Can Cats Eat Pumpkin?

Gray cat eating from bowl
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The holiday season comes with tables and tables of food that often turn into lots and lots of leftover scraps for our furry friends to find. While certain foods are just fine to share with pets, others can cause serious harm. It is always beneficial to know which is which.

A common food that comes into question, not only during the holiday season, is pumpkin. Pet owners often wonder if pumpkin is indeed safe or beneficial for cats. It turns out, pumpkin is not toxic to cats. In fact, pumpkin is an appropriate supplement to incorporate into your cat's diet, and it even helps with several health issues.

Types of pumpkin that are safe

When feeding cats pumpkin, the first priority is freshness. Owners can also bake fresh pumpkin until soft and feed to their cat once the pumpkin cools. Canned pumpkin is also acceptable as long as it's 100 percent pure and does not include additives, fillers, spices or sugar.

Cats can eat fresh pumpkin seeds that are clean and roasted at 350 degrees for one hour without any added spices.

How much pumpkin cats can safely eat

Just how much pumpkin to feed a cat should be discussed with your veterinarian. On average, adults cats can have 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of pumpkin daily. Make sure to refrigerate any leftover pumpkin if it will be used again quickly. Otherwise, freeze the pumpkin then defrost when you're ready to use it again.

Orange halloween pumpkins on white planks
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Types of pumpkin that are harmful

Do not feed cats the stem or skin of a pumpkin. These parts are rough and may not digest well. Stay away from raw pumpkin and Jack-O-Lanterns that have been cut and left out. These raw pumpkins may have molds or bacteria that cause illness in cats.

The benefits of pumpkin

Pumpkin provides a wide range of health benefits for cats. The food is packed with nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha carotene (an antioxidant), calcium, iron and lutein (supports healthy eyes, skin and coat).

If your kitty has digestive issues, pumpkin can help with constipation, diarrhea, and weight loss. Pumpkin's high fiber concentration aids with constipation and helps get your pet back on a regular schedule. The fiber also absorbs extra moisture which helps to stop diarrhea. If you're wanting your cat to shed some pounds, pumpkin can be used as a substitute in his diet, but consult a veterinarian to see exactly how much substitution is safe for your specific pet.

Red cat and bowl of dry food
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Warnings and concerns about pumpkin

Although pumpkin is generally an aid in your cat's diet, too much pumpkin can prove harmful. High amounts of pumpkin can result in destabilization of the GI tract. As a natural laxative, too much pumpkin can lead to dehydration. Always make sure your cat has clean, fresh water on hand.

Always remember that pumpkin is a great dietary supplement but should not be relied on to cure your cat of any ailment. Pumpkin helps with short-term, minor digestive issues. If these issues persist, and for any general questions or concerns, consulting your veterinarian is always your best bet!

Conclusion

Pumpkin is safe and even healthy for cats to consume. Be sure to only feed your cat fresh, unseasoned pumpkin that has been skinned. Never feed a cat pumpkin skins or stems, and never feed them too much. As with any new food, always watch for any signs of allergy or digestive symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting.

Always consult your veterinarian if you have serious concerns about your pet's diet.