Feeding your cat the same kinds of meals over and over again may lead you to wonder if they might be bored with their food. After all, our meals are (usually) so varied and interesting. Do cats need or even want as much variety in their diet?
Since our felines are also absolute masters at showing up at our elbow whenever a meal is being prepared, you can’t help but ask yourself what you can share with them from your own table.
For instance, there’s pasta, one of the best foods on earth (perhaps rivaled only by pizza and curry). Can cats eat pasta? Is it something that will make them sick?
Can Cats Eat Pasta?
Cats can eat pasta, as none of its ingredients are bad for them. However, since pasta is high in carbs and has zero protein, it has no nutritional value for cats, and is thus not the best choice.
Pasta is made with flour, eggs and water. None of these ingredients are typically harmful to cats, although some may have gluten allergies or sensitivities that can be activated by pasta.
Since cooked pasta is also soft, a cat should be able to chew through it without too much difficulty.
The glitch is however that pasta contains no protein, which is the one macronutrient our four-legged felines need. They really don’t need much carbs, so feeding them pasta instead of protein-rich meat-based meals can lead to a dangerous protein deficiency.
Pasta also has none of the vitamins and minerals cats need (which they can, again, get from meat), so while it may be quite tasty to us, and while our cats may like it too, it isn’t the best meal option available.
Is Pasta Good for Cats?
No, pasta is not good for cats. Since they need no complex carbs and thrive on protein, you can skip the pasta and feed them some meat instead.
Pasta is a starchy food. And while humans and some animals break starches down to make fuel, cats can’t do this. Remember that cats are hunters by nature, so they have evolved to require high amounts of protein, as opposed to high amounts of carbs.
Their metabolism is excellent at turning protein into energy. On the other hand, if they ate very few carbs (around 10-15% or even less of their total caloric consumption), they would be just fine.
Is Whole Grain Pasta Bad for Cats?
No pasta is good for cats, so we could argue that whole grain pasta is bad for them in a way too, as it contains none of the protein they need to thrive.
Whole grain pasta is certainly a better choice for humans, as it isn’t as stripped of valuable nutrients as regular posta. However, since cats don’t need the kinds of carbs pasta is high in, the same argument doesn’t apply.
Cats have evolved to require the kinds of carbs their prey in the wild would naturally eat, and grains aren’t on that list. In other words, we can argue that since it has no nutritional value, whole grain pasta is bad for cats.
Is Chocolate Pasta Bad For Cats?
Yes, chocolate pasta is very bad for cats, and it can be highly dangerous if consumed. Chocolate toxicity can even be lethal for cats.
Chocolate can be highly toxic to cats, and can in fact kill them. It contains something called theobromine, which overstimulates their nervous system. It can cause hypertension, hyperactivity, tremors, vomiting and diarrhea, but it can also be lethal, especially in large quantities.
Even the smallest amount of chocolate can be harmful to your cat, so never give them chocolate pasta.
Is Raw Pasta Bad for Cats?
Yes, raw pasta can be bad for cats, and is certainly not the best dental treat option on the market. It can cause an upset stomach and damage a cat’s teeth, mouth and throat.
Raw pasta is difficult to digest, and even a human’s larger digestive system would have problems with it. A cat’s smaller one will certainly be put under a lot more strain.
The raw pasta can also be quite hard and can damage a cat’s teeth, cut their gums or even get lodged in their throat. Raw pasta breaks into sharp shards, so is certainly more of a risk than a good idea for a treat.
Can Cats Play With Dry Pasta?
Cats can play with dry pasta, as long as you make sure they don’t eat it. Since this can be quite the challenge, the simplest solution might be not to let them have it in the first place.
Most cats love to play with dry pasta, and some may never be tempted to chew it. However, others may injure themselves or get an upset stomach when they start nibbling on the edges.
To be absolutely safe, try not to let your cat get their paws on any dry pasta. If they do start playing with some, make sure to watch them carefully, and take their new toy away as soon as they start to bite it.
Is Pasta Sauce Bad for Cats?
Pasta sauces can be quite bad for cats, depending on what they are made of. Some can even be highly toxic and potentially lethal.
Most pasta sauce will contain salt. Since cats can’t eat salt as it is very toxic to them even in small amounts, this immediately writes off most pasta sauces from a cat’s menu.
The tomato or milk base that pasta sauces are made with is also not good for your cat. Even cheese sauces are full of additives that aren’t healthy for a cat, may contain onion or garlic which are toxic to them, and come with a dairy content that is bad for our lactose intolerant felines.
Bolognese sauces are again a bad idea, since they will come with onion and garlic, and may also contain wine that is also toxic to cats. Since pesto sauce also comes with garlic, you definitely don’t want to give it to your cat either.
In short: all pasta sauces, especially the store-bought kinds, come with a lot of potentially harmful and toxic ingredients. If you want to give your cat pasta, stick to the cooked, unseasoned kind (i.e. cook it in plain water without adding any salt), but it’s best not to give your cat pasta at all.
The Potential Dangers of Pasta for Cats
While eating plain cooked pasta won’t be outright bad for your cat, adding any sauces or seasonings can be quite harmful. Pre-made pastas or instant noodles are also a bad idea, as they are full of salt and preservatives too.
Eating too many unnecessary and essentially empty calories can make your cat overweight, which will in turn lead to all kinds of health issues over time.
Another thing to note is that cats can have gluten allergies. Some cats will be fine when eating grains, while others will have an allergic reaction. The symptoms to watch out for if your cat has eaten any include:
- Inexplicable weight loss and loss of appetite
- Chronic diarrhea
- Feline asthma
- Itchy and dry skin
If your cat appears in any way unwell after eating pasta, don’t give it to them again and monitor their behavior. If they don’t seem to be getting better, take them to the vet to make sure they are not having an allergic reaction to gluten.
How to Make Pasta for Your Cat
If you want to give your cat pasta, boil it in unseasoned and unsalted water for them. Feed them small bites and watch how they react and behave in the next couple of days.
You may discover that your cat doesn’t even like pasta, so the entire dilemma of how to give it to them may be a moot point.
You can also add some cooked and unseasoned (especially unsalted!) meat to your cat’s pasta dish, if you want to give them this favorite human meal.
Wrapping It Up
While we may be tempted to give our cats all kinds of human food, it’s good to remember that what they will benefit from the most is quality, protein-rich cat food.