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Can Cats Eat Beans? What You Need to Know!

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

pinto beans

Can cats eat beans? It depends on what kinds of beans we are talking about here! Green beans? Coffee beans? Cocoa beans? Here, we’re going to only discuss bean beans — legumes. Just know that green beans, coffee beans, and cocoa beans are definitely out for cats! What about legumes, then? Can cats eat these beans?

Yes, cats can indeed eat beans, but it depends on the kind of bean and a few other factors that we take a closer look at.

It’s always an excellent idea to research what your cat can and can’t eat, as the last thing you want is a sick cat. Please read on, as we discuss beans and cats in more detail.

A Cat’s Diet

The most critical thing that you need to know about our beloved cats is that they are obligate carnivores. This means their diet consists of meat only, and their bodies are not physically capable of adequately digesting or absorbing the proper nutrients from plants.

This also means that cats should never be forced into vegetarianism or veganism — this will likely make them ill.

Cats are natural hunters that typically eat their meals at dusk and dawn, which is when they usually hunt in the wild.

Generally, commercially made cat food contains all the right balance of meat, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. You should avoid food that’s stuffed with grains, corn, soy, and animal by-products. These are just fillers and don’t contribute any real benefit to your cat’s health.

Now that we know more about what cats eat, we’ll have a closer look at beans.

Cat eating cat food with some water added
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

All About Beans

Beans are an important food source in many meals around the world. Beans are legumes but not every legume is a bean. Other legumes (that aren’t beans) are peanuts, lentils, and lupins. Legumes are plants that produce a pod that has seeds inside.

The most common (and popular) beans in North America are kidney, pinto, black, navy, and fava beans. They are high in fiber, protein, and a range of minerals and vitamins and low in fat and calories.

Beans have many different health benefits, which include:
  • They can help with weight loss.
  • Beans can aid in heart health.
  • They can help fight type 2 diabetes.

However, there is a downside to beans.

Problems With Beans

Beans can cause excessive gas, leading to flatulence, bloating, and stomach pain.

Some beans might also contain toxins that are harmful to people if the beans aren’t cooked properly.

But what about cats? How do beans affect cats? Let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Cats & 5 Common Types of Beans

While beans are full of protein, it’s not the right kind of protein for cats, which need animal protein to survive.

Some beans could cause stomach upset in cats, particularly baked and refried beans. You also need to avoid raw and seasoned beans. Raw beans have toxins that can also adversely affect your cat. These toxins are lectins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain if the beans, especially red kidney beans, are ingested raw or not cooked long enough.

Raw beans can also cause staph infections and e. coli, and unwashed beans can have other bacteria and chemicals attached to them.

Finally, if you want to give your cat a few beans, not only do they need to be washed and cooked well, but they also shouldn’t have any seasonings of any kind — no salt, pepper, sugar, butter, or oil.

1. Refried Beans

Refried beans are full of seasonings and fat, typically some kind of lard. They also usually have garlic and onions, which are particularly toxic to cats. So, your cat should never have refried beans.

Refried beans
Image Credit: zkruger, Shutterstock

2. Baked Beans

Baked beans, like refried beans, tend to contain added ingredients that are best not to feed your cat. There can be onions, and there is always some kind of sweetener. Too much sugar and fat in a cat’s food can lead to pancreatitis. So, do not give baked beans to your cat.

3. Black Beans

Washed, cooked, and unseasoned black beans won’t harm your cat if a small amount is eaten. They just won’t benefit your cat either. If they are coming from a can (which isn’t recommended), be sure to rinse them off well before cooking.

4. Pinto Beans

Like black beans, pinto beans won’t harm your cat in small amounts. Cook them well and don’t season them.

5. Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are acceptable for your cat as long as you cook and wash them first. Since they are commonly bought in cans, just be sure to rinse them thoroughly before cooking. Most beans are packed in salted water, and you’ll want to get rid of this because salt can be harmful to cats.

Kidney Beans
Image By: TJENA, Pixabay

Can Cats Eat Beans?

Yes, but it’s best if they don’t. Meat contains the right kind of protein for cats, so while beans are high in protein, they won’t keep your cat in good health in the long run.

If you insist on giving your cat beans (or perhaps it’s your cat that’s doing the insisting), it should only be once a week and no more than five beans at a time.

If your cat has digestive issues or a sensitive stomach, you should avoid beans altogether. They will only exacerbate the problem.


So, the overall takeaway from all of this is you shouldn’t feed beans to your cats. But you don’t have to worry that much if your cat snatches one either. Avoid anything in a can, anything raw, and anything with seasonings.

If you have questions or are thinking of changing up your cat’s diet, speak to your vet first. And be sure to avoid any other beans — jellybeans certainly won’t do your cat any favors!

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Featured Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures

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