If you are a fan of Japanese or Korean food, there’s a good chance that you are a fan of seaweed since it is widely used in these cuisines.
Besides these two cuisines, seaweed snacks have always been growing in popularity.
You can just buy pre-packed crispy seaweed that comes seasoned in various flavors.
As healthy and nutritious as seaweed can be for humans, can seaweed be part of a cat’s diet too?
Cats can safely cat seaweed snacks to an extent. It should only be given in moderation and as a treat. Even though seaweed has good nutritional value, too much of it can start to give your cat stomach issues.
Let us take a deep look at what seaweed actually is and what you need to be aware of when feeding seaweed to your cat.
What Exactly Is Seaweed?
As common as seaweed is these days, not many understand what it is and how seaweed snacks are being made.
Seaweed is a term used for plants and algae that grow in the ocean or in any body of water. This marine plant comes in many shapes and forms.
It can be microscopic like algae or enormous like the giant kelp.
Some seaweeds even come in different colors like red, brown, green and black.
How To Feed Seaweed To My Cat?
If you wish to incorporate some seaweed into your cat’s diet for its nutritional benefits, make sure that you only buy human grade seaweed for your cat.
Do not feed your cat any seaweed that is fried, seasoned or contains preservatives. These contain too much salt and artificial ingredients that can cause more harm than good.
Look for seaweeds that are sun-dried, organic and tested for heavy metals and contaminants.
You can find these types of seaweed in most health food stores.
Your cat’s biological system is very sensitive so you have to be more careful when feeding it something that isn’t natural cat food.
Chop the seaweed into tiny pieces and sprinkle some over your cat’s food. A little bit goes a long way so start with a small amount like 1/8-1/4 teaspoon.
If your cat has special needs or an existing health condition, it would be good to consult your vet before feeding it seaweed to prevent any complications from happening.
Health Benefits Of Seaweed For Cats
Not only are cat owners feeding their cats seaweed as a treat or supplement but a number of pet food manufacturers are also using it in their products due to its numerous health benefits.
Promotes Healthy Digestion
Seaweed might be good for cats that have a sensitive digestive system. Such cats tend to have chronic diarrhea or constipation.
Being high in fiber and prebiotics, seaweed helps to promote a healthier gut flora in your cat’s stomach which leads to better bowel movements.
Boost Immune System
Cats who are suffering from autoimmune diseases like FELV or FIV can benefit from eating some seaweed. Cats eat seaweed to help boost their immune system which helps to keep infections and inflammation at bay.
Seaweed contains a high level of antioxidants which helps to reduce the number of free radicals in your cat’s body and promote overall good health.
Reduce Allergy Symptoms
Like humans, cats can get allergies too. Some cats are allergic to certain foods or even dust. Allergy symptoms in cats usually manifest as itchy and inflamed skin.
Seaweed is high in anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce the dryness and itchiness of your cat’s skin.
What Types Of Seaweeds Should I feed My Cat?
Not all seaweeds are made equal with some being more nutritious than others. Here are some types of seaweed that can be good for cats.
Acadian Sea Kelp
Sea kelp is a subset of the seaweed family and is usually quite large in size. The acadian sea kelp is brown in color and grows in cold water.
It contains protein, vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and many more nutrients and minerals.
Acadian sea kelp is known to promote good bladder health, good skin and fur, boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
This brown algae is commonly found in commercial pet food due to its numerous health benefits.
Nori is the most commonly known as the roasted or dried seaweed used in foods. It is low in sodium and high in nutrients and minerals.
It also contains taurine which is an essential nutrient that all cats need for a healthy heart.
Wakame is a brown seaweed that has been eaten for centuries. It contains fucoxanthin that helps to regulate metabolism which can be useful for cats with feline diabetes.
Wakama also helps to promote healthy skin and fur in cats and also lowers the risk of cancers.
Despite its name, the Irish moss is actually an algae or seaweed. It helps to promote healthy lungs and digestive systems in cats. It contains calcium chloride which supports the healthy functioning of the kidney and bladder.
Word Of Caution When Feeding Seaweed
Even though seaweed is considered a healthy food, you still need to exercise some caution when feeding it to your cat.
Too Much Iodine
Seaweed is high in iodine and although all animals and humans require some iodine for good health, too much iodine can be harmful to cats.
Exposure to high levels of dietary iodine can lead to hyperthyroidism in cats. This can lead to health issues like vomiting, diarrhea, excess thirst and urination.
Some seaweed can also contain heavy metal loads like mercury and lead. If eating such contaminated seaweed over a long time can lead to metal poisoning in cats which can be life-threatening.
Always get seaweeds that are organic or certified to be low in heavy metal content.
Can Cats Eat Seaweed Chips?
Please do not feed your cat any form of seaweed that is sold as a snack like chips or crackers. This type of seaweed contains a high level of salt and excess sodium is bad for cats.
Cats only need a small amount of sodium in their daily diet and too much sodium can cause vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite and lethargy. In general, cats should not be eating snacks like Salt and Vinegar chips which isn’t healthy for them.
What Can Cats Eat?
It might be tempting to start feeding our cats human foods that are healthy. But most cats do not need such extra supplementation if fed a good and balanced diet.
Cats are obligate carnivores in nature and thrive on a high-protein diet. This protein needs to come from a meat source as cats can’t digest plant matter.
By feeding your cat good quality canned food or a raw meat diet, they are getting all the nutrients required to be healthy.
There isn’t any harm in giving your cat some seaweed for its nutritional benefits. Just be sure to feed the right type of seaweed in small quantities.
Cats don’t do well with plant matter and too much of it can cause a stomach upset in your cat.
It would be best to have a word with your vet before using seaweed as a dietary supplement for your cat.