Cat owners commonly wonder about the toxicity of various human foods. The question about the safety of different foods increased after learning that certain foods were toxic which yielded a lot of press coverage. The most important toxic foods to cats are onions, garlic, chocolate, alcohol, and excessive amounts of fish.
Exposure to the dangers of various human foods has encouraged pet owners to ask about the safety of foods such as can cats eat potatoes. Learn more about what cats can and can't eat in this article: The Ultimate Guide to What Cats Can't Eat.
Can Cats Eat Potatoes?
A potato, also known as a tater or spud, is a round to oblong food that is classified botanically as a root vegetable. They belong to the plant family Solanaceae, which is the same plant family as nightshade and tomatoes. Potatoes are grown in the ground and it is the root of the plant that makes the potato. They can vary in size from small and round to large and oblong with soft thin skin.
Potatoes are enjoyed throughout the world and are one of the world's most commonly grown crops dating back to almost 10,000 years. There are a thousand varieties of potatoes with the first potato probably originating in South American and reaching Europe in the 16th century.
To answer the question, “Can cats eat potatoes?” it's, “Yes.” Cats can eat a small amount of cooked unseasoned potatoes. However, cats are carnivores and most do not choose to eat potatoes. Cats often love various textures and enjoy them as a healthy snack. Potatoes are a good source of water, potassium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
Although cooked potatoes are considered safe, any food can cause gastrointestinal upset in cats. What bothers some cats does bother others. The same can happen in people. Some foods can bother one person but not another.
Potatoes are prepared hundreds of ways including baked, mashed, diced, or as chips. They can be baked, boiled, fried and flavored hundreds of ways.
The Dangers of Potatoes to Cats
When researching the safety and danger of potatoes for cats, there are a couple of considerations.
- Green, uncooked, and/or raw potato peels contain solanine which can be toxic to cats. Solanine is a natural defense mechanism of the potato to protect it from being eaten. Ingestion of solanine in cats can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes affect the nervous system causing lethargy and disorientation.
- Pancreatitis or gastrointestinal upset can occur in cats that aren't used to potatoes or those cooked with seasonings and butter. Too much oil, fat, or seasoning can lead to gastrointestinal upset or pancreatitis.
- There is a potential for blockage from the ingestion of the leaves of the plants. Although uncommon, cats that have exposure to gardens and eat the leaves can develop gastrointestinal upset and potential blockage.
- There is an uncommon risk of choking when eating large pieces or in some cases large whole pieces of potatoes. Cats are generally fairly discriminating in their eating habits and this is a rare problem.
Do Cats Need Potatoes?
There is nothing in potatoes that cats require. What cats do need is a high-quality AAFCO approved cat food. Learn more about Nutrition in Cats.
The Safest Way to Give Potatoes to Cats
The safest way to give potatoes to your cat is to offer small-diced pieces of cooked potato or mashed soft potatoes without seasoning. There are safer and better treats to give cats other than potatoes.