Asparagus officinalis, commonly known as garden asparagus, may not appear on your cat’s list of preferred foods. Felines have a unique palate, cannot taste sweetness, and are indifferent to vegetables.
Asparagus is safe for cats in moderation. Too much asparagus can cause urinary tract infections in cats due to its high alkaline content. Also, asparagus can cause gas in the digestive tract when eaten to excess.
Your cat is more likely to show interest in asparagus if you do. As explained by Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, cats are obligate carnivores but seek out new taste experiences in the spirit of novelty.
Is Asparagus Harmful to Cats?
While some foods like dark chocolate are outright toxic, this doesn’t apply to asparagus.
That doesn’t mean that asparagus is entirely cat-friendly and can be fed with abandon, though. Your cat may have an allergy or intolerance to asparagus. Equally, there are side effects to cats eating asparagus.
Allergies aside, these health concerns will only apply when your cat eats asparagus to excess. A few pieces of asparagus won’t result in gastric upset or any other health issues.
Overeating any vegetable can lead to digestive discomfort for felines. Unfortunately, gas and diarrhea are common side effects of cats eating asparagus to excess.
A cat’s digestive tract thrives on a high protein, meat-based diet, so vegetables are processed slowly. As a result, asparagus may upset a cat’s stomach, possibly irritating the intestines.
Some asparagus may help clear up constipation.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Urinary tract infections arise when cats find the pH balance of their urine off-balance. As asparagus is highly alkaline, this is always a risk.
A urinary tract infection caused by alkalinity could come in various forms. Essentially, the pH imbalance will lead to greater bacteria levels in the cat’s urethra. From here, cystitis or bladder stones can form in the bladder.
As per The Veterinary Journal, a feline UTI can necessitate urinary catheters and other invasive treatments. Even if this isn’t the case, your cat will need antibiotics. It’ll experience pain until the issue is resolved.
This means that cats prone to UTIs (especially females and older cats) should avoid consuming asparagus. All other cats can consume asparagus in moderation.
Does Asparagus Make Cat Urine Smell?
The most conspicuous impact of asparagus consumption in humans is string-smelling urine.
As explained by Phytochemistry, this is because asparagus contains asparagusic acid. Once digested, this compound breaks down into sulfurous atoms excreted in the urine.
Human urine after eating asparagus smells comparable to typical cat pee. Cat urine, especially that of unneutered toms, contains felinine. This compound, like asparagusic acid, becomes sulfurous once eliminated.
Asparagus won’t make a cat’s urine smell any stronger or worse than usual.
Are Cats Allergic to Asparagus?
Cats aren’t allergic to asparagus officinalis in the same way as they’re lactose intolerant. That’s not to say that your cat won’t be allergic, though. Individual cats can experience an allergic reaction to anything.
Asparagus Allergy Symptoms
A cat experiencing an allergic reaction to asparagus will display the following behaviors and symptoms:
- Coughing, wheezing, and struggling for breath
- Wide, staring eyes
- Streaming from the eyes, or irritated and itchy eyes
- Sneezing and a runny nose
- Excessive scratching
- Breakouts of hives on the skin
These concerns could arise immediately after consuming the asparagus or any time up to 24 hours afterward. Keep a close eye on your pet cat if it has eaten the vegetable for the first time or approached an asparagus fern.
How To Serve Asparagus to Cats
If your cat has a taste for asparagus, you need to ensure that you serve it appropriately. Do the following:
- Chop the asparagus into small chunks or consider blending it. This removes the risk of your cat choking
- Do not season the asparagus with salt, pepper, or spice. At best, your cat will not taste these ingredients; at worst, they will cause a poor reaction
- Keep the asparagus dry. Oil may make asparagus more palatable, and cats will enjoy the fatty taste, but this will provide unnecessary calories
Equally, asparagus should be an occasional foodstuff for felines. Under no circumstances should asparagus be considered a meal by itself or a vital ingredient of any food.
Can Cats Eat Cooked Asparagus?
Cooking asparagus softens up the stalk of the vegetable. If you plan to cook asparagus before offering it to your cat, you’ll need to consider how.
Asparagus can be heated in several ways:
- Steaming asparagus will retain most of the nutrients without turning the stalks into mulch.
- Boiling asparagus will rarely be beneficial for your cat. The stalk will soften, and many vitamins lost.
- Grilling or baking asparagus will heat it appropriately. Avoid any seasoning or oil.
There is no need to cook asparagus for cats, but steaming is the most feline-friendly approach.
Is Raw Asparagus Bad for Cats?
Raw asparagus has a much tougher stalk than a cooked counterpart. This could make for a fun chew toy and experience, but if the cat grows frustrated or weary, it could rush to swallow.
If you chop raw asparagus into small chunks or blend it into a form of a paste, you’ll remove any such hazard. This is also a way to check if your cat is interested in the taste or wants to take something that you are using.
How Much Asparagus Can Cats Eat?
Asparagus isn’t toxic to cats. However, too much causes the hazards we’ve discussed, with UTIs a particular concern.
Asparagus isn’t an essential food and doesn’t provide any vitamins your cat can’t obtain elsewhere. Your cat won’t miss it if removed from any meal. It can be an occasional addition, not a dietary cornerstone.
If offering asparagus as part of your cat’s diet, chop it small and add a few chunks no more than twice a week. Any more than this and your cat will be at risk of UTIs.
Most cats can take or leave asparagus. If your cat enjoys eating this vegetable and shows no sign of an allergic reaction, some occasional asparagus is OK.