Asparagus is one of the most resourceful vegetables out there, which comes packed with a cocktail of health and dietary benefits.
Information on the early domestication and cultivation of asparagus as a vegetable is scanty. But what we know so far is that the vegetable has been used in folk medicine from time immemorial, to treat a wide range of medical conditions.
Most notably, asparagus is prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and other medical conditions, thanks to its richness in antioxidant compounds.
But regardless of its well-documented health and dietary benefits for humans, most pet owners may still be reserved when it comes to offering asparagus to their feline friends.
And that’s perfectly understandable, as plant-based foods have a way of wreaking havoc on the digestive system of cats. You may be one of those pet parents and wondering, is it ok for cats to eat asparagus or is asparagus poisonous to cats?
Asparagus is not only safe for cats, but highly nutritious too. You can freely feed the vegetable to your feline friend without worrying about any immediate health complications. However, experts always advice proceeding with caution when it comes to feeding our furry friends any plant-based foods.
In moderation, your kitto will enjoy most of the health and dietary benefits that asparagus packs. But exceeding the recommended quantities might produce adverse effects, which could range from as mild as nausea to as severe as dehydration.
This article will unpack everything there is to know about asparagus for cats, including the benefits of asparagus, potential risks, and how best to serve the vegetable to your feline friend.
Is Asparagus Safe for Cats? A Brief Overview of What Asparagus Is
Can I give my cat asparagus?
Yes, you can give your cat asparagus. However, even before we delve deeper into the topic, it’s important to understand exactly what asparagus is.
Asparagus goes by numerous names, including garden asparagus and sparrow grass.
Scientifically known as Asparagus officinalis, asparagus is a perennial flowering plant that belongs in the genus Asparagus, whose young shoots are popularly used as a spring vegetable.
For years, asparagus was classified, along with garlic and onions, in the Allium family. But due to extensive genetic research, the vegetable has since been placed in the Asparagaceae family.
Asparagus is native to Europe and the temperate regions of Asia, though it’s now cultivated in various countries around the world as a vegetable crop.
The vegetable is popular for its rich nutritional profile, particularly its low calorie content. Half a cup of cooked asparagus contains 20 calories, 0.2 grams of fat, 1.8 grams of fiber, and 2.2 grams of protein.
The vegetable also packs decent amounts of other minerals, including Vitamins A, C, E, and K, Folate, Phosphorus, Potassium, Iron, Riboflavin, and Zinc.
Benefits of Asparagus for Cats
Is asparagus good for cats?
The answer to that question remains a “Yes”. And the following are some of the ways your cat can benefit from occasionally snacking on the vegetable.
1. Can Improve Your Cat’s Digestive Health
Asparagus is loaded with dietary fiber, which performs various roles in maintaining your cat’s digestive system.
Dietary fibers supply nutrients to your cat’s gut-friendly bacteria. Gut-friendly bacteria live throughout your cat’s digestive tract, and their main function is to facilitate digestion. Examples of these bacteria include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.
Secondly, dietary fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, plays a role in bulking your cat’s stool. As such, they regularize your kitto’s bowel movements, which is useful in keeping digestive complications like constipation at bay.
Lastly, foods that are rich in dietary fiber are known to create sense of fullness for longer.
Incorporating asparagus into your cat’s diet will make your feline friend eat less but feel full for longer. This can be helpful when you’re trying to manage your cat’s weight.
And considering how low in calories asparagus is, it’s clear to see how this vegetable can help your feline friend shed off a few extra pounds.
2. Can Improve Your Cat’s Cardiovascular Health
In terms of maintaining your cat’s cardiovascular health, studies suggest that diets rich in plant fibers can lower the risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
And speaking of lowering your cat’s high blood pressure, it’s worth noting that asparagus is also high in potassium. High levels of potassium in your cat’s body inhibits salt intake, thereby preventing the over-accumulation of salt in your cat’s system.
Besides leading to hypertension, high levels of salt in your cat’s system might result in a condition known as sodium ion poisoning. The disease manifests in seizures and body tremors.
Lastly, asparagus also contains compounds that cause vasodilation, which might help diabetic cats, as well as cats battling with blood circulation abnormalities.
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3. Might Boost Your Cats Immunity
Asparagus boasts antioxidant compounds that help to reduce oxidative damage in your cat’s body cells.
In simple terms, these compounds lower the incidence of certain diseases, especially chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, obesity, and feline arthritis.
