Can Cats Eat Carrots? Are Carrots Safe for Cats?

Last Updated on: September 21, 2020

Can cats eat carrots? The old wives’ tale is that carrots help your vision. Well, it’s not as if cats need help with that, (cats can see in the dark after all), however, there is a slight amount of truth in the concept that carrots help your eyesight.

Carrots are rich in a lot of vitamins and minerals, including something called beta-carotene. This is a source of Vitamin A that is known to be good for your vision. Both cat’s eyes and human eyesight benefit from it.

However, can cats munch into some crunchy carrot when they want to?

Well, the answer is yes they can. Carrots are not toxic to cats and they can eat them without issue. There are the normal caveats though, so let’s take a look…

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Benefits of Feeding Carrots to Cats

As we have already mentioned the rich source of vitamins in carrots do actually help the maintenance of the eye, providing healthier eyes and vision.

The beta-carotene found inside carrots is also what gives it its distinctive orange color. The compound is also the reason that carrot provides such a high source of vitamin A.

When a cat, (or any other mammal, including humans) eats foods containing beta-carotene, the substance is absorbed by the intestine and transported to the liver.

Inside the liver, beta-carotene combines with other fats that have been consumed and converted to Vitamin A. There it is stored until the body needs it, often for cell reproduction.

Cats differ from other animals in that their bodies are only able to convert a small amount of beta-carotene into vitamin A. If a cat relies just on vegetables such as carrot for their vitamin A, they would actually end up having a vitamin deficiency.

Because of this, cats require vitamin A that is available for the body to use immediately. They used to get this from hunting their foods, now humans synthetically add vitamin A to the many cat food products available, and our pets receive it in their diets that way.

Cat Food Products With Carrot

In light of the above information, it is no surprise that quite a few cat food products contain carrot as a major ingredient.

In true Cancat style, we have looked into what foods are available and what we recommend. Top of the list would be Muse Natural Chicken with Tomato & Carrot Cat Food in Gravy (which actually sounds good enough for humans to eat.)

Chocked full of natural ingredients, the food contains optimal protein and fat levels helping to promote an ideal body condition for your cat.

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Image Credit: Puedes, Wikimedia Commons

Carrots – Cat’s Eyes and a Lack of Vitamin A

So what happens when a cat lacks vitamin A in their diet? As we have explained, carrots can only provide so much vitamin A through beta-carotene, due to the cat’s limited ability to naturally create it.

The fact is, when stores of vitamin A in the cat’s body are reduced, vitamin A is released from the liver into the bloodstream. This way it can travel to the retina of the eye, where vitamin A is needed

The retina is made up of millions of cells called rods and cones. These are sensitive to light and are used in eyes throughout all of Mother Nature to tell the brain what the eye is seeing.

Rods are especially important in low-light situations. If vitamin A is deficient within the body, these rods become weaker and the cells cannot be restored as quickly as they should. Therefore, eating foods containing vitamin A end up improving eye-sight; especially for night vision, which we all know is the cat’s domain.

Risks of Feeding Carrots to Cats

As we have said, although cats can eat a carrot, they should not be used as a substitute for other forms of Vitamin A. Commercial cat food is better suited to the job.

However, if a cat has too much vitamin A in their diet, they can develop what is called hypervitaminosis, which can lead to bone problems and muscle weakness.

Vitamin A toxicity is extremely rare, however, and is highly unlikely to come from feeding your cat carrot, due to the issues already mentioned.

The issue of how many carrots a cat can eat is, as with all other types of human food relevant, in that too much of any one ingredient can present a problem. While cats can eat carrots, it is best to do so in moderation.

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Conclusion

Feeding your cat carrots is not going to cause them any health issues. And while carrot, or other types of food that provide vitamin A, will give your cat some worthwhile health benefits, I wouldn’t expect any poor vision issues to clear up overnight.

While they will help maintain healthy eyes if your cat has more serious problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, etc. the additional vitamin A will do little after diagnosis.

That being said, it is still an essential vitamin for a healthy cat so don’t be afraid to sprinkle a little grated carrot on his normal food, or if he takes to it, a few slices of carrot as a little kitty treat.