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Can Cats Eat Chia Seeds? What You Need to Know!

Chia seeds have many health benefits, so if you’re looking for a supplement for your cat, you might have considered adding these versatile seeds to your cat’s dinner. Is this is a good idea, or are chia seeds something that you should avoid feeding your cat?

In brief, chia seeds are completely safe for your cat to eat. In fact, these tiny seeds offer a whole range of health benefits that could help your cat look and feel their best. Let’s find out more!

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What are chia seeds?

Chia seeds come from two different plants. The Salvia hispanica plant is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. The Salvia columbariae is native to a range of U.S. states, including Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, and New Mexico.

These tiny seeds have been used as a foodstuff since the Mayans and Aztecs. The word “chia” is derived from the Mayan language and means strength.

The chia plant belongs to the same family as the mint plant. The seeds can come in black or white, depending on the variety of the plant.

The seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they attract water. When soaked, they can absorb up to 12 times their own weight. They also develop a unique jelly-like coating.

Chia seeds can be eaten unsoaked, and in this form, they can be found in a whole range of human foods, from tortillas and pizza dough to granola bars and salads.

They can also be soaked and added to smoothies, used in chia pudding, or eaten on their own as chia fresca.

chia seeds in a bowl
Image Credit: Bernhard Wolfgang Schneider, Pixabay

What do chia seeds contain?

Chia seeds are rich in a whole range of nutrients, with 100 grams of un-soaked seeds containing:
  • 486 calories
  • 12 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams fiber
  • 74 grams fats (including omega-3 fatty acids)
  • 5 grams protein
They’re also a rich source of beneficial vitamins and minerals, including:
  • Vitamin A
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Niacin
  • Phosphorous
  • Calcium
  • Copper

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that can protect your cat against certain chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease.

They also contain a blend of 18 different amino acids, all of which are essential for healthy development and growth.

What are the benefits of chia seeds?

Chia seeds can help your cat maintain a healthy digestive system due to the amount of fiber that they contain. Fiber absorbs toxins, helps promote healthy gut flora, and helps prevent diarrhea and constipation.

The antioxidants within chia seeds help reduce the effect of free radicals within the body’s environment. These can cause oxidative cell damage and cancer.

The high protein content of chia seeds helps your cat feel full and supplements the protein that they receive from the meat-based portion of their diet.

When fed soaked (the only way that we recommend feeding chia seeds to cats), the gel-like chia seeds help the rest of your cat’s food pass through their digestive system at a slow rate. This means their bodies can absorb the maximum amount of nutrients.

chia seeds in white background
Image Credit: ally j, Pixabay

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Do cats like the taste of chia seeds?

Chia seeds have a fairly unobtrusive flavor. They taste slightly nutty and are usually well tolerated by most cats.

What’s the best way to feed chia seeds to my cat?

It’s usually recommended to grind the seeds slightly so more nutrition can be extracted as they pass through your cat’s digestive tract. You can feed them without grinding, but a percentage of seeds will pass through your cat’s system without being digested, so there won’t be any nutritional benefit.

cat sticking its tongue out
Image Credit: Miron Cristina, Unsplash

Do chia seeds need to be soaked before I feed them to my cat?

It’s best to soak the seeds before you offer them to your cat. We recommend grinding the seeds first.

Can I feed dry chia seeds to my cat?

We don’t recommend it. As the seeds pass through your cat’s digestive system, they will soak up any water surrounding them. If your cat eats a few seeds in one go, they will swell as they absorb water and can create a blockage in your cat’s digestive tract. Depending on the location, this can cause anything from mild discomfort to an emergency situation if your cat’s digestive system becomes fully blocked.

What amount of chia seeds should I feed my cat?

We recommend working up to feeding ½ teaspoon of chia seeds for every 5 pounds of your cat’s weight. Remember to measure the seeds dry, and then soak them before feeding. Follow the instructions for the brand of chia seeds that you’re using, and add as much water as they suggest.

After soaking, you can sprinkle the seeds over your cat’s wet food or mix them in. Some cats might even eat soaked chia seeds on their own or mixed with a little meat broth to make them more palatable.

Start feeding your cat a very small amount of chia seeds — ¼ teaspoon of soaked seeds should be enough to start with. Monitor your cat’s behavior over the next 24-48 hours. Watch for any signs of discomfort or if your cat gets diarrhea or constipation. It’s always a good idea to speak to your vet before feeding your cat any new foods.

Long haired cat eating food from a cat bowl
Image Credit: Seattle Cat Photo, Shutterstock

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Wrapping it up

Chia seeds contain a huge range of beneficial nutrients that can help give your cat’s immune system a boost, protect them from free radicals, and help their digestive system function at its best.

Some cats will happily eat chia seeds when mixed in with their food, while others will enjoy them in a broth. Always make sure to feed the seeds soaked, as they can cause a blockage in your cat’s digestive system otherwise since they absorb so much water.

As with any supplementary food, it’s best to introduce chia seeds to your cat’s diet slowly. They should never be used to compensate for low-quality meat-based cat food that doesn’t provide all the nutrients that your cat needs. If in doubt, you should always feed the highest quality cat food that you can afford and consider supplements like chia seeds as optional extras.

If your cat enjoys eating chia seeds, we’d love to hear more about them!

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Featured Image: ValeriaLu, Pixabay