Cats are obligate carnivores. They don’t just like meat, they need it, and without it, they’ll be very unhappy, very unhealthy, and very much in need of a steak. So, lettuce has about as much place in their diet as cat food does in ours, right? Right… if you intend on feeding them lettuce, lettuce, and nothing but lettuce. But a little bit of greenery every now and again isn’t going to kill them. In fact, it might even do them some good. If you’ve ever asked yourself ‘can cats eat lettuce?’ here’s what you need to know.
Can Cats Eat Lettuce?
As purrfectnpawesome.com says, the direct answer to the question of can cats eat lettuce is a straightforward yes. There’s nothing intrinsically harmful about lettuce, and while most cats would really rather you garnish their bowl with bacon instead, a few little leaves aren’t going to do them any harm at all. Most of the time anyway. Obviously, if your cat loves lettuce more than life itself, you might eventually run into a problem. Cats’ digestions aren’t designed to handle vast amounts of fiber: too much fruit and vegetables of any kind could lead to indigestion, diarrhea, and other not particularly pleasant gastric effects. But let’s be honest. The chance of your cat eating enough lettuce to causes a problem is slim to none. They aren’t dogs and they don’t eat just for the sake of it. They’re picky. If you come home and find them halfway through an entire head of iceberg lettuce, you’ve either got a very unusual cat on your hands or a very unusual lettuce. So don’t worry. Don’t worry if they refuse point blank to even sniff a lettuce leaf, let alone eat one, either. A cat doesn’t need lettuce to be healthy. Although it may be better for them than they think…
Is Lettuce a Healthy Food for Cats?
We all know that eating our greens is good for us. But does the same apply to cats? It does indeed. When fed as a small, occasional treat as part of a balanced, nutritionally complete diet, lettuce can offer several very attractive benefits. To understand why, we’ll need to take a deep dive into the nutritional makeup of the average lettuce. All varieties are different, but most come packed with:
Unlike us, cats are perfectly capable of making their own vitamin C. Technically, they don’t need to get it from food at all, but considering the beneficial effects of the vitamin on urinary tract and immune health, a little bit more certainly can’t hurt.
Potassium helps keep blood pressure at an even keel.
Folate is an essential ingredient in DNA production
As well as helping to build strong, healthy bones and teeth, calcium also plays a primary role in nerve function and blood clot formation
Together with calcium and vitamin D, Vitamin K can help reduce the risk of fragile bones.
Why Lettuce is Great for Cats
So, it’s full of the good stuff. But how, exactly, is feeding your cat a lettuce leaf more beneficial than giving them a multi-vitamin?
Fat cats are no joke. Too many extra pounds can lead to reduced mobility, heart disease, and even an increased risk of certain cancers. Most cats will naturally moderate their own weight by simply eating till they’re full, but calorie-dense kibble can scupper even the best-laid plans. If there’s a lot more to love about your cat than there used to be, lettuce could help. It’s high in water and fiber but low in everything else, meaning it’ll kill their snack cravings without packing on the pounds in the process.
It’s a great source of hydration
Cats aren’t big drinkers. They’re desert animals by nature, and are hard-wired to think they can get enough moisture from their food. If they were eating fresh mice and birds all day, it wouldn’t be a problem. As it is, a bowl of kibble for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is going to leave them drier than the Sahara. If you don’t want to make the switch to wet food, a few little nibbles of lettuce a day could help add some much-needed moisture to their diet.
It satisfies their cravings
If you’ve ever noticed your cat taking a sneaky bite or two of grass, yours isn’t the only feline in the world with a taste for greens. According to animal health experts, it’s an instinctive impulse that does them no harm at all, and in many cases, can actually do them good. If you keep your cat indoors, lettuce makes a very handy alternative to grass and serves much the same purpose.
What Kinds of Lettuce Are Best For Cats?
No two cats are the same, and no two lettuces are either. If your cat loves romaine lettuce but turns their nose up at everything else, stick to romaine. If, on the other hand, they’re open to other options, you might want to take the advice of feedingmypet.com and tickle their tastebuds with some of the following varieties.
- Iceberg lettuce: When it comes to iceberg lettuce, a little goes a long way. As it’s packed with water, it might upset their tummy if they eat too much.
- Green leaf lettuce: Green leaf lettuce is a great source of vitamins C and A, folate, calcium, and fiber. It’s also less watery than iceberg, so feel free to up the quantity.
- Romaine lettuce: Romaine lettuce has a little less fiber than other types of lettuce, but it’s jam-packed with folate, vitamins K and C, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.
- Butter lettuce: Butter lettuce is a great source of vitamins K, C, and A, calcium, and iron.
Easy Ways to Add Lettuce to Your Cat’s Diet
As inspireuplift.com says, cats will sometimes simply give lettuce a sniff, take a tiny bite, then leave it alone. If you want to make sure they eat enough to get the benefits, here are some easy ways to incorporate into their diet:
Cats are fussy, and like kids, tend to refuse to eat anything they’re not familiar with. If they turn their back on the lettuce the first time, simply keep offering it to them throughout the day until they finally decide to take a taste.
Chop It Up
Offering your cat an entire leaf of lettuce and expecting them to take a bite is asking too much. Slice it into small slivers that are roughly the length and width of a blade of grass to make it more appetizing.
If your cat won’t eat lettuce on its own, simply chop it up and incorporate it into their usual food.