Can Cats Eat Beets?

Our feline friends don't always limit their diets to the food in their bowls, If your cat goes on the prowl for some beets, don't despair,

MJ Shaffer writer with Dog

Last Updated: October 21, 2022 | 3 min read

Overhead image of plate of beets with cat looking at it

We expect cats to come running when we take our roasted salmon dinner from the oven or sit down at Thanksgiving with turkey and all the fixings, but sometimes our feline friends will surprise us with the food they choose. Although they are carnivores, sometimes they help themselves to other foods in our homes.

Even though cats are famous for being picky eaters, they are individuals like any other species. One cat may turn up her nose at almost every meal presented to her, while another may try to make off with anything you have on your plate, even if it is something you’d never expect a cat to like.

Sometimes, our cats get food off an unattended plate or from the trash, and we’re not even sure they can safely eat it, let alone why they would want it. Luckily, if your cat surprises you by stealing your beets, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Can Cats Eat Beets?

Cats may not seek out beets as a source of nutrition, but beets are safe for cats to eat. As a matter of fact, beet pulp is added to many animal feeds as a source of nutrition. Beet pulp is the product left over from the sugar beet after the sugar, the main product, has been extracted.

Beet pulp has been a source of fiber and nutrients in livestock feeds for decades. The Ancient Greeks used fodder beets to feed cattle 2,500 years ago. Although the cultivation of sugar beets was regional in the United States and not as widespread as in Europe, feeding beet pulp to “hard keeper” horses to help them gain weight was widespread by the late 1970s.

Are Beets Good For Cats?

Although red beets are safe for cats to eat, sugar beets in the form of beet pulp are a healthy part of many commercial cat food formulas.

Cats need fiber in their diets for healthy digestive function. Adding fiber to the commercial kibble can assist with both constipation and diarrhea by regulating the water in the gut and helping stabilize the consistency of the cat’s stool. When soluble fibers dissolve in the stomach, they can turn into a gel that makes stools easier to pass. Insoluble fibers regulate food transport through the system and may help with stool consistency.

The fiber in beet pulp also helps nourish the microbiome in the gut. Prebiotics in the fiber helps the beneficial bacteria in the gut flourish. Feeding beneficial fiber to promote a healthy microbiome can help restore the balance of bacteria after some illnesses. For diabetic cats, adding fiber may help slow the absorption of nutrients. Allowing the sugars from starches to be absorbed more slowly helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Overweight cats may feel fuller after a high-fiber meal which may help them be satisfied with fewer calories.

Can Cats Eat Pickled Beets?

Although beet pulp and beets can benefit cats nutritionally, don’t allow your cat access to pickled beets. They may be high in sodium. The vinegar in beets won’t harm a cat, but some of the spices used may be toxic. Garlic, in large doses or over an extended time, is harmful to cats. Many pickled beet recipes call for cloves, and cloves contain eugenol. Eugenol can be used as an anesthetic and cause liver toxicity in cats.

What’s The Best Way For Cats To Get Beet Fiber?

Rather than preparing your cat a dish full of red beets when you’re preparing your family dinner, you can choose cat food with beet pulp as the main ingredient. Beet pulp and other fiber sources may reduce hairball formation, so some hairball prevention formulas have beet pulp within the first six to eight ingredients. Check the labels on various weight control and digestive care formulas to see if they contain beet pulp as the main ingredient.

If your cat has digestive issues, products made from beet sugars provide targeted prebiotic and probiotic strains to help restore the natural balance in the gut. Check with your veterinarian to see if a product with Fructooligosaccharides from beet sugar may reduce symptoms of diarrhea and related poor health in your cat.

Final Thoughts

Although cats are obligate carnivores, their diet is not muscle meat in nature. When they consume their prey, they ingest bone, hair, and all other less-than-appetizing parts of the unfortunate animal. As housepets, cats’ diets are limited to what we offer. Many natural microorganisms and sources of nutrients and fiber in the natural diet cannot be easily replicated. Pet food companies have found that products like beet pulp add nutritional value and nutrients that help keep your house cat healthy.

Most cats won’t choose to steal a red beet off your plate. If your cat is one of those few felines who will eat almost anything, steer him away from pickled beets because the ingredients used in the pickling process could be dangerous. Plain beets are safe in moderation, although if he pulls them to the floor or the tablecloth, you’ll have a lovely pink stain to contend with. Beets have been used as a source of pink dye and as makeup to color cheeks and lips for hundreds of years, so clean up any stains quickly with hydrogen peroxide solution to avoid permanent evidence of his escapade.

White Siamese cat with sweet potatos

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