Can cats eat mushrooms? Risks and benefits

A very common food in the dishes for us humans, but as always not necessarily suitable for pets. Can cats eat mushrooms?

Some foods are notoriously harmful to pets, while still being great for us humans. Sometimes, however, some foods are not so common that they can be a cause for concern for dog and cat owners. Of course, if it is not a food that is easily found in our kitchens, why worry if our cat eats it? But for foods that are very common on our plates, we need to make sure that they are not dangerous for the health of our animals. For example, can the cat eat mushrooms? And above all, given the great variety of this food, are there particular mushrooms that can be dangerous?

Can cats eat mushrooms? And which?

Mushrooms are a staple in many human dishes, but veterinarians are more concerned about the wild varieties that can appear during the rainy months in many parts of parks, gardens or lawns. So, whether it’s a savory bite found on a leftover slice of pizza, or one of its non-culinary cousins, are we sure our cat can eat mushrooms?

Mushrooms are not safe for cats, but there is an exception. Store-bought mushrooms may be fine for cats to eat in small quantities, but overall, it’s best to avoid all mushrooms when it comes to your cat’s diet.

In fact, cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they require a meat-based diet. While some fruits and vegetables may be fine for them , they are not necessary for the daily nutritional needs of our furry friends. The strange thing is that many cats even appreciate the taste of it.

However, cats should definitely not eat wild mushrooms, as they can be poisonous and “shop” mushrooms should not make up a significant part of a cat’s diet anyway. Sometimes they can be a small reward, or a way to vary their diet.

If we have ever cooked in the kitchen using mushrooms in a recipe, we have probably noticed that our kitty seems very eager to try a bite. It might seem like a strange choice for a feline snack, but there is actually some interesting science behind this “phenomenon”. Of course, we should always ask the vet before sharing human foods with our cat. With that in mind, let’s break down why cats might like to eat mushrooms and when it’s safe to do so.

Cats Want to Eat Mushrooms – Why?

To understand why a cat might want to eat mushrooms, we need to understand how their taste buds work. Nutrition scientists have shown that cats cannot feel the sweetness, but they can catch the salty flavors of umami. Mushrooms contain glutamate, which is an amino acid and a key part of umami-flavored foods.

As for why cats might want to eat mushrooms, the answer is simply because they are tasty! Cats can pick up flavors of this type with their taste buds, unlike sweeter foods. In fact, sweets don’t usually appeal to cats. Now that we know why cats might want to eat mushrooms, let’s take a look at the safety concerns that can exist.

Wild mushrooms

First, it is widely advised that cats should never eat wild mushrooms. This includes any mushrooms that could grow in our garden or along a path. We consider all mushrooms not bought in a store to be wild in practice.

Wild mushrooms are not safe for our four-legged friends. There are countless varieties of fungi and many have been associated with toxicity in cats. And while some mushrooms are non-toxic, it is recommended that any mushrooms ingested outdoors by a cat be considered toxic.

Hopefully this is obvious, but our cat shouldn’t ingest psychedelic mushrooms or recreational drugs of any kind, as these types of mushrooms can be very harmful. Stick to catnip if you want our kitty to relax a little.

What about store-bought mushrooms?

If your cat eats a mushroom while snacking on food left within reach of a forgetful human, there’s no need to worry. Not all mushrooms are a threat to a cat. Store-bought mushrooms are generally not dangerous for our pet.

But let’s stick to small quantities of shiitake, champignons, or portobello mushrooms. It is also important to make sure they are cooked thoroughly, but without any spices or seasonings. These can irritate your cat’s stomach. This type of mushroom should be acceptable for a cat to digest, in moderation, of course.

What to do if the cat has eaten mushrooms

If our cat has found some wild mushrooms, and we suspect that he has eaten them, we need to check for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting, mild to severe, within a couple of hours of eating mushrooms
  • Diarrhea
  • Pupils barred
  • Slow heartbeat
  • He drools a lot, and excessive salivation
  • Lethargy
  • Yellowing of eyes and skin
  • Extreme sensitivity to light and sound
  • It appears to wobble, or exhibit unstable balance

If the cat exhibits any of these symptoms, we should contact our veterinarian immediately. In most cases, it is best to avoid mushrooms completely. The exception is a small amount of store-bought mushrooms, which should be fine for our cat. 

Wild mushrooms can be extremely poisonous and cause health problems for your kitty. When a wild mushroom is spotted in your yard, it’s best to assume it’s toxic. If our cat ingests any type of fungus, it is best to call the vet immediately to seek professional treatment.

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