Can Cats Eat Potatoes?
Potatoes have high nutritional value to humans. They provide vitamins, fiber, and proteins all nutrients required for a healthy body. But the question is, can cats eat potatoes?
Cats are naturally carnivorous. Their bodies are designed to extract nourishment from meat and its by-products. While they may get nourishment from some plant-based ingredients including oil and several vegetables, do potatoes have anything to offer?
The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think. Why? Well, there are two sides to it –yes and no. It entirely depends on the potato type and how it is cooked. For instance, cats prove to be intolerant to sweet potatoes. Additionally, French fries are a threat to the cat’s digestive system. On the other hand, raw potatoes are just lethal to cat’s health.
If you grow potatoes in your garden and intend to harvest in the company of your friendly and loving cat, you should ensure that he/she is well fed before joining you in the garden. Additionally, you should work hard to keep any raw potatoes in your home away from your cat’s reach.
Why is this? Well, in simple terms, raw potatoes are poisonous to cats. This should not come as a shock as raw potatoes are also poisonous to humans as well. But potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates you might argue. This is only when it is well prepared.
Raw potatoes contain a toxic chemical called solanine. This chemical is the potatoes defense mechanism against wild animals and worms in the soil. It ensures that the potatoes grow to their full size. The solanine is without a doubt poisonous to humans and all animals including cats.
But aside from being inside the potato, the solanine chemical is also present in the green skin of ripening potato vegetables. As such, the raw potatoes with their peelings are lethal to cats. Consuming a small amount could result in a bad food poisoning and even death.
There are several different types of potatoes. Sweet potatoes are by far the second most popular type. Sweet potatoes are high in anti-oxidants and fibers. They are significantly lower in calories than common potatoes. Additionally, they are rich in key nutrients including potassium, beta-carotene, and manganese. And even better, compared to the white potatoes, sweet potatoes are exactly that – sweet.
But can these sweet foods be fed to cats? Now, while sweet potatoes have a varied array of health benefits to humans courtesy of their rich nutritional value, they potentially lead to multiple health-related issues in cats. Unlike humans, cats experience problems in digesting these potato types.
Now unlike the standard white potatoes, sweet potatoes do not contain the toxic solanine when unripe or when growing. Nonetheless, there are several sweet potato types whose flowers and vines contain properties that poison cats.
That said, quality cat foods provide all the necessary nutrients that cats require. As such, there is no need to treat cats with sweet potatoes for additional fibers and proteins. A small portion of a dehydrated sweet potato may be appealing to your cat and can be an occasional treat. It should, however, be provided in limited quantities.
Potato chips like French fries are designed to be tasty. They are, however, among the unhealthy foods to make from potatoes. Potato chips are not recommended for cats for the same reasons they are unhealthy for humans. Potato chips contain a lot of salt.
Let’s put things into perspective. An ounce of potato chips with the barbecue flavor comes with a whopping 150 milligrams of sodium. Average sized cats require just about 21 milligrams of sodium each day. The recommended limit is twice that – 42 milligrams. Anything more than this may cause your cat to experience some symptoms of sodium poisoning. These symptoms include constant urination and excessive thirst.
If you do the math, you will realize that a single potato chip contains half of a cat’s daily sodium intake. However, given that the cat’s stomach will still feel and be empty, it will require having her regular does of cat treats and foods that also contain sodium. At the end of the day, your cat will have consumed an unhealthy amount of sodium.
Additionally, potato chips contain unhealthy saturated fats. These are responsible for raising the level of blood cholesterol which is linked to obesity and heart-related diseases. Now, cats do not have to worry about saturated fats like humans do. Naturally, they have a lot more good calories than bad calories. They convert into energy any excess calories.
But be it as it may, your cat cannot possibly survive on saturated fats only. Cats require essential fatty acids including omega-3 and omega-6 fats. In addition to this, they require them in the right amounts and ratios that potato chips do not provide.
So can cats eat potato chips? Yes, they can eat one or two without grave consequences as they are nontoxic to cats. However, courtesy of their high sodium content, they are not great for them. You should not feed your cat on more than just a few potato chips.
If sweet and raw potatoes are not good for cats, the question now is, can cats east cooked potatoes?
Mashed potatoes are safe for cats to eat. There are some cat foods that contain some potatoes. Cooked potatoes are safe for cats because they are devoid of the toxins. These toxins are destroyed by the intense heat during cooking.
Yes, you can add some mashed potatoes to your cat's food from time to time to give them some fiber and protein boost. However, this should not act as a substitute for the vitamin supplements.
Additionally, you should always remember that the mashed potatoes should always be free of harmful herbs and spices, toppings and artificial additives. The sour and sweet toppings prove to be lethal and dangerous to the cats. As such, toppings are not recommended or allowed.
Can Cats Digest Potatoes?
To answer this, we have to consider the digestion of potatoes in human and mammals in general. Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates. Humans have saliva which contains salivary amylase. This enzyme acts on starch and breaks it down to maltose. The action of this enzyme continues until the potato enters the stomach.
Their digestion is picked up again when they reach the pancreas. The pancreatic amylase is responsible for this. The maltose (disaccharides) is further broken down into glucose which is later absorbed.
Now, cats do not produce salivary amylase. This in a way sheds light on what their diet is. They feed on meat and the organs of its prey. They do not spend a lot of time chewing and do not consume lots of carbohydrates hence no need for amylase.
But does this mean that cats cannot digest potatoes? Well, cats digestive systems are not designed for carbohydrates and processed foods. However, when ingested, the pancreas works overtime to provide enzymes necessary for the digestion of the potatoes.
But due to the lack of salivary amylase, the digestion of potatoes in cats is inefficient, and a lot of it is passed out as waste. This serves as a reminder that carbs are not the primary source of nutrition for cats.
There you have it, can cats eat potatoes? Raw potatoes are a no for cats. However, cats can eat cooked and processed potatoes. They even find them yummy. A treat of cooked potatoes will not harm your cat but can be fatal in the long run. Try not to share your potatoes with your cat.