Can Cats Eat Oatmeal? The Truth About This Controversial Breakfast


Oatmeal is a common breakfast food for humans that is made from oats. It can be served cooked or uncooked and often contains additional ingredients like fruits, nuts, milk, butter, and spices. While oatmeal is perfectly safe for human consumption, many cat owners wonder whether it is also safe and healthy to feed oatmeal to cats.

There are some benefits to feeding small amounts of plain, cooked oatmeal to cats. Oats contain nutrients like protein, healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants that can boost a cat’s health. However, oatmeal also contains carbohydrates that cats do not need in large quantities in their diet. Additionally, any added ingredients like milk, raisins, cinnamon, and sugar can cause digestive upset and other health issues for cats.

When fed in moderation and properly prepared, oatmeal can provide some nutritional value for cats and be an occasional treat. But it should not become a regular part of a cat’s diet. There are also some potential risks to be aware of when feeding cats oatmeal. This article explores the pros and cons, nutrition information, preparation methods, health concerns, and alternatives for giving cats oatmeal.

Pros of Feeding Cats Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains dietary fiber that can help support healthy digestion in cats. The soluble fiber in oatmeal can act as a prebiotic, nourishing the good bacteria in a cat’s gut. This can aid digestion and promote regular bowel movements (Source).

The fiber in oatmeal may also help cats feel full longer after eating. This could potentially help manage a cat’s weight by reducing overeating. However, oatmeal should only make up a small portion of a cat’s diet.

In addition to fiber, oatmeal contains various vitamins and minerals that can contribute to a cat’s overall nutrient intake. For example, oatmeal provides manganese, phosphorus, and small amounts of vitamin B complex (Source).

Oatmeal is generally well-tolerated by cats. So it can potentially provide some nutritional benefits when fed occasionally and in moderation.

Cons of Feeding Cats Oatmeal

One of the main cons of feeding cats oatmeal is that oats and grains are not part of a cat’s natural diet. In the wild, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they thrive on a diet consisting primarily of meat and protein. Cats’ digestive systems evolved to process proteins and fats from animal sources, not complex carbohydrates like oats.

Cats lack the enzymes needed to properly digest grains. The high fiber content in oatmeal can cause digestive upset in cats, especially those prone to gastrointestinal issues. Feeding oatmeal could lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and excessive gas.

According to Purina, the complex carbs in oatmeal are not easily digested and absorbed by cats. The starch may ferment in the colon, causing irritation and uncomfortable gas. Cats also cannot utilize grains for energy as efficiently as protein and fat calories.

While small amounts of oatmeal are unlikely to cause harm, it does not provide optimal nutritional value for cats. There are better alternatives that more closely match a cat’s natural diet.

Nutritional Value of Oatmeal for Cats

Oatmeal contains a number of nutrients that can be beneficial for cats in small amounts. According to Healthline, some of the main nutrients found in oatmeal include:

  • Fiber – Oats are a great source of fiber, containing around 8 grams per 100 gram serving. Fiber helps support healthy digestion in cats.
  • Manganese – Oatmeal contains high levels of manganese, providing around 230% of a cat’s recommended daily intake per serving. Manganese supports bone health and metabolism.
  • Phosphorus – Oats provide around 333 mg of phosphorus per serving. Phosphorous supports a cat’s energy production and kidney function.

It’s important to note that cats require a meat-based diet and oatmeal does not provide complete nutrition. However, incorporating small amounts of cooked oatmeal into a cat’s diet can provide supplemental fiber and manganese.

How Much Oatmeal Can Cats Eat

Cats can eat small amounts of oatmeal as an occasional treat, but it should not make up more than 10% of their daily caloric intake.1 Oatmeal is high in carbohydrates, which cats do not need in large quantities since they are obligate carnivores. Their diet should consist primarily of animal-based proteins.

A few small spoonfuls of cooked oatmeal once or twice a week is generally safe for most cats. This equates to about 1-2 tablespoons maximum per day. Any more and you risk upsetting your cat’s digestive system or causing gastrointestinal issues like vomiting or diarrhea.

It’s best to introduce oatmeal gradually and monitor your cat’s reaction. Start with just a teaspoon mixed into their regular food and increase slowly over time while looking for signs of intolerance. Exceeding 10% of daily calories from oatmeal or other grains is not recommended.

