I am someone that loves having a bowl of salad with every meal but there are some vegetables that I just refuse to eat.
That would be ladyfingers, bitter gourd and turnips.
There’s something about the texture or taste of these vegetables that my palate just can’t agree with.
Maybe you share the sentiments when it comes to the above greens but what if your cat has a liking for turnip greens?
Can cats eat turnip greens safely?
Although cats can eat a small amount of turnip greens safely, plant matter isn’t part of your cat’s natural diet. Cats are obligate carnivores and can do without vegetables in their daily meals.
In this article, we will be looking at the pros and cons of feeding your cat turnip greens and should you even be feeding your cat plant matter
What Are Turnip Greens?
Well, you are only half right if you guessed that turnip greens come from the turnip. Turnip greens are part of the stem and leaves of the turnip plant.
There are edible and are in the same family as kale and broccoli which are known as cruciferous vegetables.
One cup of turnip greens contains the following:
- Calories: 29 cals
- Carbohydrates: 6.3g
- Protein: 1.6g
- Fat: 0.17g
Turnip greens are very high in vitamins and minerals such as:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
Health Benefits Of Eating Turnip Greens
Given their very rich minerals and vitamin content, turnip greens along with a few others in the cruciferous family have earned a perfect score in the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index.
There are a couple of health benefits that one can derive from eating this vegetable
Good Source Of Antioxidants
Having a good amount of antioxidants in our bodies is always beneficial for fighting off health problems such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
Not only do turnip greens contain a high amount of antioxidants but they also do a good job of keeping infections at bay.
Healthy Skin And Hair
The high vitamin A content in turnip greens helps to maintain healthy skin and hair. Vitamin A keeps the hair well moisturized and promotes healthy growth of skin and hair.
Aids In Digestion
Turnip greens are high in fiber and water which is good for preventing and resolving poor bowel movements and constipation.
Are Turnip Greens Safe For Cats?
A little bit of leafy green vegetables every now and then for your cat isn’t much of an issue. But if you are feeding leafy greens to your cat on a regular basis, that might not be healthy in the long run.
Cats are first and foremost obligate carnivores.
Obligate carnivores are animals that need to eat animal protein to survive. This is rather different from dogs who are carnivores.
Carnivores still do need a protein-rich diet to survive but they can handle other vegetables and plant matter a lot better than obligate carnivores.
This is why you have a lot of dog owners feeding their canines meat together with some rich and vegetables at times.
However when it comes to cats, feeding too much vegetables on a frequent basis can mess up your cat’s diet.
When it comes to what we can or cannot eat, it all boils down to the type of enzymes that is present in our digestive system.
The main reason why cats don’t handle plant matter well is that they lack the necessary enzymes to break down carbs and convert them to energy that the body can use.
If your cat has to regularly digest plant matter, that can put a lot of undue stress on its digestive system which can lead to issues like vomiting, bloating, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
Are Turnip Greens Toxic To Cats?
Turnip greens is safe for the majority of healthy adult cats but cats with certain existing health conditions should not consume such vegetables.
Cats With Thyroid Issues
Cats with hypothyroidism or issues with their thyroid glands should totally avoid turnip greens or vegetables in the cruciferous family.
These vegetables can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones which is bad as the thyroid isn’t already producing enough of it.
Thyroid hormones such as Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) help with metabolism which is how the body converts food into energy.
Although a person with thyroid problems would have to consume a lot of turnips greens to have an impact on the thyroid hormones, there’s no telling how much or little your cat can consume before it starts to reach dangerous levels.
It is best to just avoid feeding your cat turnip greens altogether.
Cats With Digestive Issues
For cat owners with cats with chronic digestive problems, you will need to limit the amount of plant matter and carbs that your cat is consuming.
Having to digest vegetables can place more strain on the digestive system of kittens and cats with digestive problems.
This can cause your cat to have leaky poop, vomiting, gas, bloat and many other undesirable symptoms.
Having to clean up after a cat with diarrhea is a nightmare.
My cat had the worst explosive diarrhea when I first brought him home from the shelter. It looked like someone was shooting brown colored paintballs all over my house.
I still shudder and break out in cold sweat from the thought of it.
What Should You Do if Your Cat Eats Turnip Greens?
If you find your cat happily munching on turnip greens when it shouldn’t have, remove the vegetables from your cat immediately.
It would be good to have a good idea of how much leafy greens your cat ate. Give the vet a call and let them know about the situation.
For cats with very serious thyroid and digestive issues, the vet might ask you to bring your cat in so that they can try to induce vomiting to get the plant matter out of your cat’s system.
Most times, you would just have to closely observe your cat’s behavior and eating patterns. Any deviation from the norm should be looked at by the vet.
How Much Turnip Greens Should Your Cat Eat?
Personally, I have never given any form of plant matter to my cat ever since I got him. The only time I’ve seen him digest greens was when my cat had a short obsession with wheatgrass.
Maybe you have a cat that has a thing for vegetables.
If that’s the case, a small handful once a week would be more than enough. The point here is not to try and convert your cat to a vegan but to just satisfy his green cravings.
Due to the high fiber content, turnip greens can be hard to bite and swallow. You can blanch the leafy greens a little just to soften them up for your cat.
Can Cats Eat Turnips?
The turnip and turnip greens are basically from the same plant. The turnip forms the root which we tend to be more familiar with.
If your cat can eat turnips greens, it should not have a problem with eating turnips. However, turnips have a stronger smell and taste as compared to the leaves so that might put your cat off.
What Greens Are Best For Cats?
There are so many types of vegetables available that it can get confusing as to what to get for your cat. The rule of thumb is that the vegetable needs to be safe for your cat’s consumption and give some health benefits.
Here are some good greens that you can try feeding your cat if you wish to do so.
- Collard greens
- Peas (Mashed)
- Winter squash
- Green beans
Remember that plant matter should just form a very small percentage of your cat’s diet and be fed as an occasional treat.
What Greens Are Poisonous To Cats?
Even though some greens are ok for a cat’s diet, there are some vegetables that are known to be toxic to cats in any form and need to be avoided at all costs.
If you are unsure about the toxicity of a certain food item to cats, do not feed it to your cat before consulting your vet.