People have been eating chia seeds for millennia. However, Medium says they didn’t become popular in the English-speaking world until recent decades. Specifically, chia seeds became popular because of Chia Pets in the 1970s and 1980s. Then, the same company behind Chia Pets started touting chia seeds’ nutritional value, which coincided with a huge surge of interest in health foods. Thanks to that, chia seeds are now well-known throughout the English-speaking world. Cat owners should know most sources claim cats can eat chia seeds without issue, though whether that is a good idea is a whole other issue.
What Are Chia Seeds Anyway?
Chances are good interested individuals can guess chia seeds come from a plant called chia. It is a pseudocereal from the mint family, meaning it isn’t a true cereal but is nonetheless used in much the same manner as true cereals. To name an example, people can produce flour by grinding the seeds of pseudocereals, which is far from being guaranteed to be true for non-cereal crops. Of course, pseudocereals are a very diverse collection of crops. Acorns and breadnuts are pseudocereals. So are amaranth and buckwheat.
Britannica says chia is native to what are now Mexico and Guatemala. Before the Columbian Exchange, it was a widely-cultivated source of sustenance for Mesoamerican cultures, so much so that it was the Mexica’s third most important crop. Nowadays, people still grow chia in Mexico and Guatemala. However, it has long since spread to other countries. For proof, look no further than Statista’s claim that the three largest chia exporters were China, Canada, and the Netherlands in 2020. Granted, exporting chia isn’t 100 percent the same as producing chia. Still, that exported chia had to have come from somewhere.
Regardless, people prize chia for several reasons. One, it is an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. Two, chia is easy to digest, meaning people can eat chia seeds whole or processed. Three, that makes it surprisingly versatile as a cooking ingredient. For example, some people like to sprinkle chia seeds on hot food and cold food. Similarly, other people like to sprout chia seeds before eating them in salads and sandwiches. Much remains unknown about the exact properties of chia, so it could become even more popular in the times to come as research continues.
What Should People Keep in Mind About Feeding Chia Seeds to Their Cats?
Here are some points about feeding chia seeds to cats mentioned by Cattime and other sources:
Get In Touch with Your Veterinarian
Cat owners should always get in touch with their veterinarians before feeding their cats something new. The reason is simple. Not every human can eat every food that is supposed to be safe for humans. For instance, diabetics should reduce their intake of white bread and other high-carbohydrate foods because those send their blood sugar levels skyrocketing. Similarly, not every cat can eat every food that is supposed to be safe for cats. Veterinarians should have in-depth knowledge about the cats entrusted to them, meaning they should be the best source of information on what those cats can and can’t eat. They aren’t perfect, so cat owners should be careful even once they give the go-ahead. Still, veterinarians are either the best or one of the best sources of information possible under the circumstances.
Chia Should Be Safe For Cats
Plenty of plants are poisonous to cats. For instance, cats can eat ripe tomatoes. Unfortunately, cat owners shouldn’t encourage their cats to eat tomatoes because the rest of the plant is poisonous. That means both the stems and the leaves. Furthermore, that means unripe tomatoes, which are green rather than red. Chia doesn’t have this problem. The sources agree that cats can eat chia seeds. Moreover, they say that the rest of the plant is also safe.
Chia Might Be Beneficial For Cats
Cats are obligate carnivores. As such, they have an increased reliance on meat in a way that dogs don’t. That means cats should stick to animal-based matter for the most part, though they have been known to consume plant-based matter for one reason or another of their own volition. Still, cats should avoid eating too much plant-based matter, particularly since their bodies aren’t good at digesting such foodstuffs. Reputedly, chia can provide cats with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and other beneficial nutrients. With that said, this seems like the kind of thing that would be best confirmed through further research rather than just assumed to be true.
Be Careful About Feeding Too Much Chia to Cats
As mentioned earlier, cats are bad at digesting large quantities of plant-based matter. Unfortunately, there are also other reasons to be cautious about feeding them too much chia. For example, no one can perfectly predict how a cat will react to chia. Veterinarians are the best source of information on the matter, but they aren’t 100 percent reliable because they are always working with limited information themselves. Feeding a small amount of chia to cats is just a logical way to reduce potential risks. Similarly, chia seeds have more volume than they seem on initial inspection. They are famous for soaking up water, so much so they can grow up to 12 times their previous size when immersed in it. Due to this, it is best to feed just a small amount of chia seeds to cats to prevent any potential complications.
Besides these things, cat owners should also be careful about feeding too much chia to cats because they don’t want to encourage their cats to go snacking on plants. Chia is safe. Other plants are not guaranteed to be so. Indeed, there are many common ornamental plants such as azaleas, daffodils, and lilies that are poisonous to our feline companions.
Just Sprinkle Chia Seeds in Wet Food
No complicated, time-consuming methods are needed to feed chia seeds to cats. Supposedly, it is as easy as sprinkling some of them into wet food. Once the chia seeds have soaked up some water, they should be ready to go because that makes them easier to digest.
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