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jacksonRice's avatar

Are vegetables good for cats?

Asked by jacksonRice (407 points ) July 10th, 2008

My cat is an incredibly picky eater so I get her absurdly expensive fancy food that has little peas & carrots in it. She (unsurprisingly) does not eat the peas & carrots. Should she? Why are there peas & carrots in cat food if cats shouldn’t eat vegetables?

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22 Answers

syz's avatar

Cats are obligate carnivores. They do not need to eat vegetables (but it won’t hurt them to have some amount added to thier meat). Most commercial pet foods are designed to appeal to the owner of the animal (who has the money) rather than the pet.

marinelife's avatar

syz said it all succinctly and purrfectly! Marketing strikes again. It is not your cat that evaluates the pet food based on its smell and look. In fact, if you can afford it, buy a high-protein cat food with no carbohydrates.

This site gives this additional biological background if you want to read more:
“Biologists describe no feline species as omnivore (eating every kind of food). Likewise, no one has observed the behavior of eating plant matter in these cats. Particularly the African Wildcat’s natural environment is not one that supports lush plant growths to encourage the eating of abundant vegetation. Of all 46 cat species known, the only one to take fruit as part of its diet is the Margay (Leopardus wiedi) from South America. I would like to add, however, that the Margay is somewhat of an exception in other areas of its behavior as well.”

gailcalled's avatar

(I love to say this.) My cat eats grass when he is outside. So far, no harm done, since no one around here fertilizes or sprays.

surlygirl's avatar

we buy little pots of wheat grass at the store for the kids. only one eats it, usually in a few days, and the plant never recovers. thankfully they are cheap!

tinyfaery's avatar

One of my cats loves to eat the strangest things: oranges, tomatoes, lettuce, sweet potatoes, and more. None of these foods ever seem to upset her stomach. Cats are carnivores, but don’t they also digest the plant matter that their prey consume?

I once read cats don’t like sweets, but the fat in sweet things, like ice cream. Tell that to my cat who loves red vines (which have no fat). Every time I bring some home she demands that I give her some. Go figure!

syz's avatar

My hand raised kitten thinks he’s a human, and so eats what we eat. He’ll fight you for an apple and even drinks pickle juice! The only fruit that I’ve found so far that he won’t eat is stawberry.

Some cats just haven’t read the books….clearly they don’t know what they’re supposed to be eating.

@gail, look out for the grass eating….you may later find pile of puke in the house. Many cats use grass as a mechanical irritant to vomit. No one knows why, really. There are lots of theories about expelling worms and treating an upset stomach, but plenty of perfectly healthy cats eat grass and puke. I swear they enjoy it. Especially on my bed. Especially at 4 am.

gailcalled's avatar

@Syx: (Sorry for laughing.) Milo puked only twice. Once when my daughter (owner) came to visit, and once in the cage on the way home from vet’s. A long ride, bumpy roads and Milo very obligingly aimed out the cage door onto the car upholstery.

@Tiny: what on earth are red vines?

marinelife's avatar

@GC The candy in question.

gailcalled's avatar

edit: syz

Marina; What a difference 3/4 of a generation makes. People eat that voluntarily?

tinyfaery's avatar

@gail What did they used to offer, snack wise, at the movies? Don’t knock it till you try it!
Yummy, chewy, goodness!

gailcalled's avatar

I don’t eat candy much any longer, but (see Harp and choc. chip cookies) all chocolate tasted much different and better. Tootsie rolls now taste like soap, for example. But they could remove your fillings as easy as licorice.

muchfaith's avatar

My botle fed cat loves cantelope and cucumbers.

james_lang's avatar

My dog Bruce is also a fussy eater and we tried many different methods to shake him out of it. Eventually my vet referred me to a fantastic site that offers a variety of different styles of pet food. the site is called Zooplus UK

Hope this helps its not too expensive either. :)

Tulsi17's avatar

I just started feeding my cats “Spot’s Stew”. They love it! It’s weird – it really looks like…well…stew with carrots and other chunky vegetable things. I have three cats: 17, 12, 12. The 17 yr old is a 3.5 lb eating machine, and the others keep up well enough. They DO eat the vegetables, too, and there’s been no stomach upset.
I also buy them wheat grass in the organic section of the supermarket, and yes – they looooove to eat it and then puke. I have hardwood floors so it’s not so bad…
Syz – you made me laugh out loud with your post. I’ve been there, and the furry demons’ timing is always PERFECT!
One last thing, my oldest cat (Tulsi) liked to eat oranges when she was younger AND ALSO LIKES RED VINES, (nod to tinyfaery) What’s up with that! I only give her a tiny bit once in a very great while. Everything in moderation, right? She’s made it all the way to 17 and going strong!!! You, go, kitty girl!!!

