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Can Cats Eat Beans? Everything You Need to Know

Can Cats Eat Beans? Everything You Need to Know

✔ This article was reviewed for accuracy by a licensed veterinarian.

Cats love to eat almost anything they can get their little paws on. At least mine do. When cooking, my cats are always over my shoulder trying to get a sample of the latest menu.

Beans and cats are an interesting combination, to say the least. Cats require a high volume of protein as part of their diet, and beans provide a ton of protein. However, cats require animal protein more than anything, and beans are legumes — -part of the plant family Fabaceae. So, it begs the question: Can cats eat beans?

Yes, cats can eat beans in limited quantities. However, it’s preferred that they are served plain and cooked as beans are not necessary for a healthy cat’s diet.

Our team has performed extensive research on the feline diet in recent months. We’ve been coordinating with our staff vet, reading peer-reviewed research, and speaking with specialists in the field. This due diligence has enabled us to share answers to your pressing questions about cat dietary restrictions!

We cover the following items in this post:

So, Can Cats Eat Beans?

Assorted beans. Can cats eat beans?

Yes, they can. But they should have small amounts intermittently. The beans should be soaked, cooked without additional ingredients, and served plain.

While beans are high in protein and can be a great source of nutrition for humans, they are not full of the protein that a cat needs. Cats are obligate carnivores. This means they require meat to survive and prefer animal protein.

Beans are also very high in fiber, which is an integral part of a cat’s diet. Fiber provides a means to assist in moving food through a cat’s gastrointestinal tract. However, IAMS, a major cat food brand, has performed research on the impact of fiber on cats and noted that higher levels of fiber can lead to issues in digesting nutrients from other foods, which can overall negatively impact the nutritional quality of a feline diet. This may lead to an increase in litter box trips.

Beans also contain phytates (phytic acid) which bind with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. However, soaking beans before consuming them can assist in reducing phytate levels. Cats can’t digest phytic acids and the nutrients simply pass through their system. This isn’t a bad thing, however, we point this out as it doesn’t provide much benefit either.

Can Kittens Eat Beans?

Yes, kittens can eat beans as well — assuming the above guidance is followed.

However, kittens are in high growth mode which is generally fueled by a healthy serving of kitten food often. No other treats are necessary as long as you provide them with the minimum necessary calories per day. Your veterinarian and the directions on a cat food can put you in the right direction.

We recommend against feeding kittens human foods often. Not due to health risks, although present. We advise against it so you don’t build bad habits in kittens. If a kitten expects human food, it will continue to do so into its adult stages as well.

Are Beans Dangerous For Cats?

A sick kitten. Can cats eat beans?

If beans are served as recommended above, then the answer is no.

However, beans with preservatives and flavored beans can be dangerous for cats if served frequently and in large amounts.

An overlooked danger is the danger of feline obesity. Cat obesity is a growing problem, and cats that are overweight can have numerous health problems. Obese cats are expected to live shorter lives (6-12 years). 

Our article on how much to feed a cat can help you discover how to add in snacks while ensuring your cat maintains a healthy weight at various stages of its life.

Are Cats Allergic To Beans?

Cats can be allergic to beans, however, it isn’t common.

Cat allergies can be tough to diagnose as some cats can be allergic to things you’d never suspect. Petco has noted that cats can sometimes even be allergic to beef, chicken, and even eggs — which can all be common components of cat foods.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Scratching and itching
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomit
  • Excessive trips to the litter box

If you notice any of these symptoms after feeding your cat beans you should work with your veterinarian to conduct tests and determine a root cause.

If you and your vet determine that beans shouldn’t remain a common snack for your cat anymore, you can consider some additional human foods safe for cats to eat.

The below video also does a great job overviewing some popular choices you can substitute for beans:

How to Feed My Cat Beans

If you do decide to feed your cat some beans, then try to use organic ones. Soak them, cook them, and serve them plain. Keep portions small and share them with your cat infrequently.

You want to ensure that there are no additives present in them. These include things like preservatives, coloring, and flavor enhancers.

The recommended process for preparing beans is as follows:

  • Soak them for a few hours. This helps removed unnecessary sugars and phytates.
  • Boil for between 30 minutes and 2 hours. The time depends on the number of beans and the directions they recommend.
  • Ensure they’re tender. This will make it easier for your cat to eat them.
  • Refrain from adding any salt or additional flavoring.
  • Serve small portions!

What Nutrients Do Beans Contain?

Beans provide fiber, protein, iron, and B vitamins.

In small quantities, plain, cooked beans can be a nice alternative for cats if they want a different type of snack. The above nutrients are generally good for cats as well.

However, cat food is designed to include all nutrition that cats need. Especially a healthy mix of dry and wet food. We note this so you don’t let the benefits of beans outweigh the risk of making them a regular part of your cat’s diet.

Can Cats Eat Canned Beans?

Canned beans. Can cats eat beans?

We recommend avoiding feeding canned beans to your cat.

Canned beans frequently include seasoning and preservatives that were not created with cats in mind. Preservatives usually include heavy doses of salt, which can be poisonous to your cats in large doses. They often also include nitrates and nitrites — common preservatives in canned foods to prevent mold and bacteria.

Cats are sensitive to nitrates and nitrites, so we recommend avoiding canned beans altogether.

Final Thoughts: Can Cats Eat Beans?

Before making any changes to your cat’s diet, please speak with your vet!

Your cat can eat small amounts of beans, but shouldn’t have this snack often. If you do give your cat some beans, it’s best to give them plain beans that have been soaked and cooked prior to sharing. Organic beans are the best option when possible.

It’s worth remembering that cats can and do fend for themselves in the wild. They don’t always have the best cat food available and tend to do alright. So, don’t fret if you shared a bit too much of something your cat shouldn’t eat often. If you feel it was too much — monitor your cat, and do your best to avoid doing so in the future.