Over the past decade, fall has morphed from a seasonal change to a full-blown holiday season that rivals Christmas. In place of a Christmas tree, we have pumpkins galore. Every year, companies put out more pumpkin-flavored, pumpkin-scented, and pumpkin-infused goods to satiate our ravenous fall consumption.
But as pumpkin spice everything has become more popular, are our pets able to join in on the fun?
Cats are known to be curious, and there’s a chance they may be curious about pumpkins. But can cats eat pumpkins? Read on to find out whether your feline and your PSL should mix.
Can Cats Eat Pumpkin? The World Needs to Know.
The pumpkin and stem are inedible even for humans. Cat stomachs cannot digest raw pumpkin, so don’t scoop out the innards and sneak it into their bowl.
While we can enjoy roasting pumpkin seeds, these shouldn’t be fed to your cats as they can be a choking hazard.
Basically, when it comes to whether your cats can eat pumpkins, no part of your Jack-O-Lantern should be fed to kitties. The only kind of pumpkin that you can serve them is canned/pureed pumpkin that is bought in a store.
And you’ll be surprised to find out that canned pumpkin isn’t what you think it is.
What is Canned Pumpkin?
The pumpkins that we buy in stores for carving and decoration are not the same as canned pumpkin. Those pumpkins have no taste and aren’t made to be edible.
There’s a specific breed of pumpkin for consumption called Dickinson pumpkins, also known as Dickinson squash. Dickinson pumpkins are used to make the majority of canned pumpkin sold today. They’re tan, not orange, and are much larger than the average carving pumpkin.
Canned pumpkin is pureed, which will make it digestible and easier on your cat’s sensitive stomachs. If you choose to feed your cat pumpkin, don’t use canned pumpkin pie filling, which can have other ingredients (e.g. sugar) mixed in.
Plain canned pumpkin is healthy. It includes lots of fiber, potassium, and vitamins for your cat. However, it’s not necessary to feed your cat pumpkin. They can get these nutrients from quality cat food.
Will Cats Like Pumpkin?
Canned pumpkin may be safe for your cat to eat, but that doesn’t mean they’ll enjoy it.
Cat diets are made up of meat and dairy. They can smell fat and proteins in food, and their stomachs have evolved to survive off animals products only. Cats don’t require vegetables like humans.
Pumpkin is a vegetable, and thus it likely won’t appeal to your cat. However, if you make pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, or pumpkin chili – a dish that uses meat or dairy – it might make them curious to give it a try.
But remember what cats can’t eat: cinnamon.
Lots of pumpkin dishes include cinnamon to bring out the nostalgic fall flavor. Cinnamon is toxic for cats; it can damage their heart and liver and make their blood sugar plummet. If you want your cat to taste pumpkin, make sure there’s no cinnamon mixed in.
If you do mix pumpkin into their food, don’t do more than one teaspoon per day. Should your cat enjoy pumpkin, you can feed it to them as a treat here and there.
Keep in mind how cats think, though. Letting them eat some of your pumpkin will make them feel entitled to more pumpkin.
If you really want your cats eating pumpkin, there are pumpkin treats manufactured that are safe for them to eat. Fruitables makes a line of low calorie cat treats infused with pumpkin. Weruva has pumpkin-flavored wet food as well as pumpkin-flavored pill pockets. These are the best ways to get your cats eating pumpkin.
What Happens If Cats Eat Pumpkin?
If your cat sneaks some canned pumpkin, they will be fine. The worst that’ll happen is they have an upset stomach. That’s just more cleanup for you ultimately.
It’s unlikely that your cat will try to eat a carving pumpkin, especially if you’re not eating it. But if they happen to eat a pumpkin seed, make sure that it goes down okay and doesn’t get caught in their throat. From there, you can keep an eye on their litter box to make sure it passes, or they may vomit it up.
Should your cat eat a pumpkin treat with cinnamon, continue to monitor them for the first few hours. Sluggishness, disinterest in food and water, and irregular bowel movements are signs that something is off with them. At that point, it’s best to take them to the vet or nearest animal hospital to get them checked out.
Before choosing to feed your cat pumpkin, it’s best to check with your vet to ensure they’re able to eat it. Your cat may have underlying allergies, pre-existing conditions, or an extra-sensitive stomach. Your vet will be able to give you the green or red light.
If your cat doesn’t show interest in pumpkin, leave it be. Cats don’t have to eat pumpkin to survive. You don’t need to supplement their diet if they’re eating quality cat food.
The Mystery’s Solved About Cats Eating Pumpkin
Cats should not eat carving pumpkins. The only type of pumpkin that’s safe for your cat is plain canned pumpkin, and even then, a little bit can go a long way. Your cat probably won’t show interest in plain pumpkin, so don’t force it.
We cat owners can have a tendency to want to share our food with our pets. Your best bet is to enjoy your pumpkin and let your cat enjoy their pumpkin-flavored treats. You two can be basic together, in your own way.
Minnetonka Orchards is your one-stop shop for tips and tricks on growing and eating nearly any kind of fruit or vegetable. Take your love of fall one step further and try growing your own pumpkins. It’s not as daunting as you probably imagine. Hop over to our Pumpkin Plants page to get the full lowdown on harvesting pumpkins.