Can Cats Eat Mushrooms?

Cat owners might be curious whether their cats can eat mushrooms or not. If so, they should know that their cats should be able to eat most store-bought mushrooms. However, cat owners intending to feed mushrooms to their cats should make sure to do so in moderation. After all, cats are obligate carnivores. For those who are unfamiliar, carnivores can be divided up into obligate carnivores and facultative carnivores. Obligate carnivores are the species that must consume meat to survive in the long run. In contrast, facultative carnivores are the species that prefer meat but can survive without meat in the long run. Since cats are obligate carnivores, this means that store-bought mushrooms aren’t very nutritious for them, meaning that they should be considered an occasional treat and nothing but an occasional treat.

Amusingly, there are some cats that seem to love mushrooms even though they are obligate carnivores. Fortunately, this is a point of curiosity that seems to have a very solid answer. In short, a species’s nutritional needs have a fair amount of influence over their senses, which makes sense because more consumption of the right kinds of food makes for better chances of survival as well as improvements to other measurements of success. Cats need meat, thus resulting in them craving the umami flavor of meat. Mushrooms are not made out of meat, but mushrooms do contain large amounts of the amino acid called glutamate, which is important because it is one of the chemicals responsible for the umami flavor. As such, it seems safe to say that some cats enjoy mushrooms because of their savory taste.

Why Should You Be Careful When It Comes to Wild Mushrooms

Having said that, while store-bought mushrooms can be fine when consumed in moderation, the same cannot be said for wild mushrooms. In fact, cat owners should do their best to make sure that their cats never come into contact with wild mushrooms because eating them is so risky. Some cat owners might be surprised by this. After all, there are a lot of people who choose to eat wild mushrooms, which suggests that it should be a survivable experience. Unfortunately, while there are plenty of wild mushrooms that are edible, there are also plenty of wild mushrooms that are either poisonous or otherwise problematic.

Fundamentally, the problem with eating wild mushrooms is that it is very difficult to distinguish the edible ones from the not so edible ones. Most people don’t have an encyclopedic understanding of the colors, shapes, textures, structures, environments, and other features that can be used for mushroom identification, meaning that their results in this regard tend to be very hit and miss. However, even mushroom experts have been known to make mistakes, not least because edible wild mushrooms can look very similar to their not so edible counterparts. Due to this, there is always a chance of being poisoned when someone chooses to eat wild mushrooms.

Some people with a taste for wild mushrooms have certain practices that are meant to reduce the chances of mushroom poisoning. However, these practices are far from perfect. For example, cooking doesn’t destroy the poison in all of the poisonous mushrooms that can be found out there. In fact, it can be very counter-productive because there have been cases of people being poisoned by the cooking fumes from poisonous mushrooms. Likewise, some people are very cautious of immediate effects from poisonous mushrooms but let down their guard when none show up, which is a huge problem because the poison of poisonous mushrooms is by no means guaranteed to produce symptoms right away. On top of this, even when someone has a lot of expertise and experience when it comes to the wild mushrooms of a particular area, that cannot be applied to the wild mushrooms of another area because there is such a wide range of species that can be found out there.

Of course, the fact that it will be cats rather than humans eating wild mushrooms is one more complication in a succession of them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, humans have a much better understanding of what is safe to eat for humans than for other species even when those species happen to be some of our closest companions. This is a huge issue because there are plenty of foods that humans can eat but cats can’t eat as well as vice versa. As a result, even if a mushroom expert can pick up wild mushrooms that are fine for human consumption, there is no guarantee that those same wild mushrooms will be fine for feline consumption.

What Should You Do If Your Cat Has Eaten Wild Mushrooms?

Even when cat owners are careful, there is still a chance of their cats eating wild mushrooms. Due to this, it can be very useful for them to memorize some of the potential symptoms. One, stomach problems are very common when it comes to poisonous mushrooms, which can come as part of a package with diarrhea and vomiting. Two, there are some poisonous mushrooms that can cause drooling and a decrease in heart rate that may or may not also be accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting. Three, certain poisonous mushrooms can have neurological effects, with examples including but not limited to agitation, sensitivity to sound and touch, and a case of depressions. Four, it is possible for poisonous mushrooms to cause liver problems, which will cause a loss of appetite, a loss of energy, and a yellowing of the eyes. Be warned that many of these symptoms might not kick in until multiple hours after the initial consumption, which is something that cat owners need to keep in mind when examining their cats’ activities.

In any case, if cat owners see these symptoms in their cats, they should consult a local veterinarian as soon as possible. With this as with other medical problems, faster intervention can make a world of difference when it comes to the ultimate outcome. Besides that, if cat owners are curious about a particular mushroom, they can take some photos of it as well as its surroundings before sending them over to a local mycologist. The simplest place to find one would be a local university, but there are other options available as well.

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