When it comes to kale, can cats get their fill? Because of kale’s reputation as a superfood for humans, you may have wondered if it would be beneficial to feed it to your cat. Can cats safely consume kale if humans do?
Whether or not kale is safe for cats to eat is not a simple yes or no. Although kale has many health benefits, it has been linked to an increased risk of Heinz Body anemia in cats.
Before feeding your cat any human food, including kale, you should always check with your regular veterinarian. In case you were wondering, here’s the skinny on kale and felines.
Can Cats Eat Kale?
Cats can, in fact, eat kale. The common green can be fed to your cat either raw or cooked with no ill effects. Don’t freak out if you stumbled upon this piece after your kitten stole a leaf of kale from your salad while you were chopping it for lunch. Don’t worry, kitty.
However, kale is not entirely safe for cats to eat. A small amount of kale is fine for cats, but feeding them too much can be dangerous, just like with many human foods.
What’s Up With Kale?
Did you know that a single plant yields such diverse vegetables as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and collard greens?
That’s right! The wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea) first appeared in Europe. It has undergone centuries of selective breeding to become some of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. The other great thing about brassica oleracea is that it is not toxic to cats, at least according to the ASPCA’s comprehensive list of toxic plants.
The ASPCA list is well-known for its extreme carefulness. Beets (beetroot, red beets, Roman kale, Swiss chard, sugar beets) and four other vegetables (watercress, alyssum, hoary alyssum, and yellowrocket) are included.
Toxic to cats? Not if the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals doesn’t think so. However, cats can get almost as many nutrients from a small amount of kale as humans can.
Due to its high fiber content, this may aid in weight control for your cat and the digestive process in general.
But as we’ll see in the following section, there are many things that are beneficial in small doses but harmful in large ones.
The most significant danger of feeding your cat an excessive amount of kale is that it will become full and lose interest in other foods, including those that provide essential nutrients. Vegetables are healthy for cats, and cats enjoy eating them, but many vegetables contain nutrients that cats cannot digest.
Another, less common, health concern associated with eating too much kale is constipation. Fevers, weakness, loss of appetite, skin and gum discoloration, and bloody or reddish-brown urine are all symptoms of Heinz body anemia, a condition that destroys red blood cells in cats.
Onions and garlic are far more dangerous for cats than kale (see Things Your Cat Absolutely Shouldn’t Eat below), as stated by Emma of Pet Food Sherpa. However, eating too much kale can lead to anemia as well.
You should get your cat checked out as soon as you notice any symptoms. Your cat’s condition, Heinz body anemia, is curable, so she will soon be able to return home.
How to Feed Your Cat Kale
You’ve done your research and are confident that adding 5–10% kale to your cat’s diet is in their best interest. What is your secret?
Prepared vegetables are a dish that most cats will turn their noses up at. Your parents probably got you to eat your vegetables by sneaking them into other foods you liked.
Chop up some kale that you’ve steamed for a minute or two. Your cat will get all the flavor they need from the meat in their main dish, so there’s no need to season it with anything else.
Chop some kale leaves and add them to the dish your cat will be devouring.
When Is Kale Okay For Cats To Eat?
Kale contains many nutrients, such as vitamin A and copper, that are good for your cat. It’s high fiber content can aid in maintaining your cat’s digestive regularity.
If you want to add kale to your cat’s regular diet, it’s best to steam the leaves first, then chop them up and mix them in. Make sure you’re only giving your cat the leaves, as the stems can be difficult to digest.
Also, because cats are obligate carnivores, their diets should consist almost entirely of meat and fat, with no more than 10 percent vegetable matter.
When Is Kale Bad For Cats?
It bears repeating that felines are strictly carnivorous and thus require a high-protein diet. Even though kale has health benefits for cats when served properly, it shouldn’t make up more than a small percentage of your cat’s diet.
Second, consuming kale may cause anemia in cats, according to some experts. The condition in which red blood cells become dysfunctional is known as anemia.
It’s best to avoid making kale a regular part of your cat’s daily diet, but a small amount as a treat or snack now and then is fine.
Human Food in Cat Diets
Human food is not appropriate for cats. While humans are omnivores who get all the nutrients they need from a wide variety of foods, cats are strictly carnivores who get what they need from meat.
However, just because cats don’t have the same nutritional requirements as humans doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy eating leafy greens. You may have noticed your outdoor cat munching on grass on occasion.
Researchers in the field of veterinary medicine have yet to pinpoint what it is about grass and other leafy greens that cats find so gratifying.
Others believe that cats benefit from eating leafy greens because they help them clean out their digestive systems, give them more nutrients, or make it simpler for them to expel hairballs by stimulating the production of mucus.
Therefore, your purr-machine should primarily eat cat food, but human food can also play a role in its diet. Keep this simple percentage in mind: people food should make up no more than 10% of a cat’s diet.
Alternative Leafy Greens
Some types of grass may be preferable to kale if you’re worried about your cat getting anemia from eating houseplants. You can find these at any natural food store or health food market and give one a try.
- Blend of oat and wheat grass
- Powdered barley grass
Things Your Cat Absolutely Should Not Eat
And while we’re at it, here are some things your cat should never eat. The following items are extremely dangerous for cats to consume.
- Anemia is more likely to be caused by onions, garlic, and shallots than by greens.
- Kidney failure can be brought on by eating grapes or raisins. Likewise poisonous to canines.
- Both cats and dogs can die from eating chocolate.
- Painful and potentially fatal gastric distress can result from eating raw dough.
If your cat is frequently seen munching on grass or the leaves of your houseplants, it may be trying to satisfy a nutritional need by doing so.
If that’s the case, you could try giving them some kale. It will make your cat happier in the litter box, and it could prevent additional damage to your plants.
Don’t worry if you haven’t noticed your cat eating leaves; they aren’t missing out on anything vital.
Cats have sharp instincts and a good grasp of their physiological requirements. Before you try to put your furry friend on a diet, let them figure out what they need to eat.