Can Cats Eat Rice? Is Grain Free Cat Food Good? - A Basic Feeding Guide

Rice is a very common item in our pantries. To answer the question whether cats can eat rice or not, the short answer is yes, they can. However, it is more complicated than that. There are several types of rice that can be found in the market and each type carries different nutrients for our feline friends. To make things even more confusing, there are grain-free rice as well. What food shall you feed your cat? There are just too many choices!

Let’s discuss the types of rice, and what benefits it brings to your cat as well as whether grain free cat food is good or not. 

What rice can my cat eat? 

Rice is generally rich in calories and carbohydrates. Some even offer tiny amounts of vitamin B, manganese and iron. It is highly valued as it is easily stored, affordable and compatible with other food items. 

If your cat accidentally gulps down some rice, there will be no harm to it. However, depending on your cat’s age, body, health condition and how often it is eating it, rice is still a grain crop and too much of anything is not healthy. 

Keep in mind that cats have sensitive stomachs by default and each one of them is unique. 

Chances are, your kitty is already eating a little bit of rice. In the world of cat food, rice is known as a filler. Therefore feeding rice to your feline friend is normal, but not necessary. 

rice

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The different types of rice can bring different benefits to our cat such as:-

White rice

Basmati, jasmine and common long grain rice are all types of white rice although you can get brown versions of them too. 

It is perfectly fine for your cat to consume white rice. However, you should be careful about how it is prepared. If it is too dry or undercooked, the rice may cause an upset stomach. 

Also, some rice have pesticides which may harm your cat so make sure that you choose from a good source.

Brown Rice

Did you know that brown rice is surprisingly nutritious? Brown rice is also not milled as extensively as white rice which means that the grain has higher dietary fiber. 

This does not mean much however as cats do not generally need a lot of fiber to meet their dietary needs. 

Brown rice also contains more bran which surrounds the grain underneath the husk which can be an issue for some felines as too much may cause diarrhea. 

Rice Bran

Rice bran surrounds the grain and is also used as a supplement for humans. It is high in fiber, antioxidants and contains vitamin E. 

This does not mean that it is good for cats. 

A study in 2002 suggested that rice bran can interfere with taurine metabolism. Taurin is essential for a cat’s general health, particularly for their vision. While the study is limited, it is not worth feeding rice bran to your cat daily as it does not provide any benefits and may result in dietary problems. 

What is grain-free cat food?

Grain-free cat food does not contain any wheat, corn or rice. As cats that have been diagnosed with grain allergy cannot eat any kinds of grains, this is ideal for cats. 

Most cats do not require grain-free cat food but cats that have been diagnosed with grain allergies are quite unusual. 

This does not mean that grain-free is high in protein. It does however, contain more of what your cat would be eating in the wild. Keep in mind that some manufacturers simply substitute grains with other carbohydrate sources such as potatoes or peas. It also doesn’t mean that the food will be high or low in calories. 

Is Grain free cat food good?

There are many choices in the market for grain-free cat food. To choose the right one, keep in mind that each cat has different nutritional requirements and needs.

Overall, grain-free cat food is great for cats with allergies. For cats who do not have allergies though, there is no data that shows this diet is healthier or has more benefits over traditional diets. 

Be careful to read the label carefully as some of the products in the market labelled as grain-free actually contain barley which is a type of grain! 

Benefits of feeding rice to my cats

There have been times when rice has been given a bad reputation. However, experts have shown that rice also provides lots of benefits. 

Increased Energy

Rice is considered a filler for cats. Fillers have no nutritional value to felines. However, rice does contain a large value of carbohydrates which is perfect for a cat that seems to have no energy. 

If your cat is underweight, it may be a good idea to add a small amount of rice to their diet on top of their normal feed. However, you should always speak to your vet about it first in case there are any underlying issues. 

Easy to Digest

Rice is easily digestible. Unlike other high-carb food like pasta, rice is a better option as most cats can digest it without much difficulty. 

Grains are also less starchy as compared to other food as starch may result in vomiting or constipation in our beloved furry friend.

