Can Cats Eat Bird Seed? 10 Facts You Will Surprise

Due to their nature as “obligate carnivores,” feline companions benefit greatly from a diet rich in meat and other animal products.

However, bored cats or cats with legendary curiosity may experiment with new foods.

Cats may eat bird seed if they see you putting it out or if they come across a feeder in a neighbor’s yard.

Most birdseed is safe for cats to eat, though they won’t get much, if any, nutritional value out of it.

However, toxins like aflatoxin may have built up in old bird seed that has been sitting on the ground or in an abandoned feeder.

While it’s best to avoid giving your cat bird seed on purpose, a single serving probably won’t do them any harm.

Can Cats Eat Bird Seed?

Bird feeder seeds won’t poison your cat.

However, this does not negate the need to provide them with regular access to bird food.

In any case, don’t worry if your feline friend likes to snack on your birdseed.

Bird Seed

What exactly is in a bag of bird seed depends on who made it, what it is made of, and what kind of birds it is meant to feed. It may also contain peanuts and other nuts in addition to the maize and sunflower seeds.

When found in bird seed, none of these components are toxic or dangerous to cats. However, human food-grade seed and nut packets may contain excessive amounts of salt and sugar, and should be avoided.

Garden birds can be fed suet and seed balls, but cats should not consume these because of the high fat content, which can cause gastrointestinal distress or even pancreatitis.

bird food

Old Seed

The only thing that fits this description is old seed. Seeds are susceptible to the growth of fungi and mold as they age, and especially if they are exposed to moisture.

Mycotoxins, which are toxins made by fungi, are the result. Aflatoxin is one such poison. This has the potential to be fatal for birds and can also make humans, canines, and felines sick.

Keep in mind that stale seed found under bird feeders is likely to contain bird feces, which can be a source of bacteria that can make your cat sick.

Aflatoxin Poisoning

Lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea are common signs of aflatoxin poisoning. Jaundice (characterized by a yellowing of the skin, eyes, and gums) and liver damage are also possible side effects of this toxicity.

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If your cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms and you suspect it has eaten old or damp seed, it is best to consult a veterinarian.

Cat vomiting

Cat Nutrition

So, generally speaking, cats should be safe around bird seed. Although your cat won’t get sick or die from eating bird seed, that doesn’t mean you should give it to it on a regular basis.

Carnivores, cats eat meat. Food sources included avian and mammalian species in the wild. They would eat the meat, organs, and skin, among other parts of the animal, and possibly even some of the vegetables in the stomach.

Fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods were avoided unless they were needed to calm an upset stomach.

In order to survive as obligate carnivores, cats lack the digestive enzymes necessary to properly process plant matter.

Their gastrointestinal systems have evolved in ways that make it harder for them to digest plant matter for food.

Why Do Cats Like Bird Seed?

There are times when cats will eat something out of the ordinary simply to satisfy their natural curiosity. Sometimes they’re drawn to the food because of its appearance, and other times it’s the smell that draws them in.

Bird seed and other plant materials may be consumed by cats because they contain an essential nutrient that cats are unable to produce on their own.

Your cat should get all the nutrients they need from their regular cat food, but if they aren’t getting enough, you can supplement their diet with plants.

It has been theorized that felines might benefit from eating plant materials in order to calm an upset stomach or improve their digestion.

Carbohydrates, which are abundant in plants, can help your cat feel full if his stomach is empty.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are one ingredient in bird seed that your cat may enjoy. Vitamins B and E, as well as antioxidants found in sunflower seeds, are good for your cat’s health.

They contain a lot of protein, which could be luring your cat to eat them.

Although cats can safely eat sunflower seeds, they shouldn’t do so on a regular basis because they don’t contain enough of the essential nutrients.

Can Cats Eat Bird Seed?

Is Bird Seed Healthy for Cats?

However, just because bird seed is safe for cats to eat doesn’t mean you should feed it to your cat.

Obligate carnivores like cats require roughly 70% of their diet to come from meat. Cats get the majority of the protein they need from meat, making it one of their top food choices.

Protein comes in two forms: those found in animals and those found in plants. Bird seed contains a variety of nuts and seeds, all of which are excellent sources of protein (5-9 grams per ounce for the seeds alone).

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Most meats that are safe for cats have a protein content of 20-25 grams per three ounces, so the protein content of meat is comparable.

