Can Cats Eat Peas? (Are They Poisonous For Cats?)

Posted in: Cat Health - Last Updated: June 27, 2023 - Author: Dexter Jones
Posted in Cat Health 
Last Updated: June 27, 2023  
Author:  Dexter Jones

For humans, peas can be a healthy and nutritious part of our diet as well as a convenient snack. However, it may seem a bit strange to offer those same peas up to your furry friend come dinner time. 

Are peas safe for your cat to eat? And if they are, do they offer the same health benefits as they would humans?

can cats eat peas

In this article, we'll go over whether or not your cats can safely eat peas as well as if they're an actual benefit to them. We'll also touch on other questionable veggies and what the procedure goes for feeding your cat any non-meat foods.

Can Cats Eat Peas? (in short)

Yes, kinda, cats can consume peas in small amounts, but it is important to understand that they are obligate carnivores and get their essential nutrients primarily from animal-based sources.

While peas can provide some fiber, vitamins, and minerals, they do not offer much nutritional value to cats. Also, importantly, some cats may have difficulty digesting peas properly, leading to digestive issues. So be cautious.

Are Peas Safe For Cats To Consume? 

For most people hearing that for the first time, your first guess is that they probably can't. After all, cats are obligate carnivorous animals and are supposed to survive off of an exclusively meat-based diet. 

That means, regardless of the inherent safety or benefits of a vegetable, cats shouldn't seemingly be allowed to eat them... right?

One of the substances that cats need is taurine, which is only available to them in animal proteins. Moreover, there are other vitamins and minerals in peas that can benefit them.

These include Vitamin C,  Vitamin B6, Vitamin D, Iron, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Manganese Magnesium, and Calcium. 

These nutrients help to keep their skin, immune system, fur, cat’s eyes, muscles, nerves, and bones healthy. 

Well, the reality is not only that cats can eat peas from time to time without any issues (actually getting some benefit from them) but they can eat vegetables in general without too much of an issue.

No, that doesn't mean you'll want to toss out their sardines and wet food for a small salad, however, if you've got a few peas in YOUR salad and you want to toss a few their way, go ahead! 

Not only are they beneficial to your cat, but they're often also considered a tasty surprise!

can cats have peas

Can Cats Have Peas? Any Benefits?

So, are peas good for cats in any way? Let's dig in! 

Peas, while not quite given the same respect as other more prominent vegetables out there (like broccoli or spinach), are actually a surprisingly nutrient-dense food, especially for cats. 

No, that doesn't mean you can now feed your cats only peas from now on (more on that later) but it does make for a great supplement to their diet.

Peas are high in vitamins B, C, and K while also being great sources of iron, copper, and even potassium. Peas, when fed to your cat in moderation (no more than 10% of their daily diet), act as a great and low-calorie alternative treats to many of the cat treats on the market. This will ensure your cat can better manage their weight while also eating something natural and just as tasty!

It's worth noting that the leading fresh cat food that we recommend, Smalls cat food, has peas in many of its fresh recipes. Their view is that cats would naturally ingest small amounts of vegetables from the stomach contents of their prey. Their preference is to use a very small amount of pea in these recipes because they are high in fiber and have a lot of nutrients and minerals.

What Kinds of Peas Can a Cat Eat?

Indeed, cats can definitely benefit from adding peas to their diet. However, it's also just as true that certain other peas can be a serious problem for them. So err on the side of caution For example, while fresh peas are perfectly fine, cooked or seasoned peas can be a serious problem. 

Peas Okay For Cats

  • Fresh Peas: Fresh peas are an ideal option for most cats since this is the type of peas they're most likely to find out in the wild. Not only are fresh peas, well fresh, but they also are firm enough to give your cat the same sensation as biting into bones or other crunchy foods. Just be sure not to give them too many as they may potentially be a choking hazard.
  • Frozen Peas: Frozen peas are very similar to fresh peas. Not only do they contain the same amount of nutrition as fresh peas, but they can be stored for longer without going bad. The only caveat with frozen peas is that you'll want to ideally let them thaw out a bit before serving them since ones that are too hard can be difficult for cats to properly chew.
  • Steamed Peas: Steamed peas are arguably the best way for your cat to eat peas. Not only does this process retain virtually all of the health benefits of fresh peas, but they're also much easier for your cat to eat without potentially choking on them.
  • Green Peas: Green peas also go by the term "garden peas" and are what most of us think about when we think of peas in the first place. Provided it's in moderation, there are absolutely no problems with your cat snacking on these healthy additions.
  • Snap Peas: Snap peas, also known as sugar snap peas, are in the same vein as green peas, with the only difference being that you eat the entire pod rather than just the peas inside of it. While they're slightly higher in sugar than green peas, that only makes them that much more of a tasty treat!
  • Mushy Peas: While small amounts of vegetables can sometimes be beneficial for cats, mushy peas are not a natural part of their diet and may not provide significant nutritional value for them. It is generally recommended to focus on feeding cats a balanced diet and look at mush peas, again, as an occasional treat.

Peas Not Okay For Cats 

  • Cooked Peas: Cooked peas, while not necessarily a problem in and of themselves, can be very dangerous if seasoned or cooked in butter or oils. This is because certain seasonings, like garlic, are poisonous to cats while butter and oils often come with way too many calories. If you want to cook your peas, it's better to just steam them to avoid accidentally throwing in a bit of oil or seasoning.
  • Canned Peas: Like cooked peas, canned peas have a lot of potential issues that can cause problems for your cat's stomach. Canned peas often have a ton of salts, sodium, and sugar as well as preservatives. These all, while relatively harmless to a human, can have considerably negative effects on a cat's digestive system.
  • Black-Eyed Peas: Technically part of the "bean" or legume family, black-eyed peas can have significant problems with the gastrointestinal tract. They also are very high in salts and sodium, which, like canned peas, can result in some serious health problems for your cat.
  • Sweet Peas: Do not feed your cat these. In short, they are poisonous to them. Symptoms of sweet peas poisoning include weakness, tremors, lethargy, seizures, pacing, and an upset stomach.
are peas good for cats

Safest Way To Feed Your Cat Peas

As previously stated, peas are a great addition to your cat's meals. Not only are they super healthy for them, but they also taste great and are an ideal alternative to cat treats. 

