Can Cats Eat Rice?

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It may be a staple in many human diets, but can cats eat rice?

It's safe for cats to nibble on some cooked rice now and then, and your veterinarian may even recommend it as an aid for digestive issues. You may also see rice in a number of cat foods since it can contribute to a nutritionally balanced cat food. Here's more on rice in your cat's meal plan.

What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Rice for Cats?

Rice, one of the most popular grains around the globe, is a seed that's produced in many different varieties and enjoyed in many different ways. A healthy meal plan for your cat includes nutrient-rich ingredients, some of which rice can provide. Think of rice as a good staple to have in a balanced cat food product, but other ingredients are also recommended, providing the remaining nutrients your cat needs to be happy and healthy.

Piles of white and brown rice next to each other, with wooden spoons filled with rice lying on top.The nutritional benefits of rice for your cat depend on the way rice is produced. Let's take a look at the differences between brown rice (whole grain) and white rice (processed).

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

Brown rice has a reputation for being healthy for humans and pets alike because it's a "whole" grain that retains all three of its edible parts (specifically the bran, germ and endosperm). It also contains a multitude of nutritional benefits important to your cat's health, including:

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Iron
  • Magnesium

The biggest difference between brown and white rice is the way they're processed for consumption and the amount of nutrients they contain. As the Harvard University School of Public Health explains, because brown rice remains intact in its true form, it contains higher amounts of these naturally produced vitamins and other nutritious ingredients. White rice, on the other hand, has been stripped of its essential nutrients during the milling process. Vitamins and iron are often added to the polished grain, which is then referred to as "enriched" white rice.

Striped cat eating rice off a white plate.Before incorporating rice (or any new food) into your cat's meal plan, it's a good idea to speak with your vet to ensure that it's the right choice for your cat.

Other Rice Considerations

While cooked rice can be a healthy treat, you need to be mindful that this means only cooked rice. All of the other additives that humans might enjoy, such as salt or soy sauce (which is also high in sodium), might not be good for your cat. While adding in veggies, such as carrots or peas, has nutritional value, it's still important to talk to your veterinarian before introducing anything new to your cat's meal.

Can Cats Eat Rice to Help with an Upset Stomach?

You may have heard that rice can be used for digestive upsets, and this isn't entirely unfounded since it's highly digestible and low in fiber. However, keep in mind that rice by itself won't provide complete and balanced nutrition for your kitty. If your kitty is experiencing digestive issues, consult with your veterinarian about transitioning your pet to a well-balanced, highly digestible cat food that's easy on the stomach. This way your cat can still get their love for the taste of rice (which is used in many highly digestible commercial pet foods) while keeping them safe and ensuring they're getting the right balance of nutrients.

Contributor Bio

Christine O'Brien

Christine O'Brien

Christine Brovelli-O'Brien, Ph.D., is an award-winning writer, educator, and long-time cat mom. She's a professional member of the Cat Writers' Association (CWA) and has written for industry-leading companies and organizations, including What to Expect When You're Expecting and NIU STEM Read. Find and follow Christine on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien

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