By Adam Lee-Smith
Published: 08/08/2022, edited: 08/10/2022
Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
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Portobello, oyster, shiitake — you'll find several types of mushrooms at your local grocery store. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There are tens of thousands of mushroom species worldwide, and more than 2,000 of them are edible.
If you're a fan of fungi, you might be wondering if mushrooms are safe to feed your fur-baby. So, can cats eat mushrooms? The short answer is yes. Store-bought mushrooms are usually safe for cats to eat, but wild mushrooms can be poisonous to your purring pal. It's also a question of whether it's a good idea to feed your cat mushrooms, as it might encourage them to eat dangerous wild mushrooms.
Read on to learn whether mushrooms are safe for cats and what you should know before feeding your kitty some caps.
Do cats like mushrooms?
Even though they're obligate carnivores who usually take little interest in anything other than meat, some cats seem to like eating mushrooms. Anecdotal evidence from pet parents suggests that many cats try to get their paws on some cooked mushrooms at dinnertime.
While studies suggest cats can't taste sweetness, they can enjoy the "umami" flavor of amino acids in protein. Mushrooms contain glutamate, an amino acid that gives foods that hard-to-place savory taste known as umami.
Cats may also enjoy the texture of mushrooms, which is similar to meat. But no two cats are the same, and many fussy felines will turn their noses up at mushrooms. It's a cat's "purrsonal" preference whether or not they enjoy eating mushrooms.
Health benefits of mushrooms for cats
Mushrooms are a great part of a balanced diet for humans. But are mushrooms healthy for cats? Surprisingly, yes! Here are 3 health benefits of mushrooms for cats.
Boosts the immune system
Mushrooms may help boost a cat's immune-modulating response and their ability to fight off viruses. This is because mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which are soluble fibers that help fight infection.
These properties mean that mushrooms may be able to help fight off various diseases, including FIV. However, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Vaccinating your cat against deadly diseases like FIV is always the best way to keep your cat healthy and safe.
Aids with inflammation
Mushrooms contain several nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties, such as fatty acids and vitamins. These nutrients can help manage chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and bronchitis.
Provides support during cancer treatment
Certain mushrooms, like maitake and reishi, have properties that help protect against cancer. Some mushrooms can also help protect the liver during chemotherapy and may slow the growth of malignant tumors.
How many mushrooms can I feed my cat?
Due to the number of mushroom species, no specific amount of mushrooms is "safe" for cats to eat. Mushrooms can be given to your cat every once in a while as a treat and shouldn't form a significant part of your cat's diet.
Cats are obligate carnivores and should have a diet of high-quality animal protein and little else. That said, giving your cat a couple of caps once a month or so shouldn't cause your cat any harm and may even benefit their health. You'll even find companies that sell mushroom supplements for cats and dogs to improve health and prevent disease.
But just because you can give your cat mushrooms doesn't necessarily mean you should. One reason to avoid giving your cat mushrooms regularly is that it might make them tempted to eat wild mushrooms. Feeding your cat mushrooms regularly at home will get them used to the smell, which may make them tempted to snack on a mushroom while outside.
Many mushrooms that grow wild are poisonous to cats. It's hard to identify which mushrooms are safe for your cat unless you're a fervent forager, so it's best to prevent them from eating wild mushrooms altogether.
Which mushrooms are safe for cats to eat?
Many types of mushrooms you'll find in grocery stores are safe for your cat to eat. Common mushrooms that are safe for cats to eat include:
- White button (Agaricus bisporus)
- Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
- Portobello (Agaricus bisporus)
- Enoki (Flammulina filiformis)
- Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus)
- Porcini (Boletus edulis)
- Morel (Morchella esculenta)
This is by no means an extensive list and includes just a few examples of the most popular mushrooms used for cooking and medicinal purposes. If you're not sure whether a mushroom is safe for cats, always ask your vet before giving it to your furry friend.
Which mushrooms are poisonous to cats?
Many common wild mushrooms are poisonous to cats. While most mushrooms aren't lethal to cats, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, which will mean a trip to the vet. Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can severely damage a cat's liver and kidneys.
Notable wild mushrooms that are poisonous to cats include:
- Death cap (Amanita phalloides)
- Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)
- Autumn skullcap (Galerina marginata)
- Jackson's slender amanita (Amanita jacksonii)
- Sickener (Russula emetica)
- Deadly webcap (Cortinarius rubellus)
- Death angel (Amanita ocreata)
Again, this is not an exhaustive list. Contact your vet if you think your cat has ingested any of these mushrooms.
Can cats feel the effects of magic mushrooms?
Now it's time to address the elephant in the room: Can cats feel the effects of "magic" mushrooms? The answer is yes; cats feel the hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin mushrooms.
A cat that has ingested psilocybin can display various symptoms, including hallucinations, tremors, sensitivity, vocalization, nausea, disorientation, and seizures. Contact your vet immediately if you believe your cat has ingested psilocybin mushrooms.
Can cats eat raw mushrooms?
Yes, it's safe for cats to raw mushrooms. That said, it's safer to feed your cat cooked mushrooms — raw mushrooms are harder for cats to digest. Plus, raw mushrooms may have come in contact with raw meat, dairy products, or toxins that might make your cat sick.
You might also be wondering, “Can cats eat mushroom soup?” The answer: it depends. The soup you give your cat should be plain, as some common ingredients in mushroom soup, like garlic, are poisonous to cats. If you're using canned soup, check to ensure all the ingredients are safe for cats to consume. Most store bought soups would be too salty to feed a cat.
Are mushrooms safe for cats? Recap
Overall, store-bought mushrooms are usually safe for cats to eat in
moderation. Some cats even enjoy the taste, and mushrooms can provide a
few minor health benefits.
But it's also a good idea to avoid
feeding your cats mushrooms on a regular basis. Mushrooms aren't a part
of a cat's ordinary diet, and your cat might be encouraged to eat
potentially dangerous wild mushrooms if they associate the smell with
food. If you want to feed your mushrooms, do so as an occasional treat.
Got more questions about whether mushrooms are safe for cats? Chat with a veterinary professional today to get the lowdown!
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