Potatoes are tasty, nutritious and a great staple ingredient in many of our favourite meals. No wonder our furry friends may be keen to investigate what’s so special about this starchy carbohydrate. Potatoes appear in many different forms on human plates, such as boiled, roasted, fried or mashed.
But can cats eat potatoes safely? Unfortunately, the answer to whether cats can eat potatoes isn’t entirely straightforward! Here’s what you need to know about cats and potatoes, so you can make sure you don’t offer your pet something that could be unsuitable for them.
Can cats eat potatoes?
Yes, cats can eat potatoes occasionally, but not just any kind. Peeled and roasted potatoes, prepared without any fats, spices or salt are the best option for your pet. However, keep in mind that cats are obligate carnivores who can get everything they need from complete and balanced cat foods containing animal protein. So, they won’t need extra potatoes as part of their main diet. And most felines won’t even be particularly interested in potatoes, as these vegetables won’t smell or look particularly tempting to them. But, if your moggie does take an interest in potatoes, ensure you only offer them a bite-sized amount as an occasional treat, and always check with your vet before offering your cat any human foods to keep them safe.
Can cats eat raw potatoes?
No, cats shouldn’t eat raw potatoes as they contain a toxic substance called solanine, which is poisonous to cats when digested. Raw potatoes are also difficult for cats to digest. If you think your cat has eaten raw potatoes or raw potato peel, make sure you contact your vet straightaway, and look out for signs of solanine intoxication, including vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy.
Can cats eat boiled potatoes?
As with raw potatoes, boiled potatoes can also contain solanine, which is poisonous for cats, so it’s best to always avoid feeding these to your cat.
Can cats eat sweet potatoes?
Cats can eat sweet potatoes, but only in moderation. Although sweet potatoes are not toxic to felines as they don’t contain solanine, there are much better cat treat options for your pet. Sweet potatoes are sometimes used in commercial cat foods, where they will be carefully incorporated as part of a nutritionally balanced diet, but extra sweet potatoes on top of this will not bring your cat much nutritional benefit.
If your cat insists on giving sweet potato a go, a very small portion of mashed sweet potato, simply cooked, with the skin peeled off, shouldn’t do your pet any harm. But do look out for any unusual symptoms such as vomiting, and always check with your vet before feeding them any home-prepared or human food.
Can cats eat potato crisps or chips?
No, cats shouldn’t eat potato chips or fries. These popular human snacks are too salty and fatty for feline digestion and can cause health problems even in small amounts. It’s best to avoid sharing your potato chips and crisps with your cat, whether fried or oven baked. If you suspect your pet has managed to get their paws on your crisps or chips, call your vet for advice and look out for signs that your cat may be unwell.
Are potatoes good for cats?
Potatoes are not particularly nutritious for cats, and your feline should be able to get all the nutrients they need from specially formulated commercial cat foods. Because of this, potatoes should be a once-in-a-while treat, rather than an essential component of your cat’s diet. And they should always be prepared properly, as mentioned above.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that potatoes are high in carbohydrates. So, if you’re worried about your cat being overweight, or suffering from a health condition such as diabetes, it’s best to skip human food altogether.
How to offer potatoes to cats
If your cat is determined to have a bite of potato, and your vet has given you the go-ahead, then you can start off by giving your pet a small taste. Here is how to give your cat potatoes safely:
- Wash the potatoes.
- Remove the peel.
- Cut off any roots and discoloured or green areas, as these may contain solanine.
- Chop the potatoes in small pieces so they’re easier for your cat to eat.
- Roast them without any additional ingredients such as salt or fats.
- Offer a small amount to your cat at first, either as a small potato piece or a little bit of mash – but always make sure the potato has cooled down first!
It’s important to pay attention to your cat’s reaction, especially if this is their first time trying potatoes. It’s safest to only feed one bite-sized piece of potato to start with. Look out for signs of an upset stomach, such as vomiting and diarrhoea. If you notice anything unusual, make sure to call your vet for advice.
When it comes to human foods and cats, your vet will be able to give you all the guidance you need. But, if you want to check what foods are considered okay to share with your furry friend, have a look at our article answering the popular question “What human foods can cats eat?”, next.