Hash browns are one of those simple, inexpensive, delicious foods that are a welcome addition to just about any meal, and just as tasty to eat on their own.
Like most foods, however, if you leave a hash brown unattended and have cats in your home, you need to be aware of any potential risks if your cat helps themselves.
And a lot of cats will help themselves to just about anything edible left out, as I’m sure you’re aware!
Can Cats Eat Hash Browns?
No, cats absolutely should not eat hash browns. Hash browns have too much salt and pepper, sometimes onion, and other preservatives that are bad for cats.
This doesn’t mean that a cat will become sick if they eat a bit of hash brown, so don’t panic if you’re looking at a half-eaten hash brown and a guilty-looking cat.
In fact, I’m sure they’ll be fine if they’ve had a little taste. The only ingredient that is potentially dangerous in small amounts is onion.
According to PetMD, onion – in small amounts and in any form – can break down a cat’s red blood cells, leading to anemia.
Not all hash browns contain onion, but other ingredients like salt, pepper, and other additives are not recommended for cats, either.
So, as a general rule of thumb, you should do everything you can to avoid letting your cat munch on a hash brown.
What Are Hash Browns Made Of?
The main ingredient in a hash brown is potato, that’s what makes up the bulk of these crispy treats.
They’re usually made from floury potatoes, like Maris Pipers or King Edwards. But I’ve seen hashbrowns made from just about any potato.
Generally speaking, plain cooked potatoes are not dangerous or harmful to cats. As I mentioned already, it’s the seasoning and other ingredients in hash browns that are worse.
Other ingredients will vary depending on the recipe, but most hash browns have onion, egg, salt, pepper, and some type of oil for frying.
Are Hashbrowns Ok for Cats?
First of all, a lot of cats can – and will – have a nibble on a hash brown given the opportunity, I’ve seen it first hand myself!
I tend to be careful about not leaving out anything edible in my house, I don’t know about you.
And while you could say it’s ‘Ok’ for cats to eat a little bit of a hash brown, I would do everything you can to avoid it happening.
In my experience, when it comes to food cats are creatures of habit.
If they start finding scraps left out on plates and start helping themselves, they will ramp up this behavior and start scavenging more often.
Cats can also get a taste for certain foods and start searching for more. This can result in some annoying behaviors with your cat bugging you when you’re eating.
How Can You Treat Your Cat?
If you want to give your cats treats, that’s absolutely fine – it’s fun giving cats bits of food and is a great way to bond.
First of all, it’s important that the staple of your cat’s diet comes from good quality wet or dry food.
I give my cats a bit of both. I tend to give them wet food in the morning, which they happily gobble up with haste, then dry food in the evening that they can graze on for a few hours.
Note: Dry food is also better for your cat’s teeth unless they’ve lost teeth or have a health issue.
In addition to two servings of cat food, I also have a treat box filled with cat treats. I’ve experimented with baking treats before, but nowadays I just buy a batch from the store.
I use the sound of the food container to call them in or alert them to mealtime. I also give my cats some treats when we’re playing or if they’ve clearly got the munchies.
I stopped my cats from eating any type of human food a few years ago. I used to let them have an empty yogurt pot, one of my cats loved chips, and I’d try them on little scraps.
It’s not that I’m worried about damaging their health, it’s more that they kept begging me for food when I was eating, and I knew I was just giving them hollow calories.
So, in our house, it’s kitty treats only. Cat treats are specially formulated to meet their dietary needs, help with dental health, and (should) curb hunger.
I hate to say it, but if you enjoy sharing hash browns with your cat – and you wouldn’t be the only person to do so – for the good of your cat you should stop.
A small amount of hash brown isn’t toxic and shouldn’t cause any health issues, but at the same time, it’s not doing them any good at all.
Plus, sharing food scraps with cats just encourages them to scavenge for more which can become annoying.
Image credits – Header Photo by Sarah Shull, Hashbrown Meal by KIBOCK DO on Unsplash
How to make hash browns – JamieOliver.com