Can Cats Eat Potatoes? Check Out These Facts

(Last Updated On: August 2, 2020)

Cats are known for being mischievous critters, and yours has certainly snuck some of your food before. While there are plenty of well known foods safe for cats, some are a little more ambiguous. What about potatoes? If your cat’s eaten some potato, or you’re worried about leaving some out, it can be questionable. Can cats eat potatoes, and is it safe? 

When are Potatoes Safe to Eat?

There’s a big difference in cooked and raw potatoes when it comes to feline safety. If your cat eats a little of your baked potato, it might not be a huge deal. However, say you’re planning on making hashbrowns, and your cat eats some raw potato. That could be a problem. 

The issue is that raw potatoes have glycoalkaloid solanine, which is toxic to cats. Of course, this toxic alkaloid isn’t really good for humans either, but it’s a bigger problem for cats.

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When cooked, potatoes lose this alkaloid. Raw potatoes are never safe for cats to eat, regardless of the amount or type of potato. Cooked potatoes may be fine, if you’re careful. 

when are potatoes safe to eat for a cat

The Types of Potatoes

Depending on the type of potato, the level of safety varies. We’re not necessarily talking about literal potato varieties (with the exception of sweet potatoes), but the processing is important.

Cooked Potatoes

Cooked potatoes lose the solanine alkaloid that’s toxic to cats, so some potatoes can be fine. For instance, if you boil or bake a potato, you can pretty much trust it won’t hurt your cat. However, we’re really talking about fully cooked potatoes without anything else added.

So if you make mashed potatoes without adding anything else (cream, butter, salt), it’s perfectly fine. Mashed potatoes from a box contain a lot of extra ingredients though, so avoid giving those to your kitty.

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Raw Potatoes

Any type of raw potato is toxic to cats. Hands down, no exceptions. Even a small bit can really hurt your cat. If you find out that your cat’s eaten some raw potato, call your vet and get your cat in to see them asap.

Glycoalkaloid solanine isn’t just in the starchy ‘potato’ part of the plant. It’s also in the peel, which can be even easier for cats to get into. The alkaloid is also in the green parts of potatoes, so be careful and make sure your cat can’t get to any part of a raw potato before you cook it. 

Sweet Potatoes

Even though cats can eat a lot of foods that humans do (to a certain point), remember that their bodies still work differently than ours. In particular, their digestive system simply can’t handle things the way ours does. While sweet potatoes are a tasty and nutritious option for humans, they’re not great for cats. 

Technically, sweet potatoes aren’t toxic for cats. So if your cat sneaks a little bit, don’t worry too much. Still, if it’s a regular habit, it can have some pretty bad impacts on your cats health. Over time it can cause larger digestive issues, or nausea and vomiting. 

Fries, Chips, and Processed Potatoes

Processed potato snacks, like fries and chips, are cooked so they don’t contain the toxic alkaloid. However, they do contain a lot of other extras that are bad for cats. These snacks are salty, fried in oils, and contain plenty of preservatives and other additives. Processed hashbrowns (like those you’d get from a fast food restaurant) are no different. They’re fried and very salty. 

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What About Potatoes in Baby Food?

Sweet potatoes are the top choice of any type of potatoes used in baby food. As we mentioned earlier, sweet potatoes really aren’t great for cats. These foods often also contain different veggies, additives, and sometimes sweeteners, so avoid ‘treating’ your cat with some baby food. 

Can Your Cat Have Mashed Potatoes and Gravy?

It’s a holiday, and you want to treat your kitty with a taste of mashed potatoes and gravy. Is it safe? The mashed potatoes aren’t really the problem. As long as they’re fully cooked and don’t have any extras added in, a little bit is fine. The real problem is with the gravy. Gravy is salty, contains more fat that cats need, and it’s flavored too. Because it has seasonings, sodium, and plenty of other things, your cat shouldn’t be eating it. 

Can Cats Eat Cooked Potatoes?

potatoes in kitchen

You know that raw potatoes and sweet potatoes are toxic to cats. What about if you cook up some potatoes though? Well, cooked potatoes are actually completely safe for your cat to eat since the toxicity of the potatoes is destroyed during cooking. They have a lot of good nutrients for your cat as well, including things like protein, potassium, carbohydrates and fiber.

