It is common for us – cat lovers, to share some treats with our beloved fur babies and they love enjoying some human food as treats too. Who do not love eating together, cuddling on a cold night and sharing some delicious pie together over a favourite movie? Sure it sounds romantic enough, but the next question is how safe is it for cats to eat our food, in this case, pie? How the different ingredients found in pie will affect your cat’s health?
Cats can eat certain pie but in small amount and if the pie is cooked properly. Pies and other human food should be given as occasional treats, while your cats’ main diet should contain a nutritionally complete cat food.
There are many different types of pies available nowadays, some to mention are meat pie, potato pie, pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, apple pie, pie with cream filling, gluten free pie, and so on. Before we get into details discussing those pie ingredients, toppings and fillings, let’s discuss about cat’s physiology first.
As some of you have probably known, cats are obligate carnivore, meaning they get most of their nutrients from meat, making a vegetarian diet unsuitable for cats. However, this does not mean that cats cannot eat vegetables. In fact, some vegetables and fruits make excellent sources for micro nutrients (which are nutrients required in small amount) like vitamins, minerals, and fibre which aid digestion.
Most cats are intolerant to milk and other dairy products, so when ingested it may lead to an upset tummy. There are also other substances and pie ingredients which seem to be normal to us but can lead to serious health problem in cats.
Now let’s talk about each pie ingredients in depth. The most important part of any cat’s diet is animal-based protein. All kind of meat pie: beef, pork, chicken, fish, are good for cats but with one important note, that the meat have to be cooked thoroughly to prevent food-borne disease like salmonella or intestinal parasite infestation. Fish is exceptionally high in omega-3 fatty acids which provide a handful of health benefits for your cats. Egg is another excellent source of non-meat protein, but again it has to be cooked thoroughly before being given to your pets.
Some vegetables are safe for cats to eat, with some examples being carrots, asparagus, winter squash, green beans, peas, pumpkin, and spinach. To avoid possible harmful microorganism ingestion, the vegetables can be cooked or baked together with the pie. This is also to soften the vegetables, making it more palatable for your cats. Garlic and onions have to be avoided because they can affect your cat’s blood metabolism which may eventually lead to anaemia. Some fruits are safe for cats, including apples, berries, bananas, mangoes, and melons. Any type of fruits can be used fresh as pie toppings without having to be cooked first, but please wash them thoroughly. Cats do not have sweet taste buds, so not many cats enjoy eating fruit treats, while some of them only enjoy when the fruits are mashed into soft paste. Chocolate, grapes and raisins have to be avoided because they can cause kidney damage.
Despite the various pie toppings and fillings mentioned above, there are some ingredients in common which are used to make the pie crust: flour, yeast, butter, milk, and eggs. There are many types of flours, notably wheat flour, rice flour, tapioca flour, amaranth flour – all of them are plant-based, so as many other vegan food ingredients and substitutes. These will provide ‘empty calories’ for your cats, meaning cats will get calories from those ingredients but not enough nutrition. To make it sound more simple, it is similar to us eating potato chips and crackers.
Cats cannot digest alcohol and if your pie dough is mixed with yeast it will produce ethanol as a result of yeast fermentation. This is why giving raw dough to your cats has to be avoided as it may result in bloating or more serious health condition which in extreme cases require surgery. Pie crust in the form of baked dough is safe to be given for cats because the yeast has been ‘killed’ during the cooking process, making further fermentation process impossible after the cooking is done.
Most cats are lactose (a type of sugar in milk) intolerant and any dairy intake may result in an upset stomach. This and other allergies or intolerance may vary on each cat individuals just like allergies and intolerance in humans. Other dairy products like butter, cream, milk custard and cheese may cause similar digestion problem in some cats. Even though cheese is high in protein, the protein found in cheese is less “complete” than those found in meat, fish, and eggs.
If your pie or other food contain one or more unsuitable ingredients for cats as mentioned above, you should store your food in some sort of cat-proof containers or in a place where your cats cannot reach. If your cat intentionally or accidentally digest one of the unsuitable ingredients above, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Depending on the amount of substance ingested, it can be an emergency situation. This effect can happen either immediately upon ingestion or weeks/months/years after some toxicity build-up in the cat’s body. The severity varies between individuals depending on each individual’s sensitivity to the substance, the amount of substance ingested, and the period of the substance ingestion if repeated over time.
Because cats are carnivores, the main ingredient you want to be in your cat food is animal-based source proteins like meat, fish and egg. However, there are other pie ingredients which are safe for your cats to consume like some certain vegetables and fruits. Some other pie ingredients which have to be completely avoided are garlic, onion, chocolate, grape, raisin, raw dough, and alcohol.
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