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Can cats eat carrots?

cat next to some carrots advice

Cats can eat carrots but it must be introduced correctly.

© Shutterstock

We know vegetables such as carrots are great for our health but are they any good for a cat’s? Can cats even eat carrots? Read on to find out.

By Nick Whittle

Updated on the 22/10/2020, 16:49

Vegetables are a man’s best friend. It’s unlikely you’ll hear such a phrase, but it should be one ingrained in us all. After all, vegetables are full of vitamins (especially B vitamins such as folates), fibre and minerals, and what’s more none of them contains cholesterol.

That means that the humble vegetable (such as a carrot) can keep our bodies healthy, reduce the chance of our getting heart disease and cancer, and stop us from getting fat. All in all, it is the one food stuff you can reliably eat lots of and still stay healthy. But what about our cats? Is the carrot as beneficial for them as it is for us? Let's find out.

Is it safe to feed carrots to my cat?

The short answer is yes. But... Cats are carnivores: their bodies are designed to get all of their minerals, macro nutrients and energy from animal meat. Vegetables aren't part of your cat's natural diet and the sugar found in carrots can cause digestive or diabetic problems over time.

Although eating carrots is good for us it is fairly pointless for a cat. Besides, a domestic cat if fed properly with the right type of good quality and nourishing cat food will already have all of the goodies inside it that it needs to live a full and happy life.

According to Scientific American, cats don't have taste receptors for sweetness, therefore your feline friend might not enjoy the sweetness of a carrot. They might enjoy the texture of the carrot though.

In short, if you want to feed your cat a carrot you can, but why would you? It would be like feeding a T-rex a cheese sandwich.

Are carrots good for cats?

For argument’s sake, let’s say your cat was looking at you with his extra special stare and was imploring you to feed him a little piece of carrot. Is it bad for him?

The carrot is a superstar vegetable. They are filled with a lots of vitamins and one in particular, the vitamin A (one of the most essential vitamin a cat needs). They also contain a good amount of beta-carotene and fiber (helps in case your cat is constipated). A 100 gram serving of carrots contains:

  • Calories: 41
  • Carbohydrates: 0.6 g
  • Sugars: 4.7 g
  • Salt: (5% as sodium)
  • Fibre: 2.8 g
  • Fat: 0.24 g
  • Protein: 0.93 g
  • Vitamins: A, B (1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9), C, E and K
  • Minerals: Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc

Now that this as been said, it is important to keep in mind that cats are carnivores! This means, your cat's diet must be primarily composed of meat in order for them to get all the right nutrients they need. You can give carrots to your cat, as a treat maybe, but your cat shouldn't live off vegetables.

Plus, if you did want to introduce carrots into your cat's diet, this could lead to obesity and diabetes symptoms. Yes, it's hard to believe, because carrots are good for humans, but cats don't digest fruit or vegetables the same way humans do. If you raise your cat's blood sugar levels on a frequent basis, this could lead in long term health issues.

If you do decide to add carrots into your cat's diet, it is very important you speak to your veterinarian before. Once you have your vet's approval, introduce carrots slowly at first and always monitor your cat's reactions.

How to safely feed carrots to your cat?

If your vet is okay with you to give your cat some carrots then you will have to follow a few steps in order to introduce carrots to your cat's diet:

1. Raw or cooked carrots?

Raw carrots isn't toxic for your cat, but the uncooked texture is hard for your cat and can become a choking hazard. It is best to cook the carrot before you serve it to your cat. You could ever boil or roast the carrot.

2. Serve plain carrots

Don't feed carrots which has been seasoned as this can upset your cat's stomach or in some cases even be toxic. Whether you decide to boil or roast the carrots you will serve to your cat, don't add any flavours (oil, spices, salt, etc.) serve them plain.

3. Give small pieces of carrots

When you prepare carrots for your cat, make sure they are peeled and chopped in small pieces. Peeling the carrot will remove all the pesticides and chemicals and chopping the carrot in small pieces will diminish any risks of choking.

