Today is National Bean Day! Although it falls in the middle of winter (so planting beans may not be the best way to celebrate), you can show your appreciation for legumes by adding this great source of protein to a meal today. But what about the furry loved ones sniffing around your dinner plate: Can cats eat beans? Find out below!
So, can cats eat beans?
Yes, cats can eat beans—with caveats, which we’ll cover below. However, beans aren’t a “protein powerhouse” for cats as they are for humans.
While beans are chock-full of protein, it’s not the kind of protein your cat needs. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require specific nutrients that can only be supplied through the ingestion of animal protein. While human vegetarians are able to substitute protein sources such as beans and lentils for animal meat, this isn’t possible for felines.
That said, beans don’t necessarily pose a hazard for your cat—as long as the beans are served plain, cooked, and only as an occasional snack. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian first in case your cat has specific medical conditions (such as pancreatitis) that could be exacerbated by eating beans.
Can cats eat chickpeas?
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, may be difficult for some cats to digest. Beans in general aren’t a natural part of any feline diet. If your cat eats plain, cooked chickpeas, chances are he or she will be fine. However, don’t make a habit of feeding your cat chickpeas.
Can cats eat black beans?
Again, black beans aren’t likely to harm your cat if eaten, but they’re not the best choice of snack. If you do allow your cat to eat black beans, make sure they are plain and cooked. If the black beans are from a can, be sure to rinse off the excess juices before serving.
Can cats eat refried beans?
If you make refried beans from scratch and therefore know that no extra spices have been added, you can allow your cat to have a small amount of them. However, do not give your cat refried beans from a can, as they are likely to contain spices such as garlic and onion. Garlic, onion, and other members of the allium family can be highly toxic for cats if ingested. Even small amounts of garlic powder may result in the destruction of a cat’s red blood cells, a deadly condition known as hemolytic anemia.
Can cats eat green beans?
Green beans aren’t technically beans, but we’ll let that slide. Cooked or steamed green beans are a good option for cats that are actually interested in eating greens (most aren’t!). Certain veggies contain the added nutrients, fiber, and water that any cat could use, particularly for digestive issues. But don’t give your cat dishes like green bean casserole, which usually contain onion and mushroom ingredients.
Never let your cat eat cacao beans or coffee beans
Again, we’re playing fast and loose with the term “beans”—both cacao beans and coffee beans are actually seeds. Regardless, you should never let your cat eat cacao beans or coffee beans, raw, cooked, or otherwise.
Both coffee beans and cacao beans contain caffeine, while cacao or “cocoa” beans also contain theobromine. Caffeine and theobromine are chemical compounds found in the methylxanthine chemical group. These compounds can cause significant medical issues in cats and dogs—which is why neither cats nor dogs should be allowed to eat chocolate! Theobromine in particular negatively affects your pets in multiple ways: it acts as a stimulant, which increases heart rate; it acts as a diuretic, causing increased loss of body fluids; it causes gastrointestinal upset; and it upsets the nervous system.
If you’re worried that your cat has eaten cacao or coffee beans, keep an eye out for the following symptoms related to caffeine or theobromine overdose:
- Increased body temperature
- Increased reflex responses
- Muscle rigidity
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Advanced signs (cardiac failure, weakness, and coma)
If you suspect your pet may be experiencing an overdose, get to an emergency vet clinic right away. You cannot safely induce vomiting in cats at home, so be sure to involve a professional as soon as possible.
So, can cats eat beans? All in all, it’s best to celebrate National Bean Day without your furry family members. While most cats won’t experience issues from eating beans, there are much more appropriate sources of protein for them. Learn more about human foods that are and aren’t safe for cats.
Photo by YoonJae Baik on Unsplash