Cats are naturally inquisitive creatures with appetites that don’t match their eyes. It’s common knowledge that cats go crazy whenever you open a new can of food, but is it safe to give them this? Cats can safely eat tapioca, but too much of it won’t provide them with enough nutrition.
If you ask if cats can eat tapioca, the real question is, “why are you asking?” The specifics of the question determine the response. Several permutations of this question will be addressed in the following sections.
Can Cats Eat Tapioca?
While tapioca is safe for cats, giving it to your pet on a daily basis may lead to stomach upset and vomiting.
Tapioca is safe for cats because it is made from natural ingredients and does not include any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Is Tapioca Healthy for Cats?
Tapioca is a starch derived from the root of the cassava plant, a member of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) native to the tropics of South and Central America.
It is also known as yuca, manioc, and mandioca. Its popularity extends beyond Asia and into South America. Tapioca’s mild taste makes it a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory preparations.
Toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, yucca is a perennial shrub in the Agavaceae family that is not to be confused with this plant.
Tapioca has many positive effects on human health, and these are some of them:
- Tapioca is a good addition to the diet because it is high in carbohydrates and can provide extra energy without adding fat.
- Tapioca is a starch, so it’s rich in the carbohydrates and energy that starches provide. Because of its high glycemic index, it can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar. Therefore, those who are diabetic should limit their intake of tapioca.
- Constipation is alleviated thanks to tapioca’s fiber content, which regulates gastrointestinal movement.
- Due to its high iron, magnesium, and potassium content, tapioca is useful in lowering the likelihood of anemia.
- Tapioca is a fantastic thickener for desserts and soups, and as a result, it has a dramatic impact on satiety.
- Not made with gluten. Therefore, those who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance can safely consume tapioca.
The nutritional benefits of tapioca are diminished for felines because of their inability to process carbohydrates and starch in the same way that humans and dogs can.
Still, cats with gluten sensitivities or allergies can benefit from eating tapioca because it is a gluten-free source of energy.
However, gluten intolerance in cats is much less common than it is in people. If they do have a food allergy, it is probably to the protein in the food.
In a nutshell, your cat will not reap any special nutritional benefits from eating tapioca.
If your cat has taken a liking to your favorite tapioca dessert, you can make him a small serving without the sugar or milk to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal distress (vomiting, gas, diarrhea) that may result from eating these things.
Will My Cat Die If They Eat Tapioca?
No. If you find your cat with its face in your tapioca pudding, don’t worry. The tapioca pearls aren’t the primary cause for concern if your cat consumes them.
Tapioca pearls are used to enhance the flavor of Boba tea, a popular and on-trend beverage. Because of the high levels of caffeine in tea, it should never be given to a cat.
Tapioca pudding, on the other hand, has an excessive amount of sugar that is toxic to cats. In addition, it contains milk products, which are toxic to cats.
In both cases, the container the tapioca pearls are in is more of a hazard to your cat’s health than the tapioca pearls themselves.
This, however, does not imply that cats can safely consume tapioca. They should eat very little tapioca if they eat any at all. Due to its high water absorption rate, tapioca can cause dehydration and bowel obstructions.
Starch, sugar, and carbohydrates are all part of its composition as well, making it terrible food for any animal, much less an obligate carnivore.
Cat Nutrition Made Simple
Cats can only survive by eating meat. In the wild, strict carnivores, also known as “hypercarnivores,” consume at least 70% of their calories from animal protein.
The dry matter percentage of proteins in a captive cat’s diet should be at least 30%, and the percentage of carbohydrates should be less than 25%, for optimal health.
Carbohydrates provide a rapid source of energy that is beneficial for humans and, to a lesser extent, for cats. True carnivores, on the other hand, don’t get nearly as many nutrients from them as, say, humans or dogs.
Dry kibble foods, even those that are grain-free, often include tapioca starch as an ingredient. It will be difficult to find kibble without some starch in it, as it is used as a binding ingredient.
To Go Grain-Free or Not? That Is the Question
A lot of pet owners are debating whether or not to switch their cats to a grain-free diet. While there are advocates on both sides of the issue, veterinary science has spoken: cats shouldn’t eat grains.
We know now that cats eat meat. Despite popular belief, dogs are actually omnivores, contrary to popular belief. However, the same observation demonstrates that cats only eat meat.
Meat is the primary dietary staple for carnivorous animals. Their main diet does not consist of carbs. Carbohydrates aren’t great for anyone’s health, to be honest.
While they are useful for those who are able to burn them off through exercise, the energy and fullness they provide are quickly depleted.
Going grain-free is a good first step, but you should also consider limiting your cat’s total carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrate concentrations in cat food can still be quite high, even if they don’t include any grains.
Why Does Cat Food Contain Tapioca Starch?
Most commercially available cat food contains grains like barley, wheat, and corn. Bran, flour, and starch are all examples of grain by-products.
