Spinach is one of the most popular leafy greens eaten as food. And we all know the health benefits associated with eating leafy greens; the vitamins, minerals, and numerous micro and macro-nutrients. Be that as it may, our concern here is if this class of food makes for good food for cats.
As a cat person, you should know that cats are wired differently from humans. So no matter how much your cat behaves like humans, you can’t change its diet to human food or something of sorts. A cat needs its protein, and this protein should come from meat as the primary source.
Does this mean a cat must never have not even a taste of human food at all? Well, that would be extreme in most cases. Your feline buddies can still have a taste of some food types. But this has to be done in minimal quantities; maybe as a treat for good behavior, or just to satisfy their curiosity.
Leafy greens like spinach fall within this category of food. It’s not a natural ‘cat food’. But since we know the good it does for us humans, is it safe to say it would be beneficial to our furry little fellas also? We’d have to check what spinach is made of before we make any conclusions.
Can Cats Eat Spinach?
Cats can eat spinach. To eat is to nibble on and swallow, then cats do eat spinach. Not all cats though (so you don’t go thinking your cat is sick for refusing to eat one). So, in a short answer, cats can eat spinach.
But that’s not the issue, is it? The main concern is if it’s okay for cats to eat spinach. So far, the spinach is not being fed as a major diet, but in small quantities, and occasionally as a treat. Only then is it okay for cats to eat spinach.
Is Spinach Good for Cats?
Some of the components of spinach that make it a healthy food for humans are also of benefit to cats. And the same functions those nutrients would perform in a cat owner, it would also perform in the pet.
Here are some of the health benefits associated with eating spinach which is good for a cat also;
Blood pressure/heart health
We can all agree that the heart is a very important organ in the body. And the same way you care for your heart, you should also care for your cat’s heart health as well.
One of the primary ways to keep your cat’s heart health in check is to make them as active as possible. Regular exercise keeps the heart in shape. But that’s not all there is to keep heart conditions at bay. Some specific nutrients and minerals also help in keeping the heart and blood vessels functioning properly.
Micronutrients associated with heart health include folate and nitrates. Both of these are found in substantial quantities in spinach. It also helps with blood flow by keeping the blood pressure at a normal level. Other minerals contained in spinach include magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Rich in Antioxidants
Another nutrient class readily found in spinach is antioxidants. The leafy greens contain quite some antioxidants which help in preventing oxidative stress.
What does this mean for your cat? No oxidative stress simply means stronger immunity to combat diseases. Scientists have especially pointed out that antioxidants can help in the prevention of diabetes and arthritis. Both of which are concerns for senior cats.
Good vitamin and mineral source
Vitamins are important in every diet. Without enough vitamins, your cat won’t be having a balanced diet. And that’s why every quality cat food contains vitamins in appropriate proportion.
What better source of vitamins than fruits and veggies. Spinach contains vitamins A, B6, C, B2, E, and K in good proportions. Only a few other natural vitamin sources come close to what spinach offers.
No one likes to hear about cancer. Yeah! It’s a deadly condition no one ever wishes for, especially not for one’s beloved pets. But such conditions exist. The best you can do is prevent it in every possible way.
Researchers have found two key compounds in spinach, SQDG and MGDG. These two guys are active agents that can help prevent the growth or spreading of cancerous cells. Alongside the abundance of antioxidants in spinach, the vegetable poses as a great diet choice to prevent cancer in felines.
Insoluble fiber is more effective in aiding digestion for obligate carnivores than other forms of dietary fiber. Soluble fiber when taken in much quantity leads to dysentery, the chances of dysentery are reduced with insoluble fiber. Thankfully, spinach majorly contains insoluble fiber.
To complement the effect of the insoluble fiber in spinach, the leafy green has high water content. This means more ease of digestion, nutrient absorption, and would also help tackle dehydration in your cat.
Spinach does pack a handful of helpful micronutrients in its tiny leaves. Another class is carotenoids. These are great for improved eyesight, preventing conditions that affect the eyes like cataracts, and also better existing eye conditions. This applies mostly to senior cats as well.
Can Spinach be Bad for Cats?
Let’s start by answering the question, can spinach be bad for cats? Yes, spinach can be quite bad for cats. Even with all the potential good spinach can do for cats, the fact remains it isn’t natural cat food. Hence, there are also some potential risks attached to feeding your cats spinach.
Spinach contains calcium oxalate in large quantities. Therefore, feeding cats spinach in large quantities can easily escalate into oxalate poisoning.
Oxalates are harmful to the feline kidney. Too much of the compound in a cat’s diet can lead to the development of kidney stones. This is also a risk factor for cats that already have urinary issues. Even if the condition has been treated, feeding such a cat can trigger the problem to resurface.
If you notice any of the following indicators of kidney infection in your cat upon feeding it spinach, you should cease feeding the spinach and maybe also consult your vet for a diagnosis.
Too frequent or irregular urination pattern
Loss of energy and appetite
Blood in urine, maybe also in stool
Sudden loss in weight
Vomiting and nausea
How should I Serve Spinach for my Cat – Cooked or Raw?
How you serve spinach to your cat matters. This is why this can somewhat be a dilemma to overcome for cat owners. Your goal is to help your cats get the nutrients from the diet without posing any health risks.
For us humans, we can decide to eat spinach in any style; raw leaves, boiled, fried, as salad, in a smoothie, as young fresh leaves, and so on. A larger percentage of these diets can’t be fed to cats. And that’s because many of these processes require ingredients that are harmful to cats like condiments, pepper, mayonnaise, and the likes.
So, what way should you feed spinach to your cats, if you’re going to do so? The slightly boiled spinach is best – without adding salt or any seasoning, just water. This way, the oxalate content of the spinach tends to reduce. The only downside to this is method is that some nutrients also might be lost in the process.
Some cat owners prefer to feed their cats raw spinach. This is not all that bad as long as you wash the leaves well. You can as well get rid of thick stalks that could choke your cat. And also ensure that only grown leaves are fed to your feline pets, as young leaves also tend to contain more oxalates.
How much spinach should I feed my cat?
We’ve established that spinach is not a natural cat food and if your cat doesn’t eat them, it won’t necessarily miss out on anything important. That doesn’t mean they don’t benefit anything from the leafy green when they eat it.
The point remains that moderation is key. All you need to feed your furry friends shouldn’t be more than two to three leaves once in a while.
The first thing you want to avoid is feeding too much of the veggie to your cat at once. After that, you have to ensure you don’t feed him too frequently. Then also, you have to watch out for addiction too. Although that rarely happens.
Take home on spinach for cats
As much as spinach has a lot to offer your cats, always remember that it’s not a natural food option for them. You can only give it as an occasional treat. It should never make up your kitty’s daily diet. Be sure to get quality cat food to keep your cat healthy.