Who doesn’t like potato chips? We know that they’re not even close to a healthy snack, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying them to the last piece. Either homemade or store-bought, potato chips are the perfect snack you should be having while catching up with friends or binge-watching movies. And if you have cats around, then most likely you’ve caught them stealing your chips and watched them gobble up everything. But have you ever wondered if your cats can eat potatoes? Let’s find out!
Are Potatoes Safe For Cats?
Potatoes are generally safe for cats. After all, they’re a common ingredient in many commercial cat foods. However, the exact answer depends on the type of potatoes and the way they’re cooked. Like humans, your cats should never eat any kind of raw potatoes.
Potatoes In Grain-Free Cat Food
Just like any other baked good, dry cat food should have a certain amount of starch to bind everything together. The starch is usually sourced from grains such as wheat, corn, rice, barley, and oats. With the increasing demand for grain-free cat foods, manufacturers have begun to use either white or sweet potatoes as a convenient and nutritional carbohydrate substitute. Relative to the grain ingredients, these potatoes are more digestible, lower in calories, and a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, and B vitamins.
The ingredients in cat foods are selected and formulated based on specific nutritional standards. So, you shouldn’t worry much about what kind of potatoes they’re using, how they cook them, etc. However, your backyard or store-bought potatoes might have a slightly different effect on your cats. If not adequately prepared, potatoes can be dangerous and life-threatening to your furbabies.
The Dangers Of Potatoes To Cats
Green, unripe potatoes are absolutely a no-no for your cats. They contain a dangerous glycoalkaloid poison called the Solanine. It acts as a natural defense mechanism against insects, diseases, and herbivores. If Solanine is consumed in a toxic dose, your cats might vomit and develop abdominal pain and diarrhea. Sometimes, it can also affect their nervous system, resulting in lethargy and disorientation. In the worst-case scenario, Solanine poisoning in cats can cause coma or even death.
Unfortunately, this chemical cannot be washed away or destroyed during cooking, not by boiling, microwaving, or baking. However since Solanine is fat-soluble, this compound can significantly be reduced by frying at high heat.
But fried potatoes can pose other health risks as well. They lack essential fatty acids but contain a lot of saturated fat. Food rich in saturated fat won’t do your cats any good. Unnecessary calories can only lead to obesity and heart issues. Hence, it’s best to keep your cats totally away from green potatoes, whether they’ve been cooked or not.
Can Cats Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes don’t have the Solanine in them when they’re growing or unripe. So, they are non-toxic to cats. However, their vines and flowers might contain toxins that make ingestion unsafe for your cats. Even a small portion of the vines can cause skin, mouth, or throat to blister and swell upon contact, let alone a larger one.
As with any food that contains carbohydrates, your cats can be quite intolerant to sweet potatoes. While they’re considered healthy for humans, they’re trying for cats to digest.
Raw Potato Peels
Just like raw potatoes, potato peels are full of harmful Solanine. What’s more, you don’t want your cats ingesting all the dirt, bacteria, and pesticides covering the skins. Although it’s implausible that anyone would purposely feed potato peels to a cat, you can’t be too careful.
Your furry kitchen helpers might be picking at the peels as you’re making dinner or find something while rummaging through the trash. Chances are their bitter and sour taste receptors will warn them before anything, so they’ll just walk away. But you might want to keep the peels out of their reach anyway.
You should’ve known by now that only the cooked, ripe potatoes are safe for your cats. Yet you need to ensure that the treats don’t contain harmful spices and herbs, artificial additives, and toppings.
It’s okay if your cats want to eat some mashed potato. But there shouldn’t be any traces of dairy products in it as your cats are lactose intolerant. Additives like milk, butter, and cheese can cause unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, flatulence, gastrointestinal upset, and pancreatitis.
As for the gravy, this delicious topping tends to be high in fat, and likely includes toxic seasonings, especially onion and garlic. Note that garlic, in particular, is five times more poisonous to cats than onions.
Choking Hazard and Blockage
Aside from having poisonous toxins, raw potatoes are tough to chew by your cats. A small piece can get stuck somewhere in their throats or digestive system, potentially causing a stomach or intestinal blockage. In severe cases, surgery might be needed to remove the blockage. So be sure to cook the potatoes thoroughly. They don’t only have less harmful substances but also a texture that can be easily swallowed by your cats.
Final Thoughts: Can a cat eat potatoes?
To sum it up, potatoes are a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, and B vitamins. Your cats can safely eat either white or sweet potatoes, provided that the food is prepared correctly. It’s okay to let your cats devour plain mashed potatoes once in a while. But you might want to keep in mind a few essential details as follows:
- Never feed your cats green, unripe, or raw potatoes to avoid gastrointestinal upset, or worse, Solanine poisoning.
- Even if sweet potatoes are safe for your cats’ consumption, the vines and flowers can potentially be toxic to them.
- Properly dispose of all the raw potato peels as they contain harmful toxins and dirt.
- Don’t add any seasonings to your cats’ potato servings.
- Be cautious of any large pieces that can lead to choking hazards and blockage.