Can Cats Eat Rice?

By Katie Garrity
Jasmine rice in a  bowl on wood table
credit: bennyartist/iStock/GettyImages

When a pet is sick, many veterinarians will recommend they stick to a plain diet to regulate their digestion until it's returned to normal. Chicken and rice are often found in these healthy diet plans. So that must mean that rice is safe for your cat to munch on, right? Yes, but there are some basic precautions to be aware of.

Rice is safe for your cat to eat as long as it's prepared properly.

When is rice safe for my cat?

Rice is one of the easiest grains for your cat to digest, and it can help your pet when they are suffering from an upset stomach. Cats often have a hard time digesting starchy, high-carb foods like pasta, so rice is a good option because most cats can digest it without too much difficulty. It is less likely than other starchy foods to result in severe stomach pain, vomiting, or constipation.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, rice is a beneficial digestion regulator for cats and eases their upset stomachs.

Cat's meal
credit: vladans/iStock/GettyImages

How should I serve rice to my cat?

If you plan to feed rice to your cat, make sure the rice is cooked. (Uncooked rice is bad for feline digestion, but more on that later.) When mixing rice with chicken or other cat-friendly vegetables, it's a good idea to make sure rice is one of the smaller portions of the meal — a ratio of about 25 percent. Most recipes contain less than 1/4 cup of cooked rice for your cat.

Be sure to serve your cats plain rice, leaving out any seasonings or sauces. Salt and other spices can be harmful for felines. For example, garlic and onion, which are both seasonings common to rice prepared for humans, should never be consumed by cats. They are from the allium family and contain a compound that causes oxidative damage to the red blood cells. Too much garlic can also cause gastroenteritis with symptoms that include oral irritation, drooling, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, and diarrhea.

Rice in a cat's diet is all about aiding digestion. So be sure to only serve them cooked, unseasoned rice.

Uncooked Rice

Uncooked rice is bad for cats to eat. Not only is it hard to digest, uncooked rice is often found with a natural pesticide called lectin that can cause diarrhea and vomiting when consumed in large quantities.

If your cat consumed uncooked rice, they may experience bloating and stomach aches. If symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, contact your veterinarian immediately.

young cat after eating food from kitchen plate
credit: MihailUlianikov/iStock/GettyImages

The rice and pets controversy.

There is some debate about rice's role in your pet's diet. Many pet owners believe that rice holds no nutritional value and is just a "filler" when it comes to food. While there is some value to those opinions, we suggest cooked rice should be served as a digestion regulator for upset stomachs and not as a dietary staple.

Also, there is no evidence supporting the myth that rice will cause your cat's tummy to swell and explode.

Conclusion

Like with any people food, don't feed your cat too much and keep an eye on your cat for any signs of digestive problems, like vomiting or diarrhea. If you do notice any of those symptoms, call your vet.

Rice can help your cat with digestive issues and is safe for consumption. However, when served, rice should be cooked and served in moderation.

Remember, if you ever have concerns about your cat's diet or questions about introducing a new food, always contact your veterinarian.