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Can Cats Eat Kidney Beans? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Health Guidelines

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Nicole Cosgrove

kidney beans on a wooden bowl with spoon

Can Cats Eat Kidney Beans? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Health Guidelines


Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo


Dr. Chyrle Bonk


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

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Kidney beans are a tasty legume chock full of health benefits for humans, but are they something you can share with your cat? While cooked kidney beans aren’t toxic for kitties and offer some nutritional benefits, they aren’t found in a cat’s natural diet and can be difficult to digest. As obligate carnivores, cats are better set up to digest meats rather than plant products.

Read on to learn more about the benefits and risks of kidney beans for cats and the appropriateness of this legume for your feline family member.

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What Are the Benefits of Kidney Beans?

Kidney beans are a great source of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, B vitamins, and manganese. It is also a great source of fiber. These nutrients play important roles in metabolism and cellular growth and function. Fiber can also help regulate digestion and manage feline obesity.

Keep in mind that cats eating a good-quality diet don’t require kidney beans to meet any of their nutritional needs, and feeding too many kidney beans can result in gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.

close up kidney beans on a bowl
Image By: Dar1930, Shutterstock

Do Kidney Beans Provide Protein for Cats?

One 100-gram serving of boiled kidney beans offers over 20 grams of protein.

As obligate carnivores, cats have higher protein requirements than dogs. However, their bodies have adapted to diets consisting primarily of animal protein. Cats cannot digest and utilize plant protein as readily as animal sources. So, while kidney beans do have a lot of protein, it is important to note that cats will have a more difficult time utilizing the protein from kidney beans than they will from animal sources.


How to Offer Kidney Beans

If you decide to give your kitty a taste of your kidney beans, there is a right and wrong way to do so.

Raw Beans

Never offer your cat raw kidney beans. Uncooked beans contain high levels of lectins, which can be toxic for cats. Lectins are plant proteins that bind to carbohydrates. They are a defensive mechanism to help plants survive in nature, but this same protective quality can cause discomfort in humans (and cats) if consumed.

Signs of lectin toxicity include:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal discomfort

Cooking or soaking raw kidney beans will help destroy all active lectins.

Canned Beans

Many people opt for canned beans over raw simply for convenience. To offer your kitty canned kidney beans, thoroughly rinse them before cooking. Most canned varieties are packed in salt water for preservation’s sake, so you’ll want to get rid of this before giving any to your cat.

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What are Other Treat Options Besides Kidney Beans?

cat eating eggs and veggies
Image By: Anastasiya-Tsiasemnikava, Shutterstock

Rather than giving your cat kidney beans, you may instead decide to offer them small pieces of plain, lean, cooked meats, such as chicken breast. This will provide a protein boost without a lot of extra calories. You may also opt for commercial cat treats. If you have any questions on other treat options, be sure to speak to your vet.

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Final Thoughts

While kidney beans may have something to offer in terms of vitamins and minerals, this isn’t a food found in a cat’s natural diet. If your kitty goes wild for them you can offer a few cooked kidney beans occasionally, once a week or less, as a special treat. However, the bulk of your pet’s diet should consist of commercially prepared food designed specifically to meet the nutritional needs of cats.

Featured Image Credit: Piyaset, Shutterstock

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