Can cats eat spinach?
We are reluctant to say yes as the answer is a bit complicated. But fret not, we will try to cover everything about spinach and cats in this blog.
Spinach is presented as a superfood for humans. If you have watched Popeye the Sailor Man cartoon in your childhood, you will know exactly what I am talking about. After eating spinach, Popeye would become invincible—he would beat the brute Bluto and win over Olive Oyl every time.
With the popularity of Popeye the Sailor Man, the demand for spinach also ramped up across the United States. After the show, the sale of spinach went up by 33 percent in the US. However, it will be unfair to attribute the growing popularity of spinach only to a cartoon character eating spinach. The nutrient makeup of spinach also contributed to its increasing demand.
Enough about Popeye and spinach, let’s talk about spinach and cats.
Spinach and Cats
Knowing the nutritional benefits of spinach for humans, one may think that it will be good for our feline fellas, too. And why not? If avocado, the superfood, is healthy for cats to eat, spinach will probably be good for cats, too.
Well, that might be the case, but as a responsible cat parent, you should never give any type of new food to your pet unless you are dead sure that it is safe for them and have your vet’s approval. Check out our comprehensive take on What Human Foods Can Cats Eat?
Can Cats Eat Spinach?
As we said earlier, there is more to it than just a simple yes or no.
If you are chopping spinach leaves on the kitchen table and your cat comes running to you, meowing and pawing at your leg—asking for a few spinach leaves, you might think if spinach is good for cats.
The short answer is yes, cats can have spinach. And it will provide many beneficial nutrients to your cat as well, but at the same time, there can be some consequences if you are not careful.
Cats have different nutritional requirements than humans, and they process food differently as well. So, while giving any human food to your cat, you have to tread a fine line—if you are not careful, your cat might develop certain health issues. Therefore, if you plan to give spinach to your cat, you should learn if spinach is good for cats and when it can be bad for them.
Is Spinach Good For Cats?
Low in calories, containing numerous minerals and vitamins, spinach is sort of a superfood for humans, but can our feline friends enjoy its nutritional benefits, too. Below is the nutrient profile of spinach, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
|Nutrient Profile||Amount per Serving of 30g (1 Cup)|
Loaded With Minerals and Vitamins
Spinach is loaded with useful vitamins and minerals, this is the reason that many cat food manufacturers use a small amount of spinach in the cat food. Spinach is rich in valuable vitamins such as vitamin A, B6, B2, C, E, and K, which are essential for our feline friends. Similarly, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and folate are abundant in spinach, making it a great snack for cats.
The Fibrous Content
The fibrous content of spinach is beneficial for the effective and smooth bowel movement in cats. It helps your cat’s intestine work better and is also effective in relieving constipation in cats. Spinach also contains a considerable amount of water and, coupled with fibers, eases the indigestion process. It also makes sure that your cat stays hydrated.
Iron in Spinach
“If you are anemic, eat spinach” is a common saying. Actually, it is the iron present in spinach that helps in the production of a large amount of hemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen in the bloodstream and transporting it to every part of the body. Iron deficiency anemia is caused by severe iron deficiency in cats. Eating spinach helps cats fight this anemia.
Despite being loaded with useful minerals and vitamins, spinach is low in calories, making it great for weight management. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, around fifty percent of the cats brought to the veterinary clinics suffer from obesity. Cat food low in calories can help these cats resist obesity.
Fight Against Cancer
Feline cancers are not only deadly for cats but are also devastating for cat owners, who have to see their cats in excruciating pain—fighting cancer. But here is good news: You can curb the proliferation of cancerous cells in your cats by adding some spinach to their diet. According to research, spinach contains glycoglycerolipids such as Sulfoquinovosyl diacylglycerol (SQDC) and Monogalactosyl diacylglycerol (MGDG), which restrict the growth of cariogenic cells.
Too Much of Everything Is a Disaster
No matter how good human food for your feline friend is, you should always know how much is too much.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they require a diet mainly consisting of meat to thrive and stay in shape. Therefore, no matter how beneficial green leaves of spinach are for cats, it cannot replace conventional cat food that is made considering their unique nutritional requirements. Despite its massive nutritional value, spinach cannot be made an integral part of cat food. If eaten in excess, it could be counterproductive—doing more harm than good.
Can Cats Eat Cooked Spinach?
Yes, cats can have cooked spinach. But you cannot share the spinach that you cooked for yourself if you have added any spices or additives to it. However, if you are eating plain spinach—simply boiled or steamed—you can share it with your furball.
Additives like spices, garlic powder, cinnamon powder, black pepper, etc., may make it more palatable for you, but these additives are toxic to cats, so you should make sure that the spinach you are sharing with your cat does not contain any additives.
Can Kittens Eat Spinach?
If your cat has stolen a nibble of spinach leaf, you might not have to be concerned, but it is advised that spinach is kept away from young kittens. Baby kittens, yet to be fully developed, have very sensitive internals. You need to think twice before giving them anything other than the kitten food, let alone spinach. If you are planning on giving your kitten spinach for the first time, you should first check it with your vet.
When is Spinach Bad for Cats?
From the above discussion, we learned that spinach is not inherently toxic to cats, but in some cases, it could be harmful to their health.
Cats Having Urinary Problems
If your cat has any urinary problem such as urinary tract infection (UTI), or kidney issues, you should never share spinach with them. The high amounts of oxalates present in spinach can cause renal complications, leading to, among other issues, the development of a kidney stone in your feline buddy. This is why vets strongly advise against giving any spinach to a cat that has any history of renal complications. Even before giving spinach to your perfectly healthy cat, you should first discuss it with your vet.
Eating in Excess
As discussed before, too much of a good thing can be counterproductive. Eating spinach in excess would not make your cat strong like Popeye. Instead, it may cause oxalate poisoning in your cat. There is some evidence suggesting that oxalates present in spinach might be inhibiting the iron absorption in cats—causing iron deficiency in cats.
So, can cats eat spinach? Now you know.
If you have a cat and would like her to taste some new foods, you may be interested in exploring our Cat Food section. Here, we discuss everything in detail.
Find out what other foods cats can eat or not eat: