Feeding Vegetables to Cats

by Laura Agadoni, Demand Media
    Cats can eat some vegetables.

    Cats can eat some vegetables.

    Just because you need plenty of vegetables in your diet doesn’t mean your cat does. Cats need mostly proteins to lead a healthy life because they are carnivores. But if your cat is more tubby than tabby, you might want to introduce some veggie treats.

    Benefits

    Although cats are meat-eaters, when they hunt and eat their natural prey, they eat the vegetable matter in the prey’s gut. Cats are built to tolerate a certain amount of roughage in their diets. If your cat is overweight, adding some veggies to her diet can help keep her weight down. Feeding your cat vegetables can also boost her immune system and can lessen the effects of aging.

    Good and Bad

    Good vegetables to offer your cat are chopped carrots, peas, frozen corn, broccoli florets, green beans, zucchini, lettuce, spinach and catnip. Do not offer garlic, onions, tomatoes, avocados or mushrooms. These foods are either toxic to cats or are difficult for them to digest. Vegetables can replace packaged pet snacks you can get at the grocery store, but give them only sparingly. Treats are just something extra you offer your cat in addition to her regular diet, not as a replacement for her meal.

    How to Offer

    Bake or steam the vegetables and cut them into small pieces. Offer the vegetables alone, or puree them and mix them into your cat’s regular food. Offer only a small amount at a time. You don’t want to overload your cat with carbs. Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, of CatInfo.org said, “Cats do not have a physiologic requirement for vegetables and actually lack the enzymes needed to break down this food source for efficient utilization.”

    Too Much is Bad

    Look at the ingredients of the cat food you buy. Many foods, especially dry food, contain too much plant-based protein instead of animal-based protein. A muscle meat should be the first ingredient and will be on the label as “chicken” or “turkey,” for example. A cat food that contains corn, wheat or soy as the main ingredient is not a good choice. The amount of carbohydrates in commercial cat food should be no more than 3 to 5 percent of the total ingredients.

    About the Author

    Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.

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