Pet Consider

Can Cats Eat Raw Carrots

Can I Give My Cat Raw Carrots?

When we go grocery shopping, we load up on the produce—after all, we are more likely to eat our veggies if we have a house full of them! Our purchases are well-meaning, but many families neglect the fresh cucumbers, spinach, and sugar snap peas lurking inside their crispers. If we aren’t already in the habit of using up all our produce, it’s all too easy to forget about it until it starts to smell weird. Still, some fruits and vegetables are more likely to be eaten than others. Though an unfortunate number of fruits and vegetables rot, untouched, in our refrigerator drawers, raw carrots are not usually among them.

Raw carrots are some of the most appealing vegetables because they are brightly colored, delicately sweet, and their crunchy texture is one that most of us find highly palatable. They also tend to last much longer than softer vegetables like leafy greens or tomatoes, so we have more time to finish them off. The best thing about carrots, though, is their ease of preparation: they don’t need to be seasoned, cooked, or served with sauce of any kind! Most of us, kids and adults, are perfectly happy to eat a few raw carrot sticks every now and then. But can our pets do the same? Can cats have raw carrots?

The answer is yes, cats can eat raw carrots in moderation. This orange vegetable is often a favorite among dogs, but it can be a great cat treat, too! Carrots are nontoxic (even if your kitty decides to go on a carrot binge, they will not be at any risk of toxicity), low in calories, and full of fiber and micronutrients that may offer some small health benefits for cats. Though raw carrots are perfectly safe for cats, keep in mind that your furry friend has a delicate stomach. Some felines may find it easier to digest cooked carrots.

Health Benefits?

Raw carrotsFor cats, the fibrous nature of a raw carrot is its biggest asset. When your furry friend chews on a carrot, the stiff fibers scrape plaque and food particles off their teeth. The act of chewing can also stimulate the production of saliva. Both of these factors can help keep your cat’s mouth clean, which may lower their risk of cavities, gingivitis, and other oral infections. Baby carrots are not an acceptable substitute for tooth brushing, but they can be a great supplement.

The fiber in raw carrots may also aid in weight loss and, to a lesser extent, digestion. Fiber itself contains zero calories because cats can’t digest it, so it takes up space in the stomach without providing any energy. This makes it a great ‘filler’ food for cats who need to lose weight. If you use vegetables to bulk up your pet’s meals, they can eat just as much food while taking in fewer calories.

Small quantities of dietary fiber can also alleviate symptoms of constipation and diarrhea. Fiber absorbs water, so it can sweep through the colon like a sponge, sopping up excess fluid and creating full, soft, regular bowel movements.

Ask any kid why carrots are healthy and you’ll immediately hear something about eye health and perfect vision. This vegetable has earned a reputation as the vision veggie, and many of us include it in our diets at least partly due to its effects on eye health.

What is it in carrots that is so great for our vision, anyway? The answer: beta carotene! Beta carotene is the carotenoid that gives orange foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins their brilliant color. Humans and other herbivores readily convert beta carotene to Vitamin A, which is a key component of vision and eye health: it helps to sustain the cells inside our eyes that support night (or low-light) vision and peripheral vision. This ability to convert beta carotene is why we can eat foods rich in this orange pigment in order to prevent Vitamin A deficiency.

Things to Consider

Many sources online suggest that carrots may offer some of these same eyesight benefits for our cats, but to a lesser degree—that the conversion process from beta carotene to Vitamin A is simply less efficient in felines. A look at the research, however, reveals that this is doubtful. A study performed in 2002 revealed that, though cats can absorb beta carotene, they are completely unable to convert it into Vitamin A; cats who relied on beta carotene wound up with Vitamin A deficiencies. They concluded that cats must eat preformed Vitamin A in order to meet their nutritional needs and maintain eye health.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, raw carrots are an acceptable treat for cats in small quantities. They may support dental and digestive health, and they can function as weight loss aids. They are not, however, nutritious—cats must eat preformed Vitamin A in order to keep their bodies running properly. Just make sure to watch your cat’s portions; eating too many carrots can cause stomach problems.

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