You may have considered feeding your cat vegetables as a way to increase the variety and interest of his or her diet. Many of us always have beets on hand because we love eating them so much.
But should you give your cat this vibrant and healthy vegetable, or should you stay away from it?
Your cat can eat beets, but you shouldn’t rely on them as a major source of nutrition or to supplement the vitamins and minerals your cat gets from its meat-based diet.
Can Cats Eat Beets?
You can feed your cat beets. If your cat likes beets, they make a healthy and entertaining snack. But there are plenty of times when they won’t be; it’s like fennel for people. They either adore it or despise it; there’s no middle ground.
Just don’t be shocked if they turn out to be beet haters. Many cats, despite being carnivores, will simply play with it or rip it apart, leaving a purple mess for you to clean up.
Are Beets Safe for Cats To Eat?
The Amaranthaceae family includes many plants with edible roots and leaves, including the beet. Swiss chard, sugar beets, and mangolds are also members of this plant family.
Beets in any form (raw, cooked, or dehydrated) are safe for cats to eat. However, pickled beets are not something they should eat.
Pickling brine is very salty, and excessive consumption of salt by cats can lead to hypernatremia. Cats are also vulnerable to the garlic that can be found in the brine.
Nutritional Benefits of Beets
Beets are incredibly nourishing, and they even have some vitamins and minerals that cats need.
The benefits of beets
The health benefits of beets for both humans and felines are remarkable. The antioxidant and vitamin content of beets is impressive.
Beets have anti-inflammatory effects
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of beets have been extensively studied.
Beets contain disease-fighting polyphenols
Betalains are a type of polyphenol found in beets. The deep red color of some varieties of beetroot is due to this water-soluble antioxidant.
This polyphenol has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including protection against cancer, lower blood pressure, and improved oxygen uptake by cells. Betalain also strengthens your cat’s immune system and safeguards their cardiovascular system.
Beets contain soluble and insoluble fiber
Both of these fibers are beneficial for your cat’s digestive health. Even though cats must eat meat to survive, they can benefit from consuming some fiber. Your cat’s intestinal microbiome relies on short-chain fatty acids, which are produced only from soluble fiber.
It also aids digestion, allowing food to remain in your cat’s digestive tract for the best possible amount of time for nutrient absorption.
Insoluble fiber helps your cat feel full for longer, binds toxins, and may even help prevent the formation of hairballs. Beet insoluble fiber isn’t just a filler; it’s good for your cat’s digestive health.
Potential Health Risks of Beets
Cats shouldn’t eat too many beets because they have a higher sugar content than many other vegetables, despite the fact that beets are healthy.
Protein and fat provide the majority of a cat’s caloric intake due to the animal’s obligate carnivorous nature. Cats don’t have to consume as many carbohydrates as dogs do.
Even if beets were sweet, cats wouldn’t like them because they lack sweet taste receptors.
Therefore, only give your cat beets in the form of treats. They aren’t meant to be eaten instead of meals or on a regular basis. The high sugar content of beets makes them unhealthy for overweight cats to eat in large quantities.
Oxalates are also abundant in beet greens. Oxalates can crystallize in some cats, leading to kidney stones. Therefore, beets should not be fed to cats who have kidney disease or a history of bladder stones.
What To Do If a Cat Eats a Beet
Beets are generally safe for cats to eat in moderation. Allergies to beets are unheard of. However, some felines have delicate stomachs that make it difficult for them to digest novel foods.
Be on the lookout for signs of digestive problems if your cat eats a beet.
The following are some signs that your cat may be experiencing:
- Inability to eat
Keep an eye on your feline friend for the next few days if it seems sick after eating a beet. Make sure your cat has access to plenty of water at all times. Stop giving your cat its regular food if it develops diarrhea.
Your vet may suggest that you serve a bland diet of boiled rice or pasta. Your cat will be less hungry and have an easier time digesting a bland meal. After 48 hours, you should take your pet to the vet for evaluation.
How to feed your cat beets
Always check with your vet before feeding your cat any new foods, and that includes beets if you happen to have any on hand.
Beets can be cooked until tender by chopping them into small pieces after they have been washed, scrubbed, and peeled. You can either feed the chunks to your cat or puree them into a smooth puree.
You should start your cat off on a very small amount of food and closely monitor them for the next 24 to 48 hours. Don’t give your cat beets again if you notice any adverse reactions to them. Beware the beet if your cat exhibits any of the following symptoms:
- Inability to eat
If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms or any other changes in behavior that cause you concern, consult your veterinarian.