However, just because they are great in and of themselves doesn't mean you'll want to feed them in any way that comes to mind. For example, while cats find peas healthy in very small portions, feeding them in human-sized portions can potentially cause them a good amount of intestinal issues.

You also want to be on the lookout for any potential instances of your cat having food allergies or intolerances, such as vomiting or diarrhea. 

While not common, cats can be allergic to peas or have stomach issues, causing them to experience the above symptoms. If you do notice any of these things, you should stop feeding them peas immediately and monitor their condition, taking them to a vet if the symptoms persist past a day or two.

Below are a few useful tips for feeding your cat peas so that they get all of the benefits and none of the drawbacks.

1. Start Off Small 

First things first, you want to make sure you're starting off with as little interruption with their food as possible. If you've ever tried to get your cats to try a different brand of food or tried including certain supplements you know what I'm talking about here.

Generally, if you start feeding your cat anything new they're going to be a bit on the reserved side. You'll want to make sure you are including in your cat's dish maybe a single pea or half a pea. 

Not only will this get them used to seeing this new inclusion in their meals, but you can also be on the lookout for any potential allergic reactions while they're still relatively minor. In some instances, cats can find peas difficult on the stomach and have an allergic or intolerant reaction.

2. Moderation 

Once your cat starts to get used to these fun treats and inclusions in their dish, be prepared for them to scarf them down whenever they're in the bowl. And while that's great, you want to make sure you're only giving them as a light addition to their meals rather than a replacement altogether.

Overfeeding your cat peas can not only result in them gaining weight, but too many peas can also result in potential gastrointestinal issues and can lead to diarrhea and potential vomiting. This is different from your cat having an allergic reaction, where any amount results in GI problems.

3. Keep Them Raw 

Lastly, you always want to make sure your peas are fresh and served either raw or lightly steamed. Seasoning or cooking them may be a tasty option for humans, but for cats, it can potentially be life-threatening. 

Seasonings like garlic, as an example, are very dangerous for cats to consume while butters and oils can result in them consuming a surprisingly high amount of calories, resulting in obesity.

are peas bad for cats

What Other Vegetables Can Cats Eat? 

In addition to peas, there are a few other vegetables out there that are a solid net positive for your cat to consume. While they also have to be eaten in moderation and as a supplement to a cat meal, carrots, broccoli, and cucumbers are all excellent additions to consider throwing in from time to time.

One thing to always keep in mind, however, is that, while peas, carrots, and other vegetables are great for us humans, they are often not quite good enough to operate as perfect meal replacements for cats. 

Yes, your cat may love and benefit from some carrots, but they aren't a rabbit and they aren't going to get nearly as much overall benefit as you or I would. 

You always want to make sure that, as they are carnivorous animals, the majority of their meals are from meat products and any veggies should be a great add-on snack.

You'll also want to make sure that, if you're unsure about your pet in particular, you speak with a trained and licensed veterinarian. 

They can be sure to let you know whether feeding your cat certain vegetables may or may not have a particular effect on your cat's health. 

For example, while peas are great for a healthy cat, they can be a serious hazard for cats with kidney disease or diabetes.


1. Do Cats Like To Eat Peas? 

If you're wondering if cats view peas in the same way your child or younger sibling does, the good news is that it's actually the opposite. Not only are peas a great snack or treat in terms of health benefits, but cats find them to be absolutely delicious!

2. How Many Peas Can I Feed Them? 

As mentioned earlier, while peas can be eaten by humans in large amounts, the same isn't true for cats. Because they are smaller, you'll want to avoid feeding them too much to ensure they don't gain too much weight or have any intestinal issues. While peas are a very beneficial food for both humans and cats, they shouldn't be a replacement for actual cat food.

3. What Are The Best Peas I Should Feed My Cat? 

While peas in general are quite healthy for your cat, that doesn't mean you can feed them any and every type of pea you eat or in the way you eat them. As an example, while garden peas and snaps are completely fine, black-eyed peas can have problems with a cat's GI tract. 

Similarly, if you are going to feed your cat peas you'll want to avoid seasoning them or cooking them in oils. Also avoid feeding them peas out of a can, as these are often loaded with sodium and seasonings as well as some preservatives.

Ideally, you'll either feed your feline friend garden green peas that are either raw or lightly steamed. Steamed peas are the most ideal as they prevent the potential chance of them choking while also making it easier for them to crush with their teeth.

Can Cats Eat Peas: The Verdict

When you consider the reality that some foods humans eat can unintentionally be quite dangerous for certain pets, it makes complete sense to be wary of something as seemingly harmless as peas. 

The good news is that, while there are certainly some serious threats to your cat's safety out there, peas aren't on that list. In fact, they're one of the rare instances where your cat can not only enjoy them well enough but do so as an overall benefit.

By including raw and unseasoned peas into your cat's diet as a snack or after-meal treat, you are giving them something that tastes delicious while also being highly healthy and nutritious!

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About the author

Dexter Jones has been a solid member of the ‘Mad Cat Dad’ club since time began! Dexter has been a keen cat writer for many years and lives in Croatia. He lives with his two tabby cats, Milly & Marly, who also flew in from the UK to start their new Adriatic island life together.