There may come a time when you realize that your cat is quite interested in what you are cooking. After all, when cats have as sensitive of a nose as they do, a lot of things become far more interesting than people take them for. One of the most common concerns that people have with their pets is whether or not they may be able to eat something that they are showing an interest in.
It is always important to exercise caution if you aren’t sure whether a pet can eat something that it doesn’t normally eat. Even small amounts of poisonous foods, such as onion or garlic, can be incredibly harmful to cats who cannot process the components of it.
You need to be especially careful if you are thinking about giving your cat something that is not meat, as cats are naturally obligate carnivores.
What Is an Obligate Carnivore? A Cat’s Ideal Diet
The name “obligate carnivore” tells you exactly what it means from the definition of the two words alone. Cats are obligated to be carnivores, as some of the nutrients they need can only be consumed by eating the flesh of another animal. This also works in relation to whether or not cats can usually eat vegetables.
Because a cat’s digestive system is built almost solely to digest meats and animal proteins, cats do not have a lot of digestive flora that can handle vegetable and fruit proteins, which is what leads to so much indigestion when cats eat a small amount of it. It is also one of the reasons why many vegetables and fruits are toxic to cats, as they simply cannot process what the food is made from.
Cats do, however, have a very small amount of digestive flora that can handle fruits and vegetables. This is because in the wild, a cat would traditionally eat the contents of its prey’s stomach. Because much of a wild cat’s prey is going to either be an omnivore or a carnivore, a cat needs to be able to digest small amounts of vegetable protein.
This is typically where a cat would get all of its vegetable and fruit-derived nutrients from. Because cats are obligate carnivores by nature, there isn’t much that they need, but it can be helpful to include vegetables that your cat can eat in its diet.
This is where the question of whether or not cats can eat zucchini comes into play. If cats are capable of eating at least a little bit of vegetables, does zucchini fall into this mix? If so, how much can the cat eat?
Can Your Cat Eat Zucchini?
To put it simply, zucchini is actually completely safe for your cat to eat. It is one of the very, very limited options your cat will have when it comes to the ability to eat fruits and vegetables. In fact, zucchini is often included in cat food to some degree to mimic the small amount of vitamins and minerals that cats will obtain from the content of their prey’s stomach.
There’s a good chance that if a company is putting zucchini in your cat’s standard cat kibble, then it is safe to eat in some capacity. In many ways, giving your cat a piece of fresh zucchini is actually quite beneficial for your cat as well. Zucchini contains a fair amount of minerals and nutrients that it can benefit from.
These nutrients include magnesium, potassium, and manganese. All of these nutrients are important for your cat and are traditionally plant-based, so if your cat is on an all-meat diet, it may not actually be getting these nutrients in its life.
Cats can also eat the leaves of a zucchini plant, although it is much less likely that they will be inclined to do so. Most cats, if they are inclined to eat zucchini in the first place, will have much more of an interest in the squash itself as this is where the majority of the nutrients are going to come from.
It should go without saying that if your cat is an outdoor cat, or spends part of its time outdoors, and you have a zucchini plant, you should make sure to keep the cat away from the plant when it has been sprayed with pesticides or when the flowers have been newly fertilized, as this can cause some problems.
If your cat is interested in another person’s zucchini plant, it may be better to err on the side of caution and avoid it, as you may not know if any herbicides, fertilizers, or pesticides have been used and may be harmful to the cat.
If you want to grow a zucchini plant that your cat can nibble on and you want to try and fertilize the plant, compost is often a much safer alternative for your cat to come across.
How Much Is Too Much?
As you may come to expect with cats, there is such a thing as more being harmful, especially in the context of fruits and vegetables. Zucchini is the common exception to this rule though. Consider the fact that many commercial cat food producers will include zucchini in the ingredients. This is a good sign that there is little to no limit as to how much zucchini your cat can eat.
In fact, zucchini is commonly used for cats who need to lose weight for this reason. Zucchini is healthy and it can be an inexpensive filler to space out the caloric intake of your cat’s food if it is overweight and you need to cut down on the amount of food your cat eats.
If a cat’s food can be completely filled with zucchini to help some cats cut down on their overall caloric intake, while still helping the cat feel full, then there’s a good chance that feeding your cat a small amount is not going to be harmful in the slightest.
Unless you are following a diet that has been recommended and approved by your vet, it is a good rule of thumb to make sure that your cat is not getting more zucchini as a treat than it is eating its regular food. Your cat, as an obligate carnivore, requires meat in its diet to get all of the nutrients that it needs.
If your cat is filling up entirely on zucchini and doesn’t feel hungry enough to eat its regular food, then it is missing out on vital nutrients that it needs to thrive. At this point, you would be feeding your cat too much zucchini, but not in terms of toxicity, but simply for the fact that a cat’s diet should not consist of entirely treats.