It’s International Hummus Day! If you’re reaching for this creamy, healthy snack today, you may be wondering if your pets can also have a taste. So, can cats eat hummus? This depends on the specific ingredients in your hummus. But in general, the common ingredient garlic makes hummus a potentially toxic snack for cats.
Can cats eat hummus?
Let’s break down the ingredients commonly found in hummus—and whether cats can eat them.
We previously covered if cats can eat beans, including garbanzo beans or chickpeas. While beans in general aren’t a natural component of any feline diet (cats are obligate carnivores), it is probably fine if your cat eats plain, cooked chickpeas. Some cats may have a difficult time digesting chickpeas, though, which could result in upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Tahini, or sesame seed paste, is not toxic to cats. But like chickpeas, sesame is not a recommended source of nutrition for your cat.
Citrus fruits and their juices are somewhat toxic to cats, as they contain psoralens and essential oils that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and even dermatitis. Fortunately, cats generally avoid these fruits and dislike even the smell of lemon, lime, and orange peels.
While olive oil is not toxic to cats, its high fat content may be too rich for your cat. Ingesting anything more than a very small amount of olive oil may result in your cat experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.
At last, we’ve come to the most problematic common ingredient of hummus: garlic. Members of the allium family like garlic and onion are extremely toxic to cats. These items contain compounds called disulfides and thiosulphates, which can lead to the destruction of a cat’s red blood cells. Even a small amount of garlic (approximately one clove or 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder) can lead to organ damage, organ failure, or death in a cat.
If you’re worried your cat has ingested garlic, onion, or another member of the allium family, be on the lookout for symptoms of poisoning for the next 2-4 days, including drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, discolored urine, inappetance, lethargy, elevated heart and respiratory rate, panting, or coma.
Herbs and spices
Some common herbs and spices that you’ll find in hummus include parsley, paprika, cumin, and sumac. (Sumac spice is not to be confused with poison sumac.) If ingested in large quantities, these ingredients could upset your cat’s stomach or, in the case of parsley, cause photosensitivity. However, this is unlikely to occur by ingesting hummus.
Other hummus varieties
Other varieties of hummus include the addition of ingredients like roasted red peppers, jalapenos, sun-dried tomatoes, olive tapenade, pine nuts, spinach artichoke, cilantro, or lime. In general, avoid giving your cat anything spicy. Understand that most vegetable-based ingredients aren’t nutritionally valuable for your cat. And again, actively avoid hummus that has allium-family ingredients: garlic, onions, scallions, chives, shallots, etc.
So, can cats eat hummus?
If you make hummus from scratch and can control the ingredients—namely, skipping the garlic and minimizing the lemon juice—you can probably allow your cat to eat a little hummus. If you’re eating store-bought hummus, be sure to read the ingredients listed on the container before allowing your kitty to indulge.
Learn more about which human foods are safe for cats and which aren’t. When in doubt, keep your hummus to yourself. Chances are, your kitty won’t be all that interested in it anyway! A nice piece of cooked salmon, on the other hand…
Cover photo by Nicholas Barbaros on Unsplash