If you're a fan of the fall and Halloween seasons, odds are you're likely a fan (at least a little bit) of pumpkins. Whether it's being used for Halloween decorations, the main ingredient in your pies, or a super delicious part of your lattes, pumpkins are a fun, delicious, and engaging food that comes with a ton of uses.
For pet lovers, you may have wondered whether your cat could get in on the action and get a bite of pumpkin pie like the rest of the family.
Lets. find out, can cats eat pumpkin or is this food bad for a cat's health?
We did a bit of snooping around with some board-certified veterinary nutritionists and found some amazing news! Not only were pumpkins not harmful to most cats, but they also offered a ton of nutritional benefits!
Of course, it's not quite as simple as that and you'll want to get a fuller picture of what is and isn't ok before bringing your kitty to the next pumpkin patch event.
In this quick overview, we'll go over how your cat's body reacts to pumpkins, how much of a pumpkin can your cat get away with eating before it becomes a problem, as well as what types of pumpkins you want to focus on and what types you want to ideally avoid.
Can You Feed Your Cat Pumpkin?
Despite cats being what are known as "obligate carnivores" (which means they ideally should only be ingesting their food and protein via meat), there are certain plants, vegetables, and squashes that can be beneficial if consumed in small amounts.
When it comes to pumpkins, while they may seem as far away from a cat's regular diet as you can get, the truth is that many commercial cat foods on the market include fresh pumpkin as a low-calorie, high-fiber ingredient to ensure they feel fuller throughout the day.
This is because pumpkin is considered a very high-fiber plant and can be beneficial to a cat's diet. As such, while certainly less common in the wild, if a cat doesn't have access to any prey, it may nibble on a bit of pumpkin to get some necessary digestive relief for its stomach.
This makes bowel movements and colon health much better and easier for cats that may be missing out on some needed fiber sources.
Pumpkin is filled with fiber, water, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and ample minerals and vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
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Health Benefits Of Pumpkin
While pumpkins lack any direct benefits in terms of energy or essential nutrients, that doesn't mean they aren't incredibly useful, both for you and your cat. Because of the high fiber, pumpkin helps with constipation, diarrhea, and weight loss.
And while you want to make sure you always take your cat to a licensed and trained veterinarian, especially if their symptoms are chronic and severe, adding a bit of pumpkin is a great immediate remedy you can try implementing to stop things before they get too severe.
It's worth noting that you will see some cat food recipes that include pumpkin largely because of their high fiber. In fact, the only subscription cat food that we recommend, Smalls cat food, use pumpkin in their human grade fresh fish recipe for exactly this reason.
The Types Of Pumpkin Cats Can Eat
You may think that all pumpkins are the same in terms of their effect on the body, however, the truth is certain types can have different effects based on their processing methods and what additions are included.
Below, we'll touch on the four main types of pumpkin out there and whether they can have a positive or negative impact on their health.
Can Cats Eat Raw Pumpkin?
Starting off, raw pumpkins are actually not nearly as robust as you may have thought. Known for being very slim and stringy, raw pumpkins can be very difficult for your cat to digest and break down.
If you want to offer your cat some raw pumpkin, you're going to want to cook it down to a puree similar to canned pumpkin and feed it to them that way. Just make sure not to accidentally feed them the pumpkin flesh or skin or the stem as those could potentially turn into a choking hazard.
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Can Cats Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds can be a great and tasty snack for cats as well as humans! While you can roast pumpkin seeds and give them to your cat, you're going to want to avoid including any salts, spices, or oils during the roasting process. You can either give them to your cat directly or grind them up and sprinkle them on their food to give it a fun crunch and great taste.
Can Cats Eat Canned Pumpkin?
While you'll want to watch out for any additional ingredients on the label, plain canned pumpkin can be a great option for your cats. Since it's already in pumpkin puree form, you don't have to worry about digestive issues arising. In addition, unlike raw pumpkins, which are seasonal in nature, canned pumpkins are available year-round.
This means, whenever you've got the urge to get something great for your and your feline friend, you can always hit up the local grocery store and enjoy this tasty, low-carb, and high-fiber snack.
Can Cats Eat Pumpkin Pie
While a very delicious option for humans, pumpkin pie and canned pumpkin pie filling can be a real danger for cats. In the best-case scenario, pumpkin pie will only have salt, milk, and sugar, all of which can counteract any low-calorie benefits you'd get from just eating raw or canned pumpkin.
On the other end, pumpkin pies can often contain cloves and allspice, which are both known to be highly toxic to cats and potentially lead to serious health issues.
Do Pumpkins Help With Diarrhea?
Since pumpkins are known to contain soluble fiber, they are a great way to help with handling much of the excess water being passed because of diarrhea. Keep in mind, however, that this won't handle the underlying causes of diarrhea such as an inflamed digestive tract or intestines. Though this is a great initial remedy to handle minor diarrhea, if it becomes a chronic issue for your cat, you'll want to take them to see a specialist.
Can Pumpkins Help With Constipation?
One of the more commonly understood remedy solutions, mild constipation can be resolved by consuming some pure canned pumpkin. This is because of the fiber, which helps move things along in the GI tract and helps with stomach upsets.
In fact you will often find that recipes of the best cat food for constipation contain some pumpkin specifically because it has both soluble and insoluble fiber to help bowel movements.
That all being true, if you find your cat having persistent stomach issues, you'll want to make sure to contact a local vet as early as possible.
Can Pumpkins Help My Cat Lose Weight?
When it comes to pumpkins and helping your cat lose weight, there is some truth to it. However, while some aspects make them an ideal option for weight loss, some things make them not as good compared to other methods.
Pumpkins are ideal as tasty, high-fiber foods that also provide a relatively small amount of calories.
This can result in you and your cat enjoying a pumpkin's taste while also feeling fuller for a longer period of time while also not gaining too many calories. Thus battling obesity.
HOWEVER, just as pumpkins are low in calories, they are also largely irrelevant for most cats outside of the fiber. This means your cat would be filling their stomachs up on nothing from a nutritional standpoint.
Instead, it's recommended to feed your cat low-carb wet canned food or to work with your local vet for a specific and personalized weight loss plan for your cat.
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Can Cats Eat Pumpkin? The Verdict
So the answer to can cats eat pumpkin is YES! Pumpkins are a wonderful snack for you and your fur-baby due to their high fiber and low amount of calories. This means the two of you can essentially munch on a few bites and feel full without worrying about taking on nearly as many calories as you'd otherwise have with other plants, fruits, and vegetables.
The only thing to remember is that these are meant as snacks for adult cats only (not kittens) and not meal replacements. Because, outside of the fiber, there's very little nutritional value for a cat, you want to offer it as a tasty low-carb treat rather than a meal.
By offering pumpkin to your cat, not only are you not hurting them, but you're ensuring that their intestinal health stays good, keeping them regular and staving off any diarrhea or constipation.
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