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Can Cats Eat Zucchini – Vegetable Benefits For Pet Health

Can Cats Eat Zucchini – Vegetable Benefits For Pet Health

Cats need a well-balanced diet just like humans do. You may be wondering if crisp and delicious zucchini would be an obvious addition to your cat’s menu. It’s a great snack to share, grows in many gardens, and packs a nutritious punch. Most wonder if cats should eat it though. I decided to do some research to answer the following question: Can cats eat zucchini?

Cats can eat zucchini. Zucchini is a safe vegetable for cats. It’s easy for them to chew and it contains magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Cats don’t need vegetables in their diet, but adding them in small amounts can provide additional vitamins. 

Cats are obligate carnivores, so they need their diets to be fortified primarily with protein and animal fats. But if they need an extra dose of vitamins, have shown an interest in your garden, or want to share your healthy snack, vegetables can be great. Zucchini is an easy addition, along with many other common items in your garden or produce aisle. In this post, we’ll review how veggies can fit into a cat’s diet, how to introduce them, what to try, and what to stay away from. 

Are Vegetables Good For Cats

You learned as a kid to eat your vegetables, and there’s a good reason. Containing very few calories, these foods of the earth are packed with an array of vitamins and minerals that support your overall health. Since we want excellent health for our cats too, it stands to reason that adding some vegetables into your cat’s diet is a great idea. Zucchini, for example, can support your kitty’s nerves, immune system, blood pressure, muscles, and kidneys. Kidney function is especially important as cats age. 

But not all vegetables are created equal. Carrots, for example, can be eaten by cats, but are indigestible while raw. The same goes for asparagus and broccoli. Feeding these to your cat straight from the garden can cause digestive issues. For these veggies, steaming or cooking them releases nutrients and antioxidants, making them more comfortable for cats to chew and digest. In the end, your cat is more likely to enjoy vegetables and be able to absorb their nutrients if they are steamed or cooked first. 

It is essential to thoroughly wash your vegetables when you bring them home or pick them from the garden. This is good for both you and your cat, as it removes any potential bacteria or pesticides. 

It’s best to feed these items to your cat in moderation and be sure your cat is also getting the amount of protein they need. If you’re making your own cat food or want to know how much of a vegetable to give your cat, you can find recipes and calculators hereThe chart below provides an excellent general overview of the types of vegetables that are healthy for your feline. 

Healthy Vegetables For Cats Unhealthy Vegetables For Cats
Asparagus Garlic
Zucchini Rhubarb
Seedless Cucumbers Onions
Broccoli Wild Mushrooms
Pumpkin Avocado

Do Cats Need To Eat Vegetables

The food pyramids say that we humans need five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. However, it’s not that way for cats. While we humans are omnivores, surviving on plant and animal foods, your furry feline is an obligate carnivore. An obligate carnivore must eat animal flesh to survive. These meat-eaters also have shorter digestive systems, unequipped to break down the cellulose found in plant matter if eaten to excess. 

Your sweet little lap cat shares the predatory instincts of a long line of big cats chasing after large animals. They crave and require proteins in their diet to fortify their bodies. This is why their hunting instincts can be easily activated even with the flip of a feather toy. It’s a long-ingrained characteristic of the species to get and consume protein. 

In the wild, cats may occasionally munch on plant matter and spend much of their time hunting for meat. Your domesticated cat may not seek out plants at all, and they aren’t required to enhance a kitty’s diet. That being said, a small infusion of correctly prepared vegetables is harmless, can serve as a healthy treat, and can supplement the vitamins from their regular protein-based food. Zucchini is a perfect example of a delicious vegetable that can be easily introduced to your cat’s plate. 

How Can I Get My Cat To Eat Vegetables

Your cat’s personality will dictate whether or not it’s difficult to introduce veggies into their diet. If you think your cat will make it difficult, try cooking a vegetable like zucchini, cutting it into very small pieces, and mixing it in with your cat’s food. Does kitty object? Try another vegetable. There is no shortage of safe and nutritious options! 

If your cat has already shown an interest in veggies or has a more flexible palate, you can try giving them small amounts of vegetables as a treat or snack. You can also cook your kitty, a delicious homemade meal that includes vegetables mixed in with protein and animal fats. 

An adventurous outdoor cat may go right for your vegetable garden. If they take to doing this (and you don’t mind), make sure to limit their chow time, steer them toward easily digestible raw vegetables like zucchini or green beans, and shoo them out if there are harmful pesticides in use! 

What Greens Are Safe For Cats 

While leafy greens don’t have quite the same nutritional content as more sturdy veggies like zucchini, they are a treasure trove of nutrients all their own. Unlike other vegetables, however, these crispy snacks are tough to cook.

But you don’t have to worry. If your cat wants to chow down on some lettuce, it’s perfectly safe and very nutritious. Lettuce is chock-full of potassium, the great promoter of strong kidney function. It’s also got high water content, in case your cat is dehydrated. Romaine, iceberg, spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are just fine for your cat. 

If your cat ventures outdoors, you may see them munching on grass. Provided the grass is clean of lawn chemicals; this is safe. You may have also seen cat grass at your local pet store, as it is an excellent source of folic acid, which is essential for your cat’s metabolic function. 

Grass, and sometimes leafy greens, provide another interesting, if slightly gross, function for cats. These plants often cause cats to throw up. However, this is not necessarily bad. If your cat has a hairball or has eaten something else that isn’t digesting well, the greens can help dispel the hairball or troubling food. As long as your cat is behaving and otherwise eating normally, there is no need to worry about them throwing up from grass or leafy greens. If you believe they may have ingested something harmful that’s making them puke, call your veterinarian or animal poison control immediately. 

What Vegetables Are Bad For Cats 

While most vegetables can be a good addition to your cat’s diet, there are some that you should stay away from. The worst vegetable for your cat is onions. Cooked or not, this heavily flavorful vegetable is not welcome in your cat’s digestive system, where it can break down red blood cells and cause anemia. Cats are regularly taken to the vet for onion poisoning. 

Rhubarb is another vegetable that you should keep away from your cat. Its oxalate crystals and acid can sap your cat’s digestive system of calcium, cause tremors, and lead to renal failure. Corn is a less harmful but controversial vegetable when it comes to cats. Because of its heavy carbohydrate content, it can be difficult for cats to process. Some vets recommend it in small amounts in frozen form. But overall, it’s probably best to choose other vegetables like zucchini, green beans, carrots, or broccoli. 

A happy, veggie-filled life

It’s good for your cat to have some vegetables in their diet. Zucchini is perhaps one of the best items to share with your kitty, given its exceptionally high nutrition content, but many others work just as well. Wash your veggies thoroughly, cook them up to make them easier to eat, make sure there’s plenty of protein on the menu, and watch out for onions!