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.
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.
Is the same true for a cat that eats carrots?
Not quite. Cats are carnivores: their bodies are designed to get all of their minerals, macronutrients and energy from animal meat.
And what that means is that 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.
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.
What’s in a carrot?
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? Will he choke? Will it help him to see in the dark? Before we read on to find out, let’s take a look at the nutritional content of the carrot.
A 100 gram serving of carrots contains:
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
Can cats eat carrots?
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 him carrots on a regular basis: 1) tummy aches and 2) difficulty eating and 3) feeding him too much carrot.
Let’s look at those points in more detail:
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 of eating
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
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.
Boil down a carrot and cut it into small chunks or grate it before feeding it to your kitten.
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.
What about 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.
Generally speaking it is best to avoid giving a cat (or a dog) 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.
Some cat foods may contain carrots but they are often added as ballast rather than an essential ingredient. If your cat has eaten some carrot and shows signs of being poorly you should contact your vet and ask for some advice on how best to treat the animal. Remember, cats are carnivores, not herbivores.