Can Cats Eat Chayote?
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Cats can eat chayote without it causing them any harm. This does not mean it is necessary for their diet, but it is possible it can be given as an irregular treat. Although chayote alone will not meet their nutritional needs, cats eating chayote can provide certain benefits when given as part of a balanced diet. Also known as mirliton or choko, the chayote is an edible gourd which is native to tropical and subtropical areas. It is not always widely available, but its cultivation is increasing thanks to the increasing interest in making tradition Mexican and other Latin American dishes.
At AnimalWised, we ask can cats eat chayote? We look at what possible nutritional benefits chayote can provide to cats, as well as how to offer it to your feline in a way that maintains their health.
Is chayote good for cats?
Chayote (Sechium edule) is a vegetable of the Cucurbitaceae family. Its cultivation originated in the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala. It is a vegetable that people have traditionally consumed in the form of stews, casseroles, soups and also fried on its own. The whole plant has been used as livestock feed, especially for rabbits and cattle.
Despite being a good feed for certain animals, this does not mean that chayote is necessarily good for cats. However, cats can eat chayote. Unlike certain forbidden foods for cats, chayote does not contain any toxic compounds which will harm your cat. In fact, the nutritional composition of chayote means it can provide certain benefits for cats. This is only as long as it is provided in the correct way, respecting the feline's nutritional needs.
Benefits of chayote for cats
Cats are obligate carnivores. They need food from animal origin to survive. This means chayote is not a necessary food to be included in their diet. Cats can survive well enough without any fruit or vegetables in their diet. However, this does not mean there are not certain nutritional benefits a limited amount of chayote can provide:
- Relatively low-calorie vegetable: it provides between 20 and 30 kcal per 100 g of product. This makes it possible to include chayote in the diet of cats without implying a significant increase in the energy value of their daily food ration. This can benefit a cat that is overweight since it provides them with food, but does not provide an excess of calories.
- Provides various essential amino acids: these are amino acids that the body is not capable of synthesizing itself, so they must be consumed through diet. Specifically, chayote provides valine, leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, threonine, lysine, arginine and histidine.
- Source of vitamins and minerals: it is rich in vitamins C, E and B9 (folic acid). As for minerals, it provides potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
- Contains various bioactive substances: including polyphenolic compounds, flavonoids, carotenoids, etc. While their benefits for cats are not yet understood, they may help in cell protection.
Learn about other fruits and vegetables for cats with our article on whether cats can eat pineapple.
How to give chayote to my cat
Now that you know that cats can eat chayote, you may be wondering how to include it in your cat's diet. If you usually offer your cat a diet with homemade food, you can include chayote as an ingredient in the vegetable portion of said diet. This portion should not exceed 10%. Before doing so, it is important that you take into account the following recommendations to guarantee safety when the cat eats chayote:
- Immature fruits should be selected: unlike other vegetables, chayote should be eaten when it is still immature. This is because the ripening process causes the fruit to become harder and more fibrous.
- Spines, shell and seed must be removed: some varieties of chayote have their skin covered by small, hard and pointed spines. These can cause lesions in the oral and gastrointestinal mucosa of cats. The skin of the fruit is hard and fibrous, making it difficult for cats to digest. It is important to peel the chayote before giving it to the cat. The seed is not toxic, but it should also be removed as it poses a choking hazard to the cat.
- Best provided cooked: raw chayote has a firm, crunchy texture that cats don't usually enjoy. Cooking causes the texture to become softer and more appetizing. It is advisable to cook the chayote. To do this, boil water in a saucepan and cook the chayote for about 30 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on the variety and size of the pieces of chayote. Feed the chayote pulp to your cat.
How much chayote can I give my cat?
As we have mentioned, chayote can be included in the vegetable portion of a cat's daily food ration, if they have one. The amount of chayote you should give your cat depends on the individual dietary needs of your cat. This will vary according to certain factors, including age, weight, activity levels and personal preference. The exact amount of chayote will differ according to the needs of each cat.
We can say that you should not give chayote to your cat every day. Since fruit and vegetables for cats should only represent a fraction of their daily food ration, it is better to change the vegetables you give to your cat regularly. If you want to feed them chayote, you should do so once or twice a week. If your cat particularly enjoys chayote, you can give it to them as an occasional treat on its own.
Chayote contraindications for cats
As we have seen, chayote is a vegetable suitable for cats. However, there are certain situations in which its contribution may be contraindicated:
- Cats with allergies or food intolerances
- Cats with a digestive system that is especially sensitive to dietary changes
Side effects of chayote for cats
In general, the giving chayote to a cat does not have to produce any adverse effect on their overall health. However, if given inappropriately, it can cause the cat harm. This may be in the form of the following:
- Lesions in the oral or gastrointestinal mucosa when the spines of the fruit are not removed.
- Digestive disorders such as abdominal pain, alteration of digestive transit, gastrointestinal ulcers, etc.. This occurs when the chayote peel is not removed.
- Choking or suffocation when the seed is provided.
- Nutritional imbalances when provided in excessive amounts.
Learn more about what vegetables a cat can and cannot eat with our articles on whether cats can eat mango or can cats eat corn?
If you want to read similar articles to Can Cats Eat Chayote?, we recommend you visit our Homemade diets category.
- Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. (2022). Sechium edule. In: Spanish Inventory of Traditional Knowledge Related to Agricultural Biodiversity.