We’ve all heard that curiosity killed the cat, and that saying has some foundation in reality; cats tend to explore their world with their mouths, and ingesting foreign substances and objects can be fatal!
Lentils are a superfood for humans that pack a lot of nutrients that we need to thrive, but for cats, the nutritional value is vastly diminished. Lentils can be a good treat in small amounts if your cat likes them. But they don’t carry the same health benefits that they do for humans.
What Do Cats Eat?
In the wild, cats don’t have a varied diet. They’re part of an animal classification known as “hypercarnivores” or “obligate carnivores,” meaning their diet comprises at least 70% animal proteins.
Cats lack many of the gastrointestinal enzymes needed to break down plant material because their diet is so heavily comprised of animal proteins. This means that when they consume plant-based foods, they don’t get the same nutrient profiles that animals more suited to breaking those foods down do. They only get the complete nutrients from animal protein sources.
Some scientists theorize that in the wild, cats get their plant-based needs met by eating the food out of the stomachs of their prey. Cats don’t leave anything behind when they hunt; they even eat the bones! So, eating their prey’s last meal allows them to get the benefits of the plant material by consuming the enzymes from their prey’s stomach, much like a human taking a Lactaid before they eat some cheese.
However, because cats aren’t made to consume plant material, they have evolved to have little need for traditionally plant-based nutrients like carbohydrates and other “fast” energy sources.
Lentils are a superfood for humans that come jam-packed with nutrients!
One cup of cooked lentils contains about 230 calories, 39.9 grams of carbohydrates, 17.9 grams of protein, 15.6 grams of fiber, and 0.8 grams of fat.
Additionally, one cup of cooked lentils will give you 90% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of folate, 49% RDI of manganese, 37% RDI of iron, 36% RDI of phosphorus, 25% RDI of copper, 22% RDI of thiamin, 21% RDI of potassium, 18% RDI of magnesium, 18% RDI of vitamin B6, 17% RDI of zinc, 13% RDI of pantothenic acid, and 10% RDI of niacin.
However, it’s important to remember that these values are only relevant for humans. When consumed by other creatures, the nutritional value of lentils is different, and cats, in particular, don’t get nearly the same benefits as humans.
So, while the high protein content of lentils might seem tempting when it comes to adding them to your cat’s menu, it’s essential to remember that they won’t get the same protein values that humans do from them.
Are Lentils Toxic to Cats?
Lentils are not toxic to cats. So, you don’t have to worry if you find your cat face first in your lentil soup. They won’t die from the lentils, but the other things added to your lentil soup could pose a significant risk to your cats. If you find your cat snacking on something they aren’t supposed to have, keep an eye on them to ensure that they don’t get sick.
Are Lentils Healthy for Cats?
In small amounts, lentils can be a healthy addition to your cat’s diet. Lentils do have a high protein content, so they aren’t entirely empty calories for our cats.
Additionally, lentils have a reasonably low caloric content, so they can help keep your cat’s weight in check by filling up their stomach and keeping them full.
Lentils are also very high in dietary fiber. While cats don’t have a high need for dietary fiber, adding it to their diet can help them in the long run.
Especially as cats age, their digestive system can need a little bit of help to keep things on track, and the extra fiber from something like lentils can keep their stomachs running smoothly.
Further, fiber creates a long-lasting sense of fullness which can help your cat if they’re having trouble losing weight.
Lentils are also full of healthy antioxidants that can help your cat stay in tip—top shape!
Risks of Feeding Your Cat Lentils
The fiber in lentils can be a double-edged sword. While the fiber is beneficial for cats who struggle with constipation or hairballs, an excess of fiber can have a laxative effect on cats and make them sick.
Lentils also have a high carbohydrate content, making your cat gain weight if they aren’t monitored properly.
How to Safely Feed Your Cat Lentils
Feeding your cat lentils safely is all about moderation. In moderation, lentils are healthy for cats and an excellent addition to their diet.
It’s critical that you not replace your cat’s animal proteins with lentils. Just because lentils have a high protein content doesn’t mean they are a suitable primary nutrient source for cats.
If you try to replace your cat’s primary food source with lentils, they will quickly begin to suffer from malnutrition as lentils cannot provide the same nutritional components for them that meats and organs do.
Can Cats Eat Lentil Soup?
Lentil soup is unlikely to kill your cat if they take a few sips. However, the components used to make the broth for lentil soup can cause your cat severe gastrointestinal upset. Keep an eye on your cat if they’ve had some lentil soup to make sure that it wasn’t made with anything that could be dangerous for them.
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While lentils can be healthy for cats, moderation is the key component to making sure your cat gets a balanced diet. In the end, adhering to what your cat would be eating in the wild more strictly will produce better nutritional results in the long term.
If you are worried that your cat may have ingested something toxic to them, calling a veterinarian should be your first step. A veterinarian can best guide you through caring for your cat and determine if they need to be seen in person for their safety.
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