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What is the first thing to cross your mind when you think of a pumpkin? Is it a jack-o’-lantern? Or aroma spreading through your grandma’s kitchen? Pumpkins are part of our folklore and culture, as much as they are part of our fall food diet. We relate it to positive feelings as it is an unavoidable part of several holidays. And who doesn’t like a pumpkin pie? But, what about our cats? Can cats eat pumpkin and is it healthy for them or not?
The truth is that there is no simple answer here. Scientist and vets have different opinions and there is nothing like a dominant point of view. Of course, the whole fuss is not just about pumpkin. It regards all of the carbs and its effects on cats health. But, let’s see what are the undeniable facts.
Pumpkin Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin is a fantastic source of fiber. Moreover, it is rich in vitamin A, C, E and some of the B-group vitamins. Also, it contains several minerals especially potassium and manganese. When it comes to primary macronutrients pumpkin is 6.5% carb, 1% protein, and 0.1% fat. The rest 92% is water.
Some supporters believe that pumpkin is a superfood for cats. There are three major benefits of feeding your cat with pumpkin.
- It helps with constipation. This is due to the high fiber content.
- It promotes weight control. Pumpkin is low in calories, so it can help to reduce calorie intake.
- It helps hairballs digestion. It is fiber that stimulates bowel movement, so the hairballs can be eliminated.
- Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Obviously, these are beneficial to your cat’s health.
Actually, they are fiber opponents. Cats are carnivores which means that most of their calorie intake should come from meat. They have very short intestines adapted to digest protein and fat, but not carbs. Cats can digest some carbs, but only a fraction of it as they lack some enzymes needed for carbs digestion.
Furthermore, a cat’s body can’t convert provitamin form into vitamin A. This means that the vitamin A from all veggies is useless for cats. As for other vitamins and minerals, it is highly unlikely that your cat will have a deficit of those if she was on a regular cat diet.
High carb diet leads to obesity and increased risk of diabetes.
Feral cats hunt to eat and their diet consists of meat and only meat. However, they eat bones, cartilage, and fur of their prey. Cats can’t digest all of these products and they act like fibers in cat’s intestines. While, some scientists argue that veggie fiber isn’t the same, it is obvious that indoor cats don’t take this kind of food ever. The argument about this can go far, but I will stop here because I have covered all the basics.
Obviously, there is a huge gap between these two points of view. Is there anything we can be sure about? Well, yes.
It is a fact that cats need high protein, moderate fat diet to be healthy. Carbs are not a necessity for cats. But, this doesn’t mean that they are bad or risky for your cat’s health as long as she eats enough meat protein. While benefits of carbs for cats are a subject of argument, small amounts won’t hurt your cat for sure.
If your cat likes pumpkins make sure to avoid stem, skin, and pulp. Canned pumpkin is fine, but it shouldn’t contain any additives or fillers. Those can hurt the cat. Don’t give your cat more than ½ to 1 teaspoon per day. As for jack-o’-lantern, keep it away from your cat and save it for Halloween!