Can Cats Have Beets?
Different foods steal the spotlight as different dietary trends seize our wallets, imaginations, and taste buds. Along with kale, acai berries, avocados, and hummus, beets have become quite prestigious in recent years—these odd-looking vegetables show up in countless smoothies and juices, and many ‘natural’ food blogs recommend using them in place of red or purple food dye. Few of us could say that we loved beets as children (these colorful veggies are, admittedly, not as kid-friendly as corn or carrots), but today, it’s hard to walk through the grocery store without stumbling across an array of foods and supplements touting beets as the key to health and eternal youth.
Those of us who like them use beets in salads, juices, and a wide range of other dishes, so they can show up in our kitchens up to several times a week. This is no problem in a house full of hungry humans who probably don’t get enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis anyway (let’s face it: most of us do not know anyone whose doctor has told them to eat fewer veggies!), but, if you have some housemates who have four legs and a tail, it gets a little trickier. So, is it safe for us to share these beautiful, bright vegetables with our animal companions? Is it good for them at all? Can you give your cat beets?
The answer is YES, cats can eat beets in moderation. Beets do not contain any chemicals that are toxic to the feline body, so there is nothing to worry about if you’ve already given Fluffy a generous helping of steamed beets—it is impossible to poison your cat by giving them too many beets for dinner. When given as supplements in small quantities, these high-fiber, antioxidant-rich root vegetables may even be healthy for cats. Still, even though they are safe, they really should not make up a large part of your cat’s diet. If your cat eats too many beets, they can suffer from short-term stomach issues or minor health problems.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Cat Beets?
There is a reason why health food fanatics love beets so much: they are loaded with disease-fighting vitamins and antioxidants. Like most vegetables, beets are relatively low in calories, yet they contain high amounts of important nutrients like manganese, folate, potassium, magnesium, and copper, as well as small amounts of iron and Vitamin C. They also have a fair amount of fiber, which supports digestion and overall wellness. While your cat certainly will not benefit from beets the same way that a human would, there are still a handful of benefits that may be available to them.
The moderate to high amount of fiber found in beets can help support feline digestion. In the wild, cats would not eat a lot of plant fiber—as obligate carnivores, the indigestible materials in their diet would be ‘animal fibers,’ the bones, hair, and connective tissues found in the whole prey that they would kill and eat—but, because most of our cats live on processed kibble rather than whole prey, it may be helpful for us to supplement their diets with indigestible plant fibers.
If your cat is eating commercial pet food, there is a good chance that they are already consuming fiber from beetroot! Beet pulp is a common source of fiber in foods formulated both for cats and dogs. The fiber in beet pulp is fermentable, which means that it helps feed all of the good gut bacteria that can help support your cat’s overall health.
The most obvious effect of eating a diet with an appropriate amount of added dietary fiber is improved digestion. Even though fiber does not break down in the body (and therefore does not provide any calories), it improves digestion by soaking up water and carrying it through the gastrointestinal tract. Fiber’s sponge-like properties allow it to bring water into the intestines, where it can soften dry, hard, or impacted stool and decrease the amount of time it takes for food to pass all the way through your cat’s body. Fiber also adds bulk to stool, which stimulates the intestinal tract and encourages fuller, healthier, more regular bowel movements. This is why many pet parents find that supplementing their pets’ diets with small amounts of fruits or vegetables improves their digestion. A regular cat is a happy cat!
The same chemicals that give beets their rich color can have powerful effects on health. Beets have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate the symptoms of (and protect against) many inflammatory illnesses, including arthritis. Cats who have arthritis may benefit from supplementing their diet with anti-inflammatory foods like beets—they may reduce inflammation and joint swelling, which can relieve pain while improving joint mobility.
By helping to curb chronic inflammation, beets may also help prevent your cat from getting sick in the first place. Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods do not cure disease, but they can lower many animals’ risk of developing health problems like heart disease, type two diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and some forms of cancer.
Things to Keep in Mind
The downside to beets: most of its calories come from sugar, which is not what cats need to thrive. Because of their high fiber content, beets are not too likely to cause blood sugar spikes, but cats still should not eat large quantities of them—beets and other vegetables are not nutritionally adequate for felines. Cats who consume large amounts of beets will likely develop nutritional deficiencies and digestive problems.
Overall, beets are a healthy choice for healthy adult cats, who can benefit from their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, low calorie content, and high fiber content. Small amounts of beets given as supplements or treats can support digestive health, prevent constipation and diarrhea, and may protect against chronic diseases like cancer and arthritis. If you want to include beets in your cat’s diet, start slowly! If you give your cat too much fiber all at once, they will almost certainly end up inducing diarrhea. Small amounts of fiber will improve digestive health, but too much can make it even worse.
Cat Eating Beets Video: