Cats are curious creatures. For them, everything is either a plaything or something to eat. When outside, wandering around, they will be licking some things, sniffing others, and munching on a few. This curiosity often gets our four-legged fellas in trouble, especially if they end up gulping down a wild mushroom. Watching your cat eat mushrooms, one may get concerned, thinking: Can cats eat mushrooms? Are mushrooms safe for cats?
Most mushrooms are not toxic to our pets, but some can be deadly. According to the Animal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), around 99 percent of mushrooms are not harmful to cats, but the 1 percent that is toxic can be life-threatening to our cats.
Cats and Mushrooms
When you are cooking mushrooms in the kitchen, your furball may come running to you, meowing and brushing against your leg, asking what’s cooking—and “give me some, please.” The temptation of letting your cat have some mushroom may push you to allow your cat to have some but the thought “is mushroom safe for cats” may force you to guiltily divert your cat attention.
Refusing your cat a piece of mushroom, you might feel sorry for her, but it was responsible of you to do that. As compared to us humans, cats have different nutritional needs, and they process human food differently. Thus, you should be cautious while sharing any human food with your cat, as it could get them into trouble. You should always run it by your vet before feeding it to her.
Can Cats Eat Mushrooms?
If you are having some mushrooms, the thought of sharing it with your feline friend can pop up in your mind, especially if your cat has constantly been staring at you.
Well, the good news is, you do not have to remorsefully forbid your cat some. Most mushrooms that are safe for humans are ok for our cats, too, provided they are not eating it in excess.
Can Cats Eat Store-Bought Mushrooms?
Store-bought mushrooms are perfectly safe for humans as well as for our feline friends. However, you should not let your cat have a bowl full of mushrooms, be it store-bought or wild. Eating in excess can be harmful to our purring fellas.
Can Cats Eat Cooked Mushrooms?
If your cat seems to be fascinated by the aroma of mushroom risotto cooking in the kitchen, you might be drawn to sharing the mushroom that you cooked for yourself with your cat. While cooked mushroom is perfectly fine to give your cats, the flavorings and seasoning added to it can be deadly for your cat. So, if you plan to share mushrooms with your cat, you should cook them without any additives and seasonings.
Can Cats Eat Turkey Tail Mushrooms?
Turkey tail is one of the medicinal mushrooms that holds numerous health benefits not only for humans but also for our pets. Other medicinal mushrooms include maitake, shiitake, and cordyceps. Polysaccharides, proteins, and glycoproteins present in these mushrooms are useful for boosting the immunity of pets and are very effective as anti-cancerous and anti-inflammatory agents, according to VCA hospital. Though we lack scientific evidence, there is ample anecdotal evidence to substantiate that medicinal mushrooms are effective in treating cancer.
Why Do Cats Like Mushrooms?
Watching our cats gobbling up mushroom caps, we are often awestruck, wondering why cats—obligate carnivores—even crave mushrooms.
Let’s solve this mystery once and for all.
In the wild, cats are scavengers. They have to hunt and forage for proteins crucial for them to thrive and stay in shape. Cats mostly get their protein by preying on animals lower in the food chain. But on their unlucky day, when they are not able to catch prey, they have to look for non-meaty sources of proteins.
Looking for these proteins, cats often come sniffing for mushrooms, loaded with glutamate, an amino acid. This glutamate gives mushrooms the umami flavor, which can be perceived by cats. While cats are sweet-blind, they do have receptors for detecting the savory umami flavor of amino acids. This means that cats apparently craving mushrooms are actually foraging for proteins.
Are Mushrooms Bad For Cats?
As discussed above, around 99 percent of the mushrooms pose little to no toxicity concern to cats but, the 1 percent that is toxic is quite hard to differentiate. Therefore, unless you are a seasoned mycologist, you should neither eat a random mushroom yourself nor let your cat have it.
Experts suggest that if you are not a mycologist, every mushroom that you find growing in your backyard or somewhere in the park should be assumed as poisonous. This means that you should only give store-bought mushrooms to your cat and that too in small amounts.
How Lethal is Mushroom Poisoning?
Eating a poisonous mushroom or too much of a store-bought mushroom can lead to mushroom poisoning in cats. The severity of the mushroom poisoning depends on the number of mushroom caps and the type of mushroom they consume—or have consumed. It could range from mild gastrointestinal pain that will pass with time on its own to extreme sickness, requiring hospitalization and sometimes leading to their demise. If you see your cat nibbling on a freshly grown mushroom in the backyard, you should immediately take her to the vet. But what if your cat takes a bite when you are not looking? In that case, you should look for signs of sickness.
Signs of Mushroom Poisoning in Cats
Cats are good at hiding their signs of sickness and vulnerabilities. This is the reason that most cat parents fail to recognize that their cat has been sick. Thus, it is advised that feline lovers familiarize themselves with the signs your cat is sick. This will help them recognize if there is something wrong with their cat.
As far as mushroom poisoning is concerned, you need to familiarize yourself with the following signs:
After consuming certain types of mushrooms, your cat may develop gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Your cat will start exhibiting these signs of sickness within a few hours of consumption of toxic mushrooms. While you do not have to worry about mild vomiting and diarrhea, if it does not go away after some time and your cat’s health seems to be worsening—leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance—you should ring your vet. To restore the fluid level and electrolyte balance, the vet might have to hospitalize your cat and start immediate fluid therapy.
Certain mushrooms affect the livers of our feline friends. Amanita mushrooms, infamously known as death cap and death angle, are deadly not only for humans but also cats. Consuming Amanita mushrooms can lead to liver poisoning in cats. According to VCA Hospital, your pet may look perfectly fine after the consumption of this mushroom or may exhibit some sign of sickness and then get apparently fine, giving their owners a false sense of assurance that there is nothing wrong with their cat. However, while these pets may apparently look perfectly fine, internally, they are getting weak, lethargic, and jaundiced. Hence, if your cat has eaten any random mushroom, you should immediately take her to the vet, even if there seems to be nothing wrong with your cat.
Ingestion of hallucinogenic mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, can make your cat unsteady on its feet and could also cause mild depressions. Consumption of these mushrooms also makes your cats over-sensitive to sound and touch. If your cat seems not to be herself, she probably has eaten magic mushrooms. You should prepare to take her to the vet.
Can cats eat mushrooms? Yes—they can. But not all types, and certainly not the wild ones unless you are a mycologist yourself.
If you are a cat keeper, you might be interested in more of what cats can eat and otherwise. Read more on Cat Food, where we discuss everything in detail.