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Can Cats Eat Cabbage? What You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Cat Cabbage

Since cats are obligate carnivores and thrive on a high-protein, meat-based diet, they don’t have much need for vegetables, although there are certainly some benefits to be gained from feeding them small amounts occasionally. Cabbage has many health benefits for humans, and so it’s natural to wonder whether this crunchy vegetable is safe to give your feline too.

So, can cats eat cabbage? Cabbage is perfectly safe to give your feline in moderation, but there are a few factors to take into consideration before dishing up a bowl of cabbage for your feline. Let’s look at what some of these factors are, and whether or not feeding cabbage to your feline is a good idea!

Types of Cabbage

There are over 400 different types of cabbage around the world, although of these, four varieties are the most common and the type you’ll find in a store near you. These are green cabbage, red or purple cabbage, savoy cabbage, and Napa cabbage.

Green cabbage is the most recognizable and commonly consumed variety but has a peppery flavor that most cats will not enjoy. Red cabbage is arguably the most nutritious variety as it takes longer to mature and contains anthocyanin, a chemical compound found in many red, blue, and black fruits and vegetables. Savoy and Napa cabbages are a bit more uncommon but are both sweeter than green or red cabbages.

Cabbage Closeup
Image Credit: stanbalik, Pixabay

Does Cabbage Have Any Health Benefits For Cats?

Yes! Cabbage is packed with antioxidants like kaempferol and sulforaphane that can help reduce inflammation, and help the body’s natural defense against free radicals, plus even reduce cancer risk. Red or purple cabbage contains anthocyanin, which may help improve digestion and is even said to reduce the risk of heart disease. The insoluble fiber in cabbage can also help improve your cat’s digestion, plus cabbage also contains soluble fiber, which helps the beneficial bacteria in your cat’s gut, and both together can also help improve your cat’s immune function.

Cabbage is also low in cholesterol and is packed with vitamin K, which is great for your cat’s blood, vitamin B6 to enhance nervous system functioning, and essential minerals like calcium for bone and teeth health, and potassium and magnesium.

Potential Risks of Feeding Cabbage To Your Cat

Since cats are obligate carnivores, too much of any vegetable is not healthy for them, including healthy vegetables like cabbage. If you decide to give your cat a small amount of cabbage occasionally, it must be well cooked as cabbage contains a substance called thiocyanate.

This chemical in excess can cause a disruption in the function of your cat’s thyroid, potentially causing hypothyroidism. While you’d need to feed your cat a lot of cabbage over a long period for this to occur, it’s still possible. Also, cabbage is high in fiber and can quickly cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea if fed in large quantities. Cabbage is non-toxic to cats and is unlikely to cause any serious issues, but it should be fed only in moderation.

Feeding Cabbage To Your Cat

Feeding raw cabbage to your cat will preserve most of the essential nutrients that make the vegetable healthy for your cat, but it makes it difficult for your cat to chew properly, and it will still contain the potentially harmful thiocyanates. For this reason, cooked cabbage is preferable. You can lightly boil, steam, or roast cabbage for your cat to make it safer and more digestible.

Avoid adding salt, garlic, or other condiments to the cabbage, and rather feed it on its own or mix it into your cat’s food. Most cats will not enjoy cabbage on its own, so you’ll likely need to mix a small amount into their regular food.

In general, one cabbage leaf chopped finely, boiled or steamed, and mixed into your cat’s food occasionally is fine, but keep a close eye on how they react to it before feeding them more. Most experts recommend no more than one cabbage leaf every week or two.

Cat Eating Cabbage
Image Credit: Windy Wizard,Shutterstock

What Other Vegetables Are Safe For Cats?

While cats don’t need much carbohydrates or vegetables in their diet, some vegetables can provide some great health benefits in moderation. These include:

All these vegetables should be finely chopped and lightly cooked to make them more digestible for your feline and fed only in moderation.

Final Thoughts

Cabbage is certainly safe to give your cat and may even have some health benefits. However, moderation is key, as cats are obligate carnivores that don’t need many vegetables in their diet. Also, many cats may not enjoy the taste of cabbage and there are many other options that are easier to prepare, more palatable, and even healthier for your feline.

Featured Image Credit: StepanPopov, Shutterstock

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