It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, Christmas has not come early, but pumpkin season (aka fall) is in full swing! Pumpkin is one of the most versatile ingredients out there! Whether it finds a home in a latte, a pie, or stuffed into a ravioli noodle, pumpkin is sure to be a staple on your seasonal shelf. Better yet, pumpkin isn’t just a tasty fall treat, but a healthy addition to your feline friend’s diet. Pumpkin for cats has been proven to improve digestive health, among many other benefits! In this article, you will learn everything under the stars that pumpkin has to offer you and your cherished cat.
- 1 What is a Pumpkin?
- 2 Pumpkin for Cats?
- 3 Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats
- 4 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds for Cats
- 5 Canned Pumpkin for Cats
- 6 How Much Pumpkin for Cats
- 7 Possible Risks of Pumpkin for Cats
- 8 CBD for Cats
- 9 Pumpkin for Cats: A Final Thought
What is a Pumpkin?
If you step into any grocery store come October 1st (sometimes even sooner), you have likely seen piles of pumpkins lining the linoleum floors. Pumpkins are a member of the fruit family and are considered a type of squash plant. Easily identifiable by their tough, orange rind, pumpkins are notably utilized as pie filling and Halloween jack-o-lanterns. However, pumpkin has a lot more to offer inside than tasty seasonal treats.
What are Pumpkin Seeds?
More than likely, you have munched on store-bought roasted pumpkin seeds or hand-scooped them out of the slimy insides of a pumpkin you were carving. However, did you know the vast health benefits of pumpkin seeds? The flat, almond-shaped seeds are full of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and fatty acids. Furthermore, pumpkin seeds contain lipids, a “good” fat that is quite beneficial when included in your cat’s diet.
Pumpkin: A Natural Fiber Supplement
Fiber is an extremely important component of a healthy digestive system, vital to digestion, regularity, weight management, and cholesterol and blood sugar regulation. Furthermore, fiber is a versatile dietary element, known by its two types: soluble and insoluble.
Characterized by its ability to dissolve in water, soluble fiber promotes smooth passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, soluble fiber is effective in terms of lowering fat absorption and combating weight gain. Better yet, soluble fiber reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, lowers cholesterol, creates healthy gut bacteria, and helps lower blood sugar. So where
can your cat get its paws on this amazing, natural, dietary supplement? Why, pumpkin, of course! Pumpkin is just one example of foods naturally containing soluble fiber, it is also found in:
And more! Specifically, pumpkin is a great choice because it contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Conversely, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber lowers the risk of a number of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease, to name a few. Due to the fact that insoluble fiber remains intact in the gastrointestinal tract, it makes the body feel fuller for longer. Pumpkin is a unique food because it contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, reaping the unique benefits of both. Other foods containing insoluble fiber are:
- Green beans
- Whole wheat products
- and more!
Clearly, pumpkin has got it going on in terms of the fiber-rich health game!
Pumpkin for Cats?
There is an ongoing controversy regarding what “human” foods are deemed safe for feline consumption. While all cat tummies are unique, we are delighted to tell you that pumpkin is not only safe for cats but packed with tons of natural benefits. Fortunately, we live in a time where a holistic approach to pet wellness is actively on the rise. Therefore, more and more organic, natural pumpkin products made specifically for cats are popping up in stores and online. So what exactly are the benefits of including pumpkin in your cat’s diet? Let’s find out, shall we?
Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats
A healthy cat starts from the inside out. Naturally, diet is single-handedly any pet owners first line of defense to disease or other health issues. Finding out what ingredients reap the most benefits while actively agreeing with your unique cat’s needs is an important step in crafting your pet’s wellness plan. We are pleased to report that pumpkin has been proven to not only treat active diseases but prevent new ones from forming. Treating and preventing disease is just one of the many benefits of a pumpkin-rich diet.
Has your cat not been making his or her regularly scheduled trips to the litter box? Unfortunately, cat constipation is a more common issue amongst our feline friends than you might think. Before introducing a vet-approved laxative, you may want to consider pumpkin for your backed-up kitty! We always recommend avoiding prescription medication when possible, but especially when constipation is the issue. Laxatives have been known to cause more harm than good for your ailing cat, typically causing diarrhea because of the harsh chemicals over-the-counter laxatives are made with.
Fortunately, canned pumpkin is an extremely effective approach to treating constipation. As previously stated, pumpkin is rich in fiber, which acts as a natural laxative. Simply mix 1-4 tablespoons of pumpkin with your cat’s food and make sure there is some fresh litter in the box!
Arguably the opposite issue of cat constipation, cat diarrhea is a messy and uncomfortable feline tummy problem. Despite their notable differences, pumpkin is an effective way to treat both cat constipation and cat diarrhea. Remember the soluble fiber pumpkin naturally boasts? Well, combined with its natural makeup of potassium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and E, pumpkin is a perfect answer to treating cat diarrhea. This unique cocktail of natural ingredients helps absorb water in the digestive tract and give stool the healthy density it needs.
