If you’ve ever read the label on a carton of oatmeal, you probably know that oats are a nutritious, heart-healthy food.1 And if you share your home with a cat, you might wonder if it’s okay for your kitty to sample your morning oatmeal. Can cats eat oats and are they a healthy food item for them?
Cats can not only eat oats, this grain is one of the most nutritious human foods your cat can snack on. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of your cat eating oats. We’ll also let you know how to include oats as part of your cat’s balanced diet as well as some other human foods that are safe for them to eat.
The Health Benefits of Oats
Although oats are a grain, they are high in protein and fat, both of which are essential to an ideal cat diet. Oats also contain many other beneficial nutrients such as fiber, amino acids, and antioxidants.
Antioxidants help decrease inflammation in a cat’s body, benefiting their overall health. They are especially beneficial for animals with chronic conditions like arthritis and dermatitis. Fiber is helpful for digestive health and can also help an overweight cat feel more full as you feed them less to lose weight. Oatmeal also contains plenty of vitamin E, which can boost your cat’s immune system.
Oats And Your Cat’s Diet
You might be thinking, aren’t cats supposed to avoid eating carbohydrates like grains? It’s true, the ideal diet for your cat should be low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and contain a moderate amount of fat. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need to get their nutrients from animal sources.
Although oats do have a higher protein and fat content than many other grains, they are still high in carbs as well. Because of this, you should limit the number of oats you feed your cat, considering them more of a treat or supplemental food rather than a staple of their diet.
How to Feed Oats to Your Cat
When feeding oats to your cat, make sure you choose only plain oatmeal rather than any of the flavored packets available. These tend to be high in sugar and may contain ingredients like cream or raisins that are unhealthy or unsafe for your cat.
Oats should be offered cooked or soaked and softened to make them easy for your cat to eat. Cats don’t really chew their food and if you’ve ever popped a handful of raw oats in your mouth you know they can give your jaw a workout! Because most cats don’t tolerate dairy products well, avoid cooking or soaking the oats in milk.
Another option for feeding your cat oats is to grow a patch of oat grass for them to chew on. You can also soak around a tablespoon of oats in hot water for 15-20 minutes and add the resulting “tea” to your cat’s food, an easy way for your cat to enjoy the nutritional benefits of oats.
Other Foods Your Cat May Enjoy
Besides oats, there are several other safe human foods that your cat may enjoy eating. These include other grains such as quinoa, polenta, and brown rice. You could also offer cooked proteins like egg, fish, and meat. Cats don’t usually care for fruits and vegetables but you could try offering broccoli, cucumber, or cantaloupe.
Also, try not to feed your cat processed human foods like crackers or chips. These tend to be high in fat and contain artificial ingredients and colors.
Remember that treats should only make up about 10%–15% of your cat’s total daily calorie intake. The basis of your cat’s diet should be quality, nutritionally-balanced commercial cat food. Some of these diets may even include oats on their ingredient list!
Ask your veterinarian for help calculating the right number of calories your cat should eat to maintain a healthy weight. This may vary based on the size and age of your cat. Obesity is common among pet cats and can lead to numerous health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
When offering any new food to your cat, monitor for any digestive upset like vomiting or diarrhea.
Oatmeal may not be the most glamorous of breakfast options, but it is one of the healthiest. So long as you hold off on any added toppings, oats are also a healthy snack for your cat, with many nutritional benefits. Although treats only make up a small portion of your cat’s diet, it makes sense to choose the healthiest option possible and oats are a great choice. You could even use oats as an ingredient in homemade cat treats!
Featured Image Credit: martin_hetto, Pixabay