Cat Tips

Can Cats Eat Spinach?

If you watched Popeye the Sailor Man as a child, then you know just how good spinach is rumored to be our health. Spinach is highly regarded for its nutritional value, packed with energy and vitality. The leafy green has not only anti-inflammatory properties but also helps reduce your chances of getting cancer.

There’s no doubt that spinach is an especially healing superfood, at least for us humans. But what about our feline friends? You might wonder if it is safe to incorporate those fresh leafy greens into their diets, find the answer below.

Can I Give Spinach To My Cat?

To answer your question - yes, absolutely!

Luckily for pet parents, cats can generally eat spinach, the vegetable isn’t toxic to them. Although your little feline buddy is a carnivore, it’s also good to supplement their diets with some fresh fruits and vegetables, and spinach is a great place to start. Just keep in mind that 90% of your cat's diet should come from protein and non-veg ingredients.

Feeding spinach to cats hasn’t been specifically researched, but there was one study in older cats that showed that adding fruits and vegetables to their diets helped improve their kidney function and increased their lean mass. Sounds like a good reason to give it a try!

Can I Give My Cat Cooked Spinach?

Yes, if it is a small amount. Studies have shown that cooked spinach has a lower number of oxalates, which are compounds known to cause bladder or kidney stones if consumed in higher amounts. So, you can opt to give your cat cooked spinach.

When you want to cook spinach for your cat, it’s a good idea to steam it or gently sauté it without any salt, spices, or oils. But please note, if you boil it instead of steaming it, then a lot of beneficial nutrients will be lost, so boiling it isn’t recommended.

You can offer a small amount of cooked spinach to your cat, and see if they like it. But don’t be worried if they don’t! Cats are usually picky by nature, and some aren’t so excited about fruits and vegetables either way - sometimes they prefer to eat a piece of lean meat or their favorite cat treat instead.

Is It Better to Give Raw Spinach To My Cat?

Raw spinach is okay in moderation. That’s because feeding spinach to your cat raw will ensure that the vegetable retains its most essential vitamins. However, one downside of raw spinach is that it contains high amounts of oxalates, so you’ll have to be careful - especially if your cat has a history of urinary issues or bladder stones, as calcium oxalate can cause cats to develop harmful crystals in their urinary tract that can cause complications.

Is Spinach Really That Great?

Spinach is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and essential compounds. It’s full of nutrients such as Vitamin A, K, and B6, while also having lots of potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, iron, and fiber. These nutrients help in a lot of deep bodily functions, especially at the cellular level, for both human and feline bodies.

For instance, Vitamin K helps in normal blood clotting, whereas B6 is useful for red blood cell function, along with nervous system and immune response functions.

The manganese in spinach supports bone development and the iron supports the transportation of oxygen throughout the body.

Moreover, Vitamin A is essential for vision, growth, and heavily supports immune function, whereas fiber aids in digestion.

Another great benefit of spinach is that it helps keep blood pressure low and it can decrease the risk of heart disease due to the presence of nitrates.

And a word to the wise - if your cat currently has a pre-existing eye condition, then eating spinach can have a reversing effect due to carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin which are found in this superfood. Isn’t that amazing?

While you won’t find spinach in a whole lot of commercial cat foods, you can find it in certain brands such as Fancy Feast, Purina, and Hill’s in their wet or canned food varieties for cats.

How Much Spinach Is Ideal for Cats?

Now that you know that spinach is not only non-toxic but can also be healthy for cats, you can feel comfortable feeding it to your feline baby in moderate quantities. One good rule of thumb to follow is that any additional foods or treats that you use to supplement your cat’s diet should only make up about 10 percent of their daily calorie intake. Otherwise, it can lead to unnecessary imbalances in their diet and either cause nutritional deficiencies or excesses.

So, let’s say your cat eats 200 calories per day (which, by the way, is the ideal number of calories that your cat should be consuming anyway), then extra foods, including spinach, should constitute only about 20 calories. And if your concern is spinach, then you’re in luck because spinach is pretty low in calories - one leaf of raw spinach only contains 2 calories or so. So don’t worry, it would be difficult to convince your cat to eat 10 leaves of spinach. They are not likely to overindulge in this snack.

In general, it’s best to use moderation when you feed anything to your cat, including spinach. And it’s always a good idea to first discuss it with your veterinarian. They can use your cat’s medical history to identify risks that your little buddy may be prone to.

All in all, feeding small quantities of spinach to your healthy adult cat is a great idea as it can serve as a highly nutritious low-calorie treat, and may actually improve your cat’s health in certain cases. But keep in mind that it’s not a miracle cure if your cat has other nutritional deficiencies - so don’t expect it to work like one. It is definitely not a substitute for meat and other forms of protein that your cat needs, but yes, it can have certain benefits so it’s surely worth a try.

Sources

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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