Diva_sMom's avatar

My Ragdoll will do anything for vegetables. I used cooked cauliflower to toilet train her, and also to clicker train her to sit, stay, down and give a paw. She retrieves and comes when called too.

I supplement her diet with extra taurine because she prefers vegetables to protein, but she does seem to like her new salmon diet over the duck one she was on. My dogs get veggies with their food, and she insists on it too. I think she thinks she is a dog anyway.

Senyoreeta's avatar

Ya its very much good to give vegetables to cat…

gailcalled's avatar

@Diva_sMom: You were able to train your cat?

pgermaux's avatar

My 5 year old cat has developed a liking for frozen peas, cooked of course! I put them in her dish for a snack and she positively wolfs them down. She probably thinks they are green biscuits!!

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Ayianna's avatar

Carrots and peas aren’t a natural part of your cat’s diet, no. You should not expect your cat to eat every kind of veggie or fruit you offer. If you would LIKE for your cat to eat more vegetation, you could try offering other kinds of fruits or veggies – or both! I have read that cucumber is a popular taste cats have. Melons except for watermelon have a similar taste and may be preferable (I strongly suggest NOT feeding any pet watermelon, as it is a diarrhetic.) Small amounts of cooked potato are okay, but your cat may prefer it to have a meaty flavor – as if it was roasted with meat or with a meat flavored sauce. Onion bulbs (the part we normally eat) are shown to produce anemia (low red blood counts), so you’ll want to stay away from experimenting with that.

If your cat is as picky as you say (and you’re still having trouble with feeding, as I see your post was 3 years ago), but also for other readers who find this post, you might try cooking your own meats for him/her/them. Many of the inexpensive to moderately expensive canned cat foods are not fully meat. The meaty chunks are often supplemented with vegetable proteins and fibers that aren’t necessarily tasty or nutritious for your cat. The only way to ensure that you know exactly what goes in is to make it yourself. An hour a week to prepare your kitty’s food isn’t that much when you consider the possible health benefits.

Not all cats puke when they eat grass. Most cats that I have known do eat small amounts of greens, even wild onion greens sometimes and few have had vomit issues associated with eating them. There is a close association between the quantity of grassy greens consumed and whether the animal is likely to vomit. So if you have a cat who likes grass and you offer it, you could put it somewhere they don’t have access to after about a minute of munching to reduce or completely prevent vomiting!

@gailcalled: Cats are completely trainable. It just takes a different mindset, just like you wouldn’t try to teach a dolphin the same way you train a dog.

SuzM122's avatar

Some fruits and veggies are very healthy for cats. Look for a really good natural cat food brand with a good balance of fruits and veggies in the ingredients – don’t give them table scraps. My cat’s food has peas, pumpkin, beet, spinach as well as meat and she looooves it. I personally don’t think grains are good for cats so we stick to the grain-free Alpha – it’s affordable, healthy and filled with all good stuff.

CatLover88's avatar

My god people, you shouldn’t be feeding your cats any of this! unless of course, like some of you have stated they ASK for it (oh yes, cats ask when they want something) but seriously, cats and dogs (Cats strictly meat, dogs can and will sometimes eat fruit in the wild) are designed to eat meat, mainly meat, so are humans (and fruit) but most animals that are not heribvioures cannot and should not eat vegetables and NEVER (EVER) grains, grains will destroy the intestinal tracks of ALL animals. especially predators. please, please read the foods you give your animals! especially if they are male and castrated! (soy can cause massive weight gain in male animals, and cancer in all animals + humans, please don’t feed it to your aniamls or children!

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