If you are someone that enjoys Japanese cuisine like me, then you are no stranger to edamame which is a popular Japanese dish.
A reader recently emailed me asking if it’s ok to feed our cats edamame beans.
If you are not too familiar with edamame beans, not to worry as I will be going into more detail below.
Feeding edamame to your cat is fine as the beans aren’t considered toxic to cats. However, you need to always cook the beans first as the inner edamame bean can be toxic when eaten raw and upset your cat’s digestive system.
Let us take a deeper look at what edamame beans are and whether should you really be feeding them to your cat.
What Are Edamame Beans?
Edamame might look a lot like peans but they aren’t. The fact it’s called ‘beans’ is a good enough clue that they are technically beans.
Edamame is actually immature soybeans or soybeans that have yet to ripen fully. That explains the rather chewy and crunchy texture of this bean that we love.
They are known as ‘stem beans’ in Japan as they are sold or served with the stem still attached.
It is more commonly served as a healthy snack before the main meal or can be used as an ingredient.
These beans are pretty nutritious and low in calories. They are also rich in protein, calcium, folate, magnesium and iron.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown of Edamame beans (100g):
Calories: 122 cals
Can Cats Eat Edamame?
Generally speaking, you don’t really need to add any form of plant-based foods to your cat’s diet as it’s an obligate carnivore.
Cats do not need to eat plants or green vegetables to have a complete diet. Their bodies get all the nutrients from the live prey which they catch.
In order to keep your cat healthy, you need to give it a diet as close as possible to what it would eat in the wild.
That would make dry food, kibbles or human foods a really bad choice for your cat.
Stick to canned food or a raw meat diet.
That being said, it isn’t much of an issue if you want to feed your cat edamame. I know some cat owners who do it to add some fiber to their cats’ diet.
If you wish to include more fiber in your cat’s food to help with its bowel movements, you can try adding some fresh pumpkin or psyllium husk.
These two foods have worked very well for both my cat and dog.
There was one time when I was making some edamame to eat at home. I accidentally dropped one bean on the floor and my curious cat was on it like white on rice.
He started pawing it around all over the floor and quickly gobbled it down when I was about to take it away from him.
Is Edamame Toxic?
Properly cooked edamame isn’t toxic to cats but raw ones can be. Raw edamame beans contain substances that can give your kitty a pretty bad stomach upset.
Lectin can cause damage to the cells in the gastrointestinal tract and those badly damaged cells will eventually die off.
This substance can also alter the balance of the gut flora in the digestive system.
When eaten, this form of protein can actually stop certain enzymes in the stomach from working properly.
This enzyme is called elastin which is used for the digestion of meat which is predominantly a cat’s diet.
These two substances can cause side effects such as:
- Stomach pain
When eaten raw in large amounts over the long term, it can lead to organ failure and tissue damage.
It is hard to know if your cat is allergic to a certain type of food unless upon consuming it. Many cats are allergic to nuts or even to nut-based products like cashew milk.
Probably not a good idea to let your cat drink cashew milk if it’s allergic to nuts.
There could be a possibility that your cat could be allergic to beans which can cause allergic reactions such as itching, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
If your cat has shown any form of reaction to other types of plant matter, I’m pretty sure eating edamame can cause the same allergic reactions.
Are There Health Benefits For Cats Eating Edamame?
They have been studies claiming that Edamame has health benefits such as:
- Lowering cholesterol
- Blood sugar regulation
- Strengthen bones
- Helps with depression
These health benefits are mostly found to be beneficial only to humans. There is no way of knowing how Edamame can benefit our pets without any specific studies done.
Some cats enjoy eating cat grass such as wheatgrass or oat grass.
This is fine as these species of grass are totally safe for cats.
However, some types of moss can be poisonous to cats so please make sure to not let your cat eat any type of moss.
How Should I Prepare Edamame For My Cat?
Given that raw edamame is very toxic to cats, you need to cook the beans before feeding them to your cat.
You can get either fresh or frozen edamame from the supermarket.
Cooked the beans in boiling water for a good 7-10 minutes and allow them to cool down before feeding your cat.
There’s no need to add any salt to the boiling water which most people would do to add some taste.
Just keep it plain for your cat.
Edamame beans are also sold in cans but I wouldn’t suggest buying those for your cat as it’s high in salt.
Even if you give the beans a good rinse, the sodium would have already permeated into the bean.
When feeding your cat edamame, it should only be given as an occasional treat and not cat food. Although edamame is high in protein, it isn’t the type of protein that will benefit your cat.
Your cat’s idea of a safe serving size is probably a lot more than necessary so just a few beans each time is more than enough.
Are Soy-Based Products Good For Cats?
Edamame or soybeans by themselves have some good nutritional value and benefits. But I wouldn’t go as far as to call all types of soy-based products good for cats.
Products such as soy sauce are definitely not healthy for cats as they contain a very high level of sodium.
Consuming that amount of salt is more than enough to give your cat salt poisoning.
The motto I adhere to when feeding my pets such stuff is ‘when in doubt, don’t’.