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Cat next to a bucket of potatoes

The essentials

  • Cats may eat properly prepared potatoes — When properly cooked and served, potatoes can be a good source of vitamin C and potassium for cats and dogs.
  • Potatoes aren’t necessary for your cat’s diet — Cats are obligate carnivores and can get their nutritional needs from animal protein.
  • Look out for solanine intoxication — Solanine is a toxic substance found in raw and boiled potatoes. Solanine poisoning or intoxication in cats can cause nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy. This condition, plus other health risks, may cause some pet parents to conclude that potatoes aren’t worth the hazards.

Can cats eat potatoes? 

It’s complicated. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they can get all the nutrients they require from animal proteins, so they don’t need vegetables (including potatoes!) to survive. Commercial cat foods cover all their dietary needs, too.

However, if your cat has an affinity for the potato and its texture, or if you’d like to feed your kitten an occasional treat now and then, the vegetable, when cooked and served properly, can be a tasty addition.

How to safely feed your cat potatoes

The starchy root vegetable is a favorite among humans, but when it comes to giving your cat a taste, there are some essential safety guidelines :

  • Serve potatoes peeled, roasted, and spice-free — Be sure the vegetables are washed, peeled, chopped into small pieces, roasted, and prepared without fats, salts, cheese, seasonings, or spices. Remove any roots, discolored areas, or green portions before cooking as they may contain a toxin called solanine, which is poisonous to cats when digested and can result in solanine intoxication.
  • Avoid raw potatoes and boiled ones — Raw potatoes of any kind — from white potatoes to sweet potatoes — contain solanine. Boiled potatoes are also a no-go for your cat.
  • Avoid french fries, crisps, and chips — Humans might find a pack of potato chips quite delicious, but their high salt and fat content can cause digestion problems in cats, even if consumed in small amounts. Keep those feline paws far away from fried or oven-baked chips and crisps!
  • Say no to potato salad — Your delicious potato salad contains all kinds of toxins for cats, including garlic, onions, and shallots.

A solanine exception

Cooked sweet potatoes don’t contain solanine and can make great treats for your cat, but as with any food, moderation is key. When feeding sweet potatoes, opt for a small portion of peeled, mashed sweet potato cooked without fats, salts, or spices.

Health issues related to feline potato consumption

Solanine poisoning in cats occurs when a feline consumes more than the suggested bite-sized amounts of plants high in the toxin. The toxic substance is most commonly found in potatoes, particularly raw potatoes, raw potato peels, and boiled potatoes — but solanine also occurs naturally in tomatoes, apples, bell peppers, cherries, and sugar beets. Solanine poisoning isn’t typically fatal, but symptoms can be quite uncomfortable.

Solanine poisoning: symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Apathy
  • Lethargy
  • Dilated pupils

Solanine poisoning: diagnosis and treatment

Consult your veterinarian right away if you suspect solanine poisoning. Your vet will conduct a thorough exam of the mouth and lips and may take blood and urine samples to rule out other causes. If your cat has consumed a high amount of solanine, heart tests may be necessary.

Treatment for solanine poisoning largely depends on your cat’s symptoms and what’s needed to manage them. If a large amount of solanine was consumed, your vet may try to induce vomiting before providing supportive care.

Diabetes and obesity

Research shows excess carbohydrates can lead to diabetes mellitus, an illness often caused by obesity in which the body struggles to produce insulin. Because potatoes are a carbohydrate-rich vegetable, moderation is key when feeding your potato-loving kitty.

Diabetes symptoms: early onset

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Weight loss
  • Unhealthy coat and skin
  • Frequent urinary tract infections

Diabetes: diagnosis and treatment

Consult your veterinarian if you suspect diabetes or notice significant weight gain. Your vet will conduct appropriate tests and, if necessary, determine which of the three types of diabetes your cat may be suffering from. Once diabetes is confirmed, you can expect your vet to share a treatment or therapy plan to help normalize blood glucose levels.


This common, painful condition occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed and leaks digestive enzymes into pancreatic tissue. High-fat, inflammatory foods like potatoes — or diabetes as a health condition — may make things worse.

Pancreatitis: early onset

  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to eat or lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hiding

Pancreatitis: diagnosis and treatment

Your vet will conduct a medical history review and administer a physical exam with blood tests or an ultrasound to better understand whether your cat suffers from feline pancreatitis. The only way to make a definitive diagnosis is through a biopsy, but this procedure is limited to extreme cases.

Treatment typically involves comfort care, including hydration and diet management. For more severe cases, hospitalization and medication may be required.

Human foods considered safe for cats

Now that you know potatoes cooked and served appropriately are safe, you might wonder what other human foods are OK to give your curious feline friend.

Most table scraps should be avoided as they contain oil and butter. All of those delicious ingredients that may taste wonderful to us can cause gastrointestinal upset or worse in our pets. Onions, grapes, raisins, and garlic are especially toxic to cats.

Below isn’t an exhaustive list of appropriate human foods for cats, but it’s a great place to start. Note that you should run any change in diet by your veterinarian — and each of these should be consumed in small quantities and moderation.

  • Cat-safe fruit. Bite-size pieces of apples, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, strawberries, seedless watermelon, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries offered in moderation are fine, but look out for changes in appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Cat-safe vegetables. Chopped, bite-size pieces of raw or steamed carrots, peas, frozen corn, broccoli florets, green beans, celery, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, chickpeas, winter squash, and pumpkin offered in moderation are fine, but look out for changes in appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Avoid vegetables sauteed in oils or seasoned with herbs and sauces.
  • Cat-safe meats. Cooked, lean, skinless, and boneless meats like beef, fish, chicken, turkey, liver, and lamb are OK to give your cats.
  • Cat-safe grains. Your cat may consume whole grains such as oats, couscous, and brown rice in moderation.
  • Cat-safe eggs. The best option is a small portion of scrambled or boiled eggs. Never feed your cat raw eggs!

Before replacing or supplementing your cat’s vet-approved commercial meal plan with a homemade regimen, be sure to consult with your veterinarian or vet nutritionist.

Frequently asked questions

Do cats need potatoes in their diet?

No. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they can get all the nutrients they require from animal proteins, found in most commercial foods.

Can cats eat raw potatoes?

No. Raw, uncooked potatoes of any kind contain a toxin called solanine, which is poisonous to cats when digested.

Can cats eat sweet potatoes?

A small portion of peeled, mashed sweet potatoes cooked simply without fats, salts, or spices is OK in moderation.

Can cats have fries?

No. The high salt and fat content in fried or even oven-baked chips, fries, and crisps can cause digestion problems in cats, even if consumed in small amounts.

Which vegetables are safe for cats?

Steamed peas, chopped carrots, frozen corn, green beans, broccoli florets, zucchini, lettuce, pumpkin, winter squash, and spinach are all safe in moderation.