Do you like lentils? I must confess that lentils aren’t my favorite food, but I have had dishes with lentils in them that were pretty tasty.
You may have heard that many people consider lentils to be a superfood. So, you might be wondering if lentils are also a super addition to your cat’s diet.
As we will see, lentils can make a fun and interesting treat for your kitty. However, while lentils are not harmful for your cat, they probably aren’t quite the superfood for your feline friends as they are for people.
In this article we’ll cover the following;
- Cats and Lentils, What You Need to Know
- Can Cats Eat Lentils?
- Can Kittens Eat Lentils?
- Benefits/Drawbacks to Cats Eating Lentils
- Healthy Alternatives to Lentils
Cats and Lentils, What You Need to Know
Lentils come from a bushy plant in the legume family known scientifically as Lens culinaris. While a lentil may superficially look a little like a bean, it is actually the lens-shaped seed of the plant.
Lentil seeds come in a variety of sizes and colors. Archeological evidence suggests humans have been eating lentils more than 10,000 years ago.
Interestingly, the word lentil does not come from the fact that the seed is lens-shaped. Instead, our word “lens” comes from lens, the Latin word for lentil, because the Romans though the lens in our eye was shaped like a lentil seed.
Lentils have been shown to be a very healthy food for people. Lentil seeds are low in fat, high in protein and fiber.
Lentils are also a rich source of many nutrients, such as folate, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
As far as cats go, some do seems to really like lentils, as you can see from this video:
So, your cat may like lentils, but the real questions is, are lentils healthy for cats?
Well, cats are obligate carnivores, which means all they really need to eat is meat. While lentils do contain protein and other nutrients, cats actually are very poor at deriving nutrition from foods that aren’t meat.
For example, cats don’t need fiber in their diet. In fact, foods with fiber in them can have a laxative effect on cats.
Can Cats Eat Lentils?
The short answer is that, yes, you can give your kitty lentils, if they’re cooked, and then in moderation. Lentils do contain some good nutrients, especially protein.
Cats are more likely to play with uncooked lentils than actually eat them. But cooked lentils can be a fun and interesting treat for cats.
Can Kittens Eat Lentils?
Kittens tend to be even more susceptible to things than adult cats. They are even more prone to getting indigestion and diarrhea if they eat too many lentils.
Further, since kittens do not have as much experience with different food items, raw lentils could be a choking hazard. It is best to never give your kitten access to uncooked lentils.
Benefits/Drawbacks to Cats Eating Lentils
Since cats derive the vast majority of their nutrition from eating meat, there is not a huge benefit for your cat to eat lentils.
First, because of their fiber content, too many lentils could cause indigestion.
Lentils also contain two important anti-nutrient factors, trypsin inhibitors and phytates.
Trypsin inhibitors reduce your cat’s ability to digest protein. Phytates blocks absorption of important dietary minerals.
However, the activity of these antinutrient factors can be reduced by soaking the lentils overnight before cooking. This is one of the reasons you should never give your cat uncooked lentils.
With the above in mind, lentils can be a fun and healthful treat for your kitty. And, it’s always nice to give them an interesting change of pace from their normal food from time to time.
Healthy Alternatives to Lentils
Cats are fine to have a small amount of cooked lentils from time to time. But, how about trying a cat food made with lentils, instead? I recommend this one from Rachael Ray because it’s #1 ingredient is Chicken, which is full of protein.
Lentils may not be a superfood for your cat, but cooked lentils are a meal that you and your cat can enjoy together!
If you have any questions or would like to share a story about your cat and a cat food made with lentils that they really like, please tell us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.