Nutrition

Can Cats Eat Edamame? Is It Toxic?

Many feline owners wonder if they can share food with their pets. A popular health food these days is edamame. Can cats eat edamame? Is this food toxic for felines? We have everything you need to know about cats eating edamame right here.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: March 28, 2023 | 8 min read

Cats trying to eat edamame

Edamame is a popular ingredient in many healthy dishes, but it is not on the top of the ingredient list for cat foods. Owners often want to share their healthy food intentions with their pets and may wonder if cats can eat edamame. While this may seem like an unusual food item to feed a cat, it is very common for felines to try and get a bite of what we eat.

Even though some foods, like vegetables, are safe and beneficial for humans, they are only sometimes as good for felines. It is helpful for owners to know more about what human foods are safe for felines and which ones are not.

Edamame is not toxic to cats but is not necessarily safe either. Before you serve your feline friend a bowl of this popular veggie, let’s jump in and learn more about this increasingly popular food and whether it is an appropriate snack for our feline friends.

Can Cats Eat Edamame?

The answer to this one is tricky. Yes, cats technically can eat edamame. A bite or two now and then will not hurt them. However, this food is neither part of their natural diet nor safe in every preparation. This vegetable is not poisonous or toxic to felines but should not be part of their daily nutrition. As with all other plant-based foods, felines can have difficulty digesting these materials if eaten in large quantities.

What Is Edamame?

This food is a legume, as are beans, peas, and lentils. Edamame seeds are immature soybeans that are harvested before reaching maturity. They are light green in color. This is traditionally a Japanese dish made from soybeans still in the pod. These pods are steamed or boiled, then shucked and served. They are served shelled, fresh, or frozen, but the shells are not eaten. This veggie is often an appetizer, side dish, or as an ingredient in larger dishes. This is also referred to as vegetable-type soybeans.

This food is popular for health-focused humans because of being gluten-free, natural, low-calorie, and low in cholesterol. One cup of cooked legumes has about 224 calories. This food also contains vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.

In addition to protein and fiber, vegetable-type soybean is rich in vitamins and minerals. This little veggie contains high levels of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health, and vitamin C, which can help boost the immune system. Soy is also a good source of iron, which is necessary for healthy blood circulation. Soy is also high in calcium and magnesium and is a very healthy, beneficial food choice for humans.

Is Edamame Safe For Cats?

Edamame is safe for felines in limited quantities as long as it is properly prepared. We must stress that this is not something your cat should eat every day. It should only be a very occasional treat. Only fresh or frozen vegetables, boiled or steamed with no seasonings, are safe for kitties to eat. Remove all seeds from the pods before feeding them to your cat. The pods should not ever be fed to your pet.

Undercooked and raw edamame is not safe. Raw and undercooked vegetables like this can contain bacteria, saponins, phytic acid, and lectins. These compounds are cooked out but stay present in raw legumes. They may cause your cat to feel sick. She may experience stomach pain, severe gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe discomfort. Never feed a feline this food from a can. Canned foods are often very high in sodium and include added ingredients like onion and garlic that are toxic to felines.

As with any human food or food new to your pet, only feed her a few small bites at first. Observe for the next 24 hours or so to see how she tolerates it. Pay attention to any signs of distress or sickness. If your kitty does well with a few small bits, you can give her a slightly larger portion the next time. However, it’s best to keep vegetable-type soybean as a very occasional treat.

Keep in mind that some kitties have dietary sensitivities and food allergies. In some cases, eating vegetables may trigger symptoms. Pets experiencing food allergies and sensitivities will display varying levels of distress.

Common Feline Food Allergy Symptoms Include:

  1. Stomach pain
  2. Gas
  3. Nausea
  4. Vomiting
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Constipation
  7. Irritated inflamed skin
  8. Skin lesions or sores
  9. Respiratory distress, including wheezing, coughing, and sneezing.
  10. Hair loss
  11. Dull, brittle hair
  12. Discharge from ears, nose, and eyes
  13. Repeated and long-lasting ear infections
  14. Excessive scratching

Is Edamame Good For Cats?

Felines are obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies need protein and nutrients from animal proteins to develop properly and survive. While adding vegetables can bring some minor nutritional benefits to them, they should eat a diet that is not high in plant material.

Edamame does have some beneficial qualities for felines. Because soybean is a fiber-rich vegetable, overdoing it can lead to digestive distress and diarrhea. However, if cooked properly and served in appropriate quantities, your pet can benefit from this snack.

Vegetable-type soybean is full of beneficial minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. These include calcium which helps support muscle function and brain activity.

Magnesium is helpful with regulating enzyme functions, regulating hormones, as well as the development of healthy teeth and bones.

Iron is beneficial as it supports the production of healthy red blood cells. Of course, cats do better on iron obtained from animal proteins. However, an extra boost now and then can be helpful.

We must note that vegetables like legumes also contain compounds called anti-nutrients. These interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients. Several are present in soybeans, which is another reason not to feed your kitty too many of these.

