Quinoa seemingly showed up out of nowhere. While human beings have been cultivating quinoa for thousands of years, just recently this ancient grain made a huge comeback, finding its way into everything from salads to stir-fries.
If you’re like much of the population, you’ve probably begun experimenting with quinoa at home in a variety of recipes. And you may be asking yourself: can cats eat quinoa?
Well, the good news is that quinoa is not toxic to cats. As with all human foods, though, there are some precautions you should take before offering your cat a bowl of these glorious grains.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- Cats and Quinoa, What You Need to Know
- Can Cats Eat Quinoa?
- Can Kittens Eat Quinoa?
- Benefits/Negatives of Feeding Cats Quinoa
- Alternatives to Quinoa for Cats
Cats and Quinoa, What You Need to Know
Most cat owners know that cats are carnivores and that they do best on a diet made up primarily of meat.
However, most commercial cat foods contain some sort of grain. That’s because fiber and carbohydrates are also an important part of a healthy feline diet.
If your cat is interested in quinoa (though most cats probably won’t be), you can offer them a little bit as a treat, either in their food or directly from your hand.
That being said, quinoa should never make up any significant part of your cat’s diet and should only be offered in very small quantities.
Can Cats Eat Quinoa?
Yes, they can, and quinoa can actually be a healthy addition to your cat’s diet as long as its given in moderation.
Quinoa is a protein-rich grain that also contains fiber and a ton of healthy vitamins and minerals, such as iron and magnesium, all of which can be beneficial to your cat.
But before you begin preparing a bowl of quinoa for your feline friend, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You should only offer your cat boiled, plain quinoa. While it might not sound too appetizing to a human palate, you should skip the spices, oils, and anything else you might normally add to your quinoa. Cats don’t need the extra calories, sodium, or additives.
- Only give your cat a little bit of quinoa at a time (maximum a tablespoon). If your cat isn’t used to it, all that fiber can create digestive upset.
- Whole grain quinoa contains more nutrients and is healthier for both humans and animals. A brand that is both organic and whole grain quinoa, such as truRoots, is the way to go.
This cat discovered a bag of quinoa and is going to town. Even though he might actually think its cat litter I admire his enthusiasm.
Can Kittens Eat Quinoa?
While quinoa is unlikely to harm your kitten because it’s not toxic to cats, you are better off not giving your kitten any extra grains.
Kittens have sensitive digestive systems and are growing like weeds, so it’s best to offer them the highest quality cat food you can find, such as Nutro Wholesome Essentials kitten formula, which contains a healthy mix of grains and proteins.
If you absolutely can’t resist giving your kitten a little quinoa, only give it to them as a treat and never put it directly in with their food.
All in all, it’s best not to give kittens any additional treats in their regular cat food, lest they become picky as adults!
Benefits/Negatives of Feeding Cats Quinoa
While quinoa definitely contains nutrients that can be beneficial to your feline friend, there isn’t really a good reason to feed it to them unless they really like it.
As long as you are feeding your cat a high-quality cat food, such as Nutro Wholesome Essentials for adult cats, which contains high-quality protein and digestible grains, you really don’t need to worry about giving them anything extra.
Because quinoa contains so much fiber, your cat may experience some digestive issues after eating it, especially if they eat too much. If the quinoa upsets your cat’s stomach, either reevaluate how much you gave them or stop giving it to them altogether.
Evolutionarily speaking, it would be very unusual for a cat in the wild to consume more than a trivial amount of grains. Because cats have evolved over millennia to rely on a diet primarily made of meat and meat proteins, feeding your cat more than a few grains of quinoa at a time might make them sick.
No matter how much your cat begs for quinoa it’s not worth feeding it to them if it’s going to make them sick.
You may want to consider taking your cat to the vet if your cat feels ill or experiences vomiting or diarrhea after eating quinoa, especially if it doesn’t subside within a day or so.
These outdoor cats are enjoying a bit of quinoa in the snow.
Alternatives to Quinoa for Cats
If you don’t want to cook and feed human grade quinoa to your cat, you can always choose a cat food that contains quinoa. Because quinoa is a highly digestible grain, some cat food companies have decided to add it to their food in lieu of less digestible and cheaper grains, like corn.
So, Can Cats Eat Quinoa?
Quinoa is not poisonous to cats and can absolutely be a healthy addition to your cat’s diet. But keep the following in mind:
- Only feed your cat whole grain quinoa, such as the truRoots.
- If your cat has digestive issues after eating quinoa, such as vomiting or diarrhea, either feed them a little bit less or don’t feed it to them again at all.
- Skip the dressing, spices, and oils. Plain, boiled, quinoa is the safest way to give your cat a taste.
- Remember that cats are carnivorous and their diets should be primarily meat and not grains, so feeding a cat food that contains quinoa like Bench & Field Holistic Natural Feline is even better!
Does your cat love quinoa? How do you safely incorporate it into their diet without making them ill? Have you tried a cat food that contains quinoa? We want to hear all about it in the comments!