Meat vs. Plant Protein

The type of protein found in meat is still preferable for cats. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and certain amino acids found in meat are the only ones a cat’s digestive system can use.

This is because cats need to get the essential amino acids found in meat from their food rather than making them themselves.

Plants aren’t inherently bad for cats, but they also can’t provide them with everything they need and can’t be digested properly.

Different amino acids make up plant proteins, and since a cat’s body doesn’t require those amino acids, it doesn’t know how to process them.

Vitamins A, B6, and D are abundant in meat, and so are the amino acids that make up their protein. Similar to humans, cats can’t make these vitamins on their own, so they need to eat meat to stay healthy.

Protein is another source of energy for your cat, and without the right kind of meat-based protein, your cat’s body will begin to break down its own muscle tissues to acquire the right kind of protein to use for energy, even if plant proteins are present.

When Is Bird Seed Bad For Cats?

In most cases, feeding your cat bird seed is fine (though not particularly healthy), but there is one time when doing so could be harmful. You shouldn’t give your cat old bird seed (or give it to birds, for that matter).

The reason for this is that the mold Aspergillus flavus thrives on the corn, grains, and peanuts that are typically found in bird seed.

Aflatoxin, a toxin produced by this mold, may be present in bird seed even if no visible mold is present. Vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, sluggishness, jaundice, liver damage, and even death can result from exposure to high levels of aflatoxins.

Mold grows easily on stale bird seed, but it can also develop on wet bird seed. Because of this, you should always replace your bird seed after it has rained.

Both your cat, which enjoys eating bird seed, and the birds who are intended to consume it will benefit from this measure.

If you’ve had some bird seed for a while and want to make sure it’s still good for the birds, check the expiration date.

What Food Is Toxic To Cats?

It’s common knowledge that cats are finicky eaters because they react strongly to changes in food’s temperature, texture, shape, aroma, and flavor.

In the wild, cats eat whatever they can catch, so domesticated cats tend to prefer foods that are most similar to the ones they were first exposed to.

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Furthermore, the following five foods are among the surprising list of foods that cats shouldn’t eat:


tuna fish

In popular culture, cats are often shown devouring cans of tuna, and in moderation, this tasty fish probably poses no health risks. However, it is not a balanced diet, so you shouldn’t feed it to your cat on a regular basis.

Too much tuna in your cat’s diet can lead to mercury poisoning due to the fish’s high mercury content.

However, cats tend to prefer tuna to more balanced cat foods and healthy meals, which presents an additional challenge for pet owners.

2. Garlic


Along with onions and shallots, garlic belongs to the alum family. Hemolytic anemia, in which red blood cells in a cat are destroyed and no longer function, can be caused by these.

Blood in the urine, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and pale gums are all symptoms. Garlic’s toxicity can be increased by heating or drying, so only a small amount is needed to cause problems.

Garlic powder, which is often used to add flavor to foods intended for human consumption, is even more toxic.

3. Milk

milk outdoor

Another potentially harmful food item often shown in media depictions of cats.

Milk, cheese, and other dairy products are not suitable for most cats because they are lactose intolerant. Gas is the least of your worries; nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also possible side effects.

4. Grapes


The average cat will never encounter a grape, but if you eat a lot of them, your cat may enjoy batting one around and chasing it.

But grapes and their dried form, raisins, are extremely toxic to your feline friend, so you should keep them away from them. It’s commonly held that grapes are even more toxic than cocoa.

5. Chocolate

chocolate bar

Theobromine is found in chocolate. As a potent stimulant, it can cause rapid heartbeat in feline patients.

It causes dehydration because it acts as a diuretic, which causes the body to lose water. Cats should not be fed chocolate because it can be fatal.

If you suspect your cat has eaten chocolate, watch for symptoms like increased urination, seizures, and vomiting and diarrhea.


While wet or stale bird seed may contain mycotoxins that could make cats sick, dry bird seed is safe for them to eat.

It’s important to check the bird seed blend carefully to make sure it doesn’t have any potentially poisonous fruits like raisins or cherries.

However, as carnivores, cats cannot properly digest and absorb the nutrients in seeds, so people shouldn’t feed them to them.

Tuna, milk, garlic, grapes, and chocolate are just some of the other foods you shouldn’t feed your feline friend.

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