Can Cats Eat Agar Agar? (Or Is It Too Risky?)
If you have some agar-agar you may be wondering if it is safe to give to your cat or if it’s a bad idea.
Can Cats Eat Agar-agar?
Cats should never eat Agar-agar. It is unhealthy and it can cause inflammation and gut problems for your cat. Moreover, cats require a diet that is high in protein. They evolved to eat meat, bones, organs, fat, and not anything plant-based.
So, now you know. But, are there any health benefits associated with it? Is it OK for kittens? Will it eventually go bad? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…
What Is Agar-agar?
Agar-agar, sometimes called Agar, is simply a plant-based diet that is made from red algae, which is a type of seaweed. It is usually sold in strand form, bar, powder, flake, etc.
It is used as an ingredient in desserts, especially throughout Asia. Moreover, it is used for ice cream, as a vegan alternative for gelatin, an appetite suppressant, a thickening agent for soups, and more.
In fact, it is not used as food only. It is majorly used in the microbiological field as a culture media to observe the growth of bacteria and diagnose infections.
Nutritional Content of Agar-agar
Source: USDA (per 100g) *
* See the source for the full list
Are There Any Health Benefits of Agar-agar?
There are several health benefits associated with agar-agar for us humans. Here are some of them:
01. Boosts Your Digestion
Agar-agar has a lot of fibers that help enhance our digestion. Those fibers absorb a lot of harmful toxins in our gastrointestinal tract and gut and help the body get rid of them effortlessly.
Moreover, it is often used as an effective treatment for constipation. The fibers in Agar-agar are water-soluble which means that they absorb the water in your stomach and gastrointestinal tract to form the bulk and give you an easy bowel movement.
It is also low in fat, carbohydrates, sugar, and calories. It works great as an appetite suppressant, as the fibers absorb all the water and fill your stomach to make you feel full with the lowest amount of calories possible. So, consider it as a healthy addition to your weight loss plan.
02. Enhances Your Brain Health
Agar-agar is made from galactose, which is commonly known as ‘the brain sugar’. Galactose is essential for the proper development of the brain, especially for infants and children.
Galactose helps in forming glycoproteins and glycolipids in the body tissues. It is also an essential component of the myelin sheath that protects the nervous system, spinal cord, and brain.
Studies have shown that galactose does not only help develop the brain but also removes the neurotoxic compounds from patients with Alzheimer’s.
03. Gives You Stronger Bones
Calcium and magnesium are found in high amounts in agar-agar. Calcium is known for helping to build stronger and healthier bones and teeth.
Magnesium also plays a huge role in increasing the density of the bone tissue and making it less prone to breaking.
If your diet is only full of calcium and not magnesium, you will get negative results instead. Too much calcium can cause painful calcification and even kidney stones. So, you must balance them both.
Are There Any Health Risks of Agar-agar?
Even though Agar-agar has a lot of health benefits, it involves some risks as well. Here are some of the risks:
01. Blocking Your Bowel?
If you don’t drink enough water along with agar-agar, it might swell and end up blocking your bowel or esophagus.
It is mostly safe to consume agar-agar along with at least an 8-ounce glass of water. However, seek medical care immediately if you feel chest pain, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or vomiting.
02. Potential Diarrhea?
Agar-agar is used as a remedy for constipation. So, if you consume large amounts, you might encounter loose stool and diarrhea. So, don’t take more agar-agar than you need.
Should You Feed Your Cat Agar-agar?
You should try to avoid feeding your cat agar-agar. Cats are supposed to live on animal-based diets that are high in protein. They eat meat, organs, and bones. You should not feed them a plant-based diet.
Agar-agar does not fulfill their protein needs. In fact, agar-agar is given for people that need to lose weight since it is low in calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It also makes you feel full very fast. So, the nutritional value of agar-agar is very less.
Moreover, it is unhealthy for cats to eat agar-agar. It can cause inflammations and gut problems for your cat. Agar-agar involves risk for even adult humans, so it should be avoided when it comes to cats.
Agar-agar is a plant-based diet that does not provide them with the amount of protein that they need. So, you should stay away from it.
Is Agar-Agar OK for Kittens?
Agar-Agar is not okay for kittens at all. It is bad for old cats, so you can imagine the effect it has on small kittens.
Small kittens have sensitive stomachs that cannot handle agar-agar. Just as carrageenan, agar-agar can cause problems to the cat’s GI tract and cause inflammations. So, it is highly advisable to avoid it.
Are There Better Food Alternatives Than Agar-Agar for Cats?
If you don’t want to feed your cat agar-agar, then the best opinion for you is to feed them an animal-based diet. This is the way they evolved to eat. Cats’ stomachs are designed to digest meat, bones, organs, and anything high in protein.
Agar-agar is used in some canned cat foods to preserve the food for longer. You should take a look at the ingredient list and check for it. It is ideal if it is not found at all, however, if you find it in a tiny amount it should not cause trouble.
Is Agar-Agar Natural?
Agar-Agar is a completely natural vegetable alternative for gelatin. It is derived from red algae, which is a type of seaweed. It is a semi-translucent and white substance when it is sold in packages as dried strips. It can be sold in powder form as well.
It is often used to make different desserts, such as custard, pudding, and jelly. To make jelly, you simply boil it in water until all the solid substances dissolve.
Does Agar-Agar Go Bad?
Agar-agar has a very long shelf-time. So, it won’t go bad if you store it properly in a dry and cool environment. It might lose some of its gelling strength overtime and go bad, but not in the unsafe and dangerous sense.
However, if you store it in a hot and humid environment or expose it to sunlight, it can catch some bad smells and flavors. But it can still be safe if it is packed in an air-tight container.
Is Agar-Agar the Same As Carrageenan?
Agar-Agar is different from carrageenan. However, they come from the same source, which is red algae. They both have a lot of similarities, such as the ability to form a gel and being composed of polysaccharides. But they are different products and they are used for different types of foods.
Agar-agar is used as a vegetarian alternative for gelatin in jelly, processed cheese, sweets, glazes, icings, etc. On the other hand, carrageenan is a polysaccharide that is used in soy milk, processed meat, pates, beer, sauces, ice cream, desserts, and more.