Lettuce is a good choice for people who are trying to eat a healthy diet. As the main ingredient in many salads, lettuce contains many essential nutrients and is low in fat and calories, assuming you go easy on the ranch dressing.
Widely accepted as being good for people, you may wonder if lettuce is also a healthy snack for cats.
In this article we’ll cover the following:
Lettuce is an ancient plant which was originally desired for the oil that can be produced from its seeds. Archaeological evidence suggests Egyptians were the first to breed lettuce for its edible leaves in around 2,600 B.C.
Though there is a wide variation depending on variety, lettuce is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin K. Many other important nutrients are also present in lettuce, though in lesser amounts.
Lettuce is very low in fat and calories, which is why people trying to lose weight choose to eat it. Being a plant, lettuce does contain measurable fiber, but not as much as other vegetables.
Although cats are primarily meat eaters, as the following video shows, many enjoy noshing on a bit of lettuce from time to time.
Yes, your cat can eat iceberg lettuce! All types of lettuce can be a tasty and fun treat, if your cat is interested.
Just don’t be surprised if they don’t actually eat the lettuce. Since cats are meat eaters, many will just play with it or rip it apart, leaving a mess for you.
And, as you can see in the following video, some cats may just wear the lettuce on their head like a hat.
Romaine lettuce can also be on your cats menu! Containing more nutrients, Romaine is considered healthier than iceberg lettuce, at least for people.
A good rule of thumb is that the darker and greener a particular variety of lettuce is, the more nutrients it has.
Kittens tend to be even more susceptible than adult cats to most things because they are tiny and have not yet fully developed. Though rare, any pathogens on lettuce leaves are even more likely to affect a kitten than an adult cat.
Similarly, kittens could be more sensitive to the laxative effects from the fiber in lettuces. This could cause diarrhea, possibly leading to dehydration and a trip to the vet.
Instead of lettuce, why not try giving your kitten a healthy kitten food like Blue Wilderness kitten food? This type of food has everything your kitten needs to grow up big and strong, and without anything that could cause harm.
While lettuce usually a safe snack for your cat, you should know they won’t really benefit much nutritionally from eating lettuce. This is because cats are obligate carnivores, which means all they really need to eat is meat.
In fact, cats are actually are not very good at deriving certain nutrients from plants. For example, cats produce very little of the enzymes that break down carotenoids, the precursor to vitamin A, which is found abundantly in many plants such as lettuce and lemongrass.
Unlike humans, cats must eat vitamin A that has already been converted from carotenoids to its active form by some other animal like a mouse or rat. This is one of the reasons cats in the wild need to eat meat.
Similarly, lettuce contains moderate amounts of fiber. Cats don’t need fiber in their diet, and eating food containing fiber can have a laxative effect on cats resulting in runny stools and messy litter boxes.
Additionally, while lettuce is not considered toxic to cats, many foodborne pathogens have been found on lettuce leaves. E. Coli and Salmonella are just two of the many types of bacteria that were found in lettuce and have sickened people.
While Salmonella does not seem to affect cats as severely as humans, they can still suffer from a variety of symptoms when sickened by the bacteria, including:
In severe cases, life-threatening septicaemia and endotoxemia may develop and in rare cases the infection may spread to different organs causing pneumonia, meningitis, and abortion in pregnant cats. To be safe, make sure you thoroughly wash lettuce before giving it to your cat.
Infection with E. coli, known as Colibacillosis, produces similar symptoms to Salmonella poisoning. Colibacillosis is primarily seen in young cats, but can also affect older cats, though usually not as severely.
There are many healthy alternatives to feeding your cat lettuce. If you really want your cat to have plant nutrition in their diet, why not try a cat food that has been formulated with plants that meets the feline’s specific nutritional needs.
Organix Dry Cat Food contains sweet potatoes along with real chicken so your cat can eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Now you know that cats can eat lettuce, though many cats may not be all that interested in the leafy plant.
If you decide to give you cat or kitten lettuce, just follow these simple steps:
If you have any questions or would like to share a story about your cat and lettuce, please tell us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Phil’s lifelong love of animals began as a young boy growing up with three pet dogs. As a teenager and young adult, Phil spent six years working as a veterinary technician, later earning a B.S. in Animal Science. After college, Phil continued working as a vet tech part-time while caring for a private collection of mountain lions used in wildlife educational programs. During this time, Phil volunteered at the Dallas Zoo and was eventually offered a position as a zookeeper in the zoo’s naturalistic Wilds of Africa area. Phil became the primary keeper for a black leopard named “Grady” and a caracal named “Tut” in the predator/prey exhibit.