Can Cats Eat Sweet Potatoes? Human Foods for Cats · The Wildest

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Can My Cat Eat This?

Can Cats Eat Sweet Potatoes?

Yep—but the plainer, the better. Here’s why.

by Rebecca Caplan
December 29, 2023
A beautiful fat white cat sniffs a wicker basket of sweet potatoes.
Anna List / Shutterstock
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In some delicious form or another, sweet potatoes are a staple dish when they’re in season. So, can your cat snack on sweet potatoes, too? Yes, plain sweet potatoes are perfectly safe for your cat in moderation — with a strong emphasis on the plain. Sweet potatoes prepared with certain spices, butters or sugars are best saved for human dinner guests — not cats. For more, we reached out to veterinarian Dr. Lindsay Butzer to tell us how to safely treat our cats to sweet potatoes. 

Are sweet potatoes good for cats?

Yes, sweet potatoes in moderation can have health benefits for your kitty. “Sweet potatoes contain vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium, that can be beneficial for your cat’s overall health,” Dr. Butzer tells The Wildest.

Keep in mind, cats are primarily carnivores and get most of their nutrition from an animal protein-based diet. That said, sweet potatoes should only be given as an occasional treat and in moderation. Among other things, too much fibrous sweet potato can cause your cat to fill up when they need to be eating their normal food that provides them with their most necessary nutrients. 

Can cats eat cooked sweet potatoes? 

Yes, cats can eat cooked sweet potatoes — under certain conditions. “Cats can eat sweet potatoes, but in moderation and only if cooked and mashed,” Dr. Butzer advises.

Cooked, mashed sweet potatoes should also be served completely plain — without the regular salts, spices, and fats that make them tasty to people. 

Can cats eat raw sweet potatoes? 

No, cats should not eat raw sweet potatoes. In addition to causing GI and digestive upset, raw sweet potato is tough and hard for your cat to chew, making it a choking hazard. Don’t panic if your cat successfully snags a few bites of the dropped veggie; raw sweet potato doesn’t contain any specific toxins that could harm your cat. 

Can cats eat sweet potato skins? 

No, cats should not eat sweet potato skins. Sweet potato skins are especially fibrous and might be hard for your cat to digest. This can lead to nausea, GI upset, and diarrhea in your cat. If you choose to feed your cat plain cooked sweet potato, ensure that you remove the skins before serving. 

Can cats eat sweet potato fries? 

No, cats should not eat sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries are often seasoned with salts and oils, both of which are bad for your cat’s health, along with other spices that can be toxic to cats. In addition, many sweet potato fries are served with the skin on, which is a very fibrous part of the veggie that can cause GI upset in your cat. Sweet potato fries are also generally very long and can present as a choking hazard for your cat.  If you choose to serve cooked sweet potatoes to your cat, ensure that they are mashed and served plain.  

Can cats eat canned sweet potatoes?

Yes, cats can eat canned sweet potatoes as long as they are store bought and don’t contain other additives. Some canned sweet potatoes are preserved with syrups that contain sugar and preservatives that are not safe for cats. In addition, home-canned sweet potatoes are susceptible to bacteria and molds that are not always visible and can be toxic to your cat. 

Are sweet potatoes completely safe for cats?

Sweet potatoes do not contain any toxins that are harmful to your cat. However, sweet potatoes served with fats, oils, sugars, or spices (aka the delicious ones) are not safe for your cat and should not be given as a treat. Only plain, mashed, and cooked sweet potato is feline-safe — and only when served in moderation.

“Feeding your cat too much sweet potato can lead to obesity and other health issues, as they are high in carbohydrates,” Dr. Butzer reminds cat parents. “Cats should primarily consume a diet rich in animal proteins, so it’s important not to overdo it with sweet potatoes or other plant-based foods.”

What are other cat-safe foods?

  • Cooked, plain, lean meats: Cats are carnivorous, so they get most of their nutrients from meat. But cats should avoid fatty meats and anything prepared with fats, oils, or spices. That said, if you’re serving up plain cooked chicken breast, feel free to share some with your cat.

  • Apples: Cats can enjoy skinless apples in small quantities — however, without any sweet receptors, cats might not enjoy it the same way we do. Still, just because they can’t taste the sugar doesn’t mean they won’t be affected by it, so don’t treat cats with diabetes or other health issues to apples. For more info on cats and apples check out our guide here. 

  • Peas: Peas are a common additive in cat food and are completely safe for your cat in its regular, cooked form. We know we’ve said it a million times, but make sure not to feed your cat peas that have been salted or seasoned. Always supervise your cat when eating peas because bigger ones can be a choking hazard. 

What are other non-cat safe foods?

  • Grapes and raisins: Grapes and raisins are very toxic to cats and should never be given to them under any circumstances. Store all grapes and raisins securely out of a cat’s reach, ideally in cabinets or fridges. If you suspect or observe your cat eating grapes or raisins, contact your vet immediately.

  • Garlic and onions: Both cats and dogs are susceptible to the toxins present in garlic and onions. That’s why we stress never giving pets foods that have been prepared with seasonings — as garlic and onion are common base seasonings for many foods.

  • Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits contain potent essential oils that are highly toxic to cats. These oils are unique in that they can be poisonous when ingested and through skin/fur contact. The degree of toxicity varies based on amount of exposure, so the less contact the better.

Bottom line: Can cats eat human food?

Most of the time, human food is best reserved for, well, humans — especially foods prepared with spices and sauces. On its own and in moderation, sweet potatoes are a non-toxic, delicious snack for cats. If your cat has stomach sensitivities or dietary restrictions, however, make sure to speak with your vet before introducing any new foods to your pet. 

In the grand scheme of things, human food should never make up more than 10 percent of your cat’s diet and is best reserved for a special occasion. If you do want to treat your cat to a delicious and nutritious snack, plain sweet potatoes are a great option.

FAQ (people also ask):

Are sweet potatoes toxic to cats?

No, sweet potatoes are not toxic to your cat; however, they should only be given to your cat when cooked and mashed and always served plain. 

Are sweet potatoes good for cats?

Sweet potatoes contain vitamins and minerals that can be beneficial to cats. Cats get most of their nutrition from an animal protein based diet, though, so sweet potatoes should never be integrated as a main vehicle for nutrition. 

Why do cats like sweet potatoes? 

Cats don’t have sweet receptors, so their interest in the veggie might be around the secondary tastes and aromas. They might also enjoy the texture and warmth. 

References:

Cats Lack a Sweet Taste Receptor 1, 2, 3

rebecca caplan

Rebecca Caplan

Rebecca Caplan is a writer based in Brooklyn whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, Reductress, and Vulture. She lives in Brooklyn with her perfect, toothless dog Moose.

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