The exact amount depends on your cat’s size, but focus on oatmeal as an occasional snack, not a dietary staple. Stick to just a spoonful or two per serving and be conservative with portions.

Best Practices for Feeding Cats Oatmeal

When feeding oatmeal to cats, it’s important to follow some best practices to keep your cat healthy and safe.

First, only feed your cat plain, unflavored oats. Do not add any sugar, milk, or other ingredients, as these can upset your cat’s digestive system or cause an allergic reaction. Cats have a low tolerance for lactose, so dairy products like milk should always be avoided.

Make sure to cook the oatmeal thoroughly before serving it. Raw oats contain enzymes that can upset your cat’s stomach. Boil the oats in water for at least 5 minutes to fully cook them.

It’s also a good idea to let the cooked oatmeal cool down completely before feeding it to your cat. Hot oatmeal can burn their mouth and throat.

When introducing oatmeal, start with very small amounts, such as 1/4 teaspoon, mixed in with their regular food. Monitor your cat for any signs of an upset stomach or allergic reaction. Gradually increase the amount over a period of weeks if they tolerate it well.

Never make oatmeal a regular part of your cat’s diet. It should only be an occasional treat in small amounts. Their main diet should still consist of a complete and balanced commercial cat food recommended by your veterinarian.

Following these tips will help make oatmeal a safe and healthy treat for your feline friend!

Signs of an Allergic Reaction

Some of the most common signs of an allergic reaction in cats after eating oatmeal include:

Vomiting – Cats may vomit repeatedly after eating oatmeal if they have a sensitivity or allergy. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, vomiting is one of the most common symptoms of food allergies in cats.

Diarrhea – Loose, watery stools or diarrhea may occur shortly after a cat eats oatmeal they are allergic or sensitive to. Diarrhea is a frequent symptom of food allergies in cats, per VCA Animal Hospitals.

Itchy skin – Cats with grain allergies often excessively groom, lick, bite or scratch at their skin if they eat problem grains. Itchy skin, also called pruritus, is a very common sign of food allergies in cats, says WagWalking.

Other Human Foods Cats Can Eat

Besides oatmeal, there are other human foods that cats can safely eat in moderation. This includes lean meats, fish, and eggs which provide a great source of protein. According to Purina, many human foods like cooked lean meats are a good option for cats since cats are obligate carnivores and thrive on an animal-based protein diet. The Honest Kitchen also recommends feeding cats cooked lean meats but avoiding highly seasoned or fatty meats which can upset a cat’s stomach.

Fish is another excellent protein source for cats and can provide health benefits. WKBW notes that feeding cats oily fish like tuna or mackerel can help their eyesight and joints. Just be sure to avoid raw fish which may contain harmful bacteria. Cooked fish fillets without bones are the safest option.

Eggs are also a great occasional protein treat for cats. Hard boiled or scrambled eggs without any seasonings are safest. The protein and nutrients in eggs can help supplement a cat’s regular diet. But eggs should only be fed in moderation to avoid potential weight gain.

Healthy Cat Food Alternatives

There are many healthy alternatives to feeding your cat oatmeal. Here are some of the top recommended cat foods:

Wet Cat Food

Wet or canned cat food has a high moisture content which can help cats stay hydrated. Some top wet food options include Purina Pro Plan FOCUS, Royal Canin Appetite Control, and Wellness Core Grain-Free.

Dry Cat Food

Dry kibble is an affordable option that helps clean cats’ teeth. Some recommended dry foods are Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor, Iams Proactive Health, and Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken.

Raw Food Diet

Some pet owners feed raw meat diets meant to mimic a cat’s natural diet. You can buy commercial raw food or make your own. Talk to your vet before switching to raw.


In conclusion, oatmeal can be fed to cats in moderation as an occasional treat. Oatmeal provides some nutritional benefits like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, it should not become a regular part of a cat’s diet. Oatmeal does not contain the balanced nutrition that cats need from high-quality cat food.

When feeding oatmeal to cats, be sure to cook it plain without sugar or flavorings. Only feed small amounts, such as a teaspoon initially, and monitor your cat for any signs of digestive upset or allergic reaction. Discontinue feeding oatmeal if any adverse effects occur.

While oatmeal is not toxic to cats, each cat is an individual and may react differently. Overall, oatmeal can be fed sparingly but a balanced cat food should be the foundation of a cat’s diet for optimal health and nutrition.

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