Sesame seeds are a popular snack and ingredient for humans. Their nutty flavor and crunchy texture make them an appetizing topping for various foods.
Given cats’ curiosity with human foods, you may wonder if sharing sesame seeds with your feline is okay.
A Brief History of Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds have a long history of cultivation and use by humans. Native to parts of Africa and Asia, sesame seeds are one of the oldest condiments in recorded history.
Archaeologists have found sesame seeds dating back to 3500 BC at excavation sites in the Harappa Valley in the Indian subcontinent. The ancient Babylonians also recorded using sesame oil as early as 8th century BC.
In Africa, sesame was grown in Egypt and traded throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. The phrase “open sesame” refers to the way sesame seed pods burst open when ripe, revealing the treasure of seeds inside.
Sesame seeds later spread to China, Korea, and Japan through ancient trade routes like the Silk Road. Today, the largest commercial producers of sesame seeds include India, China, Mexico, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Myanmar.
Are Sesame Seeds Safe For Cats?
The main question most cat owners have is whether sesame seeds are actually safe for feline consumption.
The simple answer is yes – sesame seeds are not toxic or poisonous to cats. However, some precautions should still be taken when feeding sesame seeds, which we will cover shortly.
Sesame seeds are not known to contain any compounds toxic to cats. Organizations like the ASPCA also do not list sesame seeds as a danger to cats on their toxic food lists.
So in moderation, sesame seeds generally will not cause any immediate health issues for cats. But what are the potential benefits and risks?
Potential Benefits of Sesame Seeds for Cats
Though cats are obligate carnivores with no biological need for plant matter, sesame seeds can provide some nutritional value. Here are some of the potential benefits:
Source of Fiber
Sesame seeds contain a decent amount of dietary fiber. The fiber passes undigested through the cat’s digestive tract, helping add bulk to stool and relieve constipation.
The fiber can also help cats feel fuller longer, which aids in weight management. Obese and overweight cats need fiber to help control food intake.
Supports Bone Health
Sesame seeds contain nutrients like calcium, zinc, magnesium, and manganese that support bone development and strength. This makes sesame seeds potentially beneficial for senior cats prone to arthritis and osteoporosis.
Compounds like sesamin and sesamolin found in sesame seeds have antioxidant properties. This helps protect cats against oxidative damage that leads to cancer and other diseases.
May Aid Digestion
The fiber and healthy fats in sesame seeds can potentially aid digestion and relieve issues like indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea. Proper digestion also ensures cats absorb nutrients properly from their food.
So in small amounts, sesame seeds may provide some added nutrition and health benefits for cats. But uncontrolled feeding of sesame can also pose some risks.
Potential Risks of Sesame Seeds for Cats
Though not toxic, sesame seeds do come with some cautions cat owners should know:
One of the biggest risks of sesame seeds is their small size. Sesame seeds can easily get lodged in a cat’s throat, causing choking. This is especially dangerous for kittens and smaller cat breeds.
Cats who gobble their food quickly without proper chewing are also more prone to choking on sesame seeds.
Along with choking, the seeds’ small size also makes them a risk for intestinal blockages. Undigested seeds can clump together inside the cat’s intestines, causing a potentially life-threatening obstruction.
Surgery is often needed to remove the blockage, so preventing cats from overeating sesame seeds is important.
Though healthy in moderation, the high fat and calorie content of sesame seeds can lead to obesity if overfed to cats. Obesity then predisposes cats to diabetes, joint issues, heart disease, and more.
Sesame allergies are less common in cats than dogs, but possible. Reactions may include itchy skin, hives, swelling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Discontinue feeding sesame immediately if any allergic symptoms appear.
Nutrient Absorption Issues
Sesame seeds contain oxalates and phytic acid that can bind to nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and iron. This then prevents optimal absorption of these nutrients by the cat’s body.
So the bottom line is sesame seeds are fine for cats in moderation, but should not become a diet staple. Use common sense and feed sesame seeds in limited amounts only.
How Much Sesame Seeds Can Cats Eat?
There are no official guidelines on how much sesame cat owners can safely feed. The amount comes down to your cat’s size, age, and overall health status.
Some general feeding tips include:
- Start with just 1-2 seeds first to see if your cat likes and tolerates them.
- For a daily treat, give cats only around 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.
- Sesame seeds should never exceed more than 10% of your cat’s total daily calories.
- Feed seeds separately from other food to better monitor intake.
- Reduce amount if cat experiences any vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or other signs of digestive upset after eating seeds.
- halt feeding sesame seeds If your cat is obese or needs to lose weight.
Work closely with your vet to determine the ideal sesame seed feeding amount for your individual cat. Moderation is key when incorporating sesame into your cat’s diet.
How To Safely Feed Sesame Seeds To Cats
If you want to share some sesame seeds with your cat, follow these tips to reduce risks:
Choose Raw, Organic Seeds
Select raw, organic sesame seeds whenever possible to avoid pesticides, additives, and potential toxins from non-organic sources. Make sure seeds are fresh and not spoiled.
