- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
What’s up, doc? Carrots are delicious, crunchy vegetables that have been a part of our lunch or afternoon snacks for years. Whether we cook them or cut them up to put them in a bountiful salad, carrots give us that light sweetness and satisfying crunch we need to keep going throughout our day. As we eat our vitamin-filled snack, our cats may want in on that satisfying crunch too.
Carrots are filled with health benefits for humans, but our feline friends have carnivorous digestive systems and process most “human foods” in a different way. Some foods may be non-toxic or even beneficial to a cat’s diet, while others cause issues that have lasting effects.
Can your cat crunch on this healthy snack? Here’s what you need to know about whether cats can eat carrots.
Not only does this orange root vegetable contain several vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K1, B6, potassium, and fiber, they are treasured as an excellent source of beta carotene.
Beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A when ingested, is highly regarded as a super antioxidant. It is linked to helping slow cognitive decline, fighting off lung cancer, and maintaining skin and eye health.
Due to their extremely low-calorie count, a doctor explains one could eat a pound of carrots a day and not overeat. They also help boost the immune system and aid with digestive issues. Is there anything a carrot can’t do?
The short answer is, “Yes, but…” According to PetMD, carrots and some other vegetables are safe for your pet to eat. However, vegetables are not part of a cat’s natural carnivorous diet. Having too much sugar (yes, even natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables) in a cat’s diet can cause digestive or diabetic issues over time. They also should never be used as a meal replacement as they lack necessary components of a well-rounded feline diet.
More interestingly, cats lack taste receptors for sweetness, as Scientific American explains. If you’re expecting your cat to enjoy the sweetness of a carrot, they won’t be reacting the way you’d hope. They may respond positively to the texture though, as they do with many types of vegetables and grains.
On WebMD, experts suggest steaming vegetables in general before serving them to your cat, though an occasional raw veggie won’t hurt.
Though unlikely, if carrots were introduced to your cat’s diet regularly, it may lead to obesity and diabetes symptoms. Even though carrots help humans maintain weight, cats can digest fruit and vegetable sugar very differently. Raising their blood sugar levels on a frequent basis may create long term health issues.
According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, symptoms of feline diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Constant urination
- Lack of appetite
- Inability to jump
Contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice these symptoms as it may be the beginning signs of diabetes.
If you’re worried about your cat’s sugar intake in general, consider checking the packages. Some cat treats may have excess amounts of sugar and carbohydrates.
Gary Richter, DVM, owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California and Holistic Veterinary Care tells Rover, “Pet owners can always try to give vegetables to cats in food or treats. Not all will eat them. There certainly are good nutrients in vegetables when part of a balanced meal.”
If you’d like to experiment with different vegetables for your pet beyond carrots, these veggies are not toxic to cats, according to the ASPCA:
- Celery (they love the crunch!)
- Green bell peppers
- Spinach (Filled with vitamins A, C, and K!)
- Peas (Often found in many prepackaged foods for cats and dogs as a vitamin-filled addition)
- Pumpkin (Pumpkin is used often as a way to get fiber in your cat’s diet)
When testing different vegetables with your cat, do so sparingly. “There is no reason cats can’t be given human food as long as it is nutritionally appropriate,” Dr. Richter explains. “That said, cats tend to be very specific about what they will eat and they like consistency. Most are not enthusiastic about changes in their diet.”
At the end of the day. remember that your cat is still a carnivore. If you feed your cat full meals replaced with veggies, they’ll miss out on vital nutrients of properly formulated cat food.
“The large majority of what cats eat should be a balanced diet,” Dr. Richter says. “In general, treats are not balanced and should not make up a significant portion of their daily intake.”
So yes, a little carrot should be totally OK. But don’t go thinking your cat is a rabbit anytime soon.