Seaweed is growing in popularity thanks to its nutritional benefits. But is it safe for your feline friend? Can cats eat seaweed?
The answer is yes; cats can eat certain types of seaweed in moderation. Seaweed provides antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
However, there are other risks to be aware of as well. Too much seaweed can cause thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies, or choking.
This article explores the safety, benefits, and risks of cats eating seaweed.
Yes, Cats Can Eat Seaweed!
Cats are curious creatures and may try to steal a piece of seaweed from your plate. In small amounts, this salty snack is unlikely to cause harm.
Seaweed does not contain anything toxic to cats. So the occasional nibble of dried seaweed is fine.
Just be sure to introduce it slowly and watch for any signs of an upset stomach afterwards. Diarrhea or vomiting could indicate your cat’s body doesn’t tolerate seaweed well.
It’s also best to avoid seaweed packed in oil or seasonings, as the extra fat and salt content is problematic. Plain, dried seaweed is safest.
What kind of seaweed can cats eat?
Seaweed is not an ideal treat for all cats. Kittens and cats with certain health conditions should avoid it completely.
Kittens Under 1 Year
Cats have developing digestive systems and higher nutritional needs. The fiber in seaweed may cause digestive upset. And kittens require precise amounts of key nutrients.
For these reasons, most vets recommend no seaweed for kittens under one year old. Wait until your cat matures before offering small nibbles.
Cats with Health Issues
Cats with the following conditions should not eat seaweed:
- Kidney disease. The high sodium content may worsen kidney problems.
- Hyperthyroidism. Seaweed contains compounds that can overstimulate the thyroid.
- Diabetes. The carbs in seaweed can complicate blood sugar control.
If your cat has any underlying health issues, consult your vet before feeding seaweed. They can advise if the risks outweigh any potential benefits.
Types of Seaweed to Feed Your Cat
Not all seaweed is created equal when it comes to cats. Some varieties provide more nutritional value than others.
The top types of seaweed to feed cats include:
Kelp is a brown seaweed that provides iodine, antioxidants, and omega-3s. In moderation, these nutrients benefit skin, fur, thyroid, and brain health.
However, kelp’s high iodine content means feeding large amounts frequently can negatively impact the thyroid gland.
Nori is the seaweed used to roll sushi. It contains protein, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Nori supports immune health and digestion.
But nori is also very high in sodium. Check the label and choose low-sodium options if sharing with your cat.
This green seaweed is loaded with vitamin K, magnesium, and fucoidan. Fucoidan is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.
Wakame supports blood clotting, immune health, and bone strength. It’s one of the safest seaweeds to offer cats in moderation.
Avoid seaweeds like kombu and mozuku, which are very high in iodine. And don’t feed your cat any raw seaweed meant for human consumption, which carries a bacteria risk.
How to Serve Your Cat Seaweed
When introducing seaweed, take it slow. Start with just a tiny pinch of dried seaweed.
Monitor your cat for a few hours afterward for any vomiting, diarrhea, or other signs of stomach upset. If all seems well, continue feeding no more than once or twice a week.
Here are some safe ways to add seaweed to your cat’s diet:
- Crumble a small amount of dried nori or wakame over food
- Add a tiny sprinkle of kelp powder to treats or broth
- Offer a lick of seaweed “butter” (puréed seaweed blended into a paste)
- Mix a pinch of dried seaweed into homemade cat food
Never feed your cat seaweed from your own plate, as seasonings and oils could upset their stomach. Only offer plain, dried varieties.
And avoid any dried seaweed packaged for humans, as the hard texture poses a choking risk. Instead, grind or crumble seaweed into a fine consistency for cats.
Seaweed can be a healthy supplement for cats in moderation. It provides beneficial nutrients like antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamin K. Just avoid overdoing it, and steer clear of kittens or cats with certain health conditions.
Check with your vet before feeding seaweed, especially if your cat has any underlying issues. With their approval, seaweed can be a nutritious occasional treat. But high-quality cat food is still best for providing complete nutrition.
When fed carefully and sparingly, seaweed can be a tasty way to give your cat a dash of extra nutrients from the sea. Just be cautious of the sodium content, digestibility, and choking hazards. With some precautions, seaweed can be a feline-friendly snack!