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Most cats enjoy human foods, and many of them are safe for felines to eat. But are peas safe for cats? The answer is Yes, cats can enjoy peas! But there are a couple of cat-veats to keep in mind. Cats should not be fed pea pods because they can be a choking hazard, so be sure to stick to only the round, green peas themselves.
Cats require the proteins and fats found in meat, poultry, and fish, and in the wild, they subsist solely on animal prey. Carbohydrates like vegetables and grains are contained in small amounts – less than 10% – in a mouse, bird or other prey that is totally consumed. With this in mind, cats should be given peas only as occasional treats, or included in very small amounts in home-cooked cat food. Some commercial cat foods, especially those labeled “grain-free,” may include peas as an alternate carbohydrate and source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Read on for more info about the benefits of peas in your cat's diet and how much they should be eating.
Do cats like peas?
Like humans, some cats like peas, and others don’t. If you’re curious about where your cat stands, try giving them a single pea and see what they do. Be sure the pea is plain without salt, butter, or other human faves. While some peas are slightly sweet, cats lack sweet receptors but may love them regardless. Some purr pets may simply bat them around like a tiny ball!
Cats may not want peas until they see their humans eating them, but besides the potentially harmful fats and sodium on the dressed-up peas on your plate, it’s unwise to feed them from the table. Doing so can create unwanted behaviors like begging. Be sure to offer them only in the cat’s usual eating area.
Health benefits of peas for cats
There is a long-standing debate among nutritional scientists about whether cats can digest fruits and vegetables and use their nutrients. An article published in the American Veterinary Medicine Journal in March 2022 concluded that the evidence doesn’t support the idea that cats can’t digest carbohydrates like peas. It’s believed that the hexokinase in peas metabolizes the carbs in fruits and vegetables by up to 65%. Peas have other health benefits too!
Aids the GI system
Peas contain an abundant amount of fiber, mostly in their skins. Fiber is a valuable resource for cats with constipation or diarrhea. The soluble fiber in peas absorbs water and expands to bulk up and soften the cat’s stool for easier elimination. Fiber can also consolidate stool in cases of diarrhea. While too many peas may cause GI disturbances, small amounts can be added to rice in a bland diet to help settle an upset stomach.
Helps prevent dehydration
Peas help prevent dehydration by providing water and maintaining fluid levels in the intestines and elsewhere in the body. Peas are 79% water, and while this is less than some other fruits and vegetables, peas can still contribute to preventing dehydration. Water is found in every cell in a cat’s body, and a deficiency can cause numerous symptoms and conditions, from a lack of skin elasticity to internal organ failure.
Manages weight and diabetes
Too much of any macronutrient, including carbohydrates, can cause problems like weight gain, which may lead to heart disease and diabetes. However, when substituted for commercial treats, peas can assist in reducing the calories and fat consumed, potentially leading to weight loss. Also, peas’ slow digestion helps control blood sugar in prediabetic or diabetic cats by preventing blood sugar spikes.
Provides various nutrients for better overall health
One of the substances that cats need is taurine, which is only available to them in animal proteins. However, there are other vitamins and minerals in peas that can benefit them, such as:
These nutrients help to keep a cat’s eyes, muscles, nerves, skin, immune system, fur, and bones healthy. Cats produce Vitamins K and C in their own bodies, and foods with Beta-carotene don’t benefit them as they aren’t able to synthesize Vitamin A from it. If there is a deficiency of these nutrients, cats can benefit from getting them in their diets.
How many peas can I give my cat?
Except for cats with special needs related to carbs, including peas, the recommended amount is about a tablespoon throughout the day, one to three times a week. Be sure to watch your cat's peas consumption, as even though there are many benefits to eating peas, this vegetable also contain lectins, which are natural, organic protein insecticides that protect the vegetable against bugs. Consuming too many peas can damage a cat’s intestines, decreasing their ability to absorb and retain nutrients.
The effects of over-consuming peas can also include vomiting, diarrhea, and weight gain, leading to common complications such as heart disease and diabetes. Be sure that peas only make up 10% or less of your cat's daily caloric intake to prevent any negative effects.
What’s the best way to feed peas to my cat?
Frozen or fresh peas steamed without any additives are appropriate for most cats. If your purrfect pet has a mouth or dental issue, or other problems with eating peas whole, they can be mashed after cooking. This is a good alternative for young kitties and their tiny teeth, too. Frozen peas can be offered as a cooling treat, but allow them to thaw slightly so they’re not rock hard.
As mentioned earlier, peas should be removed from their pods before feeding them to your cat. The only exception to this might be snow peas, whose cooked pods are soft. Canned peas contain too much sodium, so it's best to stay away from those as well. Peas can also be included in pet-healthy home-cooked foods and treats. Check out this pet-safe beef stew recipe with peas for inspiration!
Can peas cause allergic reactions in cats?
As with any vegetable or grain, peas may cause sensitivities or allergies in the form of skin irritation, GI symptoms, refusal to eat, or hair loss. The allergy may develop over time and not be present with the first few tablespoons, so it’s crucial to observe your feline for the development of any of these conditions. Allergies should prompt a visit to the vet for appropriate care. Any time you are trying new foods with your pet, it’s a good idea to check with your vet to be sure they are safe for your particular furball.
If your cuddly feline appears interested in peas, it’s purrfectly all right to give them some, in reasonable amounts! They’re safe and good for them, too!
A high-quality diet is essential for keeping your cat happy and healthy. Digestive problems and food allergies can be expensive to treat. Compare pet health insurance plans to save more than $270 a year on vet care.