It’s Pumpkin Season.
When I lived in the US I thought pumpkins were just for decoration. Sure we ate pumpkin pie and drank Pumpkin Spice lattes but neither of those are made with real pumpkins. I now live in a country where canned pumpkin does not exist and real pumpkins are a staple ingredient at the grocery store during this season. I have been making pumpkin soup and various casseroles with pumpkin, pasta, rice and vegetables. I’m happy to learn I can prepare pumpkin for cats.
Benefits of Pumpkin:
Pumpkin is rich in fiber and the combination of moisture and fiber can help with both constipation and diarrhea.
It can also help with hairballs. The fiber in the pumpkin will bind to the hairballs and help them pass easier.
Wild canines and felines have no physiologic requirement for these types of plant fibers. The only fiber wild dogs and cats ingest is whatever is found in the already-digested stomach contents of their prey, and, of course, the fur, tendons, and ligaments they ingest from eating whole prey.
Although the amount of fiber found in the diet of wild dogs and cats is small, it serves a very important role. Likewise, dogs and cats fed processed commercial diets benefit from the addition of a small amount of the right kind of fiber as well. Our goal when feeding raw food diets to pets is, of course, to mimic the GI contents that would naturally be found in their prey.
A fiber-deficient diet will cause diarrhea or constipation in dogs and cats. Many pet food companies market an ultra-high fiber diet. After all, they’re incredibly cheap to produce and they keep bowel movements very consistent. These really high fiber diets create very large stools that actually many pet owners have come to view as somewhat normal.
I have clients in my practice who believe it’s totally normal for their dog to poop a huge amount, six to eight times a day. When they start their dogs on raw food, a lot of my clients’ number one question is, “Where did all the poo go? The poo’s so small and they’re only pooping once or twice a day.”
When pets consume unnecessary fillers, like wads of fiber, it inhibits digestion and absorption of many vital nutrients. A small amount of fiber is very important, but a diet loaded with fiber is very detrimental, unless, of course, you’re feeding a horse or cow.
If you’re feeding your dog or cat a balanced, species-appropriate diet with appropriate supplementation, including pet probiotics and digestive enzymes, and your pet is easily producing small, firm stools, she’s getting the exact amount of fiber she needs.
Many commercial pet foods contain entirely too much biologically inappropriate fiber. Other foods, including some raw food diets, can contain too little. There are several natural ingredients you can add to your pet’s diet – no matter what type of food you feed – to increase fiber content.
Source: Dr. Karen Becker – http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/11/19/dietary-fiber.aspx
Because I feed my cats a well balanced home made raw food diet they are getting very little fiber because they’re not consuming the hair, feathers, ligaments or the digested stomach contents of their prey. My cats have long-hair therefore hairballs are an issue which is why coconut oil or pumpkin is a good solution.
What not to feed:
- raw pumpkin
- step or skin or raw seeds
- old jack-o-lattern that has been used, bacteria is growing inside
- canned pumpkin with spices, sugars or fillers
How to feed pumpkin:
- fresh pumpkin that has been cooked until soft
- canned pumpkin, but be careful to read the ingredients, no additives, sugars, fillers or spices
- about a half teaspoon a day, it can be served with their regular food
My cats do not have any stool issues, but Cornelius does get hairballs from time to time. For this I give them coconut oil. I think I would give him pumpkin more for hairballs but where I live pumpkin is available for such a short amount of time and canned pumpkin doesn’t exist.
I have offered them both pumpkin this week, Cornelius ate it right away, Elizabeth licked it but would not eat it. But anytime you want to add or change your cat’s diet, it takes consistency. They both passionatly love and seem to prefer coconut oil.
So now when I use pumpkin to make dinner I save a little bit for the cats as well as to make pumpkin spice lattes.
Just for fun, here is how I make my PSL.
Pumpkin Spice Latte:
Heat the following in a small pot over the stove and mix with a whisk:
- Two spoons of cooked pumpkin
- Milk (preferably plant based milk like almond, rice or soy milk)
- drop of maple syrup
- cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar
Mix the heated mixture with espresso and topped with whipped cream. Enjoy :-)