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Home > Cats > Can Cats Eat Yams? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Can Cats Eat Yams? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

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

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You may like to share everything with your furry feline friend, especially during the holiday season. One of the most common foods to serve during the holidays is yams. Yams are delicious whether they’re baked, candied or canned.

Here we are talking about what are commonly called “yams” in America; which are actually a type of sweet potato. True yams (Dioscorea) are a different plant and not usually found in American grocery stores.

However, are they safe to feed to your cats? The answer is yes, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. While yams aren’t toxic to your feline pal, they don’t really provide any great nutritional value for your cat. We’ll discuss everything you need to know about yams and feeding them to your cat below.

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Are Yams Poisonous to Cats?

No, yams are not poisonous to your cat, and it’s okay to feed plain cooked yam to them on occasion. However, candied yams do contain a high amount of sugar and fat, so they aren’t the best choice for your feline friend.

Anything with high amounts of sugar and fat can cause gastrointestinal issues and lead to obesity in your pet. Also, yams have only a little nutritional value to add to your cat’s diet. Cats are carnivorous, so they need plenty of animal protein in their diet. So, while it’s okay to feed your cat yams for a treat now and then, you shouldn’t feed them daily or in place of their regular cat food.

Cat eating from a ceramic bowl
Image By: Sweetlouise, Pixabay

Can Cats Eat Candied Yams?

Although you can technically feed your cat candied yams as they are not toxic, we recommend that you don’t. Candied yams are chock full of brown sugar, marshmallows, and butter. None of these ingredients are suitable for your cat. This is because your cat has a sensitive digestive system, and too much sugar can overload that system and make your cat ill. Even a small amount of candied yams can cause your cat to vomit, so it’s best to keep them to yourself. Excess sugar can lead to diabetes and high blood sugar in the long term.

Can Cats Eat Purple Yam?

Purple yams are in the same plant family as true yams, and you can feed them to your cat. However, just as with traditional yams, they provide little nutritional value to your cat, so only feed them to the cat on occasion as a special treat and they must be cooked.

Can Cats Eat Canned Yams?

Again, technically you can feed canned yams to your cat, but it’s not advised. There are a ton of preservatives, sugars, and fillers in canned yams, and those are certainly not good for your feline pal. If you’re going to give your cat yams, it’s best to cook them and feed them to your cat without seasonings or butter for the best results.

Can Cats Eat Yam Skin?

Cats should only eat the flesh of the yam, not the skin. The skin can contain pesticides and chemicals that can make your cat sick. It’s best to cook the yams, then dig the flesh out of the skin before giving it to your cat or peel them first.

Yams stacked neatly on the table
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Yams Vs. Sweet Potatoes

True yams (Dioscorea) and sweet potatoes (Ipomoea) although both tuberous vegetables come from different plant families. The biggest difference between yams and sweet potatoes is their appearance. Yams have rough brown skin that’s pale in appearance. On the other hand, sweet potatoes have thin, red skin, and the flavor is naturally sweet.

You can feed your cat yams and sweet potatoes, but it’s essential to note here that true yams are poisonous/irritant to cats if fed to them raw. Make sure that you cook any yams you feed your cat. Since it’s easy to confuse yams and sweet potatoes at the grocery store, make sure to cook yams and sweet potatoes to be on the safe side.

If you think your cat has consumed a raw yam, it’s best to talk to the vet about treatment.

What’s the Best Way to Feed Yams to Your Cat?

As previously mentioned, yams should always be cooked before you feed them to your cat. You can microwave, boil, or bake them until they can be easily mashed with a fork. Serve the yam to your cat mashed or cut up into bite-sized pieces so that your feline doesn’t choke on the food.

Some cats love the taste of yams, but they don’t need to be fed them daily. Instead, give the cat no more than a teaspoon of yam for a treat. Never add seasonings to the yams, as your cat’s sensitive digestive system might not be able to handle the spices.

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Final Thoughts

While yams are non-toxic to felines, they’re tuber vegetables that you should only feed your cat as a treat. Never feed raw yams, or replace their regular kibble with yams. Although they contain fiber and beneficial vitamins, yams are not nutritionally complete, and your cat would likely prefer a high-quality cat treat. Cats cannot taste sweet flavors and are more fond of savory meals. If your cat loves yams as much as you do, it’s best only to serve them occasionally.


Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory

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