Arugula, also known as rocket or roquette, is a leafy green vegetable that has become popular in salads and other dishes. If you enjoy arugula, you may have wondered, is arugula toxic to cats?
The good news is that arugula is not toxic to cats when consumed in small amounts. However, there are some risks and considerations to keep in mind before feeding arugula to your feline friend.
Can Cats Eat Arugula?
Cats can safely eat small amounts of arugula. Arugula does not contain any compounds that are toxic to cats. It is not on the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants for cats.
Veterinarian Dr. Tabitha Henson states, “Arugula is safe for your cat to eat in small amounts.”
However, arugula should only be an occasional treat for cats, not a regular part of their diet. Here’s why:
Cats Are Obligate Carnivores
The key thing to understand is that cats are obligate carnivores. Their bodies are designed to thrive on meat-based proteins.
Veterinarian Dr. Gaylord Brown advises, “Arugula isn’t going to replace the meat in your kitty’s daily meals.”
While cats can eat small amounts of plant-based foods like arugula, they do not need vegetables for nutrition. Animal proteins should make up the bulk of a cat’s diet.
Too Much Arugula Can Cause Digestive Upset
Since cats lack some digestive enzymes to fully break down plant matter, too much arugula can irritate a cat’s digestive tract.
Consuming a lot of arugula may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other stomach issues in cats. This is especially true if a cat eats arugula for the first time.
Start by only offering your cat one arugula leaf per week. Monitor them closely for signs of digestive distress. Discontinue arugula if any issues arise.
Arugula Allergies Are Possible
Some cats may be allergic to arugula. Allergies are another potential downside of feeding arugula to cats.
Symptoms of an arugula allergy can include vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, itchy skin, and other signs of stomach upset.
If you notice these symptoms after feeding arugula, stop giving it to your cat and contact your veterinarian. An allergy test may be needed.
Vitamin A Toxicity Is A Risk
Here is another important warning if you plan to share arugula with cats: Too much vitamin A can be toxic to cats.
Arugula contains high levels of vitamin A. While some vitamin A is healthy, overdoses can be fatal in cats.
It’s crucial to only feed small amounts of arugula occasionally to avoid vitamin A toxicity. Routinely feeding arugula risks dangerous oversupplementation of this vitamin.
Fiber Can Also Cause Problems
Along with vitamin A, the fiber content of arugula deserves caution.
Too much dietary fiber from arugula can cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or constipation. A cat’s digestive system is not designed to handle lots of plant fiber.
Feed arugula in moderation to avoid disrupting your cat’s digestive tract. Monitor for signs of constipation or diarrhea.
Benefits of Arugula for Cats
While arugula does come with some risks, it can also provide some nutritional benefits for cats:
Vitamins and Minerals: In small amounts, the vitamins and minerals in arugula like vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium can support a cat’s health.
Digestive Health: The fiber and water content in arugula may aid digestion and hydration.
Weight Management: Arugula is low in calories, so it can be a healthy, low-calorie snack for overweight cats.
Flavor Variety: Some cats simply enjoy the peppery, aromatic flavor of arugula as an occasional treat.
So small, occasional bits of arugula can be a healthy supplement for cats. But it should never become a dietary staple.
How Much Arugula Can Cats Eat?
There are no definitive guidelines on the exact amounts of arugula cats can eat safely. As a general rule:
- Start with only 1-2 leaves per week. This gives their body time to adjust.
- Work up slowly to a few leaves, 2-3 times per week. Observe for any signs of digestive upset.
- Never feed arugula daily or in large quantities. The fiber and vitamin A can quickly become excessive.
- Discontinue arugula if any adverse reactions occur. Diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, or itchy skin warrant stopping arugula.
- Consult your vet before regularly feeding arugula. Get personalized advice on amounts appropriate for your cat.
Can Kittens Eat Arugula?
Kittens generally have more sensitive digestion than adult cats. For this reason, most experts recommend waiting until after kittenhood to introduce arugula.
Specifically, hold off on feeding arugula until your cat is at least 6 months to 1 year old. Their digestive system will be better able to handle it at that point.
Start with just a bite of arugula for young cats. Wait a few days before giving more to ensure they tolerate it well.
How to Prepare Arugula for Cats
When preparing arugula for your cat, follow these tips:
- Wash thoroughly. Rinse well to remove any dirt or contaminants.
- Avoid seasonings and oils. Do not add any spices, sauces, or oils to the arugula.
- Chop well. Cut arugula into small pieces to make it easier to chew and digest.
- Lightly steam or boil. Cooking arugula can make it gentler on your cat’s stomach. But avoid overcooking.
- Mix with regular food. You can chop arugula and mix it into your cat’s wet or dry food in small amounts.
Monitor Your Cat Closely
It’s important to monitor your cat any time you introduce a new food like arugula. Watch for these signs of trouble:
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive licking or grooming
- Gas or bloating
If you notice any of these symptoms after feeding arugula, discontinue it immediately. Seek veterinary advice if symptoms persist or seem severe.
Ask Your Vet First
Before giving your cat arugula, it’s smart to get the okay from your veterinarian. Discuss your cat’s health history and any concerns about allergies or sensitivities.
Follow your vet’s recommended guidelines on specific amounts of arugula to feed. Ask any other questions you may have about risks and benefits.
Getting an expert opinion can help you feel confident arugula will be safe for your individual cat.
Q: How much arugula can I give my cat per day?
A: There is no set daily amount of arugula recommended for cats. As a general guideline, start with just 1-2 leaves per week. Slowly work up to 2-3 leaves 2-3 times per week at most. Never feed arugula daily or in large quantities due to risks of toxicity and digestive issues.
Q: What happens if a cat eats too much arugula?
A: Eating too much arugula can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and other digestive troubles in cats. It may also lead to potentially fatal vitamin A toxicity if fed routinely in excess. Immediately stop feeding arugula if any symptoms of stomach upset appear after your cat eats it. Seek vet advice if symptoms seem severe.
Q: Can arugula replace meat in my cat’s diet?
A: No, arugula should never replace meat proteins as the mainstay of a cat’s diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require meat-based foods. Arugula lacks the amino acids and other nutrients from animal proteins that cats depend on. At most, arugula can be an occasional supplement for cats alongside a meat-focused diet.
Q: Is arugula safe for diabetic cats?
A: Ask your vet before feeding arugula to a diabetic cat. The carbohydrates and sugars in plants like arugula can impact blood sugar regulation. Your vet can advise if small amounts of arugula are appropriate for your diabetic cat’s diet and health status. Monitor closely for any symptoms of blood sugar fluctuations after feeding.
Arugula makes a healthy, pet-safe addition to a cat’s diet in small, occasional portions. Its vitamins, minerals, and fiber can provide benefits.
However, arugula risks digestive upset, allergies, and toxicity if overfed. It should never replace meat-based proteins as the primary part of your cat’s diet.
Use caution when first introducing arugula and monitor your cat closely for adverse reactions. Talk to your vet before regularly feeding. With prudence and moderation, arugula can be a nutritious treat many cats enjoy.