As vegetables are so healthy, owners often wonder if asparagus can be fed to cats. These vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, but is asparagus safe for cats to consume?
Cats can eat asparagus. It contains folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium. Asparagus can also ease constipation and diarrhea. However, asparagus is high in alkaline, so too much can cause urinary tract problems. Also, raw asparagus can hurt a cat’s gums if it’s too hard, so cooked asparagus is kinder on a cat’s mouth.
While asparagus isn’t toxic or dangerous, not all cats will enjoy the taste. The nutritional benefits are relatively small, so it’s worth weighing up how much time and effort it will take to prepare asparagus relative to the health benefits.
Is Asparagus Safe for Cats?
Asparagus is a vegetable with slender spears and is most commonly grilled, steamed, or roasted. It has an earthy flavor and is consumed for its many nutritional health benefits.
Asparagus is a springtime vegetable that is primarily grown in California, Michigan, and Washington state. However, due to imports, it can be eaten all year long. The flavor of the vegetable will vary depending on where it comes from.
Asparagus is OK for cats to eat and isn’t considered poisonous. Asparagus is packed with nutrients, and just a tiny amount can help boost the number of vitamins and minerals your cat consumes.
The following nutritional values are based on a 100-gram sample of raw asparagus, as recorded by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture):
|Dietary Fibre||2.1 grams|
|Total Vitamin A||38 micrograms|
|Total Vitamin C||5.6 milligrams|
|Total Vitamin K||41.6 micrograms|
Asparagus can also help prevent cats from eating houseplants and can combat constipation and diarrhea. This is because the dietary fibers found in asparagus can regulate the digestive system.
However, cats are obligate carnivores whose diet requires animal nutrients found in animal flesh. As described in MDPI, evolution has caused the cat’s metabolism to adapt to this diet strictly composed of animal tissues.
Studies also show that domestic cats balance macronutrient intake by selecting low-carbohydrate foods. It’s even been suggested that high-carbohydrate diets could be detrimental to a cat’s health.
While asparagus is considered to be low carb for humans, the carbohydrate content might be too much to become a regular fixture in your cat’s diet. According to a journal on Vin, cats’ natural prey contains around 55% protein, 45% fat, and only 1-2% carbohydrate. Cats are meat-eaters, so their essential diet should be made up of protein and fats from animal sources.
Health Benefits of Asparagus for Cats
Asparagus is one of the world’s most nutritionally balanced vegetables. It has minimal amounts of fat but is packed with vitamins and minerals.
While the nutritional benefits are more significant in humans, they can still benefit cats. Asparagus contains the following nutrients and health benefits that contribute to a cat’s overall good health:
Also known as vitamin B9, folate is essential for making red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, producing DNA and RNA, and converting carbohydrates into energy.
Folate also elevates blood oxygen levels, produces oxygen, assists in the metabolism of fat, and contributes to the overall growth and development of a cat’s body.
Without enough folate in the diet, cats can develop deficiencies that cause the body’s processes to run less smoothly. It can also lead to anemia, making a cat more susceptible to red blood cell disorder.
Alongside asparagus, cats consume folate from meats, including kidney and liver, as well as yeast, wheat, green veggies, and grass. It can be found in both dry and wet cat foods.
Vitamin K is commonly found in leafy green vegetables, including asparagus. Fish, liver, meat, and cereals also contain a small amount.
Vitamin K acts as an enzyme that enables blood coagulation to occur. It also plays a significant role in protein metabolism, which helps to bind calcium to the bone, therefore making them strong.
Vitamin K is absorbed more quickly if accompanied by foods with some short to medium-chain fats. For this reason, serve asparagus to your cat alongside a mix of these ingredients.
As described in the MSD Vet Manual, potassium is an important electrolyte that is essential for the normal function of the muscles, nerves, and heart.
Potassium also manages blood pressure, normal water balance, muscle contractions, digestion, heart rhythm, and pH balance. All of these are essential body functions that ensure a cat leads a normal, healthy life.
A cat’s body doesn’t produce potassium naturally. Felines must consume foods rich in the nutrient to remain healthy. Too much or too little can lead to health problems. As already mentioned, high levels of potassium can be a problem for a cat’s urinary tract and may cause bacterial infections.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps the skin, bones, and connective tissues remain healthy. It is also essential for iron absorption. Vitamin C protects cells as they age, leading to a healthier, longer life.
It’s important to note that too much vitamin C in the diet can increase the risk of calcium oxalate stones. These can form anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder, causing painful and potentially harmful blockages.
However, most cats produce vitamin C naturally and don’t need to consume it from food sources. While asparagus is rich in vitamin C, it’s unnecessary to feed it to cats for its vitamin C content.
