Cats are obligate carnivores and cannot survive without their diet being high in meat proteins.
This does not mean that they cannot eat any vegetables, but they should not form the basis of a cat’s diet.
Spinach is good for adult cats in small quantities, but should not be fed to kittens as their growing bodies cannot handle it.
What are the benefits of spinach for cats?
In small quantities, spinach contains many nutrients that are highly beneficial for your cat’s health.
Spinach is high in vitamins A, K, B2, B6, C, and E. Vitamin A is required for your cat’s skin, coat, muscle, and nerve health. A lack of vitamin A can lead to an uneven coat, muscle wastage, and night blindness.
Vitamin K is fat-soluble and so needs to be combined with fatty foods for proper absorption. If your cat is deficient in Vitamin K, this can cause issues with blood coagulation.
This may not seem immediately serious, but if your cat got into a fight and began bleeding it could have serious consequences. Malnutrition in terms of Vitamin K can also increase the risk of hemorrhages.
Vitamin B2 is also known as Riboflavin. This is responsible for your cat keeping their coat and skin looking healthy. It also contributes to their eyesight, growth, and muscle development.
Lack of Vitamin B2 can cause your cat’s fur to fall out particularly in the area between their eyes and ears. It can also cause the development of fatty liver, cataracts, and can cause severe weight loss if left untreated.
Vitamin B6 is purported to inhibit the growth of mammary tumor cells in cats, as well as enabling the nervous system to function correctly. It also assists red blood cells function within the body.
It is involved in carbohydrate, fatty acid, and amino acid metabolism, and glucose creation. A lack of Vitamin B6 can cause your cat’s growth to be stunted, anemia, seizures, and kidney problems.
Vitamin C is not super important to include in your cat’s diet as their bodies have the capacity to create their own vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and acts to acidify the pH of the body and the urine.
As cat’s bodies have the ability to make their own Vitamin C, they are unlikely to ever suffer from a deficiency.
Vitamin E cannot be synthesized by the cat’s body and must be supplemented in their diet. It is an antioxidant too and is vital to maintain good health.
Vitamin E impacts the cardiovascular health of your cat, their immune system and neurological functioning, their fertility, and their eyesight.
A deficiency in Vitamin E can cause muscle weakness, hepatitis of the liver, and heart problems in your cat. If left untreated, it can even lead to hemorrhages in the large intestine.
It is also high in folate, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Folate is necessary to support regular metabolic functions within your cat’s body.
These include the production of red blood cells and DNA synthesis. A deficiency in folate or folic acid can cause your cat to develop diseases of the small intestine.
Magnesium is very important for cats as it assists with constipation and urinary troubles. Cats are very susceptible to constipation due to the furballs they ingest. They also tend to have issues with struvite urine crystals, making it painful to urinate.
Magnesium helps to manage the effects of this and reduce crystal buildup. Magnesium deficiency could cause cramps, seizures, fatigue, heart arrhythmia, and urinary/digestive problems.
Calcium is an electrolyte and is vital in regulating fluid in your cat’s cells and conducting electrical impulses throughout the body. It is also used in contracting muscles, blood coagulation, and bone/teeth structure. Common issues caused by lack of calcium include rickets, lethargy, and convulsions.
Potassium helps to control the normal function of muscles and nerves in your cat. A common symptom of malnutrition is muscle weakness and wastage.
Spinach also contains a decent quantity of fiber. This is good for your cat’s digestive health and will work to reduce the effects of constipation. It also contains compounds known as glycoglycerolipids.
This is a molecule containing both carbohydrates and fats. They work in your cat’s body to protect the digestive tract lining from damage caused by inflammation.
What are the drawbacks of spinach for cats?
Too much calcium can cause issues with your cat’s bladder. This is due to the levels of calcium oxalate contained in the spinach.
These can lead to crystals forming in your cat’s urinary tract and can be very painful for them.
If your cat suffers from urinary tract issues, do not feed them spinach.
If your cat has any pre-existing health conditions we suggest checking with your vet before incorporating spinach into your cat’s diet.
Should I feed them cooked or raw spinach?
Raw spinach has a light level of oxalates and should not be given to your cat in this form. We recommend boiling or steaming the spinach gently before giving to your cat. These cooking methods preserve many of the healthy nutrients that the spinach contains.
Do not ever season your cooked spinach before giving it to your cat as this could cause severe health problems.
Baby spinach contains higher levels of oxalates than regular spinach and should not be fed to your cat.
Cats are unlikely to eat a full bowl of spinach, and this will not be massively healthy for them either. We suggest mixing a little cooked spinach (2-3 leaves) into your cat’s regular food to incorporate it into their diet.
Kittens should not be fed spinach as part of their diet. This is because their developing bodies and digestive systems cannot handle it yet. It is perfectly safe to feed adult cats small quantities of spinach.
There are many other vegetables that are suitable to feed your cat if you want them to get more vitamins and minerals in their diet.
These include lettuce, steamed broccoli, and peas.