Can Cats Eat Alfalfa Sprouts? (Or Dangerous Mistake?)
If you have a supply of Alfalfa sprouts you may be wondering if they are safe to share with your cat…
Can cats eat Alfalfa sprouts?
Cats can eat Alfalfa sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts provide some fiber for cats as well as some vitamins and minerals. But, they are over 90% water. So, they are never a replacement for their staple diet. Even though cats are carnivores and survive mostly on meat, these sprouts, in moderation, may improve their digestion.
So, now you know. But, are there any health benefits with these? Are there any known risks? And, what about kittens, can they have them? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…
What are alfalfa sprouts?
Alfalfa sprouts are the tender young shoots of the alfalfa plant. The mature plant is generally not eaten by humans but is used as food for livestock. The sprouts have a fresh and nutty flavor and many people, along with cats, enjoy eating them.
Nutritional Content of Alfalfa sprouts
Source: USDA (per 100g) *
* See the source for the full list
Are there any health benefits of Alfalfa sprouts?
Alfalfa sprouts contain many vitamins and minerals and may provide you with some great health benefits.
01. Reduce Cholesterol?
Some studies show that consuming Alfalfa sprouts helped people to lower their LDL cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol” by 18%.
Alfalfa sprouts may help to lower cholesterol because they contain a high amount of saponins. Saponins are known to lower cholesterols because they actually lower the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed by the gut and help you to excrete more of the compounds that create new cholesterol.
Eating alfalfa sprouts as part of a healthy diet may give you an advantage when trying to lower your cholesterol.
02. Improve Metabolic Health?
Alfalfa sprouts may help to improve your metabolic health by helping to control blood sugar levels, especially in people with diabetes.
Alfalfa may help to increase the amount of insulin released by the pancreas, which then in turn helps to lower blood sugar levels.
So far, these results have only been found in mice, but the same thing may apply to humans.
03. Help with Menopause Symptoms?
Alfalfa sprouts are high in phytoestrogen, which is similar to the estrogen produced in the body. When women enter menopause, their bodies produce less estrogen which is tied to hot flashes, loss of menstruation, mood changes, and sleep issues.
There is some evidence that eating Alfalfa sprouts helps to replace some of that lost estrogen and may aid in the frequency of hot flashes and night sweats.
04. Antioxidant Benefits?
Alfalfa sprouts are high in antioxidants, which may prove to be helpful to your overall health. Antioxidants, found in many fruits (what about blueberries? click here) and vegetables, help to fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are compounds that are related to a variety of illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, and degenerative eye disease.
Eating foods high in antioxidants can help to keep your body healthy and may put you at less risk for some diseases.
Alfalfa sprouts alone will not give you all the vitamins and minerals that you need but they can definitely be incorporated into a healthy diet.
Are there any health risks of Alfalfa sprouts?
Alfalfa sprouts are considered to be generally safe for most people but should be avoided by some individuals. such as…
01. During pregnancy
Alfalfa sprouts should be avoided during pregnancy because they may cause contractions.
02. While using blood thinners
Alfalfa sprouts are high in vitamin K which, when eaten in large quantities, can cause blood-thinning medications to be less effective.
If you are on blood thinners, it is not advisable to start eating Alfalfa sprouts without first clearing them with your healthcare professional. In general, you should discuss any changes to your vitamin K intake with your doctor if you are on blood thinners.
03. If you have an autoimmune disorder
There have been some cases that link the use of Alfalfa sprouts with the re-activation of lupus symptoms in some people.
If you want to incorporate Alfalfa sprouts into your diet but have an autoimmune disorder, make sure to discuss it with your doctor first.
04. If you have a compromised immune system
Alfalfa sprouts, and sprouts in general, grow in moist conditions that are ideal for bacterial growth. Not all Alfalfa sprouts will contain bad bacteria, but many sprouts you buy at the store may contain bacteria because they may have been sitting on the shelf for a few days before you get to them.
The average healthy adult may get sick from contaminated sprouts but should recover easily. However, if you have a compromised immune system, contaminated sprouts may make you a lot sicker than an average person. It is best to just avoid eating sprouts if you have a compromised immune system.
Should you feed your cat alfalfa sprouts?
You should only feed your cat Alfalfa sprouts in moderation. You should never replace your cats’ regular meals with these sprouts. If you grow Alfalfa sprouts at home, you can offer a few sprouts to your cat here and there, if your vet agrees, but that’s it.
Are Alfalfa sprouts okay for kittens?
You should never feed Alfalfa sprouts to kittens. Up until kittens are about 8 weeks old, they need their mother’s milk. After that, they will start weaning onto cat food, however, their immune systems are still developing, and you should not feed them any sprouts.
You can reevaluate the matter, maybe, and if your vet agrees when your cat is fully grown.
Are there better food alternatives than Alfalfa Sprouts for cats?
Along with Alfalfa sprouts, there is other plant food that owners have been known to feed their cats, such as:
- Barley grass
- Oat grass
- Fescue Grass
- Rye Grass
- Bean sprouts
But, these are never a replacement for their main cat food. If you want to include variety in your cats’ diet, you can also give them the following foods along with their regular cat food:
- Oily fish like tuna (what about crab? click here), which can help with your cat’s brain and joint health
- Meat like poultry and beef are good options for your cat
- Bananas – should be a very occasional sweet treat due to high sugar
- White rice – not a usual component of a cat’s diet but may settle their stomach if they are sick
- Pumpkin – most cats love pureed pumpkin, and it can ease problems such as constipation and frequent hairballs
- Cooked carrots – cats generally enjoy cooked carrots but be sure not to give them raw carrots as it can be a choking hazard.
Can Alfalfa Sprouts cause cats to have diarrhea?
In general, it does not seem that Alfalfa sprouts will cause cats to have diarrhea. Eating a few Alfalfa sprouts may help to alleviate constipation symptoms in cats. Of course, if you notice that your cat has diarrhea after eating Alfalfa sprouts, do not continue to offer it to them.
Do Alfalfa Sprouts go bad?
Alfalfa sprouts definitely go bad. To properly store your Alfalfa sprouts, place them in between two pieces of paper towel and seal them inside a plastic bag and store them in the fridge.
When Alfalfa sprouts are beginning to go bad, they will start to smell, and they will be slimy. If Alfalfa sprouts have gone bad, they may make you quite sick. Avoid eating any sprouts that look or smell “bad”- trust your nose and eyes!
What vegetables are not good for cats?
Cats can enjoy fruit and vegetables like pumpkin, carrot, and bananas, in moderation. But, never, under any circumstances, give your cat garlic or onion. Even onion and garlic powder can be very toxic to cats. Garlic and onion can be very toxic to your cat because it causes damage to red blood cells and can cause blood cells to burst.
Also, avoid giving your cat rhubarb and wild mushrooms as they also contain toxins.