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4 min read

Can Cats Eat Pumpkin?


By Tim Falk

Published: 05/27/2022, edited: 02/20/2024

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

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Pumpkin is a delicious ingredient in fall baking projects and hearty winter dishes. But if you’re partial to a piece of this delicious orange fruit — that’s right, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable! — you’re probably wondering whether you can share some with your cat.

So can cats eat pumpkin? The answer is yes. Plain pumpkin, either raw or cooked, is a good source of fiber and helps aid digestion. However, it should only ever be given as a treat, and there are a few different types of pumpkin dishes that are unsafe for cats. 

Keep reading to find out how to safely feed pumpkin to your cat.

Do cats like pumpkin?

As a general rule, yes! Many cats will happily indulge in a small piece of pumpkin as a treat, or perhaps mixed in with their regular cat food.

But that’s not the case for all cats. Cats lack the taste receptors responsible for detecting sweetness, so don’t be surprised if the sweet flavor of a fresh piece of pumpkin doesn’t have your fur-baby licking their lips.

Of course, if your kitty turns their nose up when you offer them pumpkin, there’s no need to despair. Pumpkin certainly isn’t an essential ingredient in your cat’s diet, so it’s perfectly fine for your feline to go without.

green and orange pumpkins on a white table

Health benefits of pumpkin for cats

Pumpkin offers plenty of important nutrients for people and cats alike. Let's take a closer look at the top 3 health benefits of pumpkin for cats.

Aids digestion

The biggest bonus of adding a little pumpkin to your cat’s diet is that it’s low in calories but high in fiber. Fiber aids proper digestive health, so pumpkin can help ensure regular, healthy bowel movements if your pet is suffering from a bout of constipation. Fiber also helps move hair through your pet’s intestinal tract, reducing hairballs, so it’s an important ingredient for feline health.

Helps your cat feel fuller for longer

The other benefit of pumpkin’s high fiber content is that it’ll help your cat feel fuller for longer. This makes it a handy dietary addition if your cat needs to lose some weight, as it ensures that your cat is satisfied without adding too many extra calories into their diet. Just make sure you check with your vet before deciding whether pumpkin should be part of your pet’s weight-loss program.

Provides a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals

Pumpkin is also a source of a range of other nutrients, including vitamins A and C, potassium, phosphorus and more. For more information on exactly what nutrients are contained in pumpkin, let’s take a closer look at a breakdown of a 100-gram serving of cooked pumpkin that has been boiled without salt and then drained:

  • Energy: 20 calories
  • Protein: 0.72 grams
  • Total fat: 0.07 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 4.9 grams
  • Fiber: 1.1 grams
  • Sugar: 2.08 grams
  • Calcium: 15 milligrams
  • Iron: 0.57 milligrams
  • Magnesium: 9 milligrams
  • Phosphorus: 30 milligrams
  • Potassium: 230 milligrams
  • Sodium: 1 milligram

Source: FoodData Central

How much pumpkin can I give my cat?

OK, so you’ve decided to treat your fur-baby to a taste of pumpkin. But how much should you give them? We recommend feeding up to 1 teaspoon of pumpkin as an occasional treat.

Remember, cats are obligate carnivores (meat eaters), so pumpkin should only be given in small amounts and shouldn’t make up a large part of their diet.

If you’re preparing the pumpkin yourself, remove the stem, skin, and pulp. You can bake pumpkin or boil it before chopping it into bite-sized pieces, or you might like to consider making your own pumpkin puree. Cats can eat pumpkin raw or cooked, while pumpkin seeds are also high in fiber and make a tasty occasional snack.

The other option is to give your cat canned pumpkin, which is available all year round. It’s also easy and convenient if you don’t have time to cook it yourself, so try adding a tablespoon to your cat’s regular food.

But before you do, make sure the canned pumpkin you choose is plain and doesn’t have any seasoning. Pumpkin pie filling, for example, typically has added ingredients which often aren’t feline-friendly (like xylitol or sugar), so don’t give it to your cat. 

As with any new food, only give your pet a small amount of pumpkin the first time they try it so you can ensure that it agrees with them. Too much pumpkin could potentially also cause an upset stomach for your pet, so be careful not to overdo it.

Does pumpkin settle a cat’s stomach?

As mentioned above, pumpkin can come in handy to help put an end to constipation. So it might surprise you to learn that pumpkin can also be a welcome addition to your fur-baby’s food dish if they’re suffering from diarrhea. That’s because pumpkin contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. 

When your pet has an upset stomach, the soluble fiber in pumpkin absorbs the excess liquid in the digestive tract, resulting in firmer stools. So if your cat’s stomach is a little sensitive, feeding a small amount of pumpkin can help get them feeling like themselves again.

Just remember that pumpkin is only a short-term solution to help ease your pet’s discomfort. If their diarrhea doesn’t clear up within 48 hours, or if they are unwell, get them to the vet for a checkup.

a tin of pumpkin pie against a backdrop of orange and red leaves

Can cats have pumpkin pie?

Mmmm, pumpkin pie! Even the mere mention of this classic holiday dessert is probably enough to have you licking your lips. Unfortunately, this is one human food you definitely shouldn’t share with your cat. 

Pumpkin pie contains sugar, which causes digestive upset and simply isn’t good for your feline, and other spices that aren’t safe for cats to eat. Nutmeg, for example, has the potential to cause an upset stomach and can be toxic to cats if consumed in very large amounts. Cinnamon can also cause intestinal problems for our fur-babies.

According to Pet Poison Helpline, cloves and allspice (2 other common ingredients in pumpkin pie) contain a compound known as eugenol that can cause liver toxicity in felines.

With this in mind, the safest option is to never give your cat any pumpkin pie. And if you’re buying canned pumpkin for your cat, steer clear of pumpkin pie filling.

Digestive problems and food allergies can be expensive to treat. Protect your kitty from high vet costs due to digestive issues and compare pet health insurance plans today to save more than $270 a year on vet care.

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