Pumpkin spice lattes are a rite of fall for us two-legged folks, and pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple. And since we consider our cats family, it’s only natural to want them to partake in pumpkin-everything season.
But some of our favorite foods are on the no-fly list for cats (hello, chocolate). Pumpkin happens to be safe — with some caveats — says Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH, who founded the concierge practice Animal Acupuncture.
Dr. Barrack spoke about the health benefits, what to look for on a label and how to introduce pumpkin to your cat.
Health benefits of pumpkin for cats
A good source of vitamin A, potassium and iron, pumpkin can help keep kitty looking and feeling good.
“Pumpkin is high in antioxidants which help to promote healthy skin and fur in cats,” Dr. Barrack says. “Pumpkin is wonderful in alleviating gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and diarrhea due to fiber content.”
It’s also a good source of fatty acids, which provide energy and reduce inflammation.
Keep in mind that pumpkin tends to be prescribed for constipation or diarrhea issues. Otherwise, it should be an occasional treat, says Dr. Barrack. She advises consulting your vet before using it to treat any gastrointestinal problems.
How to serve pumpkin to cats
Puréed pumpkin “is the best and easiest way cats can indulge in this seasonal treat,” Dr. Barrack says.
There isn’t a set amount to serve, but Dr. Barrack recommends not going crazy. “Generally, one teaspoon of canned or cooked and puréed pumpkin is best, especially to start,” she says.
Pumpkin can be mixed straight with Kitty’s food or put on a spoon.
“Many cats enjoy the pumpkin flavor so much they are happy to lick pumpkin straight from the spoon,” Dr. Barrack says.
Keep in mind that while you may love pumpkin, it may take your cat a while to warm up to it. Be patient with her.
“Remember to start slowly when introducing it to your cat to make sure they like the taste,” Dr. Barrack says.
Check the label
Pumpkin pie is a sweet treat for humans, but steer clear of it for Kitty.
“Only utilize pure pumpkin purée not canned pumpkin pie filling which is high in sugar and will disrupt your cat’s gastrointestinal system,” says Dr. Barrack.
When to stop feeding your cat pumpkin
Pumpkin isn’t a cure-all for every cat with gastrointestinal problems, and as much as you may love it, she may not.
“A warning sign that your cat has had too much pumpkin is if their stool becomes orange or dark yellow,” says Dr. Barrack.
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