If you’ve been watching your cat sniff dandelions in your backyard, you might be wondering if these are safe things for your cat to eat. After all, you may have had a salad with dandelion greens in it, picked some for your pet rabbit, or even tried dandelion coffee or tea.
In brief, dandelion greens are safe for cats to eat. But as with any plant-based food, they should only eat dandelion greens occasionally. As obligate carnivores, cats are designed to eat a primarily meat-based diet. Let’s find out more about dandelion greens and why you might consider feeding them to your cat in small quantities.
Dandelion Greens Benefits
You may have heard that dandelion greens can offer health benefits for us humans, so you might be wondering if these apply to our four-legged friends. Dandelion greens are rich in a variety of vitamins, including A, B, and D. They also contain minerals and a small amount of protein.
Dandelion Green Disadvantages
If your cat is self-selecting dandelion greens from your backyard, determine if any pesticides or herbicides have been applied to your lawn. Eating leaves that have been sprayed with substances like this may give your cat an upset stomach or worse. If you see your cat eating dandelion greens like this, keep a close eye on them to check that they’re not suffering from any adverse reactions. Pesticides and herbicides can be poisonous to cats. Signs of poisoning from these include:
If you do see your cat eating dandelion greens outside, either on your lawn or a neighbor’s, try to make sure no weed killers or grass feeds have been applied. Dandelions are typically seen as weeds on lawns, so they may have been spot-sprayed with weed killers. Keep a close eye on your cat for the next few days, and if you see any of the listed signs, call your vet immediately.
How to Feed Dandelion Greens to Your Cat
If you’re interested in feeding dandelion greens to your cat, the first thing to do is check with your vet. They may say that it’s fine, or they may want more information about why you want to feed dandelion greens to your cat. Depending on your reasons and the overall health of your cat, your vet may recommend an alternative.
If you do decide to feed dandelion greens to your cat, make sure any leaves are thoroughly washed first. Try to pick the leaves from an area you know to be safe from herbicides or pesticides.
Start with a small serving to see if your cat has any adverse reactions. Try chopping up ¼ to ½ a leaf into small pieces, and sprinkle or mix this into your cat’s regular food. They may find it more palatable mixed in with a tasty wet food than with dry kibble.
After your cat has eaten their dandelion greens, keep an eye on them for the next 24–48 hours. If your cat shows any signs of digestive upset, such as constipation or diarrhea, it’s likely that their digestive system is having trouble processing the dandelion greens. Stop feeding them any more greens, and if your cat’s digestive issues continue, speak to your vet for advice.
If your cat doesn’t like the taste—dandelion leaves can be bitter—they may pick out the other food and leave the dandelion leaves untouched. You can try feeding them to your cat a couple more times, but if they’re consistently eating around them, it’s a good sign that they don’t like them. At that point, it’s probably best to avoid feeding them to your cat again.
What’s a Good Alternative to Dandelion Greens?
If you’d still like to add fiber to your cat’s diet, a far better alternative to dandelion greens is cat grass. You can buy a cat grass grow kit that includes a planter, soil, and seeds. Kits also usually include a blend of barley, wheat, oats, and flax. Once grown, this grass provides high levels of vitamins and minerals, much more than what can be found in dandelion greens.
You don’t even need to add the grass to your cat’s food. Simply let them self-select to eat the grass as and when they want to. Keep a planter of cat grass on your windowsill, and replant fresh seeds every few weeks so your cat has a regular supply of yummy grass.
Cat grass helps support your cat’s digestive system by providing roughage, it provides a boost of vitamins and minerals, and it can help reduce hairball formation. It’s also a good way to prevent your cat from showing any interest in your houseplants or dandelion greens on your lawn!
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Dandelion greens aren’t poisonous to cats and can sometimes be added to their diets to increase their intake of roughage, fiber, and vitamins. Bear in mind, though, that dandelion greens don’t contain anything that your cat shouldn’t already be getting from their regular food.
If you’re concerned that your cat isn’t getting enough vitamins or minerals from their diet, speak to your vet for advice before adding new ingredients like dandelion greens. Your vet will likely recommend a few different options.
If you want to add roughage to your cat’s diet, consider growing cat grass for them instead. This is easy to grow on a windowsill and contains higher levels of nutrients than dandelion greens. You can also be sure that it hasn’t been exposed to toxic herbicides or pesticides. Leaving cat grass out for your cat to self-select when they want to eat it and how much is a better solution than adding dandelion greens to their food.
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Featured Image Credit: DUSAN ZIDAR, Shutterstock