If you’re used to cooking with mushrooms in the kitchen, you’ve probably already noticed your feline friend brushing against your leg, wanting in on the action.
You may even have been tempted to share some mushrooms with them. However, can cats eat mushrooms? Is it safe?
This is a question a lot of people find themselves asking and while you should generally try and avoid giving human food to your pets, knowing if your cat can eat certain foods is important. Some can even be beneficial.
In terms of cats and mushrooms, there is some pretty interesting science, so today we want to answer this question for you and also explain why your cat might want to eat your mushrooms.
We will show you why they can and can’t eat mushrooms, what they get from them, and what to do if they eat the wrong type of mushroom.
Let’s get started!
Can Cats Safely Eat Mushrooms?
The simple answer to this question is that it depends. Generally, most mushrooms bought in stores are perfectly safe for your cat to eat. Many cats even enjoy the taste of these types of mushrooms.
However, it is advised that cats should never eat wild mushrooms. This also includes any mushroom or fungi you might be growing in your vegetable garden.
Wild mushrooms are poisonous to cats, so they should be avoided at all costs.
While most mushrooms bought in-store are safe for cats to eat, care and patience still need to be taken.
You should only feed your cat mushrooms in moderation and avoid specific mushrooms that are known to be hard for cats to digest. We will look at these further in the post.
Store-bought mushrooms your cat can safely digest, in moderation, include portobello, button, and cremini mushrooms.
Why Are Wild Mushrooms So Bad?
We don’t want to try and alarm you, but wild mushrooms can be absolutely devastating to a cat’s health.
While cats don’t eat wild mushrooms out of choice, they are believed to be attracted to dried Amanita pantherina and Amanita muscaria mushroom varieties. Both of these mushrooms can be fatal once consumed.
It is fairly unlikely your cat will come across these mushrooms in your garden or out and about, but if you have a concern about a type of mushroom in your garden, it is always a good idea to ask NAMA who specialize in identifying poisonous mushrooms.
Mushrooms start to appear in the fall. During this time of year, we strongly recommend checking your yard and removing any mushroom as it appears.
While some wild mushrooms can be harmless, others are fatal. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Why Do Cats Try To Eat Mushrooms?
Now you know that your cat can eat certain types of mushrooms, let’s take a look at why they might try to eat them more than other human foods. Interestingly, the reason behind this is down to science.
Food scientists have been able to successfully prove that cats have no capacity to taste sweet foods. However, on the other hand, they can pick up all the savory flavors from umami foods.
Mushrooms contain high levels of glutamate. Glutamate is an amino acid that makes up a key part of umami flavors.
As a result of this, cats seek to eat mushrooms simply because to them, they are super tasty. A cat’s taste buds can taste all the flavors from mushrooms unlike with sweeter foods.
Toxins You Need To Be Aware Of
We have already discussed how you should always try and prevent your cat from eating wild mushrooms or store-bought mushrooms that are commonly seen as unsafe.
However, it is also important to know which toxins your cat needs to avoid from other types of mushrooms.
If a mushroom, store-bought, or wild contains any of the following toxins, ensure your cat doesn’t consume any of it.
A mushroom containing nephrotoxic toxins will have a negative impact on your cat’s body. Your cat could suffer quite severe kidney problems. Unfortunately, symptoms can only reveal themselves after about a week.
This is bad because by then the damage can already be done. Thankfully, this type of mushroom toxin is rare in the United States, so your cat is unlikely to encounter it.
You can probably already guess what this toxin will do to your cat. A mushroom containing gastrointestinal toxins can upset your cat’s stomach.
While there are several varieties of mushroom that cause this issue, the most common is the muscarinic mushroom.
Depending on how severe the symptoms are, your cat may experience diarrhea and vomiting. You may even have to take your cat to a vet.
There are some mushrooms that come with neurological consequences. Some mushrooms that come with these consequences include psilocybin, hydrazine, and isoxazole.
If your cat ingests some of these mushrooms, it could experience disorientation, seizures, and a loss of coordination. Your cat is more likely to find these mushrooms in the home rather than in the wild.
They encounter these mushrooms most commonly when exploring their owner’s hallucinogenic mushrooms.
One of the most common types of mushrooms that contains this toxin is the Amanita mushroom. This type of mushroom toxin can attack and severely damage your cat’s liver.
Your cat could become jaundiced, weak, and lethargic. The danger with this toxin is that most owners think their cat is simply suffering from stomach issues, when in fact, their liver is being attacked.
The Signs Your Cat Has Eaten A Poisonous Mushroom
If your cat has consumed any poisonous mushrooms whether it be wild or store-bought, there are some common symptoms that would suggest they aren’t feeling good.
According to ASPCA the most common symptoms to look out for are as follows:
- Mild or severe vomiting after just a couple of hours of eating the mushroom.
- Extreme drooling that doesn’t seem to stop.
- Quite extreme sensitivity to bright light and sound
- A loss of balance. Your cat may seem to sway or look unsteady as they move.
- Jaundice skin or eyes.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should contact an emergency veterinarian immediately.
While it is perfectly safe to feed your cat a small amount of a range of store-bought mushrooms, you have to ensure your cat never consumes several varieties of wild mushrooms.
In small amounts, your cat can eat button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms, but you should avoid feeding them any other types of mushrooms.
Other types of mushrooms are considered toxic to cats and should be avoided at all costs as this could potentially lead to death.
In fact, in our opinion, you should try and avoid giving your cat any mushrooms at all. They offer little nutritional value and come with a high risk.
We don’t know about you, but that seems reason enough for us to feed our cat other foods.