It goes without saying that all cats are different. Therefore, it is important to discuss your cat’s specific issues and needs with your trusted family veterinarian before introducing any new elements into your cat’s diet. However, most cats only need about one tablespoon of canned pumpkin in their food to find relief from diarrhea.
Treatment of Hairballs
Similar to how the soluble fiber in pumpkin treats diarrhea, pumpkin can help relieve issues with hairballs.
Easing an Upset Stomach
Diarrhea and constipation are just two of many tummy issues that cats can suffer from. Sometimes, upset stomach and nausea come into play. You may not know this, but it is important to switch up your cat’s diet (namely, protein source) every couple of months. Eating the same food for an extended period of time can actually cause your cat to develop an allergy or intolerance to those ingredients. That being said, often times the switch can lead to some unpleasant belly pain. Fortunately, pumpkin can work wonders in calming the tummy while your cat adjusts to their new food. Furthermore, it is important to make the switch slowly, incorporating small amounts of the new food into the old food. Eventually, you will phase out the old food entirely.
Stomach Issues – A Word of Warning
Diarrhea and upset stomachs are considered “non-specific” symptoms in the veterinarian community. That is to say, gastrointestinal issues can range widely from moderate to severe. More often than not, tummy issues can pass within a few hours and are simply a side-effect of having eaten something unsavory. However, it is not unheard of that issues like diarrhea are actually a symptom of a more serious condition. If your beloved cat is suffering from a lengthy bout of diarrhea (over 48 hours), a trip to the vet is highly recommended. Diarrhea has been known to lead to a diagnosis of intestinal parasites, bacterial virus, or, in severe cases, certain gastrointestinal cancers. If that is the case, a timely diagnosis is paramount to getting the treatment necessary.
Carrying too much weight is stressful on anybody, and cats are no exception. Obesity is tied to a number of health issues, some even fatal. Excess weight, especially when carried around the core of the body, puts too much pressure on the organs. Therefore, it is important to practice good health and keep an eye on your cat’s weight. Pumpkin is a nutritional, low-calorie ingredient that mixes easily into your cat’s normal food. Furthermore, the natural insoluble fiber in pumpkin helps your cat feel fuller, and thus, eat less.
Pumpkin is chock-full of naturally occurring vitamins that are essential to your cats overall well being. To start, your cat will experience the benefit of healthy eyes and vision promoted by Vitamin A. Furthermore, the antioxidant beta-carotene will protect your cat’s joints and help slow the aging process. Better yet, pumpkin is loaded with Vitamin C which is essential to fighting disease by building a healthy and strong immune system. Finally, your cat will reap the benefits of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage.
Clearly, there are vast and amazing internal benefits of pumpkin for cats, and we are pleased to report there is even more to love! Your cat will enjoy healthier skin and a shiny, luscious coat with the help of essential fatty acids prevalent in pumpkin. Often times, environmental changes like weather and allergies cause your cat’s skin to be dry, itchy, and flaky. Fortunately, pumpkin is the perfect answer to seasonal allergy woes!
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds for Cats
To clarify, up until this point, all the amazing benefits we have discussed have specifically been about canned or pureed pumpkin. That is to say, pumpkin seeds offer a whole new wave of health benefits! Let’s discuss, shall we?
As you may know, intestinal worms are extremely common problem amongst both cats and dogs. Fortunately, pumpkin seeds are a powerful de-worming agent that have been healing ailing pets for decades. Experts recommend grinding the seeds into a fine powder in a food processor. Simply mix one tablespoon into your cat’s food daily until the problem clears. The pumpkin seeds help wash the worms from the intestines and pass them in the stool. Better yet, a small number of pumpkin seeds served regularly may help prevent worms from returning to your pet’s system.
Does your Cat have Parasites?
As always, a proper diagnosis is essential to selecting the most effective treatment plan. Parasites and intestinal worms are no exception and require prompt treatment to ensure the issue does not worsen. Often contracted from contaminated food or water, intestinal worms can vary significantly in severity. Therefore, you should know how to spot the signs of unwelcomed visitors in your pet’s gut. Symptoms of intestinal worms include, but are not limited to:
- Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
- Lack of appetite
- Upset stomach
- Mucusy stool
- Rice looking matter in stool
If your cat is displaying any one or number of these symptoms, we urge you to take a trip to the vet. Your veterinarian will be able to accurately pinpoint the level of infestation, and recommend a preferred treatment plan for your unique feline.
