Can Cats Eat Mushrooms? – Explained In Detail

Mushrooms are adaptable, delicious, and reasonably priced. They grow easily in warm, humid settings. You may have wondered whether mushrooms are okay for your cat because she enjoys giving them a good smell when you’re cooking with them.

There is no simple response because there are so many different kinds of mushrooms. While many mushrooms are harmful to cats, some, such white, button, or Portobello mushrooms purchased from a store, may be harmless.

Since mushrooms taste and smell like meat, cats are drawn to them. However, while some mushrooms are safe, others can be toxic and highly hazardous.

It’s recommended to avoid feeding because wild mushrooms can be very dangerous and difficult to recognize.


Nutritional Facts About Mushrooms

Mushrooms contain high levels of antioxidants, which are thought to help protect the body against cancer. Antioxidants protect cells in the body from oxidative damage.

The main antioxidants in mushrooms are called flavonoids and phenolic acids. They also contain a polysaccharide called beta-glucan, which stimulates the immune system, protects the heart from disease, and lowers blood sugar levels by preventing the absorption of some fats into the bloodstream.

The vitamin C content in mushrooms also supports healthy immune function. It is even thought that mushrooms can act as a prebiotic to promote gut health.

Benefits Of Mushrooms For Cats

Although mushrooms have some amazing health benefits for humans, cats can’t eat mushrooms in the quantities they would need to reap these benefits.

Cats are obligate carnivores, and even though some mushrooms can be safe for cats, they are best avoided as some can be very dangerous. A varied diet will keep your cat healthy, but mushrooms shouldn’t feature regularly.

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How Many Mushrooms Can A Cat Eat?

Cats shouldn’t really eat mushrooms, even though some mushrooms, such as white or button mushrooms are safe. Too many can cause an upset tummy, and mushrooms don’t offer cats any nutritional benefits.

How Frequently Can A Cat Eat Mushrooms?

Mushrooms should not be a regular feature in your cat’s diet, but if they do get their paws on a safe variety occasionally that is nothing to worry about.

What Are The Risks Of Eating Mushrooms For Cats

Wild mushrooms can be toxic to cats (and people!). Safely dispose of any mushrooms growing in your yard so you cat doesn’t nibble them.

Store-bought mushrooms are not toxic to cats. The biggest risk to cats is wild mushrooms.  Mushroom poisoning can look very different depending on the mushroom eaten, so let’s look at some of the biggest risks of eating mushrooms for cats.

Gastrointestinal Toxins

Some mushrooms can give your cat a very upset stomach. This usually happens within 15 to 60 minutes of eating the mushrooms. Vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration are the most common symptoms and can be mild or severe. Sometimes these mushrooms also have respiratory effects and lower your cat’s heart rate.

Liver Toxins

Liver toxicity, or hepatotoxicity, occurs when Amanita mushrooms are ingested. Sometimes known as death cap, these mushrooms are extremely dangerous. Symptoms begin  six to 24 hours after ingestion with vomiting and diarrhea.

As the liver damage progresses you might notice jaundice, lethargy, weakness, and inappetence. This can rapidly progress to coma and death if not treated as the liver damage can become irreversible.

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Kidney Toxins

Some mushrooms cause kidney toxicity, or nephrotoxicity, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. The onset of symptoms can be delayed by up to 12 hours after ingestion, during which time the damage to the kidneys could become irreversible.

Neurotoxins

Three types of mushrooms can have neurological effects: hydrazines, isoxazole, and psilocybin (or “magic”) mushrooms. Symptoms occur very quickly within 30 minutes of ingestion but can be delayed up to six hours.

Typical symptoms include weakness, loss of coordination, hallucinations, vocalization, drooling, trembling, agitation, disorientation, and seizures. Sometimes there can be some vomiting and diarrhea too, as well as liver and kidney damage.

Muscarine

Muscarinic effects occur when Inocybe mushrooms are eaten. This toxin affects the parasympathetic nervous system and causes vomiting, diarrhea, low heart rate, and drooling.

What Happens If Your Cat Eats Mushrooms?

If you suspect your cat has eaten wild mushrooms, contact your vet or emergency vet immediately for evaluation and treatment.

The treatment for mushroom poisoning depends on the type of mushrooms eaten and the symptoms. The vet will perform a thorough examination of your cat, and then run blood tests to assess any liver or kidney damage.

If your cat has only just eaten the mushrooms the vet might suggest making your pet vomit and giving activated charcoal to prevent absorption of the toxin from the stomach.

If your cat has eaten mushrooms that can cause liver, kidney, or neurotoxicity they will likely be hospitalized. There are antidotes for some mushroom toxins, such as atropine for muscarine poisoning.

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But treatment is usually supportive consisting of intravenous fluids, anti-sickness medication, and liver support supplements. If your pet is treated rapidly before major organ damage occurs then the prognosis is generally good, and most cats recover well.

Do Cats Enjoy The Taste Of Mushrooms?

Strange as it might sound, cats are actually attracted to the smell of mushrooms!

This is because mushrooms contain an amino acid called glutamate which has a distinct savory flavor sometimes known as umami. It’s a similar amino acid to those found in meat, so cats have a great nose for detecting and enjoying this flavor.

Bottom Line

Cats are attracted to mushrooms because they have a similar taste and smell to meat, but though some mushrooms are safe, others are very dangerous and can be toxic.

If you are unsure about whether a mushroom is safe or not, contact your vet or a veterinary poisons service and try to identify the mushroom. It’s best to avoid feeding your cat mushrooms as they don’t offer much nutritional value and can make them unwell.