Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables in the United States. In fact, it’s estimated that a person in the U.S. eats almost 8.5 pounds of carrots per year!  When humans are enthusiastic about a certain snack, they often want to share it with their furry friends. However, this might leave you wondering, “Can cats eat carrots?”
Read on for everything you need to know about cats and carrots.
Can Cats Eat Carrots?
Cats can eat carrots, but they should be considered a special treat rather than a main course. “Cats are obligate carnivores and carrots do not hold any of the essential proteins that they need to thrive. You should always offer carrots in moderation,” explains Emily Swiniarski, DVM, medical director at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, Illinois.
Dr. Swiniarski notes that treats should constitute less than 10 percent of a cat’s daily food intake and that for an average 10-pound cat, one baby carrot is the maximum you should offer per day.
Can cats eat raw carrots?
Yes, cats can eat carrots raw or cooked – you’ll just have to see which they prefer. “It depends on the cat,” Dr. Swiniarski says. “Some cats really enjoy crunchy, others like softer textures. It’s a matter of individual taste.”
It’s also important to note that raw carrots and cooked carrots do have different nutritional profiles. “When you cook a carrot, some nutrients become more bioavailable for digestion, other nutrients less,” Dr. Swiniarski explains. However, since carrots should only be given as treats, it really doesn’t matter how you serve them to your cat.
Can cats eat carrot greens?
Dr. Swiniarski does not recommend feeding your cat carrot greens, noting that it will almost certainly lead to stomach upset. “They’re very high in fiber and not a plant that cats typically eat,” she says.
Can kittens eat carrots?
Yes, kittens can technically eat carrots, but the amount should be minimal. “Kittens have very specific nutritional requirements and need a diet that is high in protein and fat. If you feed a kitten too many treats or foods that do not meet those standards, that kitten is not getting the nutrients she needs,” notes Dr. Swiniarski.
“A kitten could certainly taste a baby carrot, maybe a quarter of a baby carrot,” she adds, “but you should really focus on serving your kitten a high-quality kitten diet and keep the treats to a minimum.”
Are Carrots Good for Cats?
Carrots are not bad for cats, but, generally speaking, they don’t offer much in terms of nutrition that the cat isn’t getting elsewhere. “All of the nutrients that carrots have, cats should be getting from balanced cat diets,” Dr. Swiniarski says.
That said, raw carrots can be good for a cat that is having trouble pooping. This is because carrots are high in fiber, which assists in digestion and can combat constipation.
Are carrots good for cats who need to lose weight?
Carrots are not necessarily beneficial for cat weight loss. Dr. Swiniarski says that while carrots are a popular treat for dog parents who are looking for Fido to shed a few pounds, she wouldn’t recommend a similar approach in cats. “Since cats have such specific nutritional requirements, you don’t want to start replacing the small amount of cat food they get each day with carrots,” she says. “Baby carrots are not a substitute for nutritious cat food.”
Are Carrots Safe for Cats?
Carrots are very safe for cats to eat in small quantities. The exception to the rule is if you have a diabetic cat. “Diabetic cats should avoid carrots altogether because they have very high protein and low carbohydrate requirements,” Dr. Swiniarski explains. “Carrots contain sugar and carbohydrates that are completely unnecessary for cats, and that could throw off their blood sugar.”
Tips for Feeding Carrots to Cats
Cats are notoriously picky eaters, so if you would like to introduce carrots to your cat, take it slow. Offer tiny pieces to see if they enjoy it. Try both cooked and raw to see if they have a preference. And don’t force it if your cat vomits or experiences some other type of stomach upset.
“Every cat has their own sensitivities,” Dr. Swiniarski notes. “Foods that are high in fiber can be difficult to digest, so start very small, way less than a baby carrot in amount. If they don’t have any stomach upset, try a bit more the next time.”
Dr. Swiniarski once again stresses that carrots should be treats, not diet staples. “Carrots are an add-on to an already balanced diet. If your cat likes carrots, cut them up and put them on top of their food. Or put some pieces inside of a food puzzle. Make them a fun snack they get on occasion, not a part of their daily diet.”
- Statistica.com. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/257333/per-capita-consumption-of-fresh-carrots-in-the-us/