Chickpeas are a type of legume, or bean, which are very popular because they are a high source of protein and fiber and have a very mild flavor, meaning they can be mixed in with just about anything.
You can find chickpeas in a huge range of recipes, from hummus to salads to chilis and they are a very affordable source of protein. Given the price spikes in food lately, this is no bad thing! So, chickpeas are good for humans, but are they good for cats?
Can cats eat chickpeas?
There is nothing toxic in chickpeas, but there’s also nothing of particular use for cats in chickpeas either. While eating a chickpea won’t generally mean a trip to the vet, it’s not something you particularly want to encourage because you don’t want chickpeas to replace your cat’s normal diet.
Do Cats Like Chickpeas?
Cats wouldn’t bother with chickpeas in the wild since they are obligate carnivores. Domestic cats might be curious about chickpeas, but it’s more likely they would play with them since they are round and perfect for batting!
Some might take a lick of your hummus, but given that most hummus has things like garlic in it which is highly toxic to cats, you would want to avoid that.
It’s unlikely that cats would like chickpeas very much. The most you would get out of them is some curiosity about the weird round things that you’re cooking with or an experimental lick of one, probably followed by an offended sniff.
Some cats might try a nibble, just to see what you’re eating, but they are unlikely to go much farther than that.
Do Cats Hate Chickpeas?
Cats don’t necessarily hate chickpeas – say instead that they are utterly indifferent to them. Cats eat meat and in the wild, they would go after insects, birds, and rodents.
Domestic cats are no different – their digestive system and their nose would have them chasing meats and sometimes oils, not things like chickpeas. So, it’s not so much that cats hate chickpeas, but they don’t feel the need to eat them.
This is just as well since chickpeas range from useless to a bit dangerous for cats to try to ingest.
Can Chickpeas Kill My Cat?
Chickpeas on their own are not toxic to cats. But they can be a bit risky to feed to cats. It’s unlikely that these things will kill your cat, but they may make your cat uncomfortable.
One of the major problems that chickpeas pose for cats is that they are just hard to digest. A cat’s digestive system isn’t meant to deal with beans, so they are quite difficult for a cat’s body to cope with.
The best way to let a cat try chickpeas is to make sure they are very soft and mushed up (and even then, your cat probably won’t get much out of it). The round chickpeas can also cause obstructions in a cat’s stomach because they cannot chew them up very well.
Chickpeas may be full of protein, but they are also full of other things that are simply useless for cats. They are low in amino acids that cats need to stay healthy and are high in calories which are not good for cats.
While there are a few minor health benefits that can be derived from chickpeas, it’s nothing that a cat couldn’t get from a safer food source.
And finally, chickpeas contain oxalic acid. This acid can cause itching and rashes in cats with sensitive skin and stomachs. It’s not fatal or anything, but it will certainly be uncomfortable.
And too many chickpeas can cause digestive problems such as bloating, diarrhea, or indigestion. The high-calorie count also contributes to weight gain and diabetes.
Of course, things made out of chickpeas have their own problems. Hummus for example usually has salt, garlic, and onion in it, all of which are toxic to cats.
Chili is usually too spicy for cats to eat (and has garlic) and most cats won’t be interested in salad. So, chickpeas are all around something cats should avoid even if they aren’t toxic.
But if your cat stole a bite of a chickpea or a whole chickpea, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Just make sure that your cat doesn’t break out in a rash and don’t encourage it as a habit to replace their usual diet!
How Many Chickpeas are Safe for My Cat to Eat?
If your cat filched a few chickpeas here and there or a bite of some softened ones, you probably have nothing to worry about. Plain chickpeas don’t contain anything toxic.
But you don’t want to be deliberately feeding a cat chickpeas except as an occasional treat for the oddball who really likes them.
They should never replace a diet of quality meat protein as they don’t contain enough amino acids and have no taurine. Cats are not vegetarians and will never be vegetarians – a vegan cat is an extremely unhealthy cat.
If you do let your cat have a chickpea once in a while, monitor it the first couple of times to ensure that it doesn’t have an allergic reaction. Chickpeas are also best served soft so that your cat doesn’t choke on them.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas for Cats
Do chickpeas have any health benefits for cats? Well, they do, but only in a limited scope:
- The fiber in chickpeas can help with constipation
- Magnesium and copper which are good for cells
- Vitamin A and B-complex
And of course, chickpeas are decently high in protein which is why they are popular with people trying to cut or limit meat. But the protein in them isn’t enough on its own for cats to live off of, so it certainly cannot replace meat for your pet.
The problem with most of these benefits is that your cat cannot digest the chickpeas very efficiently to get the most out of the nutritional benefits and they cannot eat very many, so your cat is getting trace amounts.
It’s more efficient to let them nibble on things like apples or carrots since they are easier for cats to digest and are generally safer.
Chickpeas are a popular, and common, staple in many households. They are great for cooking and eating in salads, and can even be found in dog food (Safely at that!)
But cats shouldn’t really partake of them. They don’t offer too much in the way of health benefits, can cause itching and indigestion, and are not a good replacement for a regular diet of meat.
The occasional treat of softened chickpeas (just a few) is all right, but this is not something the average cat should be living on.
Does your cat like chickpeas? We’d like to hear about it because most cats ignore them!
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.