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Take one of the healthiest grains on earth, add milk or water, boil it, and what do you get? Oatmeal, of course! Also called porridge, oatmeal is a classic whole-grain breakfast. Eating whole grains, like oatmeal, reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and stroke in humans. But do they offer any benefits for cats? Can cats even eat oatmeal?
Because cats are obligate carnivores, we know that a healthy diet means getting quality meat and animal-based fats. Cats have adapted to absorb nutrients most effectively from animal products, but that doesn’t mean that cats can’t receive some benefits from plant-based foods. Studies show that cats can utilize antioxidants from plants. Antioxidants protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals in the body. Free radicals increase the risk of inflammation and oxidative stress linked to arthritis, cancer, heart disease, immune deficiency, respiratory diseases, and more.
Jake Perry, a man who has had two cats break the Guinness World Record for oldest cat ever (first for a part Sphynx, part Devon Rex named Granpa, who lived to age 34; the second, current record-holder, Creme Puff, a mixed tabby who lived to age 38) has an antioxidant-rich diet for his cats: commercial cat food, plus eggs, turkey bacon, broccoli, coffee with cream, and about an eyedropper full of red wine every two days. While we can’t recommend feeding your cat coffee and alcohol—the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) warns against both—oats may be an antioxidant-packed alternative for your furry friend.
Can Cats Eat Oats?
Yes, cats can eat oats. Oats are safe for cats; they can even be found in commercial cat food. While raw and cooked oats are considered safe, cooked oats—porridge—will be easier for your cat to digest.
If you intend to share your oatmeal with your feline, prepare the oats with water instead of milk. Most adult cats are lactose intolerant and lack the enzymes needed to digest dairy properly. Keep additional ingredients to a minimum to avoid upsetting your cat’s digestive system. (This isn’t the occasion for savory oatmeal.)
Is Oatmeal Good for Cats?
Because felines are carnivores, oatmeal isn’t needed in their diet. It certainly won’t replace their regular food. That being said, if your kitty likes the taste of porridge, you can offer them a small amount as a treat.
3 Health Benefits Of Oatmeal
Studies show that oats and oatmeal have various health benefits.
- Oats are a source of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins.
- Oats contain fiber, which supports healthy digestion. They also have beta-glucans, a fiber that supports the immune system with anticancer, insulin resistance, anti-hypertension, and anti-obesity effects. Beta-glucan fiber also functions as a prebiotic and increases the growth of good bacteria in the digestive system.
- A unique class of compounds called avenanthramides are almost solely found in whole oats. Avenanthramides exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These same compounds make oats effective at reducing skin irritation and itchiness.
Grains For Cancer Prevention
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) published the most comprehensive analysis of diet and cancer. This three-decade-long analysis reviewed over half a million studies and created a report on diet, nutrition, physical activity, and cancer. In their summary, one of their cancer-prevention recommendations was to eat whole grains with every meal.
Cancer is a common disease among domestic cats—the online pharmacy PetMeds reports that one in five cats will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. With the cost of treating a cat with cancer reaching into the thousands, a spoonful of oatmeal—in addition to a high-quality diet—seems like an easy way to keep your kitty fit, happy, and healthy.
How Do I Feed My Cat Oatmeal?
To feed your cat oatmeal, make sure you cook it beforehand. Ideally, you’ll cook your oats in water since your feline may experience an upset stomach or diarrhea if you use milk. Keep the toppings to a minimum, altogether avoiding sugar and cinnamon. Finally, offer a small amount. You can also try mixing it into their wet food.
One Degree Sprouted Rolled Oats
- Certified glyphosate free
- Certified organic
- Sprouted for easy digestion
One Degree’s sprouted rolled oats are my choice for oatmeal. These oats are sprouted during germination, making them easier to digest. The germination process also breaks down phytate, a form of phytic acid that decreases the absorption of vitamins and minerals. This means sprouted grains have more bioavailable nutrients than standard grains. Sprouted oats are also higher in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter known for producing a calming effect.
One Degree also gets points for having glyphosate-free certifications from BioChecked and LeafScore. According to a 2018 Environmental Working Group (EWG) report that tested 28 oat products, all contained glyphosate. Not familiar with glyphosate? You may know it as Roundup®, a widely-used herbicide classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
My cat, Lucy, adores oatmeal. I make a bowl for myself using oats and water. Typically, I’ll add a tiny sprinkle of salt and top with fruit, like blueberries or bananas. Once I’ve almost finished the bowl (a teaspoon left), I’ll let her lick the bowl clean.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Cats Eat Oatmeal Cookies?
No, cats shouldn’t eat oatmeal cookies—especially if they’re oatmeal raisin. Raisin poisoning in cats can cause life-threatening kidney failure. Oatmeal cookies are also buttery and fatty, making them unsuitable for our feline friends.
Can Cats Eat Oatmeal With Brown Sugar?
While not toxic to cats, it’s generally recommended to avoid feeding your cat refined sugars like brown sugar, as it can cause obesity and an increased likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues.
Can Cats Have Cinnamon Oatmeal?
No, cats should not have cinnamon oatmeal. While the ASPCA classifies cinnamon as non-toxic to cats, the Pet Poison Helpline says cinnamon spice can cause vomiting, diarrhea, changes in heart rate, low blood sugar, and liver disease.
What Are Cat-Safe Oatmeal Toppings?
Consider these antioxidant-packed, cat-safe topping:
You can also try making your oatmeal with oat milk for a creamier texture.
While many human foods are no-nos for cats, oatmeal is a relatively healthy option for our feline companions. For other human foods that are safe for cats to eat, view our list of feline-friendly foods.