Can Cats Eat Rice Safely As A Treat, Or A Major Part Of Their Diet?
Is Rice Important For Cat Food, Or Just A Filler?
Can Cats Eat Rice And Feel Health Benefits, Or Is It All Just A Case Of Economics?
Let’s Find Out!
Cats dearly love to get into all sorts of mischief, and for some kitties purloining a bite of forbidden foods is a major score!
But just because a cat is drawn to a particular people food, like rice, that doesn’t automatically mean that she should have it.
My senior kitty still retains his youthful love of random human food. But that doesn’t mean he is allowed to indulge, even if he does manage to get a few licks in every now and then!
What is rice?
We all know what rice looks like and how it tastes. But what are these tasty pellets?
Rice is a part of the cereal grain family.
Each grain of rice is actually a seed, which has been harvested from a species of grass.
The stems are cut out, sun dried and threshed by hand. A process which is carried out by beating the rice heads on a bamboo platform.
It’s grown in wetlands, commonly in Asia. Then transported all over the world!
Rice is a major player in the world of food. Per hectare, rice provides more calories than any other cereal crop!
Is rice healthy?
In recent years the subject of rice as a human food has come into question. Seriously!
A lot of people are now removing it from their diets altogether, over concerns with the carbohydrate levels and potential association with dementia and other conditions.
Which is very confusing, as many associate it with being a very healthy food.
And what on Earth does this new research mean for our cats’ diets? Are they even related factors?
Do cats like rice?
No doubt there is a table food or three that your cat would love to devour.
And for many kitties, rice is no exception.
Plain rice might not be their first choice, but given half a chance a lot of cats will happily munch down a rice-y meal.
But does that mean it’s healthy?
On the whole, rice isn’t a hugely nutritious food, but then again neither is chocolate; and we all know how many tons of chocolate humans consume annually!
So what happens when cats eat rice? Let’s find out!
Can I feed my cat rice?
For the most part rice is a perfectly fine food for your cat to consume, just so long as it’s not fed as a main course day in and day out.
In fact, chances are that your kitty is already eating a bit of rice.
Rice in cat food is a common ingredient.
If you’re wondering about feeding cats rice, take a look at the cat food label sitting in your pantry or kitchen.
The answer to, “can cats eat cooked rice,” may well actually be staring back at you!
However, this doesn’t mean rice is good for them.
In cat food, it is what is known as a filler. Feeding rice to cats is normal, but no necessary.
It is meant to be an inexpensive way to “fill up” the food content and your kitty at the same time.
But as we’ll learn, too much or the wrong rice isn’t nice!
Can cats eat rice uncooked?
Can cats eat rice even when it hasn’t been cooked? No!
Uncooked rice should be avoided.
First off it’s harder to digest, which can result in bloating and pain.
And, uncooked rice also may retain traces of pesticide and other unwanted residues.
It’s an all round bad idea.
But can cats eat rice when it is cooked? And can cats eat rice and sometimes get beneficial results from it?
When is rice good for cats?
As is the case with humans, rice can be a useful aid in soothing upset tummies or treating diarrhea.
It can also be beneficial in cat foods for kitties with sensitivities.
When eliminating potentially problematic food from an allergic cat’s diet, rice is often used as one of the minimal ingredients.
I know a few pet owners who treat their felines to chicken and rice for cats. Boiled chicken and rice for cats is a soothing, comforting little taste treat, one that most cats I know would be delighted to receive!
But most cats don’t suffer from allergies, and are obligate carnivores. This means that they are designed to only eat meat. The most natural way to feed a cat, is not with grains.
And be aware, if too much rice is given, bloat and constipation can be the, ahem, end result!
And not all cats will take a liking to rice, or even tolerate it well. It’s best to try a small amount at first if you’d like to test your cat’s appetite (or tolerance) for rice.
Should cats eat rice
Aside from the question of whether or not cats can tolerate rice in their diets, there is a larger question about whether or not cats should be eating rice at all. Why?
The answer goes back to the fact that cats are obligate carnivores.
Do cats eat rice in the wild? Of course not.
Their natural, original diet in the wild consisted of mainly proteins, with a scarce amount of carbohydrates.
In contrast, humans are omnivores meaning that we can thrive on a diet of both plants and proteins.
Despite the fact that cats are obligate carnivores, manufactured cat foods commonly contain lower proportions of protein and increased amounts of carbohydrates.
The main reason for this is, you guessed it: economics.
It’s simply cheaper to produce a cat food with a higher ratio of inexpensive carbohydrates than it is to source and prepare a feline food chock full of protein.
Researchers have conducted numerous studies to determine the optimal feline diet.
Many experts consider the ideal diet to be one of mainly protein and fat, with a tiny amount of carbohydrate.
While most of us wouldn’t think of giving a cat a diet of rice alone, doing so would be most detrimental to felines. Proteins are needed for a complete and well balanced kitty diet, so happily the answer to “can cats eat rice and chicken,” is the same as “can cats eat chicken and rice:” most definitely!
Can you feed cats rice safely?
Rice often gets a bad rap when it comes to cat food, mainly because it sometimes is misused as a filler.
But in moderation, cooked rice will not harm your kitty. But it won’t help her either.
If you really want to give rice as a treat occasionally, that’s okay, but be sure that he is also getting the necessary amount of protein that he needs to thrive as well.
Can cats eat rice – Resources
- Bennett, N., et al, Comparison of a low carbohydrate–low fiber diet and a moderate carbohydrate–high fiber diet in the management of feline diabetes mellitus, Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery, 2006
- Buffington, T., Dry foods and risk of disease in cats, The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 2008
- Zoran, D.L., The Role of Diet in the Prevention and Management of Feline Diabetes, Veterinary Clinics of North American Small Animal Practice, 2013
- Methods of rice production. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
- Principles and Practices of Rice Production by Surajit K De Datta
- Bryan and Franks. 2010. Food allergy in the cat: a diagnosis by elimination. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
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