Can Cats Eat Pumpkin?
As the leaves change and pumpkin flavor and aroma fills our ovens and coffee cups, we can’t help but get enough of this fall squash fruit. But have you ever considered if cats can eat pumpkin? They can! Not only can cats eat pumpkin, it is a nutritious treat that most cats are delighted to have added to their diet.
Is Pumpkin Good for Cats? The Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats
The most widely known benefit of pumpkin for cats is a digestive one. If your cat has regular GI issues, you should consult your vet. But for the occasional abnormal stool or hairballs, pumpkin can be an effective treatment.
Pumpkins have a high water and fiber content and can act to hydrate the intestines and their contents when cats are suffering from constipation. The water and fibers will be absorbed by the dry stools in your cat’s intestines, and your kitty may experience relief as soon as a few hours. This high fiber content also makes pumpkin a great part of your cat’s routine to aid in hairball prevention.
Oddly enough, pumpkin can also be used to treat diarrhea. The soluble fiber in pumpkins actually helps absorb excess water in the bowels that the body didn’t absorb properly, thereby helping to calm diarrhea.
Pumpkin is also high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants (good for overall healthy skin and fur), and They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium, and iron and may even reduce the likelihood your cat will develop cancer.
It is important to remember that while these vitamins and minerals are beneficial, if your cat eats a balanced diet, he or she should not be deficient in these requirements.
With obesity affecting a significant number of our cats, pumpkin is also useful as a supplement to aid in weight loss for your cat. Pumpkin adds bulk and will help keep your cat feeling full longer. If your cat is obese, contact your vet to get a personalized diet plan so your cat is not losing too much weight too rapidly, or too little weight too slowly.
How Much Pumpkin Is Safe for Cats?
Although pumpkin is a great addition to most cats’ diets, there is a limit to just about everything. No one knows the exact limit, but a recommended amount to start with is 1 teaspoon for adult cats or 1/2 teaspoon for smaller cats and kittens at each meal. The amount can be increased up to 4 teaspoons for larger adult cats.
A warning sign you are overdoing the pumpkin supplementation is if the cat’s stools become orange, larger than usual and pudding-like in firmness. If loose stools do occur, skip the next supplementation of pumpkin.
If your cat has a medical condition, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease or suffers from dehydration, always talk to your vet first.
How to Feed Your Cat Pumpkin
There are a few simple do’s and don’ts to follow as a guideline for feeding pumpkin to cats. It is not safe to feed cats jack-o’-lanterns because pumpkin parts will go rancid very quickly. The leaves and stems are covered in sharp little hairs, which can irritate the mouth and gastrointestinal tract and cause tiny cuts in the cat’s intestines.
The safest and simplest way to incorporate pumpkin into your feline’s diet is by using unsweetened, spiceless, pure canned pumpkin, which you should be able to find in your grocery store. You can also try Nummy Tum-Tum’s 100% pure organic pumpkin for cats and dogs.
The pumpkin can be added directly to cat food. Many kitties enjoy the pumpkin flavor so much they are happy to lick pumpkin straight from the spoon, savoring it as a special cat treat. Remember to start slowly (1/2 teaspoon for smaller cats and 1 teaspoon for adult cats per meal) and adjust the amount as needed.
While many human foods are unsafe for our feline companions, pure pumpkin is a safe addition to your cat’s diet this fall season and year-round.
Dr. Laci Schaible is a veterinarian, author, and entrepreneur who has wasted no time making a name for herself. After graduating with top honors from Tulane University at the age of 19, she became one of the youngest U.S. trained veterinarians when she graduated at the age of 23. She ran her own veterinary hospital for several years before co-founding VetLIVE.com, which connects pet parents to licensed veterinarians 24/7.
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