Can Cats Eat Soy? 7 Facts To Know

Whether you like them or not, soy milk, yogurt, and tofu are a healthy alternative to traditional dairy and meat products.

However, your cat may have developed a taste for this vegetable protein even if you and your family aren’t huge fans of soy. You’ve probably found this article because you’re concerned about giving your cat soy.

You shouldn’t worry too much if your cat dipped his whiskers in your soymilk smoothie on occasion.

Even though soy is safe for cats to eat, it shouldn’t be given to them on a regular basis. There isn’t much nutritional value in soy products for cats, so it’s best to give them something else as a treat instead of something like tofu.

What happens when soy is consumed by cats?

Can Cats Eat Soy?

Although soy is safe for cats to consume, it is not a good idea to give it to them. In most cases, feeding your cat a small amount of soy won’t hurt them, but it also won’t help them.

A Cat’s Diet

cat eating dry food

First, we’ll talk about what goes into a cat’s diet, and then we’ll move on to all things soy. Crepuscular animals like cats are most active during the early morning and late evening hours. This natural tendency may also describe your cat’s increased need for attention during these times.

The majority of their diet consists of meat because they are obligate carnivores. Meat should make up at least 70% of a cat’s diet; plants and other non-meat items are optional.

Domestic cats are typically fed commercially available food formulated to meet their unique nutritional needs.

You should also read the label to see what’s in your cat’s food, as some companies use fillers to save money. The same goes for corn, wheat, and, yes, soy in addition to animal by-products.

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A Little About Soy

Soybeans are legumes, and that’s where all soy products start. Chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts are all examples of the legume family, which consists of pod-bearing plants like peas and beans.

Although soybeans have been consumed in North America since the 1960s, they have their roots in China. In 2018, soybeans were ranked as one of America’s top 10 agricultural products.

Soy is used to make a wide variety of things, including candles, fuel, milk, tofu, and soy nuts.

The green variety of soybeans, also known as edamame, is by far the most consumed of all the soybean colors. Foods like soy milk, tofu, tamari, and tempeh are made from yellow soybeans.

The nine essential amino acids can be found in soy’s abundant protein. Vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, thiamin, and phosphorus are all abundant in them as well.

The following are some of soy’s positive effects on health:

  • Breast cancer risk is lowered
  • Facilitates control of weight
  • Reduces the possibility of developing heart disease
  • Contributes to Osteoporosis Therapy
  • Protects against developing type 2 diabetes

There are, however, concerns and debates about consuming soy, so let’s examine these factors.


What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Soy?

Let’s take a closer look at the qualities of soy before we delve into the potential effects it may have on felines.

The soy bean originated in Asia. It’s a versatile meat substitute that vegetarians can use to their advantage. Why all the hype about soy?

Most notably, this vegetarian protein aids in cardiovascular health, contains heart-friendly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and provides a wealth of essential vitamins and minerals.


What Are the Most Common Soy Foods?

  • Soy milk is a beverage produced by straining ground soy.
  • Edamame are green soybeans that have been blanched and then frozen.
  • Soybean, cereal, salt, and a mold culture go into making miso, a condiment used to season soups and sauces.
  • Brownish in color, this condiment is made by fermenting soybeans.
  • Solid bread made from fermented whole soybeans, also known as tempeh.
  • Tofu is a pressed and curdled soy drink.
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However, soy is not without its share of controversy, just like many other foods.

Problems with Soy

Some research suggests that eating soy can disrupt thyroid function and lead to hypothyroidism.

Indeed, soy would lead to hypertrophy of the thyroid gland by preventing the production of thyroid hormones at optimal levels. Intestinal absorption of thyroid medications may be affected by soy consumption.

However, there is a lack of conclusive research on the effects of soy on the thyroid, and some studies have even found no association between soy and thyroid health.

There is currently no unanimous agreement on whether or not soy is harmful to humans. How about cats, though?

soy milk

Cats and Soy

To begin with, the phytic acid found in soy can lead to a mineral deficiency by competing with the body for essential nutrients.

For this reason, it is also known as an antinutrient. It has the potential to cause liver disease in cats because it inhibits protein-digesting enzymes.

Also, cats may be vulnerable to developing hyperthyroidism as a result of the aforementioned adverse effects on the thyroid.

Possible allergic reactions are another danger of consuming soy. After ingesting soy products, some cats may experience an immediate allergic reaction, characterized by the following signs and behaviors:

  • Extreme itching
  • Hair loss
  • Distended face
  • Digestive disorders

Some cats may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea after consuming soy products.

Your cat may experience stomach upset if it consumes too much soy or if it has a food allergy to soy.

Soy Milk


Most cats are lactose intolerant, which is common knowledge if you own a cat. This whole “kitten with a saucer of cream” analogy is therefore largely off the mark.

For the same reasons we stated above, soy isn’t great for cats, but you might think it’s safe for them because soy milk doesn’t have lactose.

Stachyose and raffinose, found in soy milk in place of lactose, are poorly absorbed by felines. Because they lack the necessary enzyme, they may experience gastrointestinal distress and far too much gas as a result of consuming these sugars.

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The solution to this puzzle is probably obvious to you. Tofu will not go over well with cats if soy does not. Cats will also have a hard time digesting tofu because it contains the same sugars as soy milk.

Furthermore, some tofu preparations include flavors and/or additives that are harmful to felines. Sugar added to sweetened tofu can lead to weight gain in felines.

In addition, many brands of tofu include seasonings like salt, onions, and garlic, which are extremely harmful to felines. In general, cats shouldn’t eat tofu.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce

The high sodium content of soy sauce is the main issue. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, too much salt can cause any of the following symptoms in felines:

  • Intense thirst and urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced hunger
  • Lethargy
  • Incoordination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Bring your cat in right away if you notice any of these signs after it has consumed anything high in salt.


Be sure to check the label to see how much soy is included in the commercial food you feed your cat if you have concerns.

Since the corn, wheat, and soy that are commonly used as fillers in cat food provide no nutritional value, you may want to look for an alternative. If your cat seems to be allergic to certain foods, soy may be the problem.

Your veterinarian is a great resource for answering any questions you may have about your cat’s diet. Especially if you’re considering switching brands or if your cat exhibits symptoms of a food allergy.

In the unlikely event that your cat drinks some tofu or soy milk, there’s no need to worry. While a small amount of soy won’t hurt your cat, providing it on a regular basis will have no positive effects.

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