Although cats are obligate carnivores, they can, on occasion, be given other types of food besides meat. Pumpkin has been proven to have many health benefits for cats. However, just because pumpkin is healthy, it doesn’t mean that the more you give your cat, the better she will feel. It is important to know how much pumpkin for cats is safe.
Most people associate pumpkin with Halloween, but this healthy vegetable isn’t only good for making pies and Jack O’ Lanterns—it is also an excellent remedy for digestive problems. Cats have sophisticated palates, and it may seem like your cat won’t go crazy for the flavor of pumpkin. However, most cats find it appealing once it is mixed with other food.
Pumpkin contains not only high fiber levels that soothe the stomach and help with constipation or diarrhea but also a number of vitamins and oils that support overall health. It is important to note that a cat can eat only canned or fresh unseasoned boiled or roasted pumpkin.
In this article, we will tell you about the various health benefits of pumpkin and in which cases you can give it to your cat. You will also learn how much pumpkin you can feed to a cat and how to prepare it.
The Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats
Most people think that pumpkin is only good for digestive problems that include diarrhea or constipation, but it can also be used to improve the overall health of a cat. And even though pumpkin isn’t something that cats normally eat in the wild, in some cases, you can use it as an alternative for medications.
#1: Digestive Benefits
Pumpkin is a vegetable with high fiber content, so it is no wonder that it works great for constipation. The fiber from pumpkin will soften a cat’s stool and help her pass it out without effort. Fibers will help regulate your cat’s stool and stimulate bowel movements, and since they are easy to digest, they will speed up the entire process.
Pumpkin also works the other way around, and besides helping with constipation, it is also very effective in stopping diarrhea. The fiber from pumpkin absorbs any excess water, firming the stool at the same time.
If your cat is experiencing diarrhea, you can try feeding her pumpkin mixed with her regular food. However, if you don’t see any improvement in the next 24 hours, you should take your cat to the vet.
See Also: How to Treat Diarrhea in Cats
#2: Weight Control
Because of its fiber content, pumpkin is also a healthy and great choice of food for cats that are obese or overweight. Even small amounts of fiber can bring the feeling of fullness, and they contain fewer calories.
If you think that your kitty is on the chubbier side, talk with your vet about necessary dietary changes and see if he/she will recommend mixing her new food with a little bit of pumpkin.
See Also: How to Make a Cat Lose Weight
#3: Healthy Skin and Shiny Coat
Pumpkin flesh and seeds contain antioxidants and essential fatty acids that can improve and support the state of your cat’s skin and coat. Although cats are fastidious in their grooming habits, a little bit of essential fatty acids can only help.
You can give your cat pumpkin occasionally even if her coat is already sleek and glossy, and you should definitely try it if your kitty is recovering from a skin infection or flea infestation.
#4: Hairball Treatment
All cats ingest fur when they groom themselves, and the hairs that don’t pass through stool eventually create a hairball in the stomach. The bulking effect of pumpkin fibers that help with constipation also prevents the development of hairballs.
The additional fiber from pumpkin will trap hairs from the stomach and help the cat pass them normally through her stool, thus minimizing the occurrence of hairballs.
#5: Urinary Tract Benefits
Around 90% of pumpkin is made of water; high water content dilutes a cat’s urine, thus preventing the development of crystals and urinary blockages.
Since most cats don’t drink enough water as it is, adding pumpkin to your cat’s diet can help keep her hydrated and prevent serious urinary problems. An added benefit is that pumpkin contains high oil content that supports overall urinary tract health.
See Also: How to Treat UTI in Cats
#6: Immune System Boost
Pumpkin is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are all important for a strong immune system and overall health.
Vitamin A boosts the immune system and supports good vision, whereas vitamin E is an antioxidant that regulates enzymatic activity. Pumpkin also contains calcium that supports strong teeth and bones; it also contains iron that contributes to hemoglobin production.
Antioxidants like beta-carotene and alpha-carotene prevent damage to the cells amongst many other health benefits. All of these vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants will keep a cat’s immune system strong and prevent infections and the development of more serious health problems.
#7: Deworming Treatment
Pumpkin seeds contain an amino acid called cucurbitacin that weakens the intestinal worms, and with the repeated use, even kills them.
Intestinal parasites are often harmless, but if present in large numbers, can have a significant impact on a cat’s health since they absorb all of the essential nutrients she needs. Freshly ground pumpkin seeds cat be mixed with cat food, and you should repeat the process until all worms are dead and passed through stool.
See Also: How to Tell If a Cat Has Worms
How Much Pumpkin Should You Give to Your Cat?
Since pumpkin has so many health benefits, people often think that it is safe to feed it to a cat in large amounts, but this isn’t the case. Too much pumpkin can disrupt the gastrointestinal tract since it is primarily a laxative.
If you, by any chance, gave too much pumpkin to your cat and she starts to have loose stools, call your vet and have him/her examine your cat.
The recommended dosage for an adult cat is ½ to 1 tablespoon of pumpkin daily. If you don’t see major improvements in your cat’s bowel movements, you should consult the vet.