If you want to give your cat a little extra nutrient boost then, you can add some mashed potatoes to your cat’s food every now and again. Don’t use this as a substitute for your cat’s food though, since too much can lead to health issues over time.

Of course, cats are obligate carnivores too. So they can’t live off of something like potatoes. The carbs won’t have the nutrients that your cat needs, so it’s best to stick to a diet with more fish or meat in it.

Do make sure that you’re just giving your cat regular potatoes too. Avoid having any artificial additives, harmful herbs, and any toppings in your potatoes that can hurt your cat. Also avoid sweet potatoes in any form. Even cooked, sweet potatoes will cause problems for your cat’s digestive system.

Do Potatoes Kill Cats?

Raw potatoes in any form contain toxins that can be poisonous for your cat. No matter what kind of potatoes you have, you don’t want to give your cat a raw potato. Always make sure that you cook your potatoes, although if your cat has a small amount of uncooked potato, they should be okay. The solanine in the potato can still cause lethargy and disorientation though, and you may notice diarrhea or vomiting, but as long as they don’t have too much, they should be fine.

As you cook up your potatoes, remember not to use any seasoning, butter, or oil in your cooking. This can upset your cat’s stomach, so simply mash up your potatoes to avoid choking issues, and feed them plain to your cat.

 

Before you cook your potatoes too, make sure that you peel them. Peels can block your cat’s digestive system, since your cat won’t be able to digest potato peels and leaves. A tiny bit of a peel won’t be too much of a problem, but always be careful when you’re feeding your cat potatoes.

A potato in general shouldn’t kill your cat then unless they have too much, or unless they eat a piece that’s too big. This is especially true with kittens, which is why you’ll want to mash up your potatoes before you give a little to your cat.

Can Cats eat French fries?

Potatoes are generally okay for your cat in small amounts—and as long as they’re plain. That’s the problem with French fries though: they usually have lots of seasoning, are fried, and are not in easy to eat pieces that your cat can chew. This is why potato chips are such a problem too, since both fries and chips have an unhealthy amount of seasoning and are fried as well.

Now, if your cat has already eaten a few fries, that’s okay. The fries are not actually toxic to cats, and there isn’t enough oil to be incredibly harmful to your cat. Still, the type of fat that comes from fries isn’t the type that you want your cat to have, and the calories that come from fries won’t be the type of calories that you want your cat to have. Too many fries can lead to weight problems for your cat, not to mention anemia over time.

Just think of how unhealthy fries are for most people. You don’t want to give your cat that much sodium, since that can cause urinary and kidney problems. It’s best to avoid French fries then, and if you want to feed your cat some potatoes, to mash up some fresh potatoes yourself.

Bear in Mind the Dangers

cat by road

We already know that uncooked potatoes are dangerous for cats, and cooked potatoes aren’t so bad. Keep in mind that when it comes to cooked potatoes, it’s all about how the potatoes are cooked. If it’s boiled or baked, not fried, it can be a treat on a rare occasion. 

However, you should really be careful about making potatoes a regular habit. Your cat’s food is designed to provide them with the full spectrum of nutrition they need. There’s really no necessity to add extras in their diet. 

One danger of potatoes is the extra herbs and spices people like to add to them. In particular, garlic, chives, and onions pose a huge health threat to cats. 

Even if you give your cat cooked potatoes with nothing else added, it’s a health risk over time. Potatoes are starchy and full of carbs. Just like a human consuming too many carbs, cats can end up gaining weight.

It’s often harder for cats to lose weight, especially as they age. Unfortunately, weight gain from eating too many potatoes can eventually lead to felines diabetes, or joint problems from supporting extra body weight. 

If you really want to treat your cat to potatoes, make sure they’re prepared properly, without anything else added. Of course, it should only ever be a rare treat to avoid larger health issues. 

In general, you can feed your cat potatoes. But you have to make sure that you do it carefully. Make sure that the potatoes are cooked well, are plain, and only give your cat just a little as a treat. You might like all the seasonings and butter, but it’s best to leave everything plain when it comes to your cat. 

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