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Can Cats Eat Rice? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQs

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Cat Eat rice

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As the heart of many of our favorite meals, rice is a grain that fills our stomachs and gives us nutrition with every bite. It goes inside burritos or as a simple side with protein. Even though it is normal for us to eat rice in our diets, it doesn’t mean you should assume that it, or any other foods, is automatically safe for cats.

Thankfully, it is okay to feed your cats some types of rice in moderation. Cats are obligate carnivores, and meat is crucial for them to survive. Grains, on the other hand, aren’t all that necessary. Even if your cat does like eating rice, it won’t mean that their digestive system is going to agree with them. There are numerous healthy human foods that are beneficial to both you and your feline. What are these benefits? Let’s find out.

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Benefits of Rice

Plain rice has gotten a bad rap over the years. Although there are dozens of different kinds of rice, white and brown rice are fairly healthy. These whole grains are a source of carbohydrates, not necessarily a nutrient that cats need in large amounts in their diet. The only difference between white and brown rice is that white rice is processed from brown rice and loses fiber and some nutrients, but it becomes enriched with other vitamins and minerals. Occasionally, white rice even has more benefits than brown.

plain white cooked rice in a bowl
Image Credit: juemi, Pixabay

Can My Cat Eat Rice?

Some rice is okay to feed your cat, but don’t give them too much. Rice is non-toxic to cats, and an occasional bite or two isn’t going to do much damage. Keep in mind that cats have different nutritional needs than us. They evolved to thrive on a protein-rich diet, and rice does not provide them much nutrition. That said, white rice is useful in medical diets formulated for cats that are suffering from kidney disease, as they need to reduce the amount of protein that they would normally consume.

Can Cats Eat Brown Rice?

Boiled plain brown rice is richer in fiber, which can be useful in some cases. However, pumpkin purée would be a better source of fiber for a cat suffering from constipation. You should avoid adding brown rice to diets for cats with kidney issues, as it is richer in phosphorus than white rice.

brown rice on wooden ladle
Image By: EzBom, Pixabay

Can Cats Eat White Rice?

Again, only feed white rice to your cat in small amounts. Too many carbs could make your feline obese and even cause them to develop diabetes and other long-term health issues, which is certainly not ideal.

Always check the listed ingredients on the back of any food you give your cat. Ensure that the carbohydrate levels aren’t too high, as cats are meant to have a protein-based diet that includes healthy fats and minimal carbohydrates.

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How to Feed Rice to a Cat

Rice doesn’t offer your cat too many benefits, so it’s usually best to avoid giving it to them altogether. If you feel so enticed that you can’t control yourself, there is a safe way to do it. Offer your kitty a very small amount of rice for them to nibble on. A teaspoon of cooked grains is more than enough.

Never give your cats uncooked rice. Uncooked rice is even harder for cats to digest and contains a natural pesticide called lectin. Lectin causes diarrhea and vomiting and cats. If you notice any bloating or pain 24 hours after you fed your cat, take them to the veterinarian as soon as you can.

white rice in a bowl
Image Credit: mikuratv, Pixabay

When NOT to Feed Your Cats Rice

Cats get most of their nutritional requirements from meat and, even though rice doesn’t always harm cats, there are instances where it will.

Uncooked rice is highly dangerous to cats. It causes gas, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, and an upset stomach. It won’t make their stomachs explode like some of the myths say, but it will cause them pain.

Cats are sensitive to food changes, and some of them might not be interested in this new food. Never force your cats to eat anything they aren’t interested in. Their natural instincts are leading them in the right direction this time.

Giving rice to kittens could negatively affect their development. It’s best to stick to kitten food when caring for young cats.

Refrain from giving cats rice with seasoning. Salt, garlic, and onions are potentially toxic to cats, so stick to plain rice if you do feed it to them.

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Even though rice is safe for cats to eat small amounts of, why give them something that doesn’t aid their nutrition? Stick to high-protein foods and healthy kitty treats whenever you feel like giving them a bite of something special. If they do happen to get a few bites of rice, you’ll be happy to know there is no need to panic.

Featured Image Credit: miophotolap, Shutterstock

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