Grind Seeds Before Feeding
Grinding the sesame seeds into a powder or paste before feeding makes them safer for cats in two ways. First, it reduces choking hazard from whole seeds. Second, grinding starts the digestion process which makes the seeds easier on your cat’s stomach.
Mix Well Into Food
Rather than feeding seeds alone, mix the ground seeds thoroughly into your cat’s regular wet food. This masks the taste a bit while still allowing delivery of nutrients.
Brush Teeth After Eating
After your cat eats sesame seeds, gently brush their teeth to remove any stuck seeds and prevent dental issues. Avoid giving sesame-covered human foods like bread and bagels.
Look For Adverse Reactions
Monitor your cat closely after initial sesame seed feedings. Discontinue use if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, excessive shedding, or other concerning symptoms that could signal an allergy.
With proper precautions and moderation, sesame seeds can provide some additional nutrition for cats. But they should never become a dietary staple. Stick to a tiny amount of ground seeds mixed into your cat’s regular food.
What About Sesame Seed Oil and Butter?
Some cat owners wonder whether products made from sesame seeds, like sesame oil and tahini butter, are okay for cats. Here is a quick overview:
Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame oil is generally safe for feline consumption, but only in tiny amounts. The high fat content poses a risk of pancreatitis and other issues if overfed. An occasional drop or two of sesame oil mixed into food is fine. But never give your cat sesame oil daily or free access to it.
Tahini (Sesame Seed Butter)
Pure tahini made from ground sesame seeds is safe for cats in small amounts. But many commercial tahini products contain added garlic, onion, sugar, and other ingredients dangerous to cats. So read labels carefully and avoid flavored or sweetened tahini products. Only choose plain, unsweetened tahini.
As with whole seeds, limit tahini to just a dab mixed into your cat’s normal food. The high fat and calorie content make overfeeding risky. Monitor your cat for any diarrhea, vomiting, or signs of stomach upset after eating tahini.
5 Myths About Cats And Sesame Seeds
Over the years, several misconceptions have spread about cats and sesame seeds. Here are some common myths:
Myth #1: All Sesame Seeds Are Toxic to Cats
False – sesame seeds themselves are not toxic to cats according to major pet health organizations. Issues only arise from overfeeding. Some sources falsely claim sesame toxicity due to confusion with poppy seeds. But poppy and sesame belong to completely different plant families, and poppy seeds do carry risks for cats.
Myth #2: Sesame Seeds Are a Complete Nutritional Source for Cats
False – while sesame seeds provide some beneficial nutrients for cats, they lack the full amino acid and vitamin profile that cats need from meat. Sesame cannot replace any portion of your cat’s normal meat-based diet.
Myth #3: Sesame Seeds Improve Cat Dental Health
Unproven – some claim the abrasive texture of sesame seeds helps clean cats’ teeth. However, little scientific evidence proves sesame seeds provide dental benefits for cats. Proper toothbrushing and dental checkups are still needed for feline dental health.
Myth #4: Sesame Seeds Prevent Hairballs in Cats
Unlikely – some owners think the fiber in sesame seeds helps reduce cats’ hairball issues. But hairballs form from self-grooming and are not strongly correlated to dietary fiber intake. Sesame seeds may even worsen hairballs due to their thick, oily coating.
Myth #5: Cats Can Subsist on a Vegan Diet With Sesame Seeds
Dangerous – while small amounts of seeds or nuts can supplement a cat’s diet, cats cannot survive on a totally plant-based diet. Their bodies are designed to run on animal meat proteins. A vegan diet will result in malnutrition and health issues over time. Sesame seeds cannot replace meat.
Be wary of unsubstantiated claims about sesame’s benefits for cats. Talk to your veterinarian about any diet changes.
Can Kittens Eat Sesame Seeds?
Kittens under one year old have special nutritional needs for growth and development. Here are some tips on sesame seeds for kittens:
- Avoid feeding sesame to kittens under 6 months old entirely. Their digestive systems are too immature to handle seeds.
- For kittens 6-12 months old, only introduce tiny pinch-sized amounts of ground seeds no more than 1-2 times weekly.
- Monitor closely for any vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration or other symptoms that Signal seeds may be too harsh on the kitten’s stomach.
- Feed kittens high-quality kitten formula and meat proteins instead of supplementing with seeds. Seeds cannot replace the amino acids kittens need.
- Prioritize proper feeding of kitten formula over weaning onto solid foods when deciding to add any human foods like sesame seeds.
Kittens have very specific nutritional requirements best met through commercial kitten diets or veterinary guidance until 12 months old. Feeding sesame seeds should only be done with extreme care for kittens under one year of age.
Are Sesame Seeds Fattening for Cats?
The high fat and calorie content of sesame seeds does mean overfeeding them can lead to obesity in cats.
Some key points on sesame seeds and cat weight gain:
- One ounce (28 grams) of sesame seeds contains 160 calories and 14 grams of fat. This is a significant amount for cats.
- Compared to other nuts and seeds, sesame seeds are lower in carbs but much higher in fat and calories. Their fat content makes them more problematic for cats.
