Cat owners often wonder what more to add to their cats’ diet for them to get the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Although it is accepted that cats do mostly eat meat, it’s also reasonable to look at how we can supplement that to help them stay as healthy as possible.
It’s no secret that spinach is full of nutrients. To those who are curious if spinach is ok for cats, here’s an informative guide on whether pet owners should or should not feed cats spinach.
So, Can Cats Eat Spinach?
Let’s get straight to the point; Yes, Cats can eat spinach. In fact, it’s very good for them in moderation. For cats, spinach should be seen more as part of a balanced diet, rather than a replacement for the protein they would get from meat.
The Health Benefits of Spinach for Cats
There are a lot of benefits cats can gain from eating spinach. While cats are mainly carnivores, they can still benefit from the essential nutrients that vegetables can provide. The spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals that are known to support the cat’s immune system and overall health.
Moreover, spinach is a good source of fiber that improves cat’s digestion to prevent constipation, diarrhea, and even diabetes. Adding small amounts of spinach on a cat’s everyday diet is enough to help them with their digestive issues.
Like other leafy vegetables, spinach is low on calories but makes a fuller tummy for cats which means less chance of them being overweight. Plus, it contains nitrates that are known to lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure among cats.
Spinach has carotenoids like zeaxanthin and lutein which is great for eyesight. These carotenoids could prevent macular or cataract degeneration, which are common causes of blindness in cats.
Furthermore, despite the fact that spinach offers nutritious content, cats can still live healthy without it. However, if it would be included in their everyday food, it can positively impact the health of the cats.
The Side Effects of Spinach
Veterinarians believe that occasionally serving cats kitty salad with veggies like spinach can help reduce their bowel problems. That is why some cats try to eat grass because they also need fiber other than protein.
Remember, there can be some downsides to spinach and cats. Spinach will not be a replacement for the protein that cats need. Just like humans, cats ought to eat a well-rounded diet from dry food, wet food, raw diets and more. Trying to switch the cats to a vegan diet can
make them sick and can encounter other health concerns. Naturally, spinach is not toxic to cats but it can be bad for them if the supply is too much than what they need.
If the cat is susceptible to urinary tract infections, spinach might not be a good idea for them. It has calcium oxalate that can cause bladder stones and urinary tract infections. It is not okay to add it to the diet of an unhealthy cat, so it is important to consult a professional before giving it to the cats.
Here are some side effects that are associated with spinach. If the cat is experiencing the any of these, it is best to stop adding spinach to their diet:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Infrequent or frequent urination
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Blood in stool and/or urine
- Sudden weight loss, usually from not eating
- Urinary tract infections
- Abdominal pain
For more additional concerns or issues regarding a cat’s vegetable diet, it is recommended to ask the veterinarian first for the safety of the pet.
The Kinds of Spinach Your Cat Can Eat
Cats can technically eat raw spinach, but raw spinach can contain more calcium oxalates than cooked spinach. As stated earlier, calcium oxalates can be bad for cats with urinary issues. Therefore, cooked spinach is the way to go.
Cooked spinach can still contain enough nutrients for your cat. What matters is how you cook the spinach. Avoid using oil for cooking spinach. The best way to cook spinach while retaining most of the nutrients is to steam or boil the spinach.
Remember not to add seasonings to your cat’s spinach. Cat’s taste buds are different from people’s taste buds, so they will not care about pepper, salt, and other spices. Plus, not using seasonings will prevent any additional risks to your cat’s health.
It would be best to steam or boil your own spinach leaves. Tinned spinach leaves or curried spinach leaves often contain additives and spices that your cat does not need. Those spices and additives can also harm your cat’s health.
How to Feed Your Cat Spinach
Some cats may not want to eat plain boiled or steamed spinach leaves straight out of your hand. Since it is not their usual food, they will not be enticed by the smell. So, you need to find ways around that to get your cat to eat spinach.
You can finely chop up your steamed or boiled spinach leaves, then mix them into wet cat food. That way, your cat will not notice that there is something new in their food. Alternately, you can puree the steamed or boiled spinach leaves and mix them into their food.
The key is to introduce tiny amounts to your cat’s food at a time. Many cats do not like sudden change, so they may ignore their food altogether if they see something new. You can put half a teaspoon or less of spinach leaves into their food at the start.
How Much Spinach Your Cat Can Eat?
Now that you know the answer to “can cats eat spinach,” you should know how much they can eat. Spinach should not be a replacement for your cat’s regular diet. So, you should treat spinach as a treat or occasional addition to your cat’s mealtimes to add nutrients to their diets.
If you know that your cat likes spinach, you can feed them 1-2 boiled or steamed spinach leaves every other day. You could also sneak a few spinach leaves into their food every other day. Most veterinarians will not recommend adding spinach to your cat’s diet every day.
You do not have to worry about feeding your cat spinach every other day, as spinach is not necessary for a cat’s diet. So, you can give them a few leaves once a week or even once a month. Just be sure not to add it to their diets daily.
Do Not Feed Your Kitten Spinach
It would not be ideal to feed spinach to your kitten. Spinach may not be directly harmful to kittens, but it would be better to stay on the safe side. Kittens are not as developed as adult cats, so kittens are more susceptible to stomach issues, bladder problems, etc.
Additionally, kittens will mostly need milk from their mothers for a part of their life. They often require specially formulated food to support their growth, so spinach is not ideal for kittens.
All in All
Cats can eat spinach as a small, occasional snack or in their food in small amounts to get a boost in nutrients. However, spinach does not replace a cat’s regular diet, and cats should not have too much spinach.
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- Animal Planet, ‘5 Human Foods Cats Can Eat’, http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/5-vegetables/, Accessed – 18 May 2021
- Fetch by WebMD, ‘Cat Vitamins and Supplements: Do They Work?’, https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cat-vitamins-and-supplements-do-they-work#1, Accessed – 18 May 2021
- Healthline, ‘Are Nitrates and Nitrites in Foods Harmful?’, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-nitrates-and-nitrites-harmful, Accessed – 18 May 2021
- WKBW, ‘12 human foods that are safe for your cat to eat’, https://www.wkbw.com/news/12-human-foods-that-are-safe-for-your-cat-to-eat, Accessed – 18 May 2021