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Can Cats Eat Sweet Potato? What You Need to Know
Sweet potatoes are a healthy and filling treat for humans, and they are often given to dogs for the same reasons. In fact, they are found in commercial dog food as a means of providing nutrition and meeting the vitamin and mineral requirements for canines. But does the story change for cats? Are sweet potatoes also a good source of nutrition for felines, or should they avoid it?
When cooked, sweet potatoes are not considered toxic or poisonous to cats. This means that it is safe for cats to eat this food, although they may not provide any nutritional benefit and could lead to longer-term health issues for your cat.
Sweet Potato Benefits
Sweet potatoes are a surprisingly regular addition to commercial cat foods, and brands including Purina regularly include this ingredient in their cat food ingredient list. In these cases, it is claimed that the high rates of antioxidants and high fiber are beneficial to the cat. Most feline nutritionists, however, claim that there is little to no benefit in feeding sweet potatoes to an obligate carnivore like a cat.
Not Species Appropriate for Obligate Carnivores
Sweet potatoes might be beneficial to dogs, but cats and dogs are very different. While a dog is an omnivore and eats fruit and vegetables as well as meat, cats are strictly obligate carnivores.
Obligate carnivores eat meat and do not eat other foods unless found in the stomach of their prey.
Cats need to get their protein from meat sources, and while vegetables do provide protein, it is not considered beneficial to cats. Feeding cats protein from vegetables also means that they will get less of this essential ingredient from meat sources.
A species-appropriate diet is one that an animal species would enjoy when living in the wild. It meets the nutritional requirements of the species and it helps ensure that they get everything they need in their diet without eating foods they shouldn’t.
A species-appropriate diet for a cat would consist primarily of small animals and rodents. They would eat mice, the occasional rabbit, and may eat young chicks. They would rarely eat fish, would never eat grain, and only 1% or 2% of their diet would be fruit, vegetable, and grass.
Sweet Potato Pitfalls
Although sweet potatoes are not considered toxic for cats, they can have some long-term negative effects:
How Do You Prepare Sweet Potatoes for Cats?
Sweet potatoes are not toxic. They can be fed as a treat in very small amounts, although they offer no nutritional benefit to your cat and may cause stomach upset.
If you do intend to feed this food to your cats, you should cook them first. Although raw sweet potatoes are not toxic, they are more likely to give your cat diarrhea and stomach complaints.
Boil the sweet potato. Do not fry it, and always avoid feeding processed foods that are prepared for human consumption because these can incorporate additional ingredients that are unsafe for your feline.
Are Potatoes Toxic for Cats?
Regular potatoes, when raw, are toxic to cats and you should seek veterinary help immediately if your cat ingests any raw potato. This is also true if your cat eats green potatoes, whether they are raw or cooked.
Again, once cooked, potatoes are not considered toxic for cats. They are safe, although offer no nutritional value.
Can Cats Have Cheese?
Cheese is high in protein and tasty. As such, many people mistakenly believe it is a good food source for cats.
However, cheese is a dairy product and most cats are lactose intolerant. Feeding cheese to your cat can, therefore, increase the likelihood of gas. It can also lead to diarrhea. You should avoid letting your cats eat cheese.
Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?
Strictly speaking, peanut butter itself is not toxic to cats. Cats can eat peanuts, although there is no reason for them to do so. However, peanut butter is not considered a good addition to a cat’s diet.
Not only does peanut butter lack the nutritional value that cats require, but most peanut butter brands include additional ingredients. Sodium, or salt, is a common additive, and too much salt can cause your cat to become dehydrated. Peanut butter should be avoided altogether.
- You may also want to read: Can Cats Taste Sweetness? Here’s What Science Says
Can Cats Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Strictly speaking, cats can eat sweet potatoes because they are not toxic, either when raw or cooked. However, although they are high in fiber and do contain protein, this ingredient is not considered beneficial to cats. It does not meet the nutritional profile of cat food, because the cat is an obligate carnivore and a species-specific diet would be made up primarily of meat and meat-based products.
Although raw sweet potato is not toxic to cats, it has an increased likelihood of giving your cat diarrhea, so if you must feed sweet potato to your cats, it is best to boil it and then feed a very limited amount.
Other interesting cat reads:
- Understanding Essential Amino Acids in Your Cat’s Diet
- Do Cats Really Have Nine Lives? The Truth Behind This Myth
- Scottish Fold
Featured Image: Brett_Hondow, Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.