The pumpkin is a squash or a gourd, and many might not realize it's also technically a fruit. Whatever you name it, pumpkin has lots of health benefits for people, including vitamin A and fiber, but what about as a snack for cats? Can cats have pumpkins, or is it a food you'll need to keep away from your pet?
Of course, you want to provide nutritious cat food and regular veterinary care for your cat, but you also want to offer a treat occasionally. Luckily, pumpkin is a safe fruit for cats, but be aware of a few limitations.
Can cats have pumpkin?
First of all, cats can eat pumpkin as a snack, so you don't have to worry about offering this to them. But that comes with caveats—cats shouldn't have much fruit, and owners should be careful not to offer pumpkin with spices or other additives like sugar.
According to Pet Poison Helpline, cinnamon and nutmeg aren't good for dogs and cats, although they'd need to ingest a lot to become sick.
What kind of pumpkin is good for cats?
It's pretty simple: just feed your cat plain cooked pumpkin, and only as a treat. Even though we humans may love our pumpkin-spiced beverages and desserts, there's no good reason to offer your cat pumpkin that's been sweetened or otherwise altered. Keep the pumpkin pie for yourself!
While canned pumpkin is perfectly fine, select the plain pumpkin puree, which is unsweetened. The only ingredient should be pumpkin! What's great about this treat is that canned pumpkin is generally available year-round. Watch out for the "pumpkin pie filling" cans with additives like sugar and spices.
Pumpkin offers several health benefits to cats.
If you'd like to try offering a bit of pumpkin to your kitty, here are some of the main health benefits they may experience. Dr. Graham, Chief Veterinarian at Animal Humane Society, says, "Most pets with inconsistent GI tract issues could typically benefit from pumpkin in their diet." This is due to pumpkin's high-fiber content.
According to Animal Humane Society, pumpkin is also rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. These nutrients may promote a healthy coat, eyes, and skin for your cat.
Pumpkin can also help prevent hairballs, promote weight loss, and relieve constipation and/or diarrhea, per Chewy.com. A good starting guideline is to feed adult cats no more than a teaspoon of pumpkin and keep it to half a teaspoon for smaller cats and kittens. And you should always consult your veterinarian before introducing new foods to cats.
Can cats eat pumpkin seeds?
Giving your cat pumpkin seeds and pumpkin flesh is fine, but be careful. Whole pumpkin seeds could pose a choking hazard for your cat, says PetKeen.com. You can avoid that risk by grinding or crushing pumpkin seeds before giving them to your cat to offer the same nutritional benefits. Be sure the seeds aren't spiced or flavored.
If you have a leftover jack-o-lantern, don't let the cat nibble on it as it may be rotted, per Rover.com.