Asparagus is a popular vegetable because it is absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals that support healthy humans. It’s also something that, thanks to importing, is generally available year-round and it’s versatile enough to be added to many different meals.
Therefore, it’s not at all unlikely that a cat will come across asparagus, particularly any that fell to the floor during preparation or by sneaking a bite of your supper. But can cats eat asparagus? Can cats eat raw asparagus?
The jury is out. Asparagus is not toxic to cats; however, it can pose a few hazards ranging from choking to increasing the risk of urinary tract infections. And since cats don’t really get many benefits out of any vegetables, they don’t really get to reap the benefits of all of the vitamins and minerals anyway, so it’s probably, largely, best avoided.
Cooked asparagus reduces some of this risk, but it still probably isn’t worth it. That being said, if your cat snuck a bit, you probably don’t have anything to worry about so long as they don’t make a habit of it.
Do Cats Like Raw Asparagus?
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that above all, they crave meat. Their bodies are built to digest meat, they require the proteins, fat, and taurine found in meat, and they don’t derive much benefit from anything else (aside from the properly formulated cat food of course). So, will cats even think to try raw asparagus, let alone like it?
Cats have ‘certain tastes’ just like anything else and there are certainly some cats that probably like it. In this case, it can be a couple of things.
First of all, the stalk can be fun to chew – the woody texture likely feels soothing or good on their teeth and gums. Secondly, the tender tops may taste good to them since asparagus has a woody flavor, not sweet.
My cats don’t care for asparagus at all, but I can certainly see how some cats would go for it, especially those which like to chew on other plants.
Do Cats Hate Raw Asparagus?
It’s unlikely that most cats will hate asparagus so much as just not care about it. Cats are not necessarily drawn to vegetables, so unless they enjoy chewing on things like asparagus, they’ll probably shrug and leave if you offer it some. But that doesn’t mean they hate it – just that they don’t care.
Can Raw Asparagus Kill My Cat?
While asparagus is considered nontoxic and thus won’t kill your cats, it’s still not very good for them. If your cat did sneak a bite, you probably don’t have to worry about racing your cat to the vet, but there are still some things you should watch out for.
First of all, choking. Older, tougher asparagus can pose a choking hazard to cats as it’s quite hard for them to chew on. Raw asparagus is far more of a hazard for this since cooking the asparagus will soften it up, but it can still be a bit of a concern.
Raw asparagus should only be given to cats if it’s young and tender, not older. This way, it’s gentler on your cat’s mouth and is less likely to be a choking hazard. It’s also important to serve asparagus in small bites, also to prevent choking.
As a note, cooked asparagus should only be served to cats as-is – no extra seasonings like salt, garlic, or onion. These things are all toxic to cats and may well cause a trip to the vet.
You should even avoid things like butter as most cats are lactose intolerant and butter can make cats quite uncomfortable.
Margarine that is lactose-free may not make your cat as uncomfortable, but it’s still high in cholesterol and fats which is not necessarily good for your cat either.
Second, asparagus is an alkaline vegetable that doesn’t really affect us too terribly much (unless you eat way too much of it), but for cats, it can be enough to exacerbate any urinary tract infections. It also can cause a higher risk of struvite stones in their bladder. So, it’s definitely not something they should eat much of and they shouldn’t touch it at all if they are sick with a UTI.
Another more serious risk is that if you grow your own asparagus and your cat eats the asparagus fern, it can make your cat very sick, very quickly. This can call for a dash to the vet to make sure it’s ok.
Finally, asparagus may just make your cat feel unwell. Cats don’t digest plant-based foods very well, so eating it can make them feel sick. If your cat sneaks some asparagus, it’s important to watch your cat afterward in order to make sure that nothing untoward happens.
How Much Raw Asparagus Can My Cat Eat?
Cats shouldn’t eat too much raw asparagus. While it does have a few health benefits, it can also increase the risk of UTIs, crystals in the bladder, and choking. A few small bites, every once in a while, is about as much as any cat needs.
The Health Benefits of Asparagus for Cats
While asparagus is not the best thing in the world for cats to eat, it does confer some health benefits. Asparagus is high in the following:
- Dietary fiber, which is good for a cat’s gut, makes cats feel fuller longer (supporting weight loss), and improves digestion
- Potassium. It’s the potassium that makes asparagus a high alkaline vegetable, but a small amount once in a while can help your cat’s heart and prevent an over-accumulation of salt
- Vitamin E, glutathione, anthocyanins, and flavonoids can help prevent cancer, inflammation, and obesity.
- Folate, which is good for pregnant cats
Now, asparagus should only be given in very small amounts, so a cat won’t get a whole lot of these benefits, but a little is better than none.
Asparagus is not something that should be a regular part of a cat’s diet. They don’t really digest it very well and it can cause stomach upset. But a nibble once in a while is harmless and some cats will enjoy eating the tender tops, properly cooked or raw.
If your cat has never eaten asparagus before, monitor it for a few hours to be sure that it doesn’t have a negative effect on your cat. Otherwise, you probably have nothing to worry about if your cat stole a bit, but it’s probably not something you want to encourage since it can increase the risk of UTIs/stones and cause upset stomachs.
Does your cat go after asparagus?