Kidney beans are a highly nutritious legume that come in both red and white varieties.
Cats can eat kidney beans and they can be a beneficial addition to their diet if you can get them to eat them.
However you should never ever feed raw kidney beans to your cat as these can be toxic.
Are Kidney Beans Safe for Cats?
There are no toxic elements in kidney beans, so you can assume they are safe for your cat to eat.
However, because cats are considered carnivores, it’s not a good idea to replace their natural diet with beans.
Kidney beans are safe, provided they are offered as part of your cat’s otherwise nutritious diet and only in small amounts.
Nutrients in Kidney Beans
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for your cat, and beans are a wonderful source.
It helps kittens grow and develop and continues to offer energy for your cat as it gets older.
The protein in kidney beans should complement the protein your cat gets from meat sources, rather than replacing it.
Fiber is another nutrient found in abundance in kidney beans, as well as other kinds of beans.
This nutrient aids in digestion and helps keep your cat’s intestines operating as they should.
Keep in mind that too much fiber can lead to loose stools and stomach cramping so be sure not to offer too many fiber-rich foods at the same time.
Kidney beans are also a good source of potassium, which helps keep your cat’s muscles and nerves functioning well.
Low potassium levels can cause depression, muscle weakness and lack of appetite. It can also cause issues with your cat’s fur.
Zinc is another plentiful nutrient in kidney beans. Your cat needs zinc because it aids in cell production, wound healing, and hydrated and healthy skin.
Scaly skin, loss of fur, and ulcers are all signs that your cat may be low in zinc.
Kidney beans are an easy way to boost your cat’s iron intake. Iron is a vital nutrient that helps prevent anemia, a condition that causes lethargy, dark stools, lack of appetite, and lowered immune function.
Cats can lose iron due to internal bleeding or as the result of an underlying health condition.
Ask a Vet
If you are worried that your cat has low iron levels we recommend you speak with a vet ASAP to help you work out what’s going on and what needs to be done. JustAnswer allows you to talk in real-time to veterinary experts for a small fee.
All beans are good sources of antioxidants and the darker colored ones, including red kidney beans contain more than lighter colored varieties.
Antioxidants help to prevent free radical damage to cells, which is significant because damaged cells can make a cat vulnerable to everything from viruses to cancer.
Kidney Bean Concerns
Now that you know why kidney beans are a healthy addition to your cat’s meal plan, it’s time to talk about what concerns you should have before going ahead.
The key thing to remember with kidney beans is that you should never feed your cat raw kidney beans (or any other raw beans). Raw beans contain higher levels of lectins which can be highly toxic.
While cooked beans are generally considered safe, when given in small amounts, there are some things to keep in mind when serving your cat kidney beans.
The main thing to remember is that cats are natural carnivores, which means their digestive systems are built for meat, not beans.
You can certainly supplement with them but keep any eye out for potential health issues that indicate that your cat isn’t digesting the beans well.
Too many kidney beans can cause bloating and stomach pain, much like you would be dealing with if you ate a huge portion of beans.
Your cat might also experience more gas than usual and could have diarrhea as well.
As fillers, beans can be a real detriment to your cat’s health.
When your cat has an upset stomach or is bloated and gassy, chances are that they won’t want to eat as usual, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and other health problems.
If you notice that your cat doesn’t feel well after eating beans, it’s best to skip them and offer other items as treats to round out their diet.
What to Know About Canned Beans
If you’ve determined that your cat enjoys kidney beans and can eat them without any kind of digestive trouble, you need to decide how to offer them.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should never offer your cat kidney beans out of a can.
Many versions of canned beans have spices in them, which are not healthy for your cat as they are mainly created for human consumption.
These spices might not taste great to your cat, but some of them may also be toxic so it’s best to steer clear.
Another danger of canned beans is the salt content.
Too much salt in your pet’s diet can cause dehydration which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, and excessive thirst.
Allowed to continue, a high salt diet can ultimately lead to your cat’s death.
Salt is added to canned kidney beans as a preservative, something that is safe for humans, but not for cats.
Even rinsing the beans doesn’t remove enough sodium to make them safe for your cat.
Serving Your Cat Kidney Beans
Since you should never serve your cat canned beans, you will have to prepare the dry kidney beans in your own kitchen to prepare them for your cat.
The first step is to presoak the beans for several hours to soften them.
Then, you’ll boil them for about 30 minutes, until they are soft and their outer flesh has fallen off.
Never add salt or any kind of seasoning or spices to the beans as they cook.
Once fully cooked, you can cool the beans and serve them as is to your cat.
However, you can also mash and mix the kidney beans with your cat’s usual cat food.
They are also a great way to introduce vegetables to your cat. Combine the cooked and cooled kidney beans with mashed vegetables to increase your cat’s nutrient intake.
Make sure that the beans and anything you serve them with are soft and at a consistency that doesn’t pose the risk of choking.
It’s very important to ensure that the beans are fully cooked, not only to prevent choking, but also because undercooked beans can be poisonous to cats.
Never, ever, serve your cat raw kidney beans (or any other raw beans). Raw beans contain higher levels of lectins – potentially toxic glycoproteins.
They might also carry food poisoning in the form of E. Coli or Staphylococcus bacteria which live in the skins.
And finally, raw beans will draw moisture from your cat’s gut which might or might not soften them before they become a dangerous obstruction.
Cats who eat too many beans or who consume beans that aren’t fully cooked are at a higher risk of phytohemagglutinin poisoning, which can be deadly, even if only small amounts of the beans are consumed.
Yes, cats can eat kidney beans.
Just remember that they should be served in small portions and not as a daily part of your cat’s diet.
They should never replace your cat’s meat sources of protein either.