small amounts. That’s because it contains calcium oxalate, which in larger quantities can cause serious urinary tract infections.
If you are unsure whether or not a particular vegetable is suitable for your cat, avoid feeding it to her until you get clarification. After all, cats can get all the nutrients they need from meat and vegetables are just a supplementary part of their diet.
How Many Vegetables Should You Give Your Cat?
Vegetables are beneficial to cats but not necessary; therefore, they should be fed to cats in moderation. It’s important to note that cats don’t digest vegetables as herbivores and omnivores do. Their digestive enzymes are designed to break down meat, and not vegetable matter. Their teeth are also designed to cut flesh and not grind plant matter. What I’m trying to say is serving too many veggies to your cat will cause more harm than good. Aim to ensure at least 90% of your cat’s diet is meat-based. The remaining 10% should come from treats, which include vegetables. You also don’t need to serve your cat vegetables every other day; offering them three or four times a week is more than enough. Keep in mind that some cat foods usually contain vegetables and as such, should be factored into the 90:10 per cent ratio.
Additionally, vegetables should be prepared in a certain way to ensure your cat won’t suffer an internal impaction. Start by washing them thoroughly to remove possible contaminants. It’s best to steam, cook, or bake them first, and then chop them into smaller pieces or puree so they are soft and easy to chew and swallow without the risk of choking. However, keep in mind that vegetables tend to lose some of their nutrient value when cooked. Some cats don’t like veggies; if that’s the case for your British Shorthair, consider mixing them with meat.
I hope that with this information, you’ve become more knowledgeable about the kinds of vegetables cats can and cannot eat, as well as how to feed them to avoid potential issues.