- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
As fall begins, pumpkin is soon to be everywhere you look.
Bound to be part of your diet this time of year, is it okay to feed it to your cat? Yes—and while pumpkin tends to drop off the cultural radar come December, it can be a delicious and beneficial dietary supplement for cats year-round.
Many cats enjoy the flavor of pumpkin, and it’s very good for them as well. It’s often recommended for digestive issues. With its high nutritional value and low-calorie count, it can help with weight loss, too. Add a little to your cat’s food, and they’ll likely lap it up like it’s a special treat. It’s important to note that while pumpkin itself is a healthy choice for cats, many holiday favorites such as pumpkin pie are best for human consumption only—these items contain spices and rich fats that are not good for cats.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats
Pumpkin is excellent for a cat’s digestive health because of its high fiber content. In fact, many veterinarians recommend pumpkin to treat digestive woes. “It will get the colon moving a little better in cats predisposed to constipation,” says Dr. Angelo Maggiolo, medical director of County Animal Clinic in Yonkers, New York.
Pumpkin is also packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc, but cats should already be getting enough of these necessary nutrients if they’re on a well-balanced diet.
Can Pumpkin Help With Weight Loss in Cats?
When used as advised by your veterinarian, pumpkin can be a great dietary supplement for obese or overweight cats. The fiber content can help kitties feel more satiated after mealtime, and it may also help to reduce hairballs as well as help to prevent issues with a cat’s anal sacs.
Can Cats Eat Canned Pumpkin?
Canned pumpkin is a popular choice for cats, as it requires no preparation and can be refrigerated for up to a week after opening. Unlike fresh pumpkin, it can easily be found year-round. If you opt to feed your cat canned pumpkin, it’s important to make sure you’re getting plain, unsweetened pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
Can Cats Eat Raw Pumpkin?
Cats can eat fresh pumpkin, served raw or cooked. When opting for fresh pumpkin, avoid feeding the stem, skin, or pulp to your cat, as those parts lack the nutritional value that the flesh of the pumpkin has. To feed your cat fresh pumpkin, simply chop it up into bite-size pieces or blend it into a purée.
How to Feed Cats Pumpkin
When offering plain canned pumpkin, start small with one supplementary tablespoon of pumpkin added to your pet’s meals. It can also be offered as a treat between meals—either plain or baked into cookies.
As with any dietary change, you’ll want to do so gradually. Just as for humans, too much fiber can cause more harm than help.
If you’d like recommendations based on your cat’s specific needs, your veterinarian can offer further guidance.
Can Cats Eat Pumpkin Pie?
No. Pumpkin pie is best left off the menu for cats. While pumpkin itself is good for cats, the other ingredients traditionally found in pumpkin pie, like sugar and nutmeg, can actually be harmful to them.
Can Cats Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Like the flesh of a pumpkin, pumpkin seeds are full of fiber and other nutrients and are safe for cats to eat in moderation. They can be ground up and added to food or fed to cats whole. While they’re safe to eat raw, cats may prefer them lightly toasted. “One or two toasted pumpkin seeds a day can be a healthy alternative to store-bought cat treats,” suggests The Nest.
Can Cats Eat Jack-O-Lanterns?
Though it may be tempting to “recycle” a jack-o-lantern by feeding it to your cat, it’s unwise to do so. “It may have rotted by sitting outside too long,” warns PetMD. (Fun fact: Some animal sanctuaries accept un-carved, unpainted pumpkins for farm animals such as pigs and goats!)
If you find that your cat has gotten into an old jack-o-lantern, it’s best to monitor them and take them to the vet if any issues arise.