Fall is just around the corner and almost everyone’s looking forward to enjoying their pumpkin-flavored everything! Well, you can also share your pumpkin delight with your cat! It’s a nutritious addition to their diet, and cats will also find this favorite autumn fruit delicious.
What are the health benefits of giving pumpkin to your cat?
Pumpkin’s rich and creamy texture and subtle sweetness are just the proverbial icing on the cake or, in this case, the pumpkin pie. Everybody’s fall favorite is a type of winter squash that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family and boasts an impressive nutrient profile. It is 94% water, so it is low in calories but is chock-full of vitamins and minerals.
Pumpkin is rich in fiber and beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. A single cup of boiled pumpkin contains:
- Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
- Potassium: 16% of the RDI
- Copper: 11% of the RDI
- Manganese: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
- Iron: 8% of the RDI
- Calories: 49
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate, and B vitamins are also present.
So how can pumpkin benefit your cat? Let us count the ways:
- Supports eye health.
- Provides relief for constipation, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues.
- Helps prevent and eliminate hairballs.
- Promotes healthy skin and coat.
- Aids in weight loss.
- Antioxidant properties help prevent and treat cell damage, which is associated with various diseases, such as cancer, eye disease, and heart disease.
- Boost immunity.
- Improves heart health.
How can you add pumpkin to your cat’s diet?
Pumpkin is a versatile and delicious ingredient, and adding it to your cat’s food will only make mealtimes more enjoyable for her.
You can give your feline friend unsweetened and unflavored, pure canned pumpkin; if you can get an organic brand, even better!
If you want to use fresh pumpkin, this is okay, too. Scoop out the seeds after slicing the pumpkin open, and then cut it into wedges. Boil the pumpkin until soft; don’t add salt or sugar. Drain and then mash or puree the cooked pumpkin. Transfer it into a jar, let it cool, and then seal it tightly and store it in your fridge.
Whether you use canned pumpkin or freshly pureed pumpkin, you can simply mix a small amount into your cat’s regular food. Some cats also enjoy pumpkin as a treat; just scoop out a small amount of canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree with a teaspoon and let your kitty pal lick it.
Here are a few additional reminders:
- Do not feed jack-o’-lanterns to your cat or any of your pets. Once cut open and exposed to air, pumpkin goes bad very quickly.
- Do not give your cat any other parts of the pumpkin aside from the cooked skin and flesh; the leaves and stems have small, sharp hairs that can cause irritation or injury to your pet’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract. To be safe, avoid giving kitty pumpkin seeds, as well.
- When buying canned pumpkin, read the product label carefully and make sure the product contains 100% pumpkin and zero sugars, spices, and artificial ingredients.
How much pumpkin can you give to your cat?
If it’s your cat’s first time trying pumpkin, start with the smallest recommended amount, which is ½ teaspoon per meal for kittens and small cats and 1 teaspoon per meal for adult/big cats. You can gradually increase the amount - up to 4 teaspoons per meal for adult cats - if your pet’s stomach does not disagree with this addition to their diet.
While you’re still determining the correct amount to feed your cat, observe her for any adverse reactions; you also have to check her stool. If her poop turns orange, if there’s more poop than normal, or if her stool is like pudding or is watery, you may have given her too much. Do not give her pumpkin until her poop goes back to normal, and then feed her a smaller amount when you resume adding it to her food.
If you’re unsure, and especially if your cat has a health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease, always consult your vet first. If you want to use pumpkin to help your pet lose weight, you should also seek your vet’s advice.
Pumpkin for Cats - Final Thoughts
Your cat will definitely enjoy having this autumnal favorite added to their diet. Remember to only feed your feline friend plain pumpkin, either canned or boiled and pureed.
Pumpkin is one of the healthiest human foods you can also give to your beloved cat. You can opt for canned pumpkin, but just make sure it’s 100% pumpkin and contains no other ingredients. You can also use fresh pumpkin; remove the seeds and boil the pumpkin, and then mash it or make a puree.
Kitty will love the creamy texture and sweet flavor of pumpkin. And you will also be improving her health in many ways when you share your pumpkin love with your feline companion. It’s packed full of fiber and is a great source of beta carotene. It is also loaded with other vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C, some B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, copper, manganese, iron, protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
So if you’re shopping for your pumpkin recipes, make sure to grab a few extra cans for your cat.