Squash is often touted as a fantastic seasonally appropriate superfood packed with healthy nutrients and antioxidants. While botanists classify squashes as fruit, most of us consider products such as pumpkins, butternut squash, and zucchini vegetables, as they’re savory and often pack less of a flavor punch than bananas, apples, and strawberries. Several types of squashes are roughly divided into summer and winter varieties.
Zucchini is a summer squash, and acorn squash is a winter variety. Both feature fiber and other important vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. But is it safe for cats to eat squash? Most types of squash are safe for cats to consume. It’s fine for them to eat cooked, unseasoned, and unsalted squash. But some pets may run into trouble if they eat a lot of squash seasoned with products such as onions or garlic that can be toxic to cats1.
Which Types of Squash Are Available?
Summer options include cousa, crookneck, cuarzo, eight ball, fortune, green egg, gold rush, patty pan, papaya pear, straightneck, tromboncino, zephyr, and zucchini.
There are also several tasty winter choices, such as acorn, bonbon, buttercup, butternut, carnival, delicata, honey bear, hubbard, honeynut, kabocha, pink banana jumbo, red kuri, spaghetti, sweet dumpling, sunshine kabocha, Yokohama, and turban squashes. Pumpkins are winter squashes. Generally, squashes that are safe for human consumption are generally okay for cats to eat in limited amounts.
Which Cooking Ingredients Should Cats Avoid?
When cooking and seasoning vegetables, hazards to cats can generally be broken down into two categories: products that aren’t good for cats and those which are toxic. Fats like butter and olive oil are examples of foods that aren’t toxic but aren’t great, either.
Salt is an essential nutrient, but it can be harmful when consumed in large quantities. It’s generally fine for cats to have food with a touch of butter or salt as long as these products are fed as treats and don’t account for more than 10% of a cat’s diet.
Onions, garlic, and chives are toxic to cats, and it’s best to avoid giving your buddy products featuring these ingredients. Dried and powdered onions and garlic are more potent than fresh portions.
Do Cats Need Extra Vegetables?
No, cats are obligate carnivores, and their bodies are optimized to obtain nutrients most effectively through meat and other animal-based sources. While it’s not harmful to cats to eat fruits and vegetables, they’re inefficient when delivering nutrients to cats. It’s fine if your cat likes the taste of zucchini, but your buddy should get their nutrients primarily through regular cat food.
Some cats, however, do benefit from a bit of dietary fiber. Getting sufficient fiber increases feline regularity and may help with weight management. Some evidence suggests that eating an appropriately fiber-rich diet may help with feline blood sugar regulation2. Veterinarians often recommend giving cats that need extra fiber a dollop of fresh, cooked, unseasoned pumpkin in addition to their regular food. It’s full of fiber and essential nutrients such as vitamin A and phosphorus.
To make things more appetizing to your cat, consider mashing the squash, adding a bit of homemade (no salt, no seasoning) bone broth, and mixing it into your cat’s regular wet food.
Which Vegetables Can Cats Eat?
Cats can eat various vegetables, including green beans, broccoli, carrots, and spinach, although many kitties don’t love the taste of plain vegetables and are therefore not inclined to bother with steamed zucchini side dishes.
They can also eat fruit such as bananas, blueberries, and some melons. But cats don’t have the taste receptors to enjoy sweets, so they’re often not interested in fruit. Cats respond to rich meaty and fishy tastes. Most also enjoy salt and fat, which is why kitties often like eating baked treats and buttery vegetables, which aren’t feline-friendly options.
Do Cats Need Supplements?
Generally, the best way to ensure your pet gets all the required nutrients is to stick with a high-quality pet food with protein heading the ingredient list. Look for commercial products that provide the full range of nutrients suggested by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Some cats benefit from dietary adjustments, including pets that are overweight or have a chronic disease. But check with your veterinarian before deciding to supplement your pet’s diet.
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Most types of squash are safe for cats to eat as long as the healthy vegetables are prepared in a feline-friendly way! Keep things simple and avoid spices and seasonings designed to please human taste buds, such as salt and sugar. Avoid adding onions, garlic, and other human foods cats can’t safely consume.
While it’s usually okay for cats to eat the skin of summer squashes, make sure to peel and remove the seeds from any winter squash before serving it to your cat. To create tasty feline-friendly treats for your cat, simply steam summer squash or bake winter varieties and drizzle with a touch of your buddy’s favorite no-salt, homemade bone broth.
- Related read: Can Cats Eat Avocado? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ
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