Settles Digestive Issues

If your feline friend is having digestive issues that are manifesting in the form of an upset stomach, you can feed it some rice. 

Cats have very delicate stomachs and when they act up, a small amount of cooked rice is recommended. This is because it is very easy to digest as compared to other alternatives like pasta. 

Symptoms like diarrhoea are easily treated with rice. Take note however that the rice should be plain and nothing should be added to it. 

Cat eating

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How to give my cats rice? 

Please, never ever give uncooked grains to your cats. Raw rice is first off, not tasty and it is definitely not easy to digest which can lead to a bloated stomach and other digestive issues.

If you have to give rice to these feline creatures, always cook it first and mix it into the food that your cat is already used to. Mix in small amounts is usually enough. 

Balance the proportion 

Make sure that when you feed your cat, the meal is made up of at the least 50 percent meat. 75 percent meat is better. Check out Petcubes cat food range. Petcubes always ensures that each pet gets the proper nutrition in their diet no matter what the choices are.  

If you prepare your cat’s food by yourself, add 25 percent of rice to the meal (the other 75 percent is meat) and sprinkle a few vegetables into the dish. 

If you see a list of grains on the label such as rice, wheat or barley, the combination of these ingredients combined might make up more than 50 percent of the meal. Do look at the list of ingredients thoroughly. 


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Factors to consider when feeding rice to cats

Keep in mind that there are other factors that may affect your cat when feeding it rice. Just because one option suits one cat, does not mean that the same option suits all others.

These are the factors to consider:-

Amount of rice given to your cat

If your cat is overweight, it is not a good idea to feed it rice because of the high caloric content and high level of carbohydrates. Feeding excessive grains to your pet may affect its weight, and not in a good way! 

Just like a human, if you have an excess of carbs that is not used, it is highly recommended that you exercise and go for a more high protein, zero carb diet. The same can be said about your cats.

Cats are also obligate carnivores and rice will not be able to sustain them indefinitely. It is not a smart choice to feed grains every day. Every now and then is a better timeline. 

As stated above, rice does not have taurine, which is of importance to a cat’s body. 

If our feline friend does not get enough taurine, it may lead to visual impairment. It may also cause Enlarged Heart or Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This is characterized as the weakening of heart muscles thus making it difficult to pump blood. Although rare, it may eventually lead to heart failure in your poor cat. 

An all rice diet may deprive your cat of taurine so keep in mind that excessive amounts of rice is not a good idea. 

How the rice is prepared 

Uncooked rice should always be avoided. It is much harder to digest and it may also have traces of pesticides and other toxins which can lead to further issues. 

You should also avoid sharing rice leftovers with them. While it is relatively safe for adult cats to eat rice, it is far from a recommended food for them. If say, your rice is seasoned and greasy, it is more likely than not that the rice contains herbs, legumes and other condiments that are toxic to them. 

Age of cat

Young kittens should not be fed rice. This is because it may stunt their growth which will further lead to developmental issues. It may even cause malnutrition which can lead to death! 

Even if your young kitty has diarrhoea, you should not feed it any rice. Instead, talk to your local veterinarian for a different option to cure any digestive issues in kittens. 

What can I mix with rice?

You can mix a host of other ingredients with rice in order to make it more tasty for your cat and ensure that it gets all the nutrients it needs. 

Examples of other food that can be mixed with rice include

  • Chicken 
  • Fish: However not all fish is advisable. Example: Fresh tuna is better than canned tuna.
  • Duck
  • Beef
  • Lamb

Other proteins also can be mixed in. 

Conclusion

Yes, cats can eat rice but don’t rely on it. Although our feline friends mostly need protein in their body to work properly, you can add rice to a meat-based diet. If you do feed some grains to your cat, watch out for any digestive issues right after and if you notice any symptoms, call your vet. As always, do not feed any food, including rice in excessive amounts to your feline friends. 


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Cat Food: What to Feed & What to Avoid (online) Available at: 
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Can Cats Eat Rice? Is It a Good Idea? (online) Available at: 
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