Don’t be surprised if your cat turns their nose up at beets if they don’t like the taste. The green tops that come with some beets can also be washed, chopped, and steamed for a different flavorful option. Please pre-wash these before using.
While your feline friend may not share your enthusiasm for the inclusion of beet pulp in their diet, you’ll be happy to know that it is an ingredient in some commercial cat foods.
What about beet pulp?
Sugar beets are a source of a fibrous substance known as “beet pulp.” Although traditionally used for livestock, it is now also commonly found in cat food.
Some commercial cat food brands contain beet pulp
The good news is that you can purchase commercial cat foods that already contain beet pulp, so you don’t even have to worry about preparing and feeding beets to your cat.
Dried plain beet pulp is included in Rachael Ray’s Nutrish Natural Real Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food to provide extra fiber.
Beet pulp is a source of fiber and antioxidants that help support your cat’s immune system in Crave Dry Cat Food with Chicken.
Studies have shown that beets can help improve feline digestive health
While research into the effects of specific vegetables on feline health is limited, beets have been the subject of one study.
In 2017, researchers investigated whether or not feeding beet pulp to cats with hairballs helped alleviate their symptoms. Hairballs can be avoided by feeding your pet a diet higher in insoluble fiber, such as that found in beets.
Increased bowel movements in beet pulp-fed cats were interpreted by researchers as evidence that hairballs were passing through the digestive system and being expelled in feces rather than being regurgitated.
Don’t beets contain sugar?
Due to their high sugar content, home-cooked beets should be enjoyed only on rare occasions. Be assured that the sugar has been removed from any cat food that lists beet pulp as an ingredient. Now all that’s left is the helpful soluble and insoluble fiber that can keep your cat’s digestive system in good shape.
Vegetables That Are Safe for Cats To Eat
Vegetables are another food source that cats can enjoy. Here are a few suggestions for healthy and delicious plant-based treats you can give your cat:
- Finished potato dish
- Vegetable green bean
Cats, unfortunately, can’t follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. They contain nutrients that the body needs but can’t produce on its own, such as vitamins, minerals, fats, and amino acids. Animal products are the only reliable source of these nutrients, especially taurine.
In the end, cats aren’t omnivores like dogs or humans are; they’re obligate carnivores. Therefore, meat is essential to their survival and well-being. At least 26% of a cat’s diet should come from meat for optimal health.
Foods That Cats Should Avoid
Some vegetables are safe for human consumption but poisonous to cats. Keep your cats away from these common foods, especially the vegetables.
Avocados are toxic to cats due to the presence of persin in the fruit’s skin and seed. Your cat may experience mild irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea after being exposed to persin.
The seed is dangerous for your cat to eat because it is smooth and slippery.
Garlic and Onions
Cats shouldn’t eat any members of the amaryllis family of vegetables, which includes garlic, onions, and alliums. You’ll also find leeks, shallots, and chives among these greens. These vegetables are harmful in any form, including after being cooked, dehydrated, or ground into a powder.
The long-term negative effects of eating these vegetables will become apparent. Your cat will get anemia if it regularly consumes these.
Raw and Green Potatoes
The solanine in raw potato peels is toxic to cats. Potatoes produce solanine, a natural pesticide, to ward off pests.
Cats can safely consume plain boiled, steamed, or mashed potatoes because the solanine is removed during cooking.
The green tomato plant, as well as the fruit, contains solanine. Tomatoes, like potatoes, are safe for cats to eat once they’ve been cooked. Tomato pomace is often used to bind the kibble together, making it a common ingredient in cat food.
Theobromine is a poison found in chocolate. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate are particularly rich sources of this toxin, which is highly toxic to cats.
Seizures, difficulty breathing, and even death have all been linked to eating too much chocolate. Therefore, if your cat accidentally consumes chocolate, you should seek immediate medical attention at an animal emergency clinic.
Caffeine is toxic to cats and can increase their blood pressure and lead to potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias.
The effects of caffeine on your cat can range from mild, like temporary hyperactivity, to fatal, depending on the amount consumed. That’s why feline companions shouldn’t partake in caffeinated beverages.
Beets are among the many root vegetables that cats can eat. But they need to stay away from the onions and garlic. Cats can enjoy occasional treats of vegetables. Because cats require meat protein for survival and growth, they should never make up the bulk of the cat’s diet.