Can Cats Have Pumpkin? (& Is It Healthy?)
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Curious cats like to try everything! But can cats eat pumpkin? If your favorite feline friend is inquisitive about your morning sprinkle of pumpkin granola on yogurt or holiday baking projects, have no fear. Pumpkin is safe for cats. But there's a little more to know about this popular squash and how it can be enjoyed safely by your pet.
Let's learn which types of pumpkin products to keep safely tucked away in your kitchen, how to offer pumpkin to your cat and how this squash might benefit their health.
Can Cats Have Pumpkin?
Those sugary slices of pumpkin pie, seasonal lattes or spiced pumpkin bars are delicious for us humans, but they aren't a good treat for cats. While cats can digest pumpkin, the excess sugars, fats, and spices found in pumpkin desserts and drinks are not healthy them.
The Pet Poison Helpline explains that if your cat gets into the container of ground cinnamon or licks at a bottle of cinnamon essential oil or extract used to flavor your pumpkin treats, they may experience any of the following:
- Lowered blood sugar levels
- Mouth and lung irritation
- Heart or liver issues
Nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice are no better — be sure to keep these spices away from your cat as well.
Can cats eat pumpkin? Yes! The pumpkin that's safe for cats is plain, cooked pumpkin. You can find it canned, or bake a fresh squash in your oven. If you go the canned route, be sure you're not choosing pumpkin pie filling as it's often seasoned. You want plain canned pumpkin, often packed with water.
The Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Veggies are good for you and your pet! Pumpkin is filled with fiber, water, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and ample minerals and vitamins including A, C and K, according to the Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota. The orange-colored squash is also low in calories.
The fiber in pumpkin can both reduce excess moisture in your pet's digestive tract and add bulk to stools, helping to remedy diarrhea. The water in pumpkin also helps to alleviate constipation. The secret: moderation and portion control. Too much pumpkin may trigger loose stools.
Feeding Your Cat a Balanced Meal Plan
If you discover your cat craves a spoonful of the colorful vegetable, just remember it's a treat, not a meal. Try freezing the squash in small ice cube trays to create a frosty occasional snack. Or, add a dollop of cooked pumpkin to the top of their kibble as a meal-time appetizer. Then, monitor your pet. If your cat is having tummy issues such as flatulence, rumbles or issues defecating, it's best to skip the pumpkin. On the other hand, if pumpkin seems to alleviate irregular bowel movements, make pumpkin part of routine feedings. Can cats have pumpkin daily? If your pet seems to benefit from it, the answer is yes!
Although they may beg for them, cats can't live on treats alone! They require the properly balanced nutrition of a high-quality cat food. A few pet foods contain pumpkin, which might mean your squash-loving cat will find them extra delicious! Ask your veterinarian if a food product containing pumpkin might be beneficial for your pet.
We all love spoiling our furry friends, but sharing a spiced or sweetened pumpkin treat isn't the best option. Instead, try a playful cat treat-toy combo, like a ball filled with crunchy morsels that fall out as your pet plays. Or, if your cat is crazy for pumpkin, make it a special indulgence during your Friday night snuggle fest. Buying a can of plain pumpkin is a great treat to share with your cat and a lovely excuse to make a pumpkin smoothie for yourself!
Angela Tague is a pet mom and writer living in the Midwest. When she's not making a mess in the kitchen, exploring nature trails with her dog, or attending a yoga workshop, she's writing full-time for multiple lifestyle and technology brands. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn @AngelaTague.