Tofu is a tasty, nutritional food – I love it.
But, how much do you really know about what’s in tofu and how it’s made? Can cats eat tofu? Is it safe and healthy to share with our feline friends?
Let’s take a closer look. Here’s everything you need to know about tofu and whether or not you should be sharing it!
What Is Tofu?
If you’ve ever had tofu you’ll know it as a soft, white food that looks and feels a bit like cheese. This is no coincidence, tofu is made by curdling soybeans and pressing the mixture into white blocks through a similar process as cheesemaking.
It originated in China and is still popular across Asia. It’s also seen an increase in popularity across the western world in recent years as more people are looking for healthy food options and alternatives to meat.
It’s one of the blandest foods in raw form, honestly. You need to flavor or dress it up with something else to make a tasty meal. This is something else to be aware of if you’re sharing with your cat – but I’ll cover that in more detail below.
Is Tofu Healthy for Cats?
Tofu is a healthy food for us. It’s low in calories while being high in fat and protein. It also contains a range of important minerals and vitamins, making it a popular choice for people dieting or on a health drive.
Cats have very different dietary requirements from us, however. Your cat should be getting all their nutritional requirements from their dry and wet food. They don’t need, nor will they benefit from the vitamins and minerals in tofu.
When giving cats human food, it’s important to remember what the staple of their diet is – meat. Tofu is a meat alternative, so it’s far from the ideal food for a cat. This doesn’t always mean it’s bad, but it’s usually a clue.
Nutrition aside, there are some ingredients in tofu that are hard for cats to digest. A little nibble might be fine, but any more than that and your poor kitty is likely to have some stomach issues.
They lack an enzyme needed to digest some of the sugars in tofu. This means it will pass through their system and come out in the form of diarrhea in most cases. Not pleasant. It can also cause vomiting and other stomach issues.
On top of this, as I mentioned above, tofu is very bland on its own. Check what flavoring and additives have been added to the tofu you’re eating. It might be something subtle, but check any flavorings are also safe for cats if they’ve had a nibble.
Salt, garlic, and onions, in particular, are very bad for cats and these are often used to season tofu. Garlic is incredibly toxic to cats and can cause some serious long-term health issues. Onions are also potentially dangerous, even in small amounts.
Can Cats Drink Soy Milk?
While we’re on the topic of soybeans and soy milk, I thought I’d address a question that comes up a lot.
Can cats drink soy milk?
Most cat owners know that their cats shouldn’t be drinking cow’s milk as cats are lactose intolerant and it causes all kinds of stomach issues.
Soya milk does not contain lactose. People that are lactose intolerant will often switch to soya milk and feel a lot better for it. So, it’s natural to assume to it may also be safe for cats.
This isn’t the case, unfortunately. As Vet Susa McKay explained in YourCat, “Soya has components called anti-nutritional factors which can be difficult for cats to digest”.
Soya milk contains raffinose and stachyose, two sugars that can’t be effectively digested by enzymes cats produce. So, soya milk actually causes them similar problems as milk with lactose such as cow’s milk.
As I explained above, tofu is made from soybeans just as soya milk is. So, it’s no surprise that tofu is also bad for cats, as well as any other products made from soybeans.
In Summary – Can Cats Eat Tofu?
To answer the question of whether or not cats can safely eat tofu – the answer is that a little bit should not do any harm, but it’s not advisable.
Tofu isn’t toxic or harmful to pets, but it does contain some ingredients that are hard for most cats to digest (and dogs too if you’re wondering).
The simple answer here is not to let your cat eat any tofu. There’s really no need for them to eat it. If you want to share something tasty with them, buy some cat treats.
If your cat has eaten some tofu in the past and you’re finding out now for the first time that it’s not good for them, not panic. You will have noticed if they ate too much and it caused some gastrointestinal issues, and it should have passed now.
Just take tofu off the menu for your cat in the future.
Does your cat like tofu? Have you been sharing a little with your feline friend?