Naturally Vitamin Rich
Furthermore, pumpkin seeds are full of several beneficial vitamins including beta-carotene, vitamin A, iron, potassium, zinc, and more. Like canned pumpkin, the seeds boast high levels of fatty acids essential for promoting heart health and a healthy coat. Better yet, antioxidant-rich pumpkin seeds can even prevent the development and growth of certain cancers. That’s right, pumpkin seeds can help prevent cancer. That being said, you may want to pile on the ground pumpkin seeds, however, it is important to practice moderation. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
A Healthy, Natural Treat!
As previously stated, ground up pumpkin seed powder mixed with their regular food is a great way to incorporate pumpkin seeds into your cat’s diet. Additionally, you can opt out of store bought treats and give your cat one or two home-roasted pumpkin seeds a day! Your cat will not only love the taste but reap a number of health benefits!
How to Make Pumpkin Seed Cat Treats
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread clean, fresh pumpkin seeds evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes. Allow time to cool before feeding to your cat. You may even enjoy snacking on a few roasted pumpkin seeds yourself!
Promotes Bladder Health
Neutralizes parasites, prevents cancer, and provides natural nutrients? What else could you hope for from the “magical” pumpkin seed?! Well, a healthy bladder and urinary tract for one thing! That’s right, antioxidant-rich pumpkin seeds work wonders for a variety of bladder-related kitty issues. Perhaps your aging cat is having trouble controlling their bladder: pumpkin seeds are the answer! Maybe your cat is suffering from a urinary tract infection: pumpkin seeds save the day again! Better yet, pumpkin seeds can actually help prevent the development of kidney stones in cats.
Canned Pumpkin for Cats
At this point, you are likely already out the door to the store to buy some pumpkin for your cat. As you should be, the benefits are incredibly clear! However, before you fill your shopping cart up with pumpkin, there are a few things you should look out for when making your selection. First of all, never buy or feed your pet anything containing the ingredient xylitol. This sugar substitute is incredibly toxic to pets and can have deadly side-effects. Therefore, it is important that you only buy plain, organic canned pumpkin. Avoid fancy pumpkin pie fillings or anything with added sugar or salt. There should only be one ingredient in your can: pumpkin.
Interestingly enough, canned pumpkin has more fiber than fresh pumpkin, so we advise sticking to the can instead of the messy alternative.
How Much Pumpkin for Cats
As with any new dietary element, be sure to consult your vet before introducing pumpkin into your cat’s diet. Additionally, it is important to slowly work pumpkin into their diet, one tablespoon at a time, working up to as much as four tablespoons daily.
Even better, with the clear health benefits of pumpkin, many organic food brands have started incorporating pumpkin straight into their cat foods. As with any new food, be sure to monitor your cat and see how their unique system is taking to the new element.
Possible Risks of Pumpkin for Cats
Often times, things that sound “too good to be true”, usually are just that. However, in the case of pumpkin for cats, we are pleased to report that is not the case. When incorporated into a cats health plan correctly, pumpkin has virtually no side effects for cats. Nevertheless, too much pumpkin has been known to upset certain cat’s tummies. To avoid this unlikely outcome, best practices for using pumpkin in your cat’s health plan include:
- Using canned pumpkin free of xylitol, added sugars, or any flavoring
- Slowly introducing it one tablespoon at a time, into your cats favorite food
- Steering clear of old jack-o-lanterns! They are pretty, but not munch-worthy for your cat!
- Practice moderation!
It goes without saying that all cats are different, and therefore respond differently to certain foods and substances. That being said, be sure to consult your vet before introducing pumpkin, to be certain it is the right fit for your unique cat.
CBD for Cats
When discussing an all-natural approach to pet wellness, it is impossible not to bring up CBD oil. If you are unfamiliar with this so-called “miracle” herb, we are delighted to enlighten you. CBD is known to treat an impressive number of ailments, all the while promoting overall homeostasis in the body, thus preventing new diseases from forming. Benefits of CBD for cats include:
- Suppressing epilepsy and seizures
- Easing nerve-related pain
- Calming inflammation
- Reducing anxiety
- Improving skin and coat health
- Preventing and curing Cancer
You have to admit, that last bullet point is pretty stellar! Clearly, CBD is full of benefits, and when incorporated into your cats daily wellness regime, can truly work wonders. However, it is important to note that not all CBD oils are created equally. It is vital you seek products that are all-natural, non-GMO, lab tested and organic. We recommend Honest Paws because each and every one of their products meet those guidelines. Furthermore, they have an amazing article that tells you everything you need to know about CBD for cats.
Pumpkin for Cats: A Final Thought
Bottom line: we all want our pets to live long, healthy lives. Fortunately, we live in an era where a holistic approach pet wellness is becoming increasingly popular. Not only do you have more options for homeopathic, chemical free-treatment, but you have actual scientific proof that it actually works. Clearly, pumpkin offers an impressive array of all-natural benefits for your feline friend’s health. Whether they are battling unpleasant tummy issues, or hungry for a nutrition-packed treat, pumpkin is a great call.