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Carrots are root vegetables that many humans find delicious raw or cooked. They're eaten as snacks, in salads, cooked on their own as a side dish, or as part of a scrumptious stew or soup. Cats, who are often curious about what their cat parent is eating, might act like they want to taste the carrots on their plate. If they try some, they might indicate they’re not interested by turning away, or they may tuck into the vegetable enthusiastically.
Can cats safely eat carrots? The answer is yes, but they should be well cooked to prevent choking. However, carrots should only be offered to a kitty as an occasional treat, not as part of their regular meal plan. Read on for some useful facts about cats and carrots!
Do cats like carrots?
Not all cats like all the same things. Felines can’t taste the subtle sweetness in a carrot because they lack sweetness taste receptors in their tongues. However, they might be attracted to the faint aroma, texture, or other flavors in the orange veggie.
However, if carrots aren't on your cat’s list of preferred foods, rest assured: they don’t need carrots, or any vegetables and fruits for that matter. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that their diet through the centuries has consisted only of meat or other animal protein like fish. They get all their necessary nutrients from animal sources, including vitamins, minerals, fat, and protein. One of the most essential ingredients in meat is taurine, an amino acid not available in carbohydrates. Also, the beta carotenes so abundant in carrots can’t be converted in the cat’s body to Vitamin A. Luckily, Vitamin A is already present and accessible in animal protein.
Health benefits of carrots for cats
There are many health benefits of carrots for humans. Raw vegetables carry the most benefit, but if your cat likes carrots, they should only be given soft-cooked ones. Raw carrots may be a choking hazard for felines, but a slice or two of cooked carrot “pennies” will provide a number of benefits. Let’s look at a few of them.
Carrots contain fiber, which can help maintain your cat’s healthy digestion of the foods they eat. Fiber not only softens and bulks up food, it also stimulates the intestines to move it forward toward elimination. This prevents constipation and helps treat diarrhea as it absorbs excess liquid from the stool. The fiber in carrots is both soluble, which absorbs liquid, and insoluble, which provides bulk because it isn’t digestible. Both types play a significant role in your feline’s digestion.
Provides a feeling of fullness
Fiber fills the tummy and satisfies hunger pangs longer than commercial treats do. A carrot keeps the cat from wanting to eat less healthy treats between mealtimes. This goes a long way toward preventing overeating and obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other serious conditions like heart and kidney diseases. If the cat already has diabetes, fiber will slow down the digestion of sugars and other carbs, keeping blood sugar levels lower and more consistent. Given as an occasional treat, carrots should never make up more than 10% of the calories a cat consumes in a day.
Provides healthy vitamins and minerals
While cats can’t synthesize Vitamin A from beta-carotene in carrots, other healthful vitamins and minerals are available, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic Acid
- Vitamin K
The amount of these vitamins and minerals will depend on the quantity of carrot the cat eats. Because carrots contain natural sugar, the amount given should be limited to avoid sugar-related illnesses.
How much carrot can I give my cat?
As with other treats, carrots should not be substituted for regular cat food. As mentioned, treats should be 10% or less of the day’s total calorie allotment, the average of which is about 250 calories for a 10-pound cat, with treats only constituting about 25 calories. A whole carrot contains 25 to 35 calories, so it’s clear your kitty should get only a small portion as a treat if they receive more than one treat per day. A piece or two, less than 2 ounces, should be enough. More than that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and gas, along with long-term effects such as diabetes and obesity.
It’s important that carrots for cats be prepared with no other ingredients, including salt. Boiling, steaming, or baking them are best. Carrots cooked with spices and herbs, onions, or garlic can also be harmful to your kitty, as can sauteing or baking them with butter, honey or brown sugar.
Is it okay to give carrot juice to my cat?
Many commercial carrot juice products may contain other ingredients such as extra sugar, other vegetables or fruits, salt, or other seasonings. Because the main benefit of carrots for cats is their fiber, and juices tend to contain little or no fiber, there isn’t a compelling reason to give your cat carrot juice. Commercial carrot juices may also contain chemical preservatives, food coloring and other unhealthful ingredients.
Fresh-pressed carrot juice won’t have these potentially harmful additions, but cats don’t receive the nutritional benefits from it that humans do. Therefore, there’s no good reason to give carrot juice to your feline.
Can I mix cooked carrot in with my cat’s food?
Soft, cooked carrot can be mixed into a cat’s regular food, or just spooned on top. As with treats, the amount of carrot should not exceed 10% of the cat food’s total calories.
Can I feed my cat the green tops of carrots?
Green, leafy carrot tops are not harmful to cats, and many cats like leafy food. The tops can be cooked and cut up for the kitty or they may munch on them raw.
There is a wild carrot that grows in the spring that has a green top similar to the cultivated carrot. The greens look a lot like parsley. These greens are very toxic to cats, potentially causing serious skin and eye conditions. Infections and blindness may occur as a result. The wild carrot has been called by other names, including Queen Anne’s Lace. If your cat has ingested or brushed against wild carrot plants, a visit to the veterinarian is necessary.
The bottom line is that while cats can eat carrots, it's important to keep in mind that vegetables of any kind are not always necessary for cats, and eating too many carbohydrates can cause a variety of medical conditions. Always have portion control in mind, and provide your purring pal with a balanced diet that satisfies their particular needs.
A high-quality diet is essential for keeping your cat happy and healthy. Digestive problems and food allergies can be expensive to treat, and impawssible to predict. Compare pet health insurance plans today to save more than $270 a year on vet care and keep your feline friend protected.
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