The Feline Diet

Cats primarily eat small prey like rodents, birds, and insects in the wild. They get their nutrition and most of their water from what they eat. These small prey animals provide a rich source of animal-based protein essential for feline health and well-being. Though they can handle small amounts of plant material and even gain some benefit from them, feline bodies digest animal-based proteins much more thoroughly than plant-based ones.

Pet owners must provide their furry family members with a balanced diet rich in animal-based proteins. This can help ensure that purr babies get the nutrients they need to maintain optimal health and well-being.

In addition to being high in carbohydrates, soybean also contains a significant amount of plant-based protein. While felines can digest and absorb some plant-based proteins, they cannot digest them as efficiently as animal-based proteins. As such, this veggie may not provide felines with the optimal balance of nutrients their bodies require.

While the soy plant has many incredible nutritional benefits for humans and can be somewhat beneficial to kitties in small doses, overall, felines are healthier when their diets are primarily meat-based.

Do Cats Like Edamame?

It is hard to say if felines like soy, and it may depend on the individual animal. Felines show an interest in our food because they like variety, are very curious, and may simply be bored with their repetitive meals. Soy has no meaty flavor, but some kittie may learn to like it. Others may enjoy a new texture or simply batting seeds around the floor.

Alternative Treats

Although there are some benefits to giving your cat an occasional bite or two of edamame, there are plenty of other more feline-appropriate treat choices out there. Because there is a risk of digestive upset and some concerns about felines eating legumes that are not prepared correctly, owners must have alternative treats on hand. Felines are carnivores. Not only do they love the taste of meat, but they need it to survive. Finding a meat-based treat is a much healthier option. Owners can also look at things like catnip and CBD treats.

Kitties will go wild for the smell and taste of fresh, high-quality meat treats. There are a few different ways to add this extra flavor and protein boost to your cat’s diet. Fresh food made from human-grade ingredients is a wonderful choice. Though human-grade is a pricier option, these meals offer pets the best possible nutrition. If owners can afford it, this is a wonderful dietary choice. Even if you cannot feed your cat fresh meals every day, providing them mixed in with regular kibble or as an occasional treat is a wonderful idea.

Freeze-dried kitty treats are also a great choice. These are often a single protein, low calorie, and offer a great punch of protein and meaty flavor. These are also more affordable and last longer on the shelf than fresh treats.

CBD cat treats, and oil can be very beneficial. Many treats are meaty and offer the benefit of soothing CBD effects. CBD can help regulate your cat’s mood and manage long-term conditions like pain and joint discomfort.

Catnip is a classic and very popular treat for felines. It can act both as a stimulant and a relaxant, depending upon if your cat rolls in it or eats it. Catnip is often loose or mixed into meaty or other flavored treats.

Of course, owners can always try giving their purr babies fresh meat. Ensure the meat is not spoiled, is properly cleaned, and is cut into very small pieces for your cat. Raw meat is not a daily treat, and owners must always supervise when their pets eat it. Some kitties will also appreciate a treat of cooked meat like chicken or steak. You can learn more about what human foods are safe for cats to eat and our guide here.

If you are concerned about your cat’s nutrition and want to add more protein and nutrients, it is best to discuss this with your veterinarian first. Adding plant-based materials to your cat’s diet may not always be the safest choice. Consult with a professional before making these changes. Rapidly changing your pet’s diet, even when feeding them completely appropriate foods, can trigger stomach upset and digestive distress. It is best to avoid this if possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is edamame toxic to cats?

When cooked properly, edamame is not toxic. When it is raw, it can be toxic both to felines and humans. Soybean in any stage is very hard to digest and may not be appropriate for all kitties, especially those already experiencing digestive sensitivity.

Can cats eat soybeans?

Soybeans should be treated the same as edamame. After all, they are the same plant. Soybeans can have some of the same nutritional benefits, namely being very high in protein. However, soybeans may cause digestive upset and should not be consumed in large quantities. They must be cooked appropriately and never served to your pet raw. Because soybeans have such high protein content, soy is an additive in many commercial pet foods for added protein.

Are soybean sprouts safe for pets?

Soybean sprouts are safe for kitties in small quantities. They contain very high levels of nutrition, just like the soybean itself. Sprouts may be easier to digest and are safe to mix into your pet’s food. Sprouts are safe cooked or added raw. As with any other plant additive, this should only be done occasionally, and you must supervise and observe your pet afterward.

Can cats eat the shells or pods?

No, kitties should not consume the shells or pods. These are incredibly hard to digest and pose a significant choking hazard. Never feed your cat any kind of bean or vegetable in a pod for this exact reason.

Final Thoughts

Edamame is a very popular, incredibly nutritious food for humans. It does have some nutritional benefits for cats and is safe for them to eat in minimal amounts. This vegetable should not be a daily part of their diet or even something they eat weekly. Though it does have nutritional benefits, edamame can be very hard to digest and, in some cases, may trigger feline food allergies. Felines are obligate carnivores and require meat to survive, and they much prefer the taste to that of vegetables. Keep this in mind when considering adding any kind of fresh vegetable or fruit to your cat’s diet.

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