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Can Cats Eat Chickpeas? What You Need To Know

The chickpea, or garbanzo bean, is a legume that originates from the Middle East and has gained the nickname of the Egyptian pea as a result. They are considered high in protein, which means that they are sometimes found in commercial cat foods as a means of increasing protein levels without having to include expensive ingredients like meat.

However, chickpeas are considered very difficult for cats to digest and should be avoided. If you do feed garbanzo beans to your cat, ensure that they are properly prepared so that they are soft. But the better approach would be to find alternatives for this ingredient, especially because they do not offer a lot of nutritional benefits other than high levels of protein.divider-catclaw1

Cat Diet

Cats are obligate carnivores. They must get their nutritional and protein requirements from meat sources. In the wild, this would include rodents and some small mammals like young rabbits. They would also chase and eat birds and some, albeit very few, would also eat fish and water-based prey.

Although the cat would get some grains, vegetables, and fruits from the prey that they eat, they would not specifically look to eat these categories of food. Therefore, when giving your cat a species-appropriate diet, you should largely avoid feeding these foods too. However, we will offer suitable exceptions to this below.

chickpeas
Image Credit: Huhulenik, Wikimedia Commons

Are Chickpeas Good For Cats?

In particular, your cat’s protein intake, which should be high, will come from meat sources. Vegetable protein is considered low quality and inefficient for cats. So, while chickpeas are high in protein, it is not a beneficial source of protein.

Although chickpeas do contain potassium, magnesium, and folate, the levels are not high enough to have to consider feeding this ingredient. Look for alternatives that are healthier for your cat.

The big problem with the garbanzo bean is that it is very difficult to digest. This means that your cat will not be able to digest the vitamins and minerals in the bean, anyway. Undigested food can also cause gastrointestinal upset. Your cat could suffer gut pain, constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting.

cat looking at bowl of raw veggies
Image Credit: Scharfsinn, Shutterstock

Alternatives To Chickpeas

There isn’t really any reason to add chickpeas to a cat’s diet in the first place. They do not contain any ingredient that cannot be gained from a more beneficial and more appropriate source.

If you want to give your cat more fruit and vegetables, consider the following alternatives:
  • Carrots – As well as containing vitamin K1, B6, and potassium, and fiber, carrots are a great source of beta carotene. This is true of most orange fruit and vegetables, and the nutrient converts to vitamin A when it is ingested. Vitamin A is responsible for a cat’s night vision and also promotes healthy skin and coat.
  • Blueberries – Safe for cats to eat, blueberries contain decent levels of fiber, and they contain a lot of moisture. It can be difficult to get cats to drink water, but it is especially important if you feed your cat dry kibble and dry food, because they do not get moisture from these types of diet. Blueberries are also an excellent source of natural antioxidants.
  • Squash – In its various forms, the vegetable, squash, is good for cats. It needs to be peeled and boiled, but perhaps the biggest benefit of this veg is that it contains a lot of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber can help reduce instances of hairballs, prevent GI upset, and helps your cat feel full while containing few calories.
  • Peas – Peas are often found in dry cat food, where they are most often used as a grain replacement to help maintain the shape and structure of the kibble. They are also high in fiber, low in calories, and they contain a good range of vitamins and minerals that make them a suitable ingredient for your home-prepared food as well as for commercial pet food.
  • Spinach – Spinach should not be given to cats with urinary or kidney complaints, but for other cats, it is a good source of vitamins. In particular, it contains vitamins A, K, B6, B2, E, and C. It also contains minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium and has decent levels of fiber while being low in calories. Although minimal compared to fish, spinach even contains levels of omega 3 fatty acids.

cat paw dividerShould You Feed Chickpeas To Your Cat?

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a legume considered very good for humans. They are fibrous, low in calories, and contain minerals like potassium. However, they are very difficult for cats to digest and, therefore, are not considered good for a feline diet. Cats need to get the majority of their protein and nutrients from meat sources, but if you are looking for additional ingredients for your cat, vegetables like carrots and fruits like blueberries do offer some nutritional benefit, hence why they are sometimes found in dry kibble and other cat food recipes.

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Featured Image Credit: PDPics, Pixabay

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