4. Introduce carrots slowly

When adding carrots into your cat's meal, it's important to introduce this food slowly has your cat's body won't be used to this ingredient. Start by a very small amount, keep an eye on your cat's reaction, any health issues. If all is good then you can add a little bit more. If you have any doubts or concerns, speak to your vet.

What are the dangers of feeding carrots to your cat?

In order to answer the question in the most comprehensive way we must look at three caveats to feeding your cat a carrot. And we’re going to assume that you do feed your feline friend carrots on a regular basis. As we mentioned, too much carrots could lead to obesity and diabetes. According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, the symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Constant urination
  • Lack of appetite
  • Inability to jump
  • Vomiting

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact immediately your veterinarian.

Carrots are good for humans, no matter the quantity we eat, but it's not the case for cats. Let’s look at health problems your cat could have.

1. Tummy aches

There is nothing in a carrot that can cause an allergy or inflammation of a cat’s gut. However, that is not to say that eating a carrot won’t ever cause some sort of reaction. Remember, a cat is a carnivore and his tummy and intestines are made accordingly.

2. Difficulty to eat

A piece of carrot that is too large for the cat to eat is a choking hazard. Raw carrots are also very hard and are not easily crunched (we have molars in our mouth that grind vegetables). If you are going to feed a cat a carrot make sure the carrot is partially cooked at least before you do. You may even consider grating a carrot to make it even easier for your cat to eat it.

3. Too many carrots isn't good

Carrots contain carbohydrates which are not very well absorbed by the cat’s gut (again due to his being a carnivore). A diet of carrots can cause your cat to be both malnourished and obese.

Can kittens eat carrots?

Eating a small piece of carrot will not harm a kitten but you should stick to feeding him a designated kitten food. He will exact all of his nutrients from a regimen designed for a kitten of his age. To give him ‘human’ food at this early stage of his development will not help him or benefit his health; it may also cause him to suffer with a tummy upset.

Can pregnant cats eat carrots?

Pregnant cats (like kittens) need a balanced and strictly formulated diet in order to stay in perfect health. To feed her some carrot will make no difference to her health and may prevent her from taking on board much-needed minerals and nutrients during her confinement.

Can cats drink carrot juice?

It is often hard these days to distinguish juices made of real produce from those made artificially. Artificially flavoured drinks will often contain chemicals that are toxic to cats (such as xylitol) and should be avoided at all costs. Real carrot juice is of some benefit to humans (as a source of vitamin A) but of none to cats. We are also prone to nasty side-effects if we drink too much carrot juice.

Just a small lap of carrot juice is recommended but is to be avoided as a regular thing. Drinking too much carrot juice can cause a cat to suffer an upset stomach and bring on severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Cats should only drink water.

Can cats eat carrot cakes?

If a cat eat a little piece of cat it won't be harmful for them, unless it contains an extremely toxic ingredient which is chocolate. Carrot cake does have a healthy vegetable in it's ingredient list (the carrot) but that doesn't necessarily mean it is good for your cat. On top of that, in carrot cake, there is a a high quantity of sugar and calories, which isn't good for your cat.

We wouldn't recommend giving carrot cake to your cat.

What vegetables can a cat eat?

Gary Richter, DVM, owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital stated in Rover “Pet owners can always try to give vegetables to cats in food or treats. Not all will eat them. There certainly are good nutrients in vegetables when part of a balanced meal.”

Not all vegetables are good for your cat, but here are a few which are safe to feed your feline friend:

  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Green bell peppers
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus (steamed)

What human foods can cats eat?

One thing you need to keep in mind: cats are carnivores. If fed a full meal with veggies, they will miss out on their vital nutrients. Generally speaking it is best to avoid giving a cat something that is not normally on their foody radar. The pet food we give our pets is, on the whole, carefully formulated to provide them with everything they need to live healthily. Here is a list of human foods safe for your cat:

  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Eggs
  • Melon
  • Chicken
  • Bananas
  • Pumpkin
  • Peas
  • Turkey
  • Blueberries
  • Apples
  • Bread

Always speak to your vet before introducing any human foods into your cat's diet.

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