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Kitten stood in a bowl of white rice

The essentials

  • Cats are obligate carnivores — This means your kitty’s diet should primarily depend on meat, not carbohydrates like rice.
  • It’s OK to give rice to cats in moderation — A little nibble of rice as a treat or some rice occasionally mixed in with your cat’s food when they have an upset tummy is perfectly safe.
  • Rice is not a toxic substance to cats — People foods that are toxic or dangerous for your cat include grapes, chocolate, or avocados. Rice, however, is not one of them.

Is rice good for cats?

As pet owners, we want to give our furry friends the very best when it comes to nutrition and help them live a long, healthy life. While rice is a staple for many human diets, it lacks the essential nutritional value a cat needs in its daily diet. Giving them a small amount as an occasional treat is perfectly safe, but it’s not wise to give your cat rice every day. This filler food can also fill your cat up too quickly and cause them to miss out on a more nutritious diet.

👉 Talk to your veterinarian before making changes to your cat’s diet. 

An excess of carbohydrates in your cat’s meals can lead to feline obesity and possibly diabetes. These serious health issues can be harmful to your cat’s quality of life and decrease their longevity by years. The bottom line: Stick to a meat-based diet for your cat’s primary dietary needs. 

The benefits of brown rice

If your cat does enjoy eating rice and you decide to let them have a nibble or two once in a while, consider the types of rice you give your kitty. Brown rice is the best option rather than white rice. Brown rice has numerous health benefits, including fiber, moderate amounts of protein, and essential minerals like iron and magnesium. The higher protein levels over white rice are a better choice for cats, which are obligate carnivores. Veterinarians may recommend mixing in a small amount of brown rice in cat food as a short-term dietary change to help with digestive issues. The fiber in brown rice can help with constipation and healthier stool production.

The downsides of white rice

White rice, on the other hand, is just a filler carbohydrate due to the way it’s processed for consumption. While all the vitamins and minerals of brown rice stay intact, essential nutrients in white rice are stripped away during the milling process. Enriched white rice does have some of the nutrients added back into the grain synthetically, but these additives still don’t contain the natural nutritional benefits of brown rice.

How to safely feed rice to your cat

If and when you do feed your cat rice, cook it thoroughly, without any added spices or other ingredients such as onion or garlic. Uncooked rice is dangerous for cats and includes a natural pesticide called lectin which can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Any rice given to your kitty should be plain boiled. Seasonings in rice can be harmful or even fatal, such as salt or garlic. Even ingredients like soy sauce, onions, or butter can harm a cat’s digestive system.

If your cat is extra sneaky and grabs some seasoned rice off of your plate at dinner, monitor your cat for signs of distress or digestive pain such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive thirst. In these instances, take them to your veterinarian immediately.

Healthy treats for cats

While brown plain rice is fine to give to your cat in small amounts, other types of whole grains such as oats, whole-wheat breadcrumbs, or barley are a more nutritious option for your kitty. There are also other human foods you can give to your kitty as an occasional treat. Other healthy treat options you can give to your cat include vegetables such as carrots, green bell peppers, spinach, pumpkin, peas, broccoli, celery, or zucchini. Again, because cats are obligate carnivores, carbohydrates or vegetables are not an essential part of a cat’s healthy diet but can be given to them as an occasional treat.

Frequently asked questions

Can cats eat rice?

Short answer: yes, as an occasional treat. It should not be a staple or served in large quantities, and if you do feed your cat rice, it’s best to give them brown rice rather than white rice. As with any dietary changes you’re considering for your furry friend, seek advice from your vet before switching up your cat’s food.

Is white rice toxic for cats?

No, white rice is not toxic to cats and is safe in small amounts.

How much rice can a cat eat?

Rice should be a rare treat and served in small quantities for cats. Too many carbohydrates in a cat’s diet can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Is rice good for a cat’s stomach?

In moderation, rice as an occasional treat can help a cat’s stomach with occasional bouts of diarrhea.

Can I give my cat chicken and rice?

Many veterinarians recommend a bland diet of chicken and rice for a limited time for cats with digestive problems.

Can I mix wet food with rice?

Yes, it’s safe to mix your cat’s wet food with rice. A vet will often prescribe this diet to a cat that has diarrhea or an upset stomach.