As reported by the National Animal Supplement Council, vitamin A is an essential vitamin for cats and must be part of their diet. It allows for the proper function of healthy skin, coat, muscles, and nerves.
Without enough vitamin A in the diet, a cat’s skin and coat would start to look dull and unhealthy. In extreme cases, a deficiency vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness. Muscle deterioration and weakness can also occur if left untreated.
Pregnant cats and kittens, in particular, benefit from vitamin A because it aids with growth, muscle, and neurological development. However, be wary of giving your cat too much vitamin A, as an overdose can lead to toxicity.
Fiber is an effective way to ease diarrhea by slowing digestion and bulking up the stool. While a cat’s gastronomical tract doesn’t digest it, it provides enough bulk to move it through. Wild cats get essential plant-derived fiber from their prey’s stomach – many of which eat grass or other green, leafy substances.
Cats eat every part of their prey, and most elements – including the bones and collagen – are either not digested at all or are digested incompletely. It instead functions like fiber.
Where domestic cats don’t typically eat prey for sustenance, fiber needs to be a part of the animal’s essential diet. Most commercial cat foods offer this, but asparagus is another way to introduce the correct amount of fiber into your cat’s diet.
Is Asparagus Bad for Cats?
Asparagus shouldn’t make up a large part of a cat’s diet. Asparagus is rich in potassium, which is alkaline. High alkaline levels can change the pH of a cat’s body, leading to an alteration of its urine chemistry.
From this, painful crystal formations can occur, which can cause blockages in the urinary tract and bacterial infections. If your cat has a history of urinary problems, avoid asparagus altogether.
Some fully-developed asparagus stems can distort a cat’s dental formula, which can hurt the gums and mouths. Because of this, cooked asparagus is easier for a cat to eat and kinder on the mouth and gums.
Also, most cats don’t indulge in much exercise. Even the most active cats spend most of their day sleeping. Feeding them human foods raises the risk of obesity and can lead to an overworking of the pancreas. This can slow down the production and release of insulin, resulting in feline diabetes.
If you grow your asparagus, there’s a high chance your cat will get hold of and eat asparagus fern. This is toxic, and if your cat consumes it, it may become very ill quickly.
Can Cats Eat Raw Asparagus?
Raw asparagus is okay, but it should be young and tender so it’s not too tough on a cat’s mouth. Asparagus that is well-developed can become a choking hazard and may even lead to vomiting.
If you choose to feed raw asparagus to your cat, cut it into bite-sized pieces so that it can be easily chewed and swallowed.
Can Cats Eat Cooked Asparagus?
Cooked asparagus is much better for cats. That’s because it’s tender and soft and easier to chew and swallow. However, cooking the asparagus can reduce the nutritional content that the vegetable can provide if raw, so feeding a cat cooked asparagus might not be as nutritionally beneficial. A small amount of easy-to-eat raw asparagus is ideal for a cat’s diet.
How Much Asparagus Should I Feed My Cat?
Because a cat’s diet should consist of mostly animal proteins, only feed your cat a small amount of asparagus a couple of times a week. Any more could lead to significant health problems. The nutritional health benefits are so minimal, it’s not worth risking ill-health if your cat isn’t reacting well to the vegetable.
However, asparagus could be a welcome change to your cat’s diet. If it is a food your cat enjoys, then offering it as a tasty treat is an excellent way to make your pet happy and content. Some cats will love the taste of asparagus, whereas others won’t. If your cat doesn’t enjoy the flavor, it will simply turn its nose up and walk away.
How To Serve Asparagus To Cats
While giving a cat asparagus may seem like a simple task, there are things you can do to ensure your cat receives the tastiest, most nutritious version of the vegetable possible. To do so, follow these tips:
- Whether you choose to boil, grill, or steam the asparagus, ensure it is thoroughly cooked. Do not add any seasoning as this may upset your cat’s digestive system.
- Keep an eye on your cat as it chews the asparagus, especially when giving it to your pet for the first time. Watch your cat’s body behavior. If it is having difficulty chewing or swallowing the vegetable, take it away. Observe their bowel movements over the next few days to check that the asparagus hasn’t caused a sensitivity.
- Only serve fresh asparagus. Vegetables that are past their use-by date may disrupt your pet’s digestive system. Wash it thoroughly with clean water before serving.
- Moderate that amount of asparagus your cat eats each week – don’t go above the recommended amount.
It’s worth remembering that cats need an animal-rich diet to survive, and asparagus doesn’t contribute to an ‘essential’ diet. Never season asparagus. If you’re going to feed it to your cat, give it as it comes.