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Can Cats Eat Chickpeas? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Alternatives

Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

Vet approved

	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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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 since it’s typically used to increase the total level of protein in cat food without being a complete protein for a cat.


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 gastrointestinal content of 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.

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 incomplete and therefore inefficient for cats. So, while chickpeas are high in protein, they do not contain all the amino acids that a cat requires to survive.

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. Undigested food can cause gastrointestinal upset. Your cat could suffer gut pain, excessive gas, constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting.

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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 ingredients that cannot be gained from another, more digestible source.

If you want to give your cat a small amount of fruit and vegetables, consider the following alternatives:
  • Carrots – Besides containing vitamin K, B6, potassium, and fiber, carrots are a great source of lutein, and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants help maintain healthy eyes and vision.
  • 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. However, beware that peas can also be used to increase the total protein content in cat food without providing them with all the amino acids that they need.
  • 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, B3, B2, and C. It also contains minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium and has decent levels of fiber while being low in calories.

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 a great option 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.

Featured Image: PDPics, Pixabay

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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