4 min read

Can Cats Eat Brussels Sprouts?


By Leslie Ingraham

Published: 11/20/2022, edited: 11/20/2022

Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

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Cat parents may not think of vegetables as treats for their felines, but there are quite a few fruits and veggies that can actually benefit them.  Brussels sprouts may not leap into our minds as being a kitty-approved food. And while it’s true that, like with humans, these tiny cabbages may only appeal to a select few, especially when they’re offered without butter, sauces, or condiments like salt and pepper, there are some feline fans out there!

Holiday dinners often include Brussels sprouts in some form on their menus. You may feel inclined to share a small piece with your purr baby, but can cats eat Brussels sprouts? The answer to the question is yes, they can, in moderation.

Not only is there no problem in a cat eating these nutritious jewels, but they’re actually beneficial for them! Packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, they can supplement their regular food’s nutritional profile and may even prevent or moderate some chronic conditions. Read on to see what we’ve found out about cats and Brussels sprouts.

Do cats like Brussels sprouts?

The answer to this question will depend on the cat. You might be surprised if your purrer snatches up a piece of Brussel sprout that’s accidentally fallen to the floor, then asks for more. But for some cats, the strong, cabbage-like smell and taste may be quite repellant, so if your cat doesn’t like them, there’s no need to try to encourage them to eat up. And as obligate carnivores, cats primarily rely on meat for sustenance. However, if your kitty is reaching a paw out for a taste, they very well may become fans. 

Brussels sprouts on the stalks - can cats eat Brussels sprouts

Health benefits of Brussels sprouts for cats

While it’s true that cats don’t specifically need Brussels sprouts for their overall health, there are nutrients in the vegetable that may benefit them. Let’s look at a few of the health benefits contained in Brussels sprouts.

Aid digestion

Brussels sprouts are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which play an important role in digestion. Insoluble fiber helps to move stool along by stimulating intestinal motion, thereby preventing constipation. Soluble fiber bulks up the stool in the intestine by helping it to absorb water for easy passage. Fiber also aids in the prevention and easing of diarrhea, and can even prevent an intestinal obstruction due to hairballs by moving them through the GI tract.

Assists in weight management

The bulk contained in Brussels sprouts is made largely of fiber and water. While Brussels sprouts should not be switched out for the animal protein in your cat’s regular diet, it can improve the stomach’s feeling of fullness so the cat may not get hungry as often and may eat less, resulting in fewer calories consumed. This may be beneficial if your cat needs to lose a few pounds safely.

Provides healthy vitamins and minerals

The vitamins, minerals, and other substances contained in Brussels sprouts can help in the cat’s ability to prevent or recover from a variety of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Some of these useful substances include:

  • Antioxidants reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease
  • Vitamin A improves and protects vision
  • Vitamin K can help lower blood pressure, improve clotting time, and speed healing
  • Vitamin C promotes the immune system in fighting infection
  • Omega-3 fatty acids reduce insulin resistance and stabilize blood sugar in diabetes
  • Vegetable proteins assist with the formation and maintenance of muscles

How much Brussels sprouts can I give my cat?

It’s important with any new food to start slowly, giving just a little bit until it’s obvious the cat likes it and doesn't suffer any sensitivities or allergies to it. Brussels sprouts in larger amounts can cause digestive discomfort and upset stomach, and even liver damage, so moderation when feeding this veggie is key.

Many vets recommend starting with about one-half teaspoon and if this amount is tolerated, gradually increasing the amount to a teaspoonful once a week or two. 

Only soft, cooked sprouts should be offered to cats, cut into small pieces or chopped which makes them easy to chew and digest. Sprouts need to be washed well before cooking, then steamed or boiled for about ten minutes and cooled before serving. No additives of any kind should be used, including spices, sauces, onions, garlic, salt, pepper or butter that could be harmful to cats.

Note that feeding cats raw Brussels sprouts could cause intestinal distress, infections from bacteria or even a goiter. The substance goitrin found in raw Brussels sprouts can interfere with the metabolism of thiamine (Vit B1) which is needed for a healthy thyroid. Too much of it can cause the thyroid to swell into a goiter, so it's best to always stick with cooked sprouts which are safe. 

Cooked Brussels sprouts in a bowl

Can kittens eat Brussels sprouts?

While Brussels sprouts can be a fun and healthy addition to your cat's diet, kittens may encounter serious gastrointestinal problems. Keep your kitten feeling great by withholding sprouts until they are an adult and their system can better handle this cruciferous veggie. 

Should I feed my cat fresh or frozen Brussels sprouts?

Fresh and frozen Brussels sprouts are largely identical in nutrition and can be prepared in the same way. Just be sure to always cook or warm up pre-cooked frozen sprouts to protect your cat's teeth and make the vegetable easier to eat.

If you find that your cat is interested in your Brussels sprouts, it’s fine to give them a taste of cooked and unseasoned sprouts. As with any new food, it’s smart to check with your veterinarian before offering them to your kitty and be sure to watch them for any possible allergies or sensitivities to the vegetable. With a new tasty veggie to try, your cat may soon be purring their thanks!

Food-induced GI problems can be expensive to treat. Avoid high vet care expenses by securing pet health insurance today! Compare plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace to find the “pawfect” plan for your pet!

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