Can Cats Eat Potatoes? It Can Be Dangerous If Done Wrong

Your feline friend is a carnivore by nature. Her ancestors evolved eating only meat. As hunters in the great outdoors, they certainly didn’t evolve by eating the refined processed foods we see today.

In the days of domestication, however, it’s usually okay to give your feline some non-meat food, like certain veggies and fruits. But do you know which kinds of people food are permissible for cats to eat?

For instance, can cats eat mashed potatoes leftover from your Thanksgiving meal?

Can cats eat French fries from your latest fast food trip?

While many cat owners swear off giving their pets people food at all, it’s okay to give your feline companion a small bite of potato every now and then. But there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

Click Here To Find Out If Your Kitty Can Eat Avocado.

Can Cats Eat Potatoes?

A potato is a type of root vegetable. It’s actually a leading American crop, and number 4 worldwide.

Potatoes come in many varieties, including white, purple, gold, and sweet (similar to a yam). As a food source, potatoes are heavy on the carbs, but do offer a decent amount of nutrients like Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and potassium. One cup of potatoes contain:

17mg
Vitamin C

0.54mg
Vitamin B6

925mg
Potassium
 

3.81g
Fiber
 

Like most carb-rich foods, however, it can be a little too easy to over-indulge on potatoes. For people (or even cats) trying to gain weight, this can actually be a good thing. But for most of us, we need to eat potatoes in moderation to avoid unwanted health complications.

Cats can eat potatoes as long as they are given as a special treat. Some cat owners choose to mix a little bit of potato in their kitty’s regular food. This can provide an extra boost of fiber and other nutrients.

Any potato you give your cat should be clean, fresh, and cooked (e.g., boiled or baked). The cooking process will destroy certain compounds naturally found in potatoes that are toxic to cats and kittens.

When introducing potato to your cat for the first time, give her only a tiny bit. Then wait and see how she responds to it. If she doesn’t develop any vomiting, diarrhea, or other symptoms, feel free to feed it to her from time to time.

Can Cats Eat Sweet Potatoes?

Compared to white potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams contain more nutrients. As such, they’re considered one of the healthier varieties of potato…for humans that is.

In cats, sweet potatoes are generally poorly tolerated. They can’t digest them well. In fact, the ASPCA has even recognized the sweet potato vine as a toxic plant to cats.

Will giving a small bite of sweet potato mash to your kitty hurt her? Not necessarily. But if you decide to give her a nibble, be sure to start small and observe how she reacts to the sweet potato. Again, look for symptoms of a digestive upset like vomiting or diarrhea.

If you’re concerned at all, or if your cat has a history of food sensitivities, then skip the sweet potatoes altogether. There isn’t any true benefit for your cat in eating them, and she won’t be missing any necessary nutrients by not having them in her diet.

The Dangers of Cats Eating Potatoes

Simple starchy potatoes may seem fine across the board for your kitty. But there are certain conditions in which you should definitely keep the potatoes out of her food dish.

Raw Potatoes

As mentioned, the cooking process (like baking or boiling) destroys certain compounds found in a potato in its raw form. One of these compounds, called glycoalkaloid solanine, is poisonous to your cat. So, she could become quite ill if she eats a raw potato.

Vegetables like potatoes contain solanine, a toxic compound, similarly how the Tomatine is found in the tomatoes which is not as toxic. This is why tomatoes are also a nice treat for your cat as their toxic levels are way lower and it can be fed uncooked if it is fully ripe.

Raw potatoes are also tough and hard. A piece of raw potato can easily become stuck somewhere in your cat’s digestive system and cause a stomach or intestinal blockage. She may also choke on a raw potato since it’s harder to chew and swallow than a cooked potato.

The bottom line: if you have raw potatoes in the house, keep them out of reach of your cat.

Click Here To Find Out If Your Kitty Can Eat Bananas.

What About Potato Peels?

Potato peels, just like raw potatoes, are full of glycoalkaloid solanine that is toxic to cats. What’s more, peels are covered in dirt, bacteria and pesticides that you don’t want your cat ingesting. It’s unlikely anyone would consciously feed potato peelings to a cat, but you know what they say about cats and curiosity.

Your cat might take a little nibble on the peels as you’re making dinner or find something while rummaging through the trash. Chances are, your cat won’t like the taste enough to eat enough to get sick, but it’s best to keep these out of her reach anyway.

Too Many Potatoes

The high carb content of carbs can easily promote weight gain. This is because a human or cat body will use the carbs for fast energy instead of using stored body fat.

It’s worth reiterating here: any bite of potato for your cat should be a special treat. If you give her potatoes too often, then she could gain weight and develop weight-related health issues like joint problems and even feline diabetes.

Be Mindful of How Your Potatoes Are Prepared

Many of the ingredients we love mixing with potatoes are potentially lethal to your cat. This means you should never give your cat a bite of your potatoes if they were prepared with chives, onions, or garlic.

If your tots are loaded with cheese, gravy, butter, or oil, keep the decadent dish to yourself, as the high amount of fat could cause yucky gastrointestinal symptoms in your cat like diarrhea or vomiting.

Processed potato products, like frozen tater tots, hash browns, potato chips, or even fast food French fries, should also be considered a no-go for your cat. They’re usually packed with unhealthy ingredients like artificial preservatives, sugar, and salt.

Click Here To Find Out If Your Kitty Can Eat Rice.

The Conclusion: Keep the Gratin, Fries & Potato Mash To Yourself

One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Five potato, six potato…cat potato? Sure.

You can give a little morsel of cooked potato to your cat every now and then as a special treat if she seems to like it. But don’t feel that giving your cat potatoes is necessary for her health.

Why? The potential risks involved when cats eat potatoes (solanine poisoning, weight gain) far outweighs any of the potential benefits (essentially, there are none).

Plus, slipping your cat with too many “treats” can actually spoil her appetite and engender undesirable begging behaviors. Don’t get in the habit of making treats a daily occurrence, especially if the treat is people food.

Also, remember that your sweet feline is carnivorous. She’s getting all the nutrients she needs from her meat-based cat food. You don’t need to supplement her diet with people food, and doing so too much may actually cause more harm than good.

So, the next time you catch your kitty eyeing your table scraps and leftover tater tots, try not to give in to her adorable begging. She’d probably enjoy being a meat and potatoes kind of cat, but she could definitely do without the potatoes.

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  • April 5, 2018
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.