Pet owners around the world love their feline friends, even if cats don’t always seem to reciprocate the same adoration that people have for them. Nonetheless, there are many cats who will show off their affection in a number of ways, with some cats even learning to beg at the table much in the same fashion as dogs do.
Whether you are curious if you can feed your cat some of your dinner while you are making it, or you are worried because your cat took a few bites of your food when you weren’t looking, it is always a good idea to know what foods are safe for your cat to eat, and which foods aren’t safe.
Potatoes are a staple for dinner in many households. Potatoes are an incredibly versatile tuber, with so many different variations on how it can be made. Because of this, the answer to whether or not cats can eat potatoes is a little bit murky.
Cats can eat some form of potatoes, but other forms of potato are dangerous and should be kept away from your cat.
First things first, you should learn about the different kinds of potatoes, and whether or not they are safe for cats.
What Kinds of Potatoes Are There?
There are several different potatoes out there, and while the only difference to most people is taste, there are some differences between different potatoes that are dangerous for your cat.
For example, cats cannot eat sweet potatoes, either cooked or raw, as they are hard for your cat to digest. However, some variants of cooked potato are completely safe for cats to eat, although your cat may or may not be interested in trying them.
The main kinds of potatoes that you will want to differentiate are cooked potatoes, raw potatoes, and sweet potatoes, both raw and cooked.
As a whole, potatoes should never, ever make up a substantial part of your cat’s diet.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they are not built to digest plant matter in an efficient way, nor can they absorb nutrients from plants very well. At the most, any potato for your cat should be a rare treat or an accidental find if your cat is curious about dinner.
Raw Potatoes: A Danger to Cats
There are some potatoes that your cat simply cannot eat and will suffer from eating. This includes raw potatoes, and to an extent, all forms of sweet potato.
Raw potatoes are not meant to be eaten by anyone, as the plant contains a chemical called solanine. Humans cannot digest this, and cats have an even harder time with this. Raw potato plants, including the greens, are also poisonous to your cat. If you are growing potatoes, keep your cat away from them at all costs.
All portions of a raw potato cannot be ingested by cats. This includes the “fruit” of the potato, the potato skins, and the plant and leaves surrounding the potato.
All parts of raw potatoes can be lethal to a cat, and if your cat is interested in raw potato skins, keep your cat as far away as possible from them.
Are Sweet Potatoes Toxic for Cats?
Sweet potatoes, while not good for your cat in any shape or form, are not as dangerous. Sweet potatoes traditionally do not have solanine in them, so they do not pose the inherent risk of death that raw potatoes do.
However, because cats are obligate carnivores, they cannot digest potatoes well at all. This will lead to other issues. Cats will often have digestive problems, vomiting, and diarrhea when fed even small amounts of sweet potato, although it should not be lethal in the same way that raw potatoes are.
If your cat accidentally gets into eating some sweet potatoes, you should keep an eye on it and try to soothe your cat as best you can, but the discomfort should pass once the potato is out of the cat’s system.
In the end, it can be fed as a very occasional treat, but be prepared for your cat’s digestive system not to accept it very well.
Can Cats Eat Cooked Potatoes?
Just like for people, cooking a potato will take away that dangerous chemical solanine, meaning the potato is no longer lethal for your cat.
Does this mean it’s safe for your cat to eat cooked potatoes? The short answer is yes, cooked potatoes can be safe to eat, but you will have to be careful.
To put it simply, unseasoned, unaltered, plain cooked potato can be a suitable filler in your cat’s food, and some cat food brands even include potato for this exact reason.
To expand on this, cats do not have the same hardy digestive systems that people do. Seasonings, additives, toppings, herbs, and spices can all pose a danger to your cat. Therefore, if you are cooking potatoes in a heavily seasoned meal, the potato itself will no longer be a threat to your cat, but everything surrounding it is.
What About Mashed Potatoes?
Consider the question of whether cats can eat mashed potatoes. A very simple, plain dish of mashed potatoes without anything added to it except the potatoes themselves will be fine for your cat.
Unfortunately, most people will include oils, fats, seasonings, spices, and all sorts of additives to bring flavor into a mashed potato dish. This is what will make the dish unsafe for your cat.
Cooked potatoes are fine for cats, although they have no nutritional value for cats so they should not make up a substantial portion of the cat’s diet. In the end, cooking, mashing, and boiling potatoes will remove the lethal factor, so long as you keep the potatoes plain.
Can Cats Eat Fried Potatoes?
Frying potatoes, as commonly done with French fries, is another story. Some people may be wondering that, since cats can eat mashed potatoes, can cats eat fries?
The short answer to this is no, cats should not eat fries.
Frying foods often means that oils, acids, and fats are added to the food, even if they aren’t meant to add flavor; this is simply the nature of frying foods. Cats cannot digest these oils and fats, making fries not the safest form of potato that cats can eat.
Beyond this, unless you are making the fries yourself, fries are often seasoned with copious amounts of salt and other seasonings. Cats cannot digest the plethora of added salts and spices, making fries even more dangerous for your cat.
Chances are that if your cat gets into fries or chips, it will not be the potato that harms the cat so much as everything that has been added to it.
Chips, which are fried and seasoned in a similar manner as fries, are in the same boat. Completely unseasoned and unaltered chips will still absorb some of the oils and fats that are used in the frying process, and cats cannot absorb these.
In addition to the seasonings and chemical flavorings that most chips use, a cat who eats chips may be sorely sorry in a few minutes.
If you want to stay on the safe side of feeding your cat potatoes, the safest way your cat can have some potato will be in the form of plain mashed potatoes without anything extra added to it. Aside from that, most potatoes should be a no-go, and cats should be actively kept away from raw potatoes and their plants.
- Raw potatoes? No!
- Fried Potatoes? Nope!
- Cooked potatoes? Sure, but mashed is best.
- Avoid oils and spices.