Sweet potatoes are a staple of many people's diets. They're versatile, nutritious, and readily available. Sweet potatoes are great for dogs, but are they safe for cats to eat? This healthy veggie is OK to feed to cats in certain forms, but there are some exceptions.
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A cat's diet
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need a meat-based diet. While fruits and vegetables aren't a necessary part of a cat's diet, some cats might enjoy an occasional piece of a kitty-safe fruit or vegetable. Some veggies, such as garlic and onions, are toxic to cats and should never be fed to them. Other kinds of veggies, like asparagus and peas, are safe to feed to cats infrequently as long as they are cooked and unseasoned.
Can cats eat sweet potato?
Sweet potatoes are safe to feed to cats with a few caveats. Vegetables are not a necessary part of a cat's diet and shouldn't be fed to them regularly, as they can cause stomach upset. Sweet potatoes are not toxic to cats and contain lots of fiber, which can be particularly beneficial if your kitty is experiencing constipation. However, since cats can fulfill all of their nutritional needs with a meat-based diet, sweet potatoes don't need to be included in their daily or even weekly meals.
If you do share a bit of sweet potato with your cat, be sure that it is cooked and unseasoned. Boiled, baked, or steamed sweet potatoes are OK to feed cats, but if they are fried in oil or contain other ingredients and seasonings, they should not be fed to cats.
Raw vs. cooked
Can you eat sweet potatoes raw? Technically, raw sweet potatoes aren't toxic to humans or cats, but they may cause stomach upset. Sweet potatoes and white potatoes share similar features, but they belong to two different families and are not closely related.
White potatoes (including yellow, gold, and red potatoes) are toxic when raw due to the presence of a compound called glycoalkaloid solanine. Raw sweet potatoes do not contain this compound, so they are not toxic in their raw form. They are more likely to cause stomachache if fed raw, so they should always be cooked, but there's no need to worry if your cat steals a piece of uncooked sweet potato while you're prepping dinner.
Can cats eat fries? White potatoes are safe to feed to cats in small amounts as long as they are cooked, baked, boiled, or steamed potatoes are best. French fries should be avoided due to the oil and seasoning with which they are cooked.
Dishes containing sweet potato
When it comes to dishes that contain sweet potato, it's important to consider the other ingredients that may be present and whether or not these are OK for feline tummies. Can you share holiday meals, like sweet potato casserole, with your cat? Though the sweet potato part of this dish is cat-safe in a different form, other ingredients, like marshmallows, sugar, and spices, are not good for cats.
Can cats have marshmallows? Your cat would probably find marshmallows tasty, but they should not be fed to cats. Not only are marshmallows high in sugar and fat but they are also a choking hazard. Can cats eat cinnamon? Cinnamon is not toxic to cats in small quantities, but large amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and skin irritation.
Candied yams also should not be fed to cats despite being sweet-potato-based. The high amounts of sugar and fat are not good for cat digestive systems and can cause weight gain. In addition, butter can cause stomach problems, as most cats are lactose-intolerant and cannot digest dairy.