For devotees and growers of potatoes and their distant cousins, sweet potatoes, February is a busy month! It’s National Sweet Potato Month as well as Potato Lovers Month. Perhaps you’re getting the garden ready for the spring planting season. Maybe you’re keen to experiment with yet another recipe for homemade cat chow using the ingredients you bought at the farmers market. In any case, your cat enters the kitchen after you’ve just carried a 10-pound bag of potatoes or sweet potatoes there.
We’re constantly on the lookout for nutritious snack options or pondering whether of our favorite organic foods could be okay to feed to our kitties. We’ve researched the nutritional value of potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as their potential advantages and disadvantages for our cherished cat companions and kitten mates, in honor of this tuber-tastic month. Enter the fray!
Can cats eat potatoes?
If you’re growing potatoes in your garden or on your urban farm patch, be careful that your cats are fed before they join you outside on any given Caturday. Likewise, keep any raw, uncooked potatoes you may have inside the home. Why? Immature, the potato plant, including the green skin of the unripened vegetable, contains a chemical called solanine. Solanine is present throughout the growing potato plant as a defense mechanism, a poison that repels those that would seek to eat it.
Ingested in great enough quantities, which needn’t be large since cats are small creatures, solanine toxicity from potato plants — as well as tomatoes and eggplants, among other popular gardening and cooking veggies — can wreak havoc on cats and kittens. Raw or unripe potatoes can cause severe digestive upset and negatively affect the nervous system. Confusion, disorientation, vomiting, and diarrhea are common symptoms of solanine poisoning, which can necessitate a visit to the vet followed by a couple of days of recovery. Popular Read: Why Does My Cat Scratch The Sides Of The Litter Box? – Simple Explanation
Are cooked potatoes preferable for felines?
Cooked properly, prepared simply, and served in very small portions, potatoes are not toxic to cats. However, the nutrients in potatoes that make them healthy for cat owners are the very same properties that can lead, over time, to obesity, pancreatitis, and arthritic limbs as our cats age. Potatoes are a staple crop that contain wholesome things like protein, potassium, B and C vitamins, carbohydrates, and fiber.
As you may know, cats are obligate carnivores. This means they draw their most essential nutritional needs from meat and the nutrients found therein. The plant-based nutrients they need are to be found, in forms they can easily digest, in the vast majority of commercially available cat foods, both dry and wet. A cat’s digestive system does not produce the enzymes necessary to properly process or digest plant matter. Too many plant-based carbohydrates in their regular diet already leads cats to become overweight, and, in time, to associated health issues.
Other potato treats that cat owners enjoy, from potato chips to french fries to baked potato skins, only pile on additional digestive hazards for our cats. Many of these contain indigestible frying oils, or heavy amounts of salt, along with additives that cats have little use for, from cheese to butter. Will it hurt a cat to eat a single french fry or crunch on an occasional potato chip? No, but neither do our cats benefit from them.
Are cats able to eat sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are only distant relations to standard spuds. Since they are not in the nightshade family like the standard potato, they do not contain solanine when they are growing or unripe. There are several types of sweet potato, though, whose vines and flowers do contain properties that make ingestion toxic to cats, according to the ASPCA. As with any vegetable that contains proteins and carbohydrates, it’s important to remember that while sweet potatoes are healthy foods for humans, they are difficult for cats to digest.Popular Read: Why Does My Cat Scratch The Sides Of The Litter Box? – Simple Explanation
A small bit of a dehydrated sweet potato slice may appeal to your kittens and cats as an unusual or occasional treat, but only in the limited quantities that they can handle. The same goes for a touch of cooked, boiled, or baked sweet potato, free of additives, spices, or toppings. This rules out that delicious and fragrant sweet potato pie you’re baking, especially if it’s slathered in marshmallow topping. The sugar content alone is too high for your cats and kittens.