Can Cats Eat Pumpkin Or Is It Bad For Them?
Many pet parents say that cats shouldn’t be fed with anything but cat food. However, if you take a closer look at the labels of some high quality foods, you’ll see that apart from meat they’re also packed with tons of herbivorous foods.
One such food is pumpkin. It’s an ingredient in a plethora of cat food recipes, especially the gastro and holistic ones modified for furballs with sensitive stomachs.
So that means pumpkin is safe for cats, right? It actually depends on the type of pumpkin, the way it’s served and seasoned, as well as on the dose and frequency of feeding. I’ll explain some of the pros and cons of giving pumpkin to cats below.
Benefits of feeding pumpkin to your cat
We, human beings, don’t consider pumpkin in any of its forms as a superfood. However, it is a superfood for cats of all breeds, ages and genders when it’s given to them in moderation and only when necessary.
Here are the key advantages in pumpkin:
- Essential fiber
- Vitamins A, C and B6
- Riboflavin and thiamine
So, what are the benefits of giving pumpkin to your fluffy friend?
- Boosts the immune system
- Gets rid of constipation caused by lack of fiber
- Relieves diarrhea by absorbing the excessive water
- Helps control weight by limiting the carb intake
- Supports urinary health with its fatty acids and antioxidants
As you can see, there are quite a few advantageous aspects of feeding pumpkin to your cat. You don’t have to buy cat food with pumpkin just to include this vegetable in your pet’s diet. Of course, raw pumpkin must be off-limits for cats of all breeds and ages. But you can buy raw pumpkin and cook it before serving it to your furball. Or you can use canned/ pre-cooked pumpkin as an alternative.
What types of pumpkin can cats eat?
Here’s a quick guide on the types of pumpkin, which are safe for cats and kittens, as well as for other animals, such as dogs.
Mashed/ pureed pumpkin
The easiest way to feed pumpkin to your cat is to use mashed or pureed pumpkin. Mix it in some of the kitty’s favorite cat food or serve it as a treat. Either way, the veggie will do its magic. Just make sure the pumpkin is unseasoned! Any sweeteners or salty/ spicy seasonings can be toxic for your beloved furball. Moreover, don’t ever use milk to make the consistency smoother. Many kitties are lactose intolerant and the milk can upset their tummies.
Yes, you can give canned pumpkin to your cat. If it’s unseasoned and low in sugar/ sodium (even “plain” canned pumpkin has some sugar and salt), it will be safe for your kitty.
Stay away from your store’s pumpkin pie filling! These things usually include additives like cinnamon, sugar, ginger and other ingredients, which are harmful for animals. What’s more, they also contain lots of sugar and various preservatives. Opt for that plain canned pumpkin – it’s your safest bet when it comes to cats and dogs alike.
All-natural pumpkin juice is safe for cats. You can use the liquids from plain canned pumpkin or you can strain homemade pumpkin juice for your kitty. Mix tiny amounts of the juice in the cat’s food. Why tiny amounts? The juice won’t be sufficient enough to replace the feline’s daily water intake requirement. Plus, too much juice can actually cause indigestion, vomiting and diarrhea.
Pumpkin seeds are perfectly safe for cats to eat. What’s more, they’re actually good for them. Pumpkin seeds are extremely rich in potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber, protein and healthy fatty acids. Roast them, crush them and mix them with your kitty’s food without adding any topping or spices.
Don’t give your cat pumpkin skin, pumpkin pulp, raw pumpkin or leftovers from a Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin that has already been cut out and left inside/ outside even if it hasn’t started going bad just yet.
Cats can’t digest pumpkin skin and pulp well. The same goes for raw pumpkin. As for the Jack-O-Lanterns… Even if the pumpkin doesn’t have any visible signs of rotting yet, it does have a bunch of bacteria, which could pose a health risk to cats (and to humans, dogs and other creatures).
If your pet is having problems with constipation, diarrhea, tummy aches or weight gain, opt for adding some pumpkin to its meals. Don’t overdo it though! Cats are and will always be carnivores. You can’t and shouldn’t treat pumpkin as a main ingredient and substitute to meat. If you need to add pumpkin to your kitty’s everyday diet, consult with your vet on the safe amounts and frequency of feeding.