Can Cats Eat Rice?

Rice is a regular part of my diet. I really enjoy it and it’s a versatile meal that you can combine with just about anything. It’s also pretty easy to cook and is something you can prepare in a few minutes when you’re too hungry to prepare something more elaborate. It tastes good, is filling, is versatile, is easy to prepare, and has a tonne of nutritional value for humans. What’s not to love? There’s no wonder it’s eaten by more people as a staple food around the world than any other food! But can cats eat rice?

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I mean, sure it’s great for humans and all. Cats are a different species altogether and what’s good for us isn’t necessarily good for them too. I would love to share my rice with Scratch. I bet she would eat it up without a second thought.

Sometimes Scratch just fills me with awe. I am yet to meet a food that she wouldn’t eat. Her curiosity and international tastes know no bounds. That said, I have to be extra careful with Scratch. It’s precisely because of her willingness to try anything that I need to keep an extra eye on her and make sure she doesn’t get the wrong stuff into her system. So let’s find out if rice is okay for her.

Laying Down the Facts

As mentioned before, rice is also pretty versatile as a food. It goes with a variety of accompaniments, including meats such as pork, fish, chicken and beef, and all sorts of vegetables. You can also fry it and have it without anything else, or make it into a cake! The mere thought of rice makes my mouth water. I wonder if it makes Scratch’s mouth water too… anyway, let’s not get carried away while preaching to the choir. I don’t need to tell you how great rice is. You probably already know and you probably already like it. The important topic here is whether rice is great for cats.

To start with, cats are carnivores. While Scratch is certainly curious about all kinds of foods, nothing can replace the joy of meat for her. That’s what she’s in love with and, no matter how often she strays to other foods, she’ll always drift right back.

Humans, on the other hand, are omnivores. We can subsist both on plant-based and animal-based diets. That obviously means that not everything we eat is good for our cats.

It’s been shown that rice might be dangerous for some bird species we keep as pets. The little grains get stuck in their digestive tracts and wreak havoc, causing death in some instances. It’s common for pet owners to extrapolate this to cats and think that rice will present the same kind of danger. This, however, is a popular myth. It’s nothing more than a myth all the same.

Can I Give Rice to my Cat?

So can cats eat rice? Yes, absolutely! There are some interesting caveats though. There are always some caveats to add when answering a question about the ability of cats to eat foods that aren’t meat. There are a few things we should talk about here. The first is cat food that contains rice as an ingredient. Are these foods good for cats? We should also look at cooked and uncooked rice, and which of the two is safe or unsafe for cats.

When it comes to cat food, there are lots of brands that make their cat food with rice as an ingredient. There’s really nothing wrong with this. After all, rice isn’t toxic for cats. It doesn’t have any poisons and cats don’t typically have allergic reactions to rice.

Despite that, rice is mostly only good as filler. Rice definitely makes your cat feel full and keeps her feeling full for quite a while. For this reason, a lot of cat food brands proudly advertise it as one of the ingredients in their products. It sounds so good that you might even be tempted to eat some cat food with rice yourself.

Rice, however, is mostly starch, which is mostly carbohydrates. Cats have been optimized by many ages of evolution to prefer protein. They prefer chicken, fish and beef to rice and other grains because rice can’t do much for them from a nutritional perspective.

There are also some studies that have shown rice can inhibit a cat’s ability to take in taurine from its diet. Taurine is a vital vitamin that cats obtain from the protein they eat. If your cat suffers from taurine deficiency, it could have some terrible results for her.

Cooking Rice

Cooked rice is okay for your cat. You can give it to your adult cat as long as she’s already used to it from when she was a kitten. To be sure, give her a small amount to kick her off and watch for any odd reactions. If they don’t show any adverse reactions to rice, feel free to give them more. You can also mix it with come milk and serve it to her with meat, such as beef or rice.

Fried Rice

Whatever you do, don’t give your cat fried rice. This rice might contain grease and spices that aren’t good for your cat. Also, don’t leave a lot of cooked rice lying around exposed. Some cats simply don’t know when to stop and can have a little too much for their own good.

Uncooked Rice

Uncooked rice is definitely a no-no. Your cat isn’t a bird. She probably won’t want anything to do with uncooked rice in the first place. There’s also a chance that the uncooked rice might have traces of pesticide on it, from the farm. Pesticides, like lectin, can be dangerous for your cat. If your cat does eat uncooked rice, you generally shouldn’t panic. However, if she shows symptoms such as bloating, stomach upset, diarrhoea, and vomiting, be sure to rush her to the vet.

What are the Benefits of Rice for Cats?

Rice isn’t just safe for our feline friends; it has some great benefits too. The fibre will definitely help with her digestion and go a long way in preventing constipation. Interestingly enough, it is a commonly recommended food when you cat is facing stomach upsets. Vets even suggest you give your cat a bland diet of boiled rice with some chicken mixed in when she has stomach upsets to help her with her bowel movements.      

The Possible Dangers

Rice shouldn’t be the main ingredient in your cat’s diet. It certainly doesn’t have all the necessary calories your cat requires and it inhibits your cat’s ability to digest taurine.

Taurine deficiency can have some adverse effects on your cat. It has been linked to eye problems in cats, weakened heart muscles, rotten teeth, and poor foetal development when your cat is pregnant. Rice can never replace a well-balanced diet for your cat and should be offered sparingly.

​​​​Rice with a Topping of Caution

In conclusion, rice is perfectly safe for your cat, and there’s nothing wrong with giving her some every now and then. However, it shouldn’t be the main part of your cat’s diet. You also shouldn’t give your cat uncooked rice and should keep her as far from fried rice as you can. On the other hand, rice is great for her digestion and can even help her deal with a stomach upset. All this has made me hungry! I think I’ll go make some rice and put some aside for Scratch.

Rebecca Welters
 

Yes, I am that weird cat lady with 200 cats and live in the darkest corner of the city where no one dares to go! Joking! But I am a cat lover and have 2 Ragdoll cats called Toby, he's 3 years old and Dory, she's 8 years old. I'm 36 years old and live in the quiet town of Washington.

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