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

Sunflower seeds are the edible gift of the sunflower. Not only are they tasty, but they are super nutritious and considered to be one of the healthiest snacks around for a variety of reasons. But can your beloved feline eat them too?

The quick answer is that yes they can, but there are certain things that you need to know about sunflower seeds, such as when to feed them, how to feed them, how many to feed them, and more importantly, when not to feed them! So, before feeding them to your cat, be sure to read this guide otherwise you may need to take an emergency trip to the veterinarian.

In this guide, we will teach you everything you need to know about feeding your cat this sunny superfood, so let’s dive straight in!


Yes, Cats Can Eat Sunflower Seeds! But Only the Seed!

The quick answer here is that yes, cats can eat sunflower seeds. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that the sunflower plant is non-toxic to cats, and that includes the seeds.

Sunflower Seeds
Photo credit: PIX1861, Pixabay

However, you really need to discard the shell because it is sharp and can lead to internal injuries, and it is very hard to digest. Whilst rodents have perfected the ability to shell the seeds themselves, cats have not mastered this skill, so you will need to do it for them. So, technically it is the sunflower kernel that they can eat.

If you are buying seeds from the store then you also need to ensure that they are natural and unseasoned, as this can cause an upset stomach.

How Many Sunflower Seeds Can Cats Eat?

Remember that all things should be eaten in moderation, and this is particularly true for animals who have smaller stomachs; they cannot eat human quantities. But when eaten in moderation sunflower seeds are super nutritious and beneficial for her.

To be specific, it is suggested that cats should eat sunflower kernels as a treat, once or twice a week, just a few at a time. And just like every new food introduction, if you are feeding your kitty sunflower seeds for the first time then only feed her one or two, and then monitor her for the following 24 hours to ensure that she is not allergic to them.

Nutritional Content of Sunflower Seeds

There is a reason why humans love seeds so much. Not only are they a nutrient-dense snack full of healthy omega fatty acids, but they are also full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. The question is, what nutrition do they offer our kitties?


Cats are known to need a high amount of protein, and while the majority of this should come from meat sources, some of it can come from plant sources. The protein content of the sunflower seed is it’s the most appealing factor, which is why some cats are so attracted to them.


Highly fibrous foods are known to support the regular movement of the digestive system in all animals, including cats. Not only are sunflower seeds considered to be a prebiotic fiber that promotes friendly bacteria in the gut, but they also help to keep stools healthy and firm.

The mistake some cat owners make is to feed their cat too much fiber, in the hope that this will eradicate digestive issues, but too much fiber can cause problems with their gut, as well as produce extra gas, which is another reason to feed your cat sunflower seeds in moderation.

Sunflower Seeds
Photo credit: Lebensmittelfotos, Pixabay

Vitamin E

Sunflower seeds are also rich in vitamin E, which has a lot of health benefits. Vitamin E helps to keep your cat’s skin and coat healthy and glossy, so not only will she feel good inside, but she will look healthy on the outside too.

Vitamin E is also known to protect against several types of cancer, and helps to create a healthy oxidative state within living beings.

Vitamin B1

Also known as thiamine, sunflower seeds are rich in this vitamin, which is very important for cats. Cats are known to suffer from thiamine deficiency, so sunflower seeds in moderation will boost her levels of this for sure!


Further to the high levels of vitamin E which help to protect against cancer, sunflower seeds are also high in selenium, which is an antioxidant that is crucial in cancer prevention and detoxifying the body of harmful cells.

When Not to Feed Your Cat Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are full of healthy fats, but fats nonetheless, so if your cat is a little on the chunky side, then you should reduce the number of seeds you feed her, if any at all, until she is back to a healthy weight.

If the sunflower seeds are store-bought, then be sure to look at the ingredients. They must be natural, and list no flavoring, preservatives, added oils or salt because these can all be harmful to your kitty.

Sunflower Seeds
Photo credit: _Alicja_, Pixabay

Why is Your Cat Eating Sunflower Seeds From Your Garden?

If you find that your kitty is helping herself to the seeds from the sunflowers in your garden, then you need to ask yourself why. Some cats eat grass and seeds because they aren’t getting the nutrients they need from their daily food, so you may need to change the food you are feeding her to a more nutritious one, or one with a higher fiber content to satisfy her needs.

You also need to check her mouth for any cuts because the shells are sharp, and if you suspect an internal injury be sure to get her to the Veterinarian straight away. If she still continues to eat them, then you should seek advice from your Veterinarian, as there may be an underlying cause for it.cat + line divider

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, cats can eat de-shelled sunflower seeds, and as long as they are eaten in moderation, they are a very nutritious and tasty snack. They have a variety of health benefits, namely offering digestive support, being thiamine rich, nourishing her skin and coat, and are also cancer-fighting.

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Featured image credit: Alena Koval from Pexels, pictavio from Pixabay