Nutrition

Can Cats Eat Mashed Potatoes?

Every cat parent knows the struggle of a curious kitty getting dangerously close to their dinner plate. If your cat has taken an interest in your mashed potatoes, you may wonder if potatoes are safe for cats to eat. Can cats eat mashed potatoes? The answer isn’t as simple as you’d think.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: August 14, 2023 | 4 min read

Cat sniffing a bowl of mashed potatoes

This article should not substitute contact with a veterinarian. Contact your local vet immediately if your cat is reacting poorly after consumption.

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Fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes. They make excellent comfort food, but does that extend to felines? Cats are obligate carnivores, but that doesn’t mean they can’t eat a vegetable here and there. Still, some human foods are toxic to felines, and it’s essential to know whether your cat snuck a bite of something dangerous.

When it comes to mashed potatoes, the answer isn’t black and white. While mashed potatoes are mostly safe for cats, their safety depends on how they’re prepared. Let’s explore which mashed potatoes are safe for cats to eat.

Can Cats Eat Mashed Potatoes?

Unseasoned, cooked mashed potatoes are safe for cats to ingest. While you shouldn’t let your cat snack on mashed potatoes daily, an occasional bite is safe.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that your feline’s diet must consist of 70 percent or more meat for optimum health. Cat’s bodies are adapted to digest meat and utilize nutrients from animals. Too many carbohydrates may lead to digestive upset, so only allow your cat to eat a few licks of plain mashed potatoes.

Ingredients To Avoid In Mashed Potatoes

Take a look at your favorite mashed potato recipe. Alongside the humble potato, you’ll likely find various other ingredients to add to the flavor and texture of the dish.

Dairy

Most mashed potatoes contain dairy, including milk, butter, and sour cream. While people love feeding cats dairy—particularly milk or cream—dairy isn’t a healthy option for our furry companions. Most cats are lactose intolerant, so eating dairy will likely cause an upset stomach. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Vomiting

Dairy products are also high in fat. While fat is a component of a cat’s nutritional needs, too much can cause digestive problems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), excessive dietary fat has also been linked to weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer.

Salt

While salt is an essential mineral for life, too much salt can harm your feline. Felines don’t need the same amount of sodium as humans. Salt toxicity occurs when the body gets too much salt, and the kidneys can’t quickly return the blood volume to normal. High blood sodium levels cause muscle and nerve dysfunction. Signs of sodium poisoning include lethargy, staggering, seizures, tremors, and vomiting.

Other Seasonings

While seasoning makes all the difference between a bland and tasty dish, our favorite mashed potato seasoning can be deadly for our feline friends—garlic, onion, chives, leeks, and oregano are toxic to cats. Even a few of these ingredients can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Chives, garlic, onion, and leeks are all members of the Allium family. Ingestion of these foods leads to gastroenteritis, inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This painful condition causes abdominal sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. Other symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, dehydration, and a fever.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the N-propyl disulfide found in Allium family plants causes the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anemia and Heinz body anemia. Symptoms include blood in urine, high heart rate, panting, and weakness.

Consuming oregano leads to gastrointestinal upset and liver damage for cats. At high concentrations, oregano can be fatal to felines. Signs of oregano poisoning include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, shallow breathing, and collapse.

When Are Potatoes Dangerous For Cats?

While potatoes can be safe for cats, this isn’t always true. Potatoes can be highly toxic to cats in certain forms:

  • Raw potatoes: Uncooked potatoes are toxic to cats. Raw potatoes contain a combination of alkaloids that can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and cause neurological problems. Ingestion of any part of an uncooked potato—including the peel—can be fatal to cats.
  • Green potatoes: If you open your bag of potatoes and see they’ve started to turn green, throw them away. When potatoes age, they produce certain compounds that protect against bacteria, fungi, or insects. One compound, solanine, is toxic to humans and pets in large amounts. Some people choose to people and trim the green areas to remove most of the toxin, but solanine can also cause potatoes to taste bitter.

Can Cats Eat Mashed Potatoes And Gravy?

As you now probably guessed, the answer to this question isn’t a simple yes or no. The answer depends on preparation. Mashed potato recipes usually call for dairy products, which may cause cat digestive issues. As for the gravy, it may contain toxic seasonings, like onions and garlic. Gravy is also high in fat, which could irritate your cat’s stomach.

If you want to give your cat a few mashed potatoes and gravy licks, ensure it’s free of toxic ingredients. If you’ve prepared the dish without seasoning, you could offer your cat a few licks. Remember, moderation is essential for a happy cat. Your feline gets to enjoy a tasty treat without irritating their gastrointestinal tract.

Can Cats Eat Mashed Potatoes And Butter?

While butter isn’t toxic to cats, it can cause digestive problems, including diarrhea and vomiting. Too much butter can cause gastroenteritis or pancreatitis, which is pancreas inflammation. This often leads to inflammation of the liver and intestines. Signs of pancreatitis include abdominal pain, decreased appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, nausea, and vomiting.

Can Cats Eat Mashed Sweet Potatoes?

Yes, cats can eat mashed sweet potatoes, but only in moderation. Sweet potatoes aren’t toxic to cats, and they don’t contain solanine. While nutrient-dense, sweet potatoes may be hard for your cat to digest. As with any human food, it’s best to feed your cat this treat in moderation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Potatoes Good For Cats?

Potatoes offer little nutritional benefit for cats. If you’re worried about your cat’s diet, it’s best to look for high-quality cat food formulated for your cat’s needs. Potatoes are fine as an occasional treat if your cat loves licking your leftovers. Remember to always prepare potatoes properly before feeding them to your cat.

What Other Human Foods Can Cats Eat?

Since cats are carnivores, high-quality meat is the best human food for a cat. Cats can also benefit from the occasional fruit and vegetable, providing extra antioxidant support. Fibrous foods, like cooked carrots and spinach, can also help prevent constipation in cats.

Final Thoughts

Can cats eat mashed potatoes? While mashed potatoes offer little benefit to cats, a small amount is safe for your cat to eat. Curious about other comfort foods and cats? We have a variety of articles covering the safety of our feline friends eating our favorite human foods, including mac and cheese, pizza, and ice cream.

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