Sweet potatoes, potatoes, cassava, yams, jicama, sunchokes, and arrowroots are some of the common tubers that humans eat. Which of these tubers are safe for cats and which ones are not?
Can cats eat potatoes?
Cats can eat cooked potatoes especially the baked, boiled, steamed, or mashed ones without any toppings, salt, spices, herbs, or any other harmful ingredient.
Grain-free foods like Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Dry Cat Food for Indoor Cats has potatoes. However, give them a small amount as an occasional treat since commercial foods are nutritionally balanced, unlike the cooked potatoes you prepare.
However, avoid giving them French fries, potato chips, or other potato products especially those that have unhealthy oils, seasoning, onions, chives, leek, garlic or any other ingredients that are harmful to these pets.
Finally, do not give your feline pal raw potatoes, their leaves, stem, skin, flowers or fruits as they have solanine that is toxic to your kitties.
If you love them, you deserve to know that unlike potatoes, sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory or bindweed and they are safe for your kitties, including sweet potato vines and raw ones. However, raw sweet potatoes may be difficult for these pets to digest.
Purina Beyond Grain-Free, Natural, Adult Wet Cat Food and “I and love and you” Lovingly Simple Dry Cat Food kibble, and Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Cat Food have sweet potatoes. This throws out any doubt of this root vegetable’s safety.
However, only give them a small slice of sweet potatoes as an occasional treat or snack or to help encourage bowel movement to help deal with occasional constipation since they are high in fiber.
Finally, since it is much harder for cats to digest sweet potatoes, stop giving them to your feline friends in case of diarrhea, vomiting or stomach upsets.
Can cats eat yams
Yam is an edible starchy tuber popular in Africa, Oceania, and Asia. They grow from herbaceous vines which are considered as an invasive weed in areas where they are not cultivated.
There are various ways of preparing yams that including drying and grinding it into flour or eating it as a vegetable where it can be boiled, mashed, pounded (fufu), sun-dried and eaten raw, used to make soup, and so on.
Can cats have yams? Yes. Cats can eat well-cooked yams as a small treat. As Wikipedia notes, “edible, mature, cultivated yam do not contain toxic compounds,” i.e., they are non-toxic” However, do not feed your felines raw yams especially immature ones
Additionally, some wild types may have toxins especially the bitter ones since they have alkaloids especially dioscorine which when ingested in large amounts may lead to toxicity symptoms which according to Pets Poison Helpline include “drooling, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, incoordination, drop in blood pressure and heart rate and seizures.”
Is yam nutritious? Yes. Besides dietary fibers and small amounts of fats and protein yams have vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C and K as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium.
However, being starchy, it is not an ideal diet for your fluffy friend and excessive amounts may cause gastrointestinal disturbances as well as weight gain or feline obesity.
Note that while a variety of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is often referred as to yam in North America, oca (Oxalis tuberosa) in New Zealand, taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Singapore, konjac corms (Amorphophallus konjac) in Japan and purple sweet potatoes in Okinawa, these vegetables are not true yams.
Can cats eat tapioca and cassava
Cassava, also known as yuca, manioc, mandioca, aipim or tapioca is a starchy tuberous root eaten in various dishes as well as used to make alcoholic beverages. It should not be confused with yucca (Yucca L.).
Can cats have cassava? No. Cats should not eat raw cassava leaves, peel or roots since they have cyanogenic glycosides and specifically linamarin which is degraded by linamarase enzyme into hydrogen cyanide, a toxic substance.
However, according to Selkirkvet.com, a Royal Canin Technical Bulletin, “proper preparation and cooking of cassava roots, bamboo shoots, and other plants usually render them safe for consumption” for cats, dogs, humans, and other animals.
While extracted and dried they are often referred as to tapioca is a grain-free binder and source of carbs in some cat foods, one source regards it as a low-grade filler, and notes that it is converted to sugar very fast.
However, quality brands such as Purina Beyond Grain-Free, Natural, Adult Dry Cat Food, and Purina ONE True Instinct Grain Free High Protein, Natural Formula Adult Dry and Wet Cat Food have cassava, making it a good option for grain-free feline foods.
However, moderate levels of tapioca in cat food or its consumption is safe cats. Therefore, unless well prepared, your kitties should not be given cassava.
Avoid a lot of tapioca or cassava since these pets are carnivores that require very small amounts of carbs and sugars.
Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes
Not to be confused with the artichokes (a thistle species variety), the Jerusalem artichoke, sunroot or sunchoke are tubers eaten or used to make spirits, ethanol fuel and so on.
As a type of food, they can be roasted, fried, steamed, grilled, made into pureed soup, mashed, baked, used to make soups, etc., or even eaten raw unlike other tubers such as potatoes.
These low calorie, high fiber tubers have carbohydrate including fructose that gives them their sweet taste, have a little protein and dietary fibers (inulin).
They also have vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate and vitamin C as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Can cats eat artichokes?
Yes. Sunchokes are safe for cats and they can have them as an occasional treat. Besides their various nutrients, they have prebiotics – inulin fiber that is helpful fostering growth of beneficial gut bacteria in your kitties gut.
This is affirmed by Wellbeing.com.au which notes that prebiotics as essential in bringing ‘microflora balance’, i.e., “prebiotics (found in Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, bananas, chicory root, and whole grains) act as food for the healthy bacteria in the gut. You can add some of these to your pet’s diet.”
Some sources note that “dogs, hogs, pigs and even cats may dig them up to eat them.”  However avoid raw ones since they can cause bloating and gas.
Can cats eat arrowroots
Also referred as to Canna, Achira, or Queensland arrowroot, this vegetable is non-toxic not only to cats but also dogs, and horses – ASPCA.
Furthermore, according to Chestofbooks.com, in case of feline diarrhea, “sprinkle a pinch of dry arrowroot or prepared chalk on the food once a day.”
Jicama, also known as or Mexican turnip or Mexican yam bean is another tuber that your cats can eat safely. It is nutritious loaded with carbs, proteins, vitamins especially vitamins B and C, and various minerals.
Including a small amount of jicama is often recommended because “it is a good source of dietary fiber and it is a source of Inulin which can be used as a prebiotic to aid digestion,” notes Petnet.io.
However, according to Wikipedia “seeds and stems of several plants, such as the jicama vine plant” as well as roots of several of the bean family Fabaceae has rotenone, a naturally occurring pesticide and insecticide.
“In veterinary medicine, rotenone is used in powder form to control parasitic mites on chicken and other fowl, and lice and ticks on dogs, cats, and horses, states Science Direct.
While rotenone is safe in small amounts, it can be toxic to animals, fish, and humans. Therefore, avoid giving your pets this Mexican vine seeds and stems.
While we have noted that tapioca, arrowroots, jicama, sweet potatoes, and potatoes are safe for these pets, they should be only a small part of your feline diet because these pets are strict carnivores and none of these tubers are part of their natural diet.
Also, felines do not need foods high in starch or carbohydrates often high in dry cat food as opposed to wet ones.