- Obesity stresses cats’ joints, hearts, and metabolic systems and leads to diabetes, arthritis, and more. Avoiding weight gain is critical.
- Obese and overweight cats should not be fed sesame seeds at all until a healthy weight is reached.
- For cats at a normal weight, limit sesame seeds to a teaspoon or less per day to prevent packing on extra pounds. Split into multiple small portions.
While safe in small amounts, sesame seeds are incredibly energy dense and lack the full nutrition cats require. Use extreme caution when feeding sesame seeds to cats prone to obesity or other weight-related health issues. Monitoring treat intake is key.
Are Certain Cats Better Suited to Eat Sesame Seeds?
Though sesame seeds are not recommended as a significant part of any cat’s diet, some felines may benefit more from limited supplementation:
- Active, energetic cats who burn calories quickly
- Growing, unspayed/unneutered kittens over 12 months old
- Cats prone to hairballs and constipation needing more fiber
- Arthritic cats who could use sesame’s bone support
- Diabetic cats under veterinary care (seek vet advice first)
- Underweight cats needing more calories (again consult a vet first)
On the other hand, sesame seeds may pose higher risks and less benefits for cats like:
- Obese or overweight cats
- Elderly cats over 10-12 years old
- Kittens under 12 months old
- Sedentary indoor cats requiring fewer calories
- Cats with kidney disease or prone to kidney/bladder stones
- Cats with sensitive digestion or a history of pancreatitis
No matter your cat’s situation, check with your vet before introducing significant new treats or supplements like sesame seeds. Your vet can advise if seeds will help or harm your individual cat.
Signs Of Sesame Seed Allergy Or Intolerance In Cats
Though not a common allergen for cats, sesame seeds can cause allergic reactions in some. Signs to watch for include:
- Hives, red skin, swelling of face/paws
- Excessive itching, scratching, and licking at the skin
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Loss of appetite or refusal to eat
- Increased respiratory symptoms like coughing, sneezing, wheezing
- Watery eyes, ear inflammation, runny nose
Discontinue sesame seeds immediately if any allergic symptoms appear after feeding them to your cat. Seek veterinary care if symptoms are severe. Also alert your vet so sesame allergies can be noted in your cat’s medical records.
In rare cases, cats may also develop food intolerances to sesame seeds that cause digestion issues like diarrhea and constipation without classic allergy symptoms. Again, stop feeding seeds if any adverse reactions occur and notify your veterinarian.
Are There Any Alternatives To Sesame Seeds For Cats?
If your cat seems sensitive to sesame seeds or you want to try another supplemental treat, some alternatives to consider include:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Green beans
These options also provide fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and other benefits. But as with sesame seeds, portion control is still key. Overfeeding any treat can cause feline obesity and health problems.
Moderately incorporate any new treats into your cat’s diet and monitor closely for any adverse reactions. Check with your veterinarian first for diet advice tailored to your individual cat.
Are sesame seeds healthy for cats?
In small amounts, sesame seeds are reasonably healthy and safe for cats to eat. But they do not provide complete nutrition and should not make up a significant portion of your cat’s diet. Use seeds sparingly as an occasional treat.
How much sesame seeds should cats eat?
As a general guide, try to limit sesame seeds to around 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon per 10 pounds of your cat’s body weight daily at most. Adjust amounts based on your cat’s individual tolerance.
Here are some more frequently asked questions about cats and sesame seeds:
Can kittens eat sesame seeds?
Kittens under 6 months old should avoid sesame seeds. From 6-12 months, introduce tiny amounts ground well and mixed into food no more than 1-2 times per week. But a kitten’s main diet should still be quality kitten formula, not seeds.
Are roasted sesame seeds better for cats than raw?
Lightly roasted organic sesame seeds are best for cats. Roasting starts the digestion process which makes the seeds gentler on cats’ stomachs. Avoid any roasted seeds with added flavored, spices, or salt.
Can cats eat sesame seed oil?
A drop or two of pure sesame oil mixed into food is safe for cats. But never give cats large amounts of sesame oil as the high fat content can cause pancreatitis. Sesame oil should be an extremely occasional treat, not a regular part of a cat’s diet.
Can cats eat sesame sticks or tahini?
Small bits of plain sesame sticks crushed up into food are okay for cats in moderation. But avoid flavored sesame sticks. With tahini, choose unsweetened varieties and mix only a dab into cat food. Too much tahini poses obesity and pancreatitis risks like sesame oil.
Are sesame seeds high in calories for cats?
Yes, sesame seeds are very high in fat and calories for cats. One ounce of seeds contains 160 calories and 14 grams of fat. Cats prone to obesity should not eat sesame seeds. Always monitor treat portion sizes to prevent weight gain.
What happens if a cat eats too many sesame seeds?
Eating too many sesame seeds at once can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive upset in cats. Long term overfeeding seeds may lead to severe obesity along with higher risks of diabetes, arthritis, and other weight-related disorders. Immediately stop feeding sesame seeds if adverse reactions occur.
While sesame seeds can provide some health bonuses, a high-quality meat-based cat diet is still essential.
Use common sense and extreme moderation when feeding sesame seeds to cats.