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Occasionally, it happens to everyone despite the best efforts of even the most vigilant pet parent. Your furry, little friend eats something they shouldn't have, and now you're worried about them. In this case, your cat has found your stash of avocado toast or guacamole fixings and had a snack.
You've got questions, and we've got answers. To put your mind at ease, the simple answer is that avocados are safe for cats.
Many cats enjoy strong flavors and smell, and avocado has the added attraction of being a dense source of calories.
As you already know avocados not only taste good but also give a lot of health benefits.
Avocado flesh provides nutritional benefits for your cat too, as it does for us pet parents, including being rich in amino acids, healthy fats, and vitamins A, E, and B6. As a result, cats may chow down if they get the chance.
However, while avocado is generally safe, it's good to limit the amount cats eat.
Avocado fruit actually has a mild toxin in it called persin. It is an organic compound and in the wild plant, it acts as an anti-fungal, but there is so little of it in the parts of avocado that we eat that it is not considered toxic.
Check out this US Library of Medicine study on avocado fruit toxicity for cats.
Persin exists in greater concentration in the rind and leaves of the avocado fruit. That means, if your cat gets ahold of the avocado skin, the brown part you discard, you probably want to take it away.
Since your cat is obviously a lot smaller than you, even the tiny amount of persin in the green part of the avocado fruit might be dangerous and be life threatening for them if they eat enough.
Another good reason to limit the amount of avocado in your cat's diet is the high degree of calories and cholesterol. It also has a high fat content which may cause cats with sensitive stomachs to have diarrhea, pancreatic inflammation, or other gastrointestinal problems.
As for the toxic persin, our cats are much smaller and therefore much more susceptible to the dangers of even a small amount.
Avocado toxicity can also cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea, which is never fun for anyone.
You should also be wary of Guatemalan avocados as the persin content in them are more potent than avocados from other regions.
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However, the part of the avocado you should be most cautious of is the hard avocado pit at the center of the fruit. Avocado pits (avocado seeds) can seem like a ball or toy to your kitty companion, but they may be a choking hazard and it is big enough to block airways and cause other problems. It may also be dangerous for dogs and other animals in your household.
Avocados can be healthy for humans, containing lots of fiber and essential minerals. After all, the avocado toast was touted as a healthy but tasty alternative to more sugary breakfasts.
Avocado oil is often used for similar reasons and because it can add a subtle avocado flavor to whatever you're cooking.
Nevertheless, the same concerns about avocados can also be applied to avocado oil. In particular, oils can often contain higher amounts of persin toxin, as the rind or leaves of the plant are sometimes used when they are made.
As with the fruit itself, the amounts are not large enough to be a danger to humans. In small quantities, it may not be a problem.
Avocado oil shouldn't be a regular part of your cat's diet, nor should it be used as a dietary supplement.
Alternatively, use sesame seed oil or other oils with similar health benefits and fewer risks.
While avocado isn't great for cats, seeing your cat take a bite or two isn't any reason to panic. Guacamole, on the other hand, should not be on the menu.
Cats are antisocial anyway, and they don't mind missing out on the chips and dip.
You can probably find a dozen outstanding recipes for avocado with a few moments' searching.
However, there are a few key ingredients that you'll find in any good bowl of guac. Top of the list is garlic, usually accompanied by onions. It's a classic pairing that tastes delicious in all sorts of dishes.
However, both these tasty ingredients are highly toxic to cats. Garlic is bad, in particular, and is considered to be about 5 times as toxic as onions. Your pet doesn't need a lot of either to have stomach problems. More can lead to really serious problems.
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The most insidious part is that symptoms may not show up immediately, instead, taking a day or two to appear.
To sum up, cats and guacamole don't mix. Really, they should avoid most Mexican food.
As we've already mentioned, the avocado tree produces the toxin persin, as a defense against mold and fungus. The fruit, the green part that gets smeared on toast, doesn't have much of the toxin in it and is perfectly safe for people, though less so for furry, four-legged people.
The avocado plant can be a nice houseplant, particularly as it's cheap as can be. You can just suspend the hard pit in some water and wait until it sprouts.
Transfer it into a pot of soil and it will grow into a tall and leafy tree perfect for a home. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the plant including the bark, leaves, and branches contain persin in much larger concentrations.
It may seem like you can simply keep an eye on your cat and prevent them from chewing on a leaf. However, it's important to understand that one way for small amounts of poison to cause a problem is by ingesting small amounts over a period of time.
Even if you just miss one leaf every so often, it will add up to a larger problem. Avocado plants probably don't make a great combination with pets.
As anyone who has opened a can of cat food can tell you, cats enjoy strong smells and flavors. Things like fish, liver and other foods with pungent odors are what bring them running to their food dish.
While avocados may not seem like they have a really strong odor, they do have a rich flavor that cats enjoy. Give a cat one little bite of your avocado toast and they may keep coming back begging for more.
Animals are also often instinctually drawn to foods that provide the nutrients that they need to stay healthy. Avocados meet a lot of those needs. As we've mentioned, avocados can be a great source of fiber.
They also contain iron, amino acids, vitamins C, K, and E. Avocados even have more potassium than a banana. The oils and fats that are in avocados are also great for their fur and digestion.
All of those benefits can be gotten from other, safer sources, however.
While dogs and cats might be able to handle some amount of avocado, other animals can't even tolerate that much. The amount of persin in the avocado is unnoticeable for humans, a small concern for pets like cats and dogs, large animals, and potentially deadly for smaller pets.
Birds can have the most severe reaction, seeming weak or agitated. It can also cause them to pull their feathers. Enough avocado is potentially harmful and can cause heart damage.
Rabbits, rats, and other rodents are also very sensitive to the toxins in avocados. If you happen to have a sheep or a goat, they should be kept far from avocados, as they can develop swollen necks or heads.
Horses, while obviously much bigger, are also quite sensitive to persin and shouldn't be given avocado. Perhaps surprisingly, avocado poisoning can be highly toxic for many animals.
You might not think that an innocent and tasty fruit like an avocado could cause so many problems. The important thing is that the answer to the question, "Can cats eat avocados?" is yes.
Cats can eat avocado, though it's best to keep the amounts small. Dogs and cats can both safely eat avocado, but it's better to be wary of other avocado products, which may not be safe for cats as they can have more sensitive stomachs
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