The Benefits of Feeding Pumpkin to Cats
As you painstakingly sort through the pumpkins at the pumpkin patch or the bin at the supermarket this month looking for the perfect carver, I’ll bet you don’t stop to think about your cat. Understandable, unless you’re planning on carving an image of your cat’s face into that perfect squash. But it’s definitely time to start thinking about feeding your feline friend pumpkin. I’m not talking about pumpkin pie or pumpkin lattes, rather just plain ol’ cooked pumpkin.
FIX IT WITH FIBER
Canned or cooked pumpkin is packed with all the fiber it takes to relieve most cat’s mild constipation. You’d better believe that your cat will prefer eating tasty pumpkin over using other constipation remedies, like enemas. The benefits that fiber adds to your cat’s diet don’t end with constipation relief: fiber can also help clear and prevent painful anal gland issues. Additionally, fiber moves hair through the digestive tract so that you can stop cleaning hairballs off of your floor. Also, fiber does more than just soothe your cat’s bowels, it can also absorb excess fluid in the gut, relieving or at least reducing mild diarrhea.
WASTE AWAY THE WEIGHT
If you have a pleasantly plump kitty then you’re probably are aware of how hard it is to promote weight loss. After all, it’s near impossible to pump up her exercise plan, so weight loss in cats is based mostly on diet, something most kitties don’t take kindly to. Pumpkin can help you with that! That healthy fiber that we’ve already talked about will help keep your dieting cat feeling satiated between meals with fewer calories than her normal cat food. That means that you can remove calories from your cat’s daily intake without hearing about it all day (and all night).
PUMPKIN PACKS A PUNCH
That said, don’t think that feeding pumpkin to your cat is just filling him with empty calories. In fact, pumpkin provides many healthy nutrients. Pumpkin contains vitamins A, C, and E as well as calcium, iron, lutein, and beta carotene. These nutrients are essential for healthy immune function, eyes, skin and coat, and are rich antioxidants. While a high quality cat food will provide all of these, those out there who are feeding their cats a raw or homemade diet may want to consider adding pumpkin as a source of these essential nutrients.
In addition to the pumpkin flesh, pumpkin seeds can also be fed to cats. Be sure to clean, roast, and grind them for proper feeding. Pumpkin seeds contain a lot of omega fatty acids and antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, so they make great supplements for cats that experience chronic urinary issues or even arthritis.
FEEDING PUMPKIN TO YOUR CAT
Hopefully by now you’re convinced to get your cat into pumpkin season with you this year! But you may be wondering: where to begin? It’s not quite as simple as dumping a nice ripe pumpkin in your cat’s food bowl, but it is almost that easy. Pumpkin straight out of the can is quick and easy for kitty! If you prefer to do it yourself, you can roast or steam your own pumpkin as well. Raw pumpkin works too, but is a little harder to eat and therefore less palatable. Avoid the stems, skin, and the stringy innards as well.
Be sure that the canned pumpkin you get is not pumpkin pie filling with all the added seasonings and sugar. You want the pure, unsweetened stuff.
You can start by feeding a couple of teaspoons a day, and if your cat tolerates and enjoys it you can up the quantity to roughly 20% of her daily food intake if you’re trying to achieve weight loss. A tablespoon or two once to twice a day is enough to help with most constipation and diarrhea issues.
PUMPKIN TREATS FOR YOUR PURRY PAL
If you want to get more creative with your pumpkin feeding, try one of these pumpkin treat recipes for kitties:
Pumpkin Pie Cat Treats
2 cups brown rice flour
½ cup uncooked oatmeal
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup grated carrots
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup brown rice flour for rolling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend pumpkin, applesauce, and carrots until smooth. Mix brown rice flour and oatmeal in a bowl. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix by hand until dough forms. On a floured countertop or cutting board, roll dough to about ¼ inch thick. Cut shapes with a cookie cutter or cut into squares. Place treats on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 7 minutes. Flip treats over and bake another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool thoroughly. Store in fridge or freezer.
Pumpkin Squeak Treats
2 cups rice flour
½ cup natural peanut butter
1 cup canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree
1 ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degree. Mix ingredients together until blended, then spread dough to ¼ inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool before serving. Store in refrigerator for up to 7 days.
GET YOUR CAT PUMPED ABOUT PUMPKIN
The benefits of pumpkin for your cat can be enjoyed with any member of the fall squash family so you may even choose to mix it up a bit during this season. As with any supplement or dietary additive, always consult your veterinarian before starting feeding. Pumpkin is a great natural addition to your cat’s diet. It can help relieve minor digestive issues and promote weight loss. Most kitties love it as well just as much as we all love our pumpkin pie.
Written by Chryle Bonk