Examples of antioxidants present in asparagus include Vitamins C and E, glutathione, anthocyanins, and flavonoids like isorhamnetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. Collectively, these antioxidants have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer properties.
4. Supports a Healthy Pregnancy
Lastly, asparagus is high in folate. Also known as Vitamin B9, folate is an essential mineral for pregnant women, and your expecting cat can also enjoy its benefits.
Some of the functions of folate in your cat’s body include contributing to the formation of red blood cells and DNA. Adding asparagus to the diet of pregnant cats might prevent birth defects and other pregnancy complications.
There are obviously plenty of other health and nutritional benefits of asparagus. But the question remains, can cats have asparagus?
At this point, the answer should come naturally. However, the following section shall highlight a few things to consider while offering asparagus to cats.
Is Asparagus Bad For Cats? Here Are Potential Side Effects to Watch Out For
1. Too Much Alkalinity
Asparagus is highly alkaline, and may interfere with the pH value of your cat’s body.
If you feed too much asparagus to your cat, the cat’s urine may become alkaline. That could promote the growth and proliferation of harmful bacteria in your cat’s bladder, resulting in conditions like urinary tract infection.
This underscores the importance of feeding asparagus to your cat only as an occasional treat. And if your cat has a history of kidney and urinary tract diseases, you should avoid giving it any asparagus. Other sick cats shouldn’t eat asparagus either.
2. Stomach Irritation
Another risk of offering asparagus to cats is that being a plant-based food, the vegetable may cause some irritation to your cat’s stomach.
Remember that cats are obligate carnivores, and their digestive system is designed to process only animal protein.
There are also risks of allergic reactions to watch out for. Asparagus allergy in cats exhibit symptoms that are similar to other allergies triggered by plant-based foods.
Some of the symptoms include gastrointestinal complications like vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, irritable behavior, and swelling of the face.
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4. Choking Hazards
Lastly, asparagus might present choking hazards to your cat. However, this mostly depends on the size of the vegetable as well as the part of the plant that the cat has eaten.
So, will asparagus hurt cats?
If you allow your cat to eat more asparagus than it should, then you can expect some serious health repercussions.
How to Give Asparagus to Cats?
Having reviewed the pros and cons of asparagus for cats, the verdict seems to suggest that the vegetable is highly beneficial for cats. But do cats like asparagus?
Well, that depends on a lot of factors, including how you introduce your feline friend to this vegetable.
When looking for the right way to give asparagus to cats, the first questions you should settle pertain to the health and safety of raw versus cooked asparagus. So, can cats eat cooked asparagus? And what about raw asparagus, can cats eat raw asparagus?
While offering raw asparagus to your cat ensures the cat enjoys most of the nutritional elements that the vegetable comes with, there are numerous risks involved.
First, raw asparagus may be too hard for your cat to chew, especially when it comes to asparagus stems. Also, depending on how and where the vegetable was cultivated, it could contain parasites or aerosol residues, which a mere washing may not get rid of. Ingesting these toxins could lead to long-term health complications for your cat.
So, the best way to offer asparagus to your cat is to cook the vegetable first. Boiling and steaming are the preferred cooking methods.
You should cook the vegetable in plain water and serve it to your cat without adding salt, spices, or excess fat. Another best practice is to only feed your cat fresh asparagus.
How much asparagus can cat eat?
That question is a bit subjective. However, the convention is to give your cat asparagus only in moderation. And the vegetable should be an occasional treat; it shouldn’t form part of your cat’s staple diet.
Other Questions Related To Cats and Asparagus
Cat cats eat white asparagus? And what about purple asparagus, can cats eat purple asparagus?
There are three main types of asparagus, namely, green, purple, and white. All of these pack nutritional elements that your cat can benefit from. However, purple asparagus is more preferable as it’s richer in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins.
Can cats eat asparagus fern?
Asparagus fern is quite different from the edible asparagus vegetable we’ve discussed throughout this post.
Asparagus fern is a common non-edible house or yard plant. According to ASPCA, the plant is toxic to cats. Therefore, avoid growing it indoors or in your backyard to stop the cat from developing interest in it.
Remember, nibbling on asparagus fern isn’t as nutritionally beneficial as eating the edible asparagus vegetable.
Can kittens eat asparagus?
The digestive system of kittens isn’t as developed as that of mature cats. So, you should avoid giving your kittens asparagus. Just a small amount of the vegetable might lead to severe stomach irritation.
So, can cats eat asparagus?
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