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Pumpkin For Cats–Not Just A Holiday Decoration

Benefits of pumpkin for cats
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Pumpkin for cats–a healthy trend

You may have noticed that pet food companies like to come up with new, trendy ingredients to add to cat food.  Some of these trends should be ignored, but others are actually nutritious and beneficial.  Take pumpkin for example.  More than just a holiday decoration and pie ingredient, there are lots of reasons why pumpkin is really good for cats. 

Pumpkin is highly nutritious for cats

According to pumpkin is a great source of nutrients that are necessary for cats’ bodies: 

  • Vitamin A helps maintain a healthy immune system and good vision.
  • Vitamin C is a cofactor for enzymatic reactions and collagen synthesis.
  • Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant and enzymatic activity regulator.
  • Alpha carotene is an antioxidant that prevents damage to cells.
  • Calcium supports cytoplasmic functions and mineralizes bones and teeth.
  • Iron contributes to cellular respiration, oxidation, and hemoglobin production.
  • Lutein supports the health of the eyes, skin, and coat.

Pumpkin is a great source of fiber

Since cats are carnivores do they really need fiber?  Actually, yes!  Cats in the wild ingest their prey’s fur, which acts as a source of fiber.  For domesticated cats who don’t eat a prey diet using pumpkin as a source of fiber can help with several digestive issues.  

  • Diarrhea or soft stools.  Pumpkin adds soluble fiber which is absorbed during digestion.  This process absorbs some of the extra water in the digestive track, helping relieve or reduce diarrhea.  *Be sure to consult your vet if your cat has diarrhea for more than 24 hours.
  • Constipation.  In older cats it’s not uncommon to experience a bit of constipation.  Their GI tract and colon doesn’t have the motility it once did when they were younger.  The pumpkin adds both fiber and moisture, and this helps push the digested matter through the bowel.
  • Hairballs.  Pumpkin adds moisture and fiber to help push ingested fur through the digestive tract for elimination.
  • Weight loss.  Because fiber adds bulk it can make the food more filling.  This can be helpful with cats who are overweight and need to lose some weight.  


We’ve experienced constipation issues first hand with our cat Lili.  She is twelve years old now, and even though in many ways she doesn’t act like a senior, sometimes she struggles in the litter box.  I’ve even found very tiny, dried pieces of poop in the box when cleaning it.  After furiously digging a hole she will sit there for a while waiting for something to come out.  She has even cried out a few times, so I know she’s very uncomfortable, too.  I started adding 1/4 teaspoon of pureed pumpkin into her wet food twice a day, and what a difference it’s made!  Now her stools are perfectly formed and regular size. 

How much pumpkin does your cat need?

The amount of pumpkin needed would vary depending on the size of your cat.  For small cats I recommend 1/4-1/2 tsp once or twice a day.  For medium to larger cats try 1/2 tsp.  You may have to start with a tiny amount, like 1/8 tsp or less until the cat gets used to it.  Because pumpkin can act as a laxative, adding “more” is not recommended.  The GI tract can get out of balance.  Muscle testing is the way to know exactly how much your cat needs.

Some cats actually love pumpkin and will eat it off the spoon.  Other cats, like Lili, would rather skip it, so mixing it well into wet food is the best way to make sure they eat it.  You can also try mixing it into some baby food meat like Gerber’s Chicken and Gravy as a treat.  

Pumpkin for cats

What kind of pumpkin should you use?

Fresh cooked, pureed, or canned pumpkin is ideal.  There are pumpkin supplement products like Pumpkin Patch Up! by Weruva that I love.  One packet lasts several days and can be refrigerated after opened.  You never want to use pumpkin pie filling (with all the spices) or carved pumpkins left outside.  Fresh cooked pumpkin freezes well, and you can freeze it in ice cube trays or small freezer bags.

The next time you’re in the store buying cat food and see a product labeled with pumpkin you’ll understand why pet food companies are using it in their recipes!  Have you used pumpkin for any of the conditions above for your cat?  If so, share your experience in the comments below!

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