Potato, tater, tattie, patata (Spanish), scientifically known as Solanum tuberosum belongs to the nightshade family, Solanaceae that also has tomatoes, eggplant, chili and bell peppers.
This starchy tuber does not belong to the same family as sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas), a sweet-tasting starchy tuber. The latter is a member of the family Convolvulaceae (the morning glory or bindweed family).
There are many potato dishes including, potato chips, salad (crisps) and French fries. Furthermore, this tuber can also be mashed, baked, steamed, roasted, microwaved, used to make pancakes (Rösti), dumplings and so on.
Nutritionally, they have carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate, K, antioxidants (lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin) as well as minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
There is also a small quantity of protein and fat and other ingredients we did not list.
Can cats have potatoes?
The answer is yes and no depending on whether you are talking about raw, cooked, mashed, French fries, chips (crisps) and so on.
a). Raw potatoes, peels or skin, leaves or fruits
Raw potatoes have steroidal glycoalkaloids, i.e., solanine and chaconine. Solanine is toxic to your feline pal if taken in large amounts. Therefore, cats should not eat raw potatoes including their skins, leaves, stems or fruits.
In fact, leaves, fruits, flowers, and sprouts are high these glycoalkaloids to help deter predators and will harm your kitty or dogs.
Since solanine is poisonous to cats and dogs, expect severe stomach upsets, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, depression signs, lethargy, seizures among other symptoms.
Finally, unless washed well, peels may also be harboring bacteria and dirty and most if not, all your fluffy friends will not even like them.
b). Cooked – grilled, boiled, mashed potatoes
Fully weaned kittens and cats can eat cooked potatoes including the roast, mashed, baked, grilled, and so on. The cooking degrades the glycoalkaloids which make raw Solanum tuberosum toxic to cats.
However, this does not mean you give them a lot. A teaspoon of baked, grilled, mashed, boiled or those cooked in other ways given occasionally as a treat is ok. Mashed ones are the most recommended as they will be easy to eat.
Although nutritious from their nutritional profile, these pets may not be able to effectively utilize the various ingredients they have being meat-eaters. Therefore, they have little nutritive value to offer to these pets.
Also, the excessive amounts of carbs may not only cause gastrointestinal disturbances including diarrhea but also as Feline Nutrition notes, “not only does this excess carbohydrate promote obesity in cats, but it’s also implicated in diabetes.”
When cooking potatoes for your feline pal, ensure there are no other harmful additives or ingredients such as onions, chives, shallots, garlic or excessive amounts of salt (sodium chloride), some seasonings, herbs, cheese, butter, and so on. Human’s requirement for salt is higher than kitties.
In case of stomach upsets, diarrhea, vomiting or symptoms of allergies, stop giving your kitty this tuberous vegetable.
Grain-free cat foods with potatoes
If your feline pal likes them, you can go for the various foods that have this tuber such as the following:
- Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free, Natural Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food with has either Turkey or Fish & Potato
- Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Indoor Grain-Free Duck & Potato Wet Cat Food
- Nutro Grain-Free Adult Dry Cat Food Bag
- Hill’s ideal balance Adult Grain-Free Cat Food
In fact, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils, peas, tapioca are some of the common starches used in grain-free cat foods.
Can cats eat potato chips and French fries?
While French friends and chips or crisps are not harmful to cats or kittens, we do not recommend them. Avoid any processed potato products including lays chips as they often have harmful ingredients including preservatives or excessive amounts of salt.
For instance, most crisps have various additives including salt and are very dry. This makes them not an ideal kind of food to give your fluffy friends.
On the other hand, depending on how they are cooked, French fries may have high salt amounts, undigestible oils, herbs, artificial flavors, and so on. Note that excessive oils can lead to pancreatitis.
Therefore, we do not encourage potato chips or crisps or French fries for these pets. However, a tiny piece will not harm them as it is not toxic or harmful besides having potentially harmful additives and ingredients.
Although domesticated kitties have evolved to eat some fruits, vegetables, and grains, always remember that your feline pal is a meat-eater, i.e., an obligate carnivore that eats flesh made up of proteins, moderate amounts of fats and very little carbohydrates.
Therefore, whether safe or not, you can only give them a small treat occasionally and ensure that amounts of all the treats account for less than 10% of their daily energy requirements.
Finally, cover your French fries, crisps or cooked potatoes that have harmful additives, pick any that accidentally drops down as you are eating and offer an alternative healthy cat treats if your cat seems to be begging for a bite.