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Which legumes and beans can your cat eat?

Which legumes and beans can your cat eat?

Cats are curious animals and are often intrigued by what’s on our plates. However, just because something’s edible for you, doesn’t mean that it’s automatically safe for your cat. Beans and legumes are some of the most common foods found in our kitchens and pantries, so pet cats will most likely come across them at