Because it is mostly starch, tapioca is also commonly included in the list of dry kibble ingredients. The (mis)conceptions surrounding their use in pet food need to be dispelled.
Starches make up the bulk of carbohydrates. This includes foods like grains, potatoes, legumes, and tapioca.
These components play crucial roles in the manufacturing of pet food. Starch is an essential ingredient in dry pet food, and an appropriate amount is required for cats and dogs.
Their primary role is to maintain the kibble’s shape. Indeed, without the binding capacities of carbohydrates, dry kibbles would not be able to maintain their shape or structure.
The kibbles’ cohesiveness comes from cooked and gelatinized starch. Carbohydrate-protein interactions also play a role in the final product’s mouthfeel and flavor.
In other words, the starch makes the kibble more palatable for your cherished little feline and less likely to result in a bag full of crumbs for you.
Don’t Cats Need Grain-Free Food to Be Healthy?
In a word, no.
It is well-documented that Felis silvestris, the wild ancestor of domestic cats, is an obligate carnivore. This means that in the wild, cats prefer prey that is high in protein, has a moderate amount of fat, and contains few carbohydrates.
Because of the way people have been eating, there are now special dietary requirements. Because of these metabolic differences, cats have higher protein, arginine, taurine, vitamin A, and D needs than omnivores. However, several myths about cat nutrition have been perpetuated due to this ancient diet.
The fact that cats are obligate carnivores, for instance, is sometimes taken to mean that they can get all the nutrients they need only from meat. Although cats prefer meat, they can also eat grains without any problems.
Therefore, the myth that high-carbohydrate diets are harmful to feline health originated from the fact that cats have evolved to consume high-protein, low-carbohydrate prey. The inability of cats to process carbohydrates is a legitimate worry.
Studies on domestic cats’ diets show that even though wild cats are not particularly fond of starch, they can still digest over 95% of it.
Tapioca Starch: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
If a company wants to make grain-free kibble for their pets, tapioca starch is a great option. As a grain- and gluten-free alternative to wheat flour, it has gained popularity as a kibble ingredient.
Tapioca starch is gaining popularity as an ingredient in kibble because it is safe for cats. Foods without grains or with few ingredients rely heavily on tapioca starch.
As we discussed before, tapioca is an excellent binding agent for kibbles because it can absorb a wide variety of liquids. It aids in dehydrating the food and compacting it into kibble form, and it also aids in keeping the kibble fresh with appropriate storage.
There are no grains or gluten in tapioca starch. As a result, it’s good news for cats and pet owners who have gluten sensitivities or allergies.
Tapioca is widely used in the kibble industry because it is an excellent binding agent that helps foods stick together.
A starch is a starch, and tapioca starch is no exception. Tapioca starch has a high carbohydrate content and, when used in large quantities, can be just as bad for you as regular wheat flours. In addition, cats (and other animals) shouldn’t eat tapioca starch because it often contains sugars.
Besides its high fluid absorption and carbohydrate properties, tapioca starch has no particularly unpleasant qualities. Tapioca starch can cause constipation in animals if consumed in excessive amounts.
When we eat tapioca, we typically soak it in fluid-dense environments like tea or pudding. Overfeeding your cat dry tapioca starch could make them very ill, but you shouldn’t have to worry about it in commercial cat foods.
If you frequently use tapioca starch in your cooking and have brought your cat here because he or she is covered in the stuff, consider providing them with some canned wet food or other liquid-dense foods.
Can I Feed My Cat Tapioca?
No. If your cat accidentally consumes some tapioca pearls, don’t worry; they’re not poisonous.
But the black pearls we all know and love from pudding and tea are loaded with sugar and flavored with artificial syrups. You shouldn’t make a habit of giving your cat tapioca pearls, despite the fact that they aren’t toxic.
Tapioca pudding and boba tea are both toxic to cats, so you should never give them to your pet.
How Many Carbs Do Cats Need In Their Diet?
However, experts disagree on how much carbohydrate content there should be in commercial cat food.
Many popular brands of dry kibble for cats do, in fact, contain more carbohydrates than either a wild cat or a domestic cat would voluntarily consume. However, the data does not reveal the optimal carbohydrate level for a cat’s health.
The optimal dietary requirements of domestic and feral cats differ, in part because of differences in lifestyle (e.g., whether the cat is neutered, whether he goes outside, whether he regularly consumes table scraps, etc.).
Added grains and grain by-products aren’t just there to bulk up cat food; they’re also a cheap, easily digestible source of vitamins and energy.
Therefore, contrary to common belief, adding grains to commercial cat food will not negatively impact a cat’s health or shorten its lifespan.
A curious cat rarely survives. However, if your furry friend accidentally ingests some tapioca, it won’t kill them. Tapioca is non-toxic and safe for cats, but it’s still best to use caution when feeding it to your feline friends.
The toppings we use on tapioca are, at best, ineffective against cats. Tapioca should only be given to your cat if it is included in an approved cat food.