We’ve all heard that curiosity killed the cat, and that saying has a foundation in reality; cats explore their world with their mouths, and ingesting foreign substances and objects can be fatal!
Lentils are a superfood for humans that packs a lot of nutrients that we need to thrive, but the nutritional value is vastly diminished for cats. Lentils are not toxic and your cat should be fine if they eat some. In fact, lentils are sometimes added to commercial cat food recipes. However, lentil soup contains ingredients that are toxic to cats. It is important to note that cats have different nutritional requirements than humans. Therefore, lentils don’t carry the same health benefits for cats 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’ digestive systems are not optimized for breaking down plant material because their diet is heavily comprised of animal proteins. 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 essential dietary 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!
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.
Lentil Nutrition for Humans
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, 1 cup of cooked lentils will give you 90% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of folate, 43% RDI of manganese, 37% RDI of iron, 29% RDI of phosphorus, 55% RDI of copper, 28% RDI of thiamin, 16% RDI of potassium, 17% RDI of magnesium, 21% RDI of vitamin B6, 23% RDI of zinc, and 13% RDI of niacin (vitamin B3).
However, it’s important to remember that these values are only relevant to humans and can’t be extrapolated to cats. 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 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’s face first in your bowl. Lentils won’t poison your cat, but the other ingredients added to your lentil soup could pose a significant risk to your cats. Garlic and onion are two common ingredients in lentil soup that are toxic to cats. If you find your cat snacking on your lentil soup, make sure to contact your vet for professional advice.
Are Lentils Healthy for Cats?
Cats need all the nutrients they need from eating a cat-specific complete and balanced diet. If you are planning on adding any foods to your cat’s meals, you should speak to your vet first. Plain lentils could be offered to your cat as an occasional treat. Lentils have a high protein content, so they aren’t 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 specific fiber requirements in their diet, adding it to their meals can sometimes help. However, you should always follow your vet’s guidance for this.
Risks of Feeding Your Cat Lentils
The fiber in lentils can be a double-edged sword. While fiber benefits cats who struggle with constipation or hairballs, an excess of fiber can have a laxative effect on cats and make them sick.
How to Safely Feed Your Cat Lentils
Feeding your cat lentils safely is all about moderation and following your vet’s advice. You must never 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.
Cats, as obligate carnivores, rely on nutrients in animal tissues. If you try to replace your cat’s primary food source with lentils, they can suffer from nutrient imbalances and associated health problems since they cannot provide the same nutritional components as meats and organs.
Can Cats Eat Lentil Soup?
No. Lentil soup is unlikely to poison your cat if they take a few sips. However, as explained, some ingredients used to make the broth for lentil soup can cause your cat severe gastrointestinal upset and red blood cell destruction. Make sure you contact your vet if your cat eats lentil soup.
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While lentils can be consumed by cats, moderation is key to ensuring safety. Your cat needs a diet that is formulated to meet their specific dietary needs, and treats should not make up for more than 10% of your cat’s diet. In the end, adhering to what your cat would be eating in the wild will produce better nutritional results in the long term.
If you are worried that your cat may have ingested something toxic, calling a veterinarian should be your first step. A veterinarian can guide you through the necessary steps and determine if you need to bring them in immediately.