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Home > General > Can Cats Eat Oats? Vet Approved Nutrition Facts

Can Cats Eat Oats? Vet Approved Nutrition Facts

Can Cats Eat Oats

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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What do oats and cats have in common? Well, not much at first glance. But have you ever thought about including oats in your cat’s diet? This question may come up for cat parents if their feline is keen to share a bit of their breakfast oatmeal!

The simple answer is yes, cats can eat oats! But portion control and preparation are key if you do decide to offer them.

It’s always best to consult with your vet before adding new foods, especially ‘human foods’, to your cat’s diet. Incorporating oats may not be suitable for all cats depending on their age, weight, and any health issues or special dietary requirements.

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Is It Safe for Cats to Eat Oats?

Yes, it’s generally safe for most cats to enjoy an occasional serving of oats. However, the key word here is occasional. As obligate carnivores, our feline friends primarily need animal protein to meet their dietary requirements.

While oatmeal is safe for cats, there’s a little caveat: it should always be cooked. Raw oats are challenging for cats to digest and might lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. Cooking oats not only makes them easier for your cat to digest but also enables them to benefit from the nutrients oats contain.

oat bran
Image by: ittiplus chaipa, Shutterstock

Nutritional Benefits: What Oats Bring to the Table

Oats can certainly have nutritional benefits for us humans, and you may wonder whether these health benefits extend to our feline friends.  Among the grains, oats are a good source of protein, providing an easily digestible form that can be used for energy.

Oats also contain linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid that can help keep your cat’s skin healthy and its coat shiny. The fiber content in oats deserves a mention too. Fiber can support digestive health but too much of it can conversely contribute to digestive upset such as diarrhea in cats.  Last but not least, oats contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like iron and vitamin B1.

Oats are sometimes included in commercial cat foods for their nutritional benefits, but they are carefully added in the correct amounts to make sure the overall food is balanced with the right levels of protein, fats and carbohydrates.

How Much Oatmeal Can Cats Eat?

Despite the nutritional benefits listed above, it’s important to remember that cats are obligate carnivores and should be getting all their essential nutrients from a high quality balanced cat food high in animal protein. Treats such as oatmeal should only make up 5-10% of your cat’s required daily calories intake. Cats do not need added oats in their diet and they of course should not replace their normal food.

Factors like age, weight, activity level, and health condition can influence your cat’s dietary needs. When in doubt, always consult with your vet. They can provide guidance and direction to ensure you give your kitty the best diet possible.

Oatmeal in a black bowl
Image by: panchenko_karyna, Pixabay

Oats for Cats

Many cats enjoy the occasional spoonful of oats, although not all of them love the taste. Plain is best-cats don’t have a sweet tooth, and certainly can’t tolerate the same levels of sugar and salt that humans do. Ideally, only let them have oats cooked in water rather than milk as most cats are lactose intolerant.

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Exploring Other Human Foods for Cats

Just because food is safe for us to eat, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ok for our cats. Cooked meats such as beef, chicken or turkey can make a tasty treat. Cooked, boneless fish is another popular option such as salmon or tuna. Most cats will not be so keen on vegetables but steamed broccoli, carrots, cucumber, and pumpkin are all safe options if your cat has a taste for them.

In essence, although your cat should get everything they need from a complete and balanced high quality cat food, incorporating safe human foods can provide additional nutrients and variety. Always introduce new foods gradually and keep a close eye on your cat for any changes in behavior or digestion. And, of course, when in doubt, consult with your vet!

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Conclusion

We know that cats are obligate carnivores, and many may not be keen on the taste of oatmeal. However, if your kitty does enjoy it, an occasional spoonful of cooked plain oats can be a safe treat with some nutritional benefits. It is important not to overfeed oats, your cat should be getting all their essential nutrients from good quality cat food, high in animal protein. Your vet is your best source of information about the dietary requirements of your cat, so contact them with any questions or for advice.


Featured Image Credit: olhovyi_photographer, Shutterstock

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