Sometimes you love your cat so much, you want to go above and beyond feeding her the usual kibble or hundredth can of the same old commercial cat foods.
If you’re like me, a good treat can be a chance to bond every once in a while—bonus points if you prep or cook, right? Okay, your cat doesn’t actually care that much but it will thank you in feline karma. One such treat I turn to every now and then is oats, usually in the form of oatmeal.
I know what you’re thinking—cats don’t like oats, do they? They like stinky, savory things. Plus, they’re carnivores. Can cats eat oatmeal at all?
But it’s true, cats do like oatmeal and it’s actually good for them as an occasional treat in their diet!
Can Cats Eat Oatmeal?
Yes, cats can eat oatmeal. In fact, it’s found in many health-conscious cat food formulas, including Public Goods’ Cat Kibble. While cats can eat raw oats, it’s best as the easy-to-digest oatmeal porridge you know best, made from rolled oats as opposed to steel-cut which are toothier and take longer to cook.
As a pet parent myself, my veterinarian suggested I give my grassing-chomping cat oat grass as an alternative. I was surprised to find live grass at my local grocery store.
Is Oatmeal Good For Cats?
Okay, so we’ve established that oatmeal makes a great treat, but does it have health benefits or is it the cat equivalent of a late-night pint of ice cream? The short answer is that this cereal is actually healthful in moderation, even though it doesn’t contain the same nutritional needs that meat provides.
You see, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat animals to survive. However, even in the wild, a cat will nibble on grasses here and there to aid in digestion. And domesticated cats enjoy a variety of human foods, some of which are healthier than others.
Unlike other grains like gluten which aren’t recommended for cat diets, oats are not only relatively high in protein, fat, and calcium, but this protein is of a variety that cats can digest and use for energy. And the fats include linoleic acid and amino acids which are crucial for a healthy coat.
Additionally, oats are a good source of fiber which plays an important role in digestion. Bacteria in the cat’s belly can actually break down some fibers found in oats, creating short-chain fatty acids that help their digestive systems do their job. On top of that, feeding your kitty oats provides a dose of essential antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like iron and vitamin B1 — essential nutrients she needs.
How Much Oatmeal Should You Give Your Cat?
Although we all know our fair share of obese cats, cats are not ravenous grazers like dogs. They’re built to stalk patiently and pounce on prey to earn a meal. They have small stomachs built for small amounts of a dense diet rich in proteins and fats. Domesticated cats will eat carbohydrates like oats as a treat, but keep in mind that, being carnivores, they could live without them.
According to Dr. Lisa A. Pierson DVM of CatInfo.org, an average cat should eat between 150-250 calories per day. So a good starting point would be a 1/4 cup meal of cooked oatmeal which contains about 75 calories made up of 12 grams of carbs, 3 grams of protein, and 1.5 grams of fat.
Keep in mind that your cat’s needs may differ depending on their age, weight, activity level, and health condition. In fact, oatmeal might be a good option for older cats or active cats that act like dogs (we all know one), as it may have anti-inflammatory effects. These effects could help lower cholesterol levels in your pet, too.
According to veterinary technician Amy Puzerewski of the Veterinary Care Center in Los Angeles, “When it comes to formulating a cat’s diet, it’s important to consult a veterinarian about appropriate proportions between oats and whatever else they’re eating. Is it an indoor-outdoor cat that’s hunting or an animal with a weight issue?”
In other words, adjust your cat’s calorie intake accordingly. If you’re unsure, consult your veterinarian on your pet’s unique situation.
How to Make Oatmeal For Cats: Two Easy Oatmeal Recipes
Unfortunately, you can’t just make yourself indulgent and buttery oatmeal cookies and give your cat a chunk, as lovely as that’d be.
Your cat will not tolerate the same levels of sugars and salts we crave. And believe it or not, cats shouldn’t have milk either, so your traditional recipe won’t work. And certain additives, like raisins and chocolate, are downright dangerous for cats.
But this makes your job easier. Cats have fewer taste buds than their human owners, anyway. So here are two cat food recipes using oatmeal that your kitty will love.
Making Oatmeal for Cats: Method 1
One method is just to make an oat tea, steeping a tablespoon of oats in a cup of water for 15-20 minutes, and then straining the water from the oats. This nutritious liquid should cool down to room temperature before being used to moisten dry kibble or enhance canned food. It can also be made in a larger batch and kept in the fridge for 4 to 6 days.
Cats lack the same thirst drive we’re accustomed to, so oatmeal tea added to dry cat food can provide a needed dose of hydration. “It’s a common issue that they don’t like to drink water,” Puzerewski advises. “They usually get it through their food. I tell the owner if you’re seeing your cat peeing throughout the day, then they’re getting enough water.”
How to Make a Meal Out of Oats For Your Feline Friend: Method 2
If a meal is on the menu, simply boil 1/4 cup of water, add 1/8 cup of oats, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until tender. Again, let it cool before serving.
You can add a dash of brown sugar or salt to see if your cat enjoys it more. You can even add pumpkin puree and they will love you for it. Going for a savory feline brunch? Incorporate some scrambled eggs instead!
What Other Human Foods Can Cats Eat?
Oats are not the only human foods that cats both enjoy and benefit from.
Veterinarians recommend you stick with what their ancestors could feasibly hunt—think rabbit or tuna rather than steak. For a luxurious treat, our Freeze-Dried Duck Nibs for Cats or Freeze-Dried Minnows are healthy and popular snacks. Just stay away from excessive salt and avoid seasonings altogether.
(Those tips go for dogs, too! That’s why we make Duck Nibs for Dogs.)
A serving of salmon is a decadent choice, containing many healthy fats and joint-healthy fish oil. It’s no mystery that cats love poultry. If you’re wondering if cats can eat chicken, the answer is under certain circumstances.
And you’ll be surprised how much cats enjoy licking canned, pureed pumpkin straight from your finger. This technique is often used to feed, socialize, and even wean kittens from their mother in adopt and rescue situations.
Curious about other vegetables cats can eat? We broke it down just for you.
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