If you have a kitten that has problems with either constipation or diarrhea, it is better to call the vet right away that attempt to solve the problem at home.
You can also give ground pumpkin seeds to your cat, and if this is something you want to try, start with a very small amount.
For the first couple of days, mix 1/16 of a tablespoon of ground pumpkin seeds once a day into your cat’s meal, and if she responds well, you can increase the amount to 1/8 of a tablespoon once a day. You should always ground the pumpkin seeds just before mixing them with your cat’s food so they will maintain all the necessary nutrients.
How to Give Pumpkin to a Cat
If you want to give your cat pumpkin, it is best to buy the whole vegetable in the grocery store and then prepare it at home or look for canned organic pumpkin.
If you opt for preparing the pumpkin at your home, you will have to discard the inedible parts like the stem, skin, and the gooey material in the center of the pumpkin. You also shouldn’t give your cat raw pumpkin, but you can roast or boil it and mash it into a puree.
#1: Pumpkin Puree
To make pumpkin at home, bake it whole until it is soft, and then remove the seeds and the skin. Mash the pumpkin and let it cool completely before giving it to your cat.
If you want to boil it, you will have to clean it first and then cut it into smaller pieces that can fit into the pot. When the pumpkin is soft, strain it from the water, mash it, and let it cool before serving it to your kitty.
We know that it may seem tempting to use your Jack O’ Lantern after the holidays and feed it to your cat, but this isn’t safe. Molds and bacteria that grow on these pumpkins can make a cat sick, so it is best to throw away the holiday decorations and buy a fresh pumpkin at the store.
#2: Pumpkin Seeds
You can feed fresh pumpkin seeds to your cat, but it is better if you clean and roast them at 350 degrees F for one hour. Do not add salt or any spices into the seeds since they can only cause more digestive problems for your cat.
You can store whole roasted seeds for a month, but you will have to ground them into a fine powder for every meal.
#3: Canned Pumpkin
If you want to buy canned pumpkin, it is best to stick with the plain organic version that doesn’t contain any fillers, spices, salt, or additives. You shouldn’t use pumpkin made for fillings or pies since they contain sugar which shouldn’t be given to cats.
Since cats need only about one tablespoon of pumpkin daily, you will have to preserve the rest to prevent it from spoiling. Both homemade and canned pumpkin will spoil if left on room temperature for an extended period of time, so it is advisable to store all leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Furthermore, you can place the pumpkin into an ice cube tray and freeze it, and later defrost the amount you need for every day.
Generally speaking, pumpkin has a palatable bland taste that may not be so appealing to all cats. To achieve the best results and get your cat’s digestive system working properly, we advise that you mix the pumpkin with your cat’s regular food. This approach may work better with canned cat food since it will be easier to mask the smell of pumpkin and everything will be unified in a compact mass.
On the other hand, if you have a particularly picky cat, you can try to find a regular cat food that has pumpkin in it. This won’t be as effective as the canned or mashed version but should provide some improvements in bowel movements and stool quality.
If your picky eater refuses all of these options, talk with the vet about some other natural supplement options to treat her constipation or diarrhea.
See Also: Best Cat Food for Diarrhea
What are the Risks of Feeding Pumpkin to a Cat?
Generally speaking, pumpkin is a safe and healthy dietary additive that if used correctly won’t cause any side effects. But as we already stated, pumpkin is mainly used as a laxative, and if you feed too much of it to your cat, she can develop diarrhea. If this happens, you should skip the next serving or cut the serving by half.
It is also important that you don’t forget to remove the skin before serving the pumpkin to your cat. The skin and other inedible parts are hard to digest and can cause digestive upset if eaten.
Furthermore, if your cat is suffering from any conditions or is on any medication, you should first consult with your vet and see if he/she approves of adding pumpkin into your cat’s diet.
Once you start adding pumpkin to your cat’s meals, you should monitor her stool quality and frequency of her bowel movements. All cats are different, and although the chances of a bad reaction are fairly small, you should be aware of your cat’s gastrointestinal tract’s activity.
It is common knowledge that pumpkin is great for digestive problems and that can stop diarrhea and regulate bowel movements. However, many people don’t know that pumpkin supports healthy coat and skin, boosts the immune system, and helps with weight loss amongst other things.
Pumpkin is a great way to increase your cat’s fiber and water intake, and it helps regulate the frequency of her bowel movements if you feed it in the right amounts. There is no doubt that this vegetable is very healthy and there is no reason why you shouldn’t know how much pumpkin for cats is safe to give.
Adult cats will need up to one tablespoon of mashed pumpkin once a day, and you can also feed your cat with ground roasted pumpkin seeds. Even though feeding pumpkin to a cat has minimal risks, we advise that you talk with the vet prior to making any dietary changes.
Have you tried feeding pumpkin to your cat and did you notice any improvement in her bowel movements? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. Also, check out our article on how to grow cat grass for more information on improving your cat’s diet.