Can I Give My Cat Curry?
Assuming you go easy on the cream, curry is one of many popular dinner dishes that can be both healthy and delicious. The best curries are made with a wide variety of high-vitamin, antioxidant-laden vegetables, superfood spices, and, healthy lean protein. They have the rich, warm savory quality of our favorite comfort foods, but unlike many other popular comfort foods such as mac ‘n cheese and pizza, they don’t have to be terrible for our health. Another point in curry’s favor is its versatility—as long as your fridge isn’t completely empty, you can probably throw together a respectable curry when you’re in a hurry.
For pet owners who also consider themselves to be curry lovers, this can pose a problem. Curry makes a great go-to dinner for people, but what about for our pets? Is it okay to plop a serving of curry into our cats’ food dishes? Can cats have curry?
Though there are some curries that may not cause immediate harm, curry is not recommended for feline consumption. There are far too many ingredients in the standard curry that can be unhealthy or even toxic to your cat. If you want to slip your cat some healthy vegetables or lean protein, it’s better to serve them on their own rather than in a flavorful dish like curry. If you must give your cat a taste of curry, make absolutely sure that every ingredient you used is feline-friendly.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Cat Curry
There are many ingredients in curry that, on their own and in small amounts, can be beneficial to your cat. Lean meats such as chicken may help your cat meet their protein needs, and some believe that small amounts of spices such as turmeric can prevent and ease the symptoms of chronic illness. It is worth noting, however, that there is little research on spices and cats, and most of the evidence in favor of feeding cats turmeric is anecdotal.
Some of the healthiest ingredients are the vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers, kale, and spinach, all of which have been praised for their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These vitamin-rich foods are not nearly as beneficial for your cat as they would be for us or our dogs, but it is possible to make an argument in favor of supplementing your cat’s diet with small amounts of these ‘safe’ vegetables.
When it comes to cats, vegetables are best used as medicinal foods instead of staples. Unlike us, our cats do not need to eat any amount of plants to meet all of their dietary needs. They are obligate carnivores, which means that they are biologically calibrated to extract all of their nutrition from meat. Many of the benefits we reap from vegetables will have little effect at all on our cats.
Two of the big ones, Vitamin C and beta carotene, are virtually useless for our feline friends. Cats produce Vitamin C on their own and generally do not need to get any of it in their diet. Beta carotene is even less valuable to cats—whereas humans convert beta carotene to Vitamin A, cats have lost most of the biological equipment necessary for this conversion process and must consume Vitamin A in its pre-formed state. They can only get Vitamin A by eating the flesh of animals who do the conversion for them!
Things to Consider
Many curry recipes also call for vegetables that are not at all safe for cats. Two common curry ingredients, garlic and onions, are extremely poisonous to felines. Your dog may be able to tolerate a very small amount of these foods, but your cat is far more susceptible to their toxins. If there is the slightest chance that the curry you’re eating was cooked with either of these foods, your cat shouldn’t even get a taste.
Garlic and onions are dangerous because they damage oxygen-carrying red blood cells, causing a condition called Heinz body anemia. Symptoms of Heinz body anemia include sudden fatigue and weakness, fever, poor appetite, discolored urine, and pale or discolored skin, gums, and lips. This condition requires immediate veterinary care and can be life-threatening.
Other recipes include high-fat dairy products such as cream, which have no place in a healthy cat’s diet. Most cats are lactose intolerant, so giving them dairy will cause digestive problems.
Overall, your cat is better off foregoing the curry due to the sheer number of potentially harmful ingredients. Most spicy foods are not a good idea for pets, as they have been poorly studied and may contribute to digestive problems. If you want to give your cat some of the healthy ingredients from your curry, chop up a small amount of plain chicken or vegetables and serve it to them without any flavoring. Just remember to avoid giving your cat any amount of garlic or onions, which are poisonous.