I am going to preface this by pointing out that I have never even considered giving my cats flax seeds. I don’t even eat them myself!
So, imagine my surprise when I dug around and discovered that this is a vaguely contentious subject with some people saying that flax seeds are basically useless to cats and other people saying that they have amazing benefits and ‘how dare you say they are useless?’
But what’s the real answer in the deeps here? Can cats eat flax seeds or are they a case of far more use to humans than to cats? Or do you have to keep flax seeds well away!
Flax seeds will not harm your cat, but unless they are prepared properly, they won’t do anything either. And even if they are prepared properly, most cats are going to prefer to get the same benefits from something like fish.
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Do Cats Like Flax Seeds?
Cats probably won’t care one bit about flax seeds. It’s not something they are inclined towards eating on their own, given that they are obligate carnivores, and they won’t have a smell or taste which cats would find appealing.
They might eat a little out of curiosity, but it’s unlikely that it will be something that most cats will actively seek out.
Mind, you never really know about cats! Like humans, they can have tastes in foods you would never expect. But I haven’t really seen anything about cats looking to eat a lot of flax seeds, so I think I’d have to largely answer ‘no’ to this. They probably don’t really like them (or hate them for that matter).
Do Cats Hate Flax Seeds?
As equally as cats probably don’t like flax seeds, they won’t necessarily hate them either, though they might not like the texture or like it if they are soaked in water. It’s simply not something that would occur to cats to eat, so they’ll ignore them.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that cats hate flax seeds, but it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll convince your carnivore fur friend they are a good idea either.
Can Flax Seeds Kill My Cat?
Now, flax seeds aren’t necessarily much use to cats, but they are not harmful either. They’re not even a choking hazard since they are so tiny! Flax seeds are not going to kill your cat and it’s unlikely that they will even make your cat feel sick.
In fact, cats won’t even tend to be allergic to flax seeds. The main danger is that if cats eat too many of them, they will likely be too full to eat their regular food and flax seeds don’t provide all of the nutrition a cat requires to stay healthy.
One supposes that if a cat lived solely off flax seeds, it would be fatal in the long term due to malnutrition, but that would be awfully hard for any cat to end up doing since they probably won’t like them anyway and will eat bugs or mooch other foods.
But just because they won’t kill your cat doesn’t mean they are healthy either. Flax seeds are largely fairly unnecessary for cats to eat and eating them whole generally results in whole seeds left in the litter box and wasted money.
Soaking the seeds and feeding cats the water or grinding the seeds and sprinkling them on top is more useful, but there’s no guarantee your cat will even touch it.
There is one issue with flax seeds to keep in mind, particularly flax seed oil, which would seem like a good alternative since you won’t have seeds all over the litter box.
Flax seed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid which in humans, and some other animals, can be converted to EPA and DHA which are great acids for the body.
Cats on the other hand cannot do this – their bodies simply ignore alpha-linolenic acid and as a result, they don’t get the other two acids from flax seed oil at all. This means your cat is missing out on a chunk of the health benefits, making the oil itself a lot more useless.
How Many Flax Seeds Can My Cat Eat?
If cats are really not going to care about flax seeds, why bother?
A lot of owners give their cats flax seeds because they are high in omega 3 fatty acids. These are important acids for cats and their regular cat food may not provide all of it that cats need. Flax seeds can help fill in the gaps.
Omega 3 fatty acids can help with inflammation, the cat’s immune system, and help with heart health and brain development. It can also help reduce inflammation in the kidneys and improve blood flow to other organs (Again, by reducing inflammation).
By making sure your cat has a sufficient quantity of these fatty acids, you are helping it live longer, improve its quality of life, and generally help your cat stay healthy. Omega 3 fatty acids also help to promote a shiny coat and healthy skin, which is also beneficial.
Flax seeds also have fiber in them which can help a cat’s digestive system operate more efficiently, reducing the likelihood of constipation.
However, as noted before, flax seeds are not the most efficient way for a cat to get these benefits. Most of them will get lost because the cat cannot digest flax seeds properly, they cannot convert the acids properly, and while the omega-3 fatty acids are in there, it’s not enough to be healthy on their own.
Instead, fish oils from good quality fish, poultry, eggs, pork, and beef are far better since a cat’s digestive system will be able to work with the acids and nutrients and allow the cat to get everything they need to stay healthy. Remember that cats are obligate carnivores!
If you are going to let your cat have flax seeds, we would strongly recommend either soaking a small amount in water until the water is slimy and then letting your cat have the water or grinding the flax seeds up and sprinkling that on their regular food. This way, it’s already broken down so that your cat can digest it.
Feeding your cat whole seeds is pretty useless since a cat won’t break them down and thus gets nothing out of it. Flax seed oil isn’t much help either since they cannot convert the acids – at least the flax seeds provide a bit of fiber.
All in all, we wouldn’t recommend that cats eat flax seeds, not because they are harmful, but because they are fairly useless compared to quality meat and cat food.
Flax seeds also aren’t cheap, so you’re spending money on something that is useless when you could have spent that money on quality cat food or a good cut of meat to share.
Does your cat like to eat flax seeds or flax seed oil?
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.