If you grew up watching “Popeye the Sailor Man,” then you know full well about the strength-boosting properties of spinach.
A leafy green vegetable packed with vitamins and minerals, this superfood never fails to impress us with its nutrient profile. And so, cat owners ask: Can cats eat spinach? Is spinach safe for cats?
It’s good that you’ve asked this question. This simply means that you are aware that your pet cat and its digestive system are far different from humans.
As such, many human foods don’t work well with cats. In fact, human food like garlic, nuts, grapes, and dairy products (like cheese) – which we consider healthy – are harmful to cats. What about spinach?
In the case of spinach, this leafy vegetable isn’t deadly to cats, so you don’t have to hit that panic button just yet if your cat just ate some.
But then, in the cat food realm, spinach is not considered a superfood since it is not the type of foods you would want to include in your cat’s diet regularly. So, what’s the real deal with spinach? Read on to find out.
Everything You Need To Know About Spinach
Before we dive deep into the effects of spinach on your feline friend, let’s take a closer look at these dark leafy greens, which are scientifically known as Spinacia oleracea.
This might come as a surprise, but this heart-healthy, nutrient-rich vegetable is closely related to the bitter- and earthy-tasting beets and the pseudo-cereal quinoa. All three are part of the Amaranth family.
When it comes to its nutritional profile, this “Persian vegetable” (since it originally came from Persia) has a lot to boast.
It’s not only high in water content and low in calories, but it also contains around 15 vitamins and minerals. This makes this a must-have in everyone’s diet. Here are some of the healthy goodness this green provides:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K1
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Can Cats Eat Spinach?
After having a quick look at spinach and what it brings to the table, can cats eat spinach? The answer is YES. Cats can eat spinach, but you need to consider a few things before letting your cat eat spinach.
You probably know by now that cats are carnivores. Unlike humans and even dogs who could process and absorb the nutrients from plant-based products, cats tend to have a hard time breaking down plant matter. That’s because cats’ digestive system is not made to do that.
As obligate carnivores, cats need protein-rich animal meat in their diet to survive. But since your meat-loving feline friends are innately curious creatures, giving your cat fruits and vegetables occasionally is considered safe.
By occasionally, we mean that this should only be given in small amounts as a treat and not a regular part of your cat’s diet.
Health Benefits Of Spinach For Cats
Can cats eat spinach? The answer is Yes. But since your cat does not have much to gain from eating vegetables, why should you add spinach to your cat’s diet and let your cats eat spinach, given their predatory nature? Is spinach good for cats?
Aside from satisfying your cat’s curiosity, your feline friend may actually get something worthwhile if you decide to feed your cat these leafy, green vegetables. It may not be much compared to the health benefits humans get, but they are still beneficial.
So, the next time your cat craves something out of the ordinary, you can give your cat a helping of spinach and feel assured that they’re enjoying a few health benefits.
Made up of 91.4% water, spinach is among the top 20 hydrating foods. This makes this green an excellent thirst-quencher. So, if you see your cat looking parched, give your cat spinach to keep them hydrated.
Improves Energy Levels
Do you know why Popeye gets ultra-strong after eating a can of spinach? That’s all because of spinach’s high iron content. A hundred grams of spinach contains 2.7 mg iron. And in real life, iron helps with energy production.
Apart from boosting your cats’ energy levels, spinach could also help if your cat is iron-deficient or anemic and has a low red blood cell count.
Iron is a mineral needed by the body to produce hemoglobin and plays an essential role in transporting oxygen to the different parts of the body.
Weight Management And Gut Health
Aside from iron, spinach is also low in calories and contains a chock-full of fiber. Fiber gives your cat the feeling of “fullness.” and is helpful if your cat needs help managing his or her weight. Fiber also aids digestion and helps improve stool quality.
Regulate Blood Pressure
The high amounts of nitrates in spinach can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels. It can also improve your cat’s heart health.
Why Is Spinach Bad For Cats?
Yes, spinach is safe for your cat. The health benefits of spinach are also a plus. But, this does not mean that you can let your cats eat spinach the whole day. So, let’s get down to business and find out what makes spinach bad for cats.
All types of food – healthy or not – should be taken in moderation. While spinach is considered healthy, having too much of a good thing can have adverse effects.
This applies to both humans and cats. Although the benefits outweigh the side effects, it’s vital to consider the risks below before feeding your cat these leafy greens.
Yes, spinach can help improve the digestive system of your cat. But since this isn’t the type of food your cat typically consumes, your cat’s system may not accept this all too well, especially if it’s their first time. If this happens, your cat might experience GI problems like indigestion and vomiting.
Feeding your cat loads of spinach may also do more harm than good. Because of its high fiber content, your cat might end up making more litter box trips than usual.
Calcium Oxalates Content
Spinach may have a lot of nutrients, but it also contains calcium oxalates. This compound could cause crystals to form in your pal’s urinary tract.
Letting your cat eat spinach and adding spinach to their regular diet increases your cat’s chances of developing urinary tract problems like kidney and bladder stones.
If your cat already has a urinary tract infection or is recovering from urinary problems or kidney problems, it’s best to keep spinach out of their diet.
Munching on vet-approved and healthy treats or other vegetables like carrots and peas would be better.
Tips On How To Feed Your Cat Spinach
Since cats are born predators, you might think it is normal for cats to eat raw food. True enough, cats can eat and tolerate raw foods, but it’s a different story when it comes to raw spinach.
We’ve mentioned that spinach contains oxalates. According to Healthline, the oxalate levels in vegetables (like raw spinach) can be reduced through boiling.
Apart from significantly lowering down this green’s oxalate content, boiling also enhances its nutritional benefits.
So, if you’re planning to feed your cat spinach, make sure to serve it cooked. Apart from boiling, you can also feed your cat steamed, blanched, or pureed spinach. To avoid other unnecessary hiccups, here are some more tips you can keep in mind:
Wash and rinse the spinach. Ensure to thoroughly wash and rinse those greens if you don’t want your cat getting some of those harmful pesticides in their system.
Serve it plain. Seasonings like salt, onion, and pepper are harmful to cats. Keeping things simple is the way to go.
Start by giving a small amount. Spinach may have adverse effects on your cat, especially if it’s your cat’s first time to eat it.
So, make sure to give small amounts and then check how your cat will react. If it’s all good, then you can give your cat some more.
Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients (including small amounts of Omega 3), spinach is one impressive veggie. However, although the answer to your “can cats” query is “Yes,” make sure to remember these points:
- Eating spinach is beneficial for both humans and cats as long as it is consumed in moderation and served the right way.
- If your furry pal’s kidney is well and good, you can let your cat eat some spinach as an occasional treat. Adding this as a staple in their diet is a No-No.
- If you have to choose between cooked and raw spinach, choose cooked. It’s healthier, and it removes the stone-forming oxalates.
You think we are done, wait here's more! Just in case you are looking for easy DIY recipes to incorporate spinach into your cat's diet, refer to the ones we have chosen for you below. Enjoy!
Spinach and Chicken Cat Treats
- 1/2 lb Boneless and skinless chicken thighs steamed, organic
- 1 cup Fresh organic spinach leaves
- 1 cup Quick-cooking oats organic
- 1 Brown egg
- 1 tbsp Catnip organic
- 1/4 cup Flour
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Steam the boneless and skinless chicken thighs until cooked through. You can swap for boneless and skinless organic chicken breasts, salmon, or tuna with cat-loving results too. Let the chicken cool for 20 minutes before the next step.
- Place the chicken, oats, spinach leaves, egg, and catnip in a blender or food processor, and pulse on low until the mixture blends together. It should still be a bit chunky but also smooth, similar to the texture of wet sand.
- Pop the mixture into a bowl and add the flour. You can also add a dash of salt or sugar to mix up the flavor. Use your hands to knead the dough until it's no longer sticky, then place on a flour-dusted work surface.
- Use a rolling pin to create a rectangle of dough around 1/2 inch thick. With the help of a pizza cutter or small cookie cutter, create small shapes for the finished treats.
- Place the kitty treats on a parchment-lined sheet tray, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool until room temperature, and then toss to your cat.
- 1 kg Organic ground beef 90% lean
- 1 kg Organic ground turkey thighs (skinless and boneless)
- 115 g Squash meat
- 60 g Mixed berries
- 60 g Broccoli minced
- 60 g Baby spinach minced
- 2 cans Sardines in water
- 60 g Kale
- 1 kg Mixed chicken organs ground
- Preheat oven to 180-degree Celsius.
- Using the cheese grater, shred the squash.
- Puree the organic broccoli, organic kale, spinach, berries, sardine and shredded squash with a food processor.
- Place the ground meat into a large mixing bowl and add the pureed vegetable and fruit mixture. Mix everything together until it’s well incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into a ceramic baking dish and bake in the oven for 60 minutes
- 1 cup Dry rice
- 3 cups Water could use broth
- pinch of Salt
- 1/2 cup Bacon leftovers can be used
- 2 small Carrots this could be mixed veggies if you like
- 2 cans Pink salmon
- 1 small bag Baby spinach minced
- Mix rice and water in pan.
- Add bacon.
- Add salt.
- Add liquids from the cans.
- Bring to boil, turn down to a simmer.
- Remember stirring will make it sticky.
- When the rice is cooked to perfection add salmon, carrots, spinach & other veggies used.
- Serve when cooled.
- Remember that if you are going to serve this from the fridge, nuke it first. Cats prefer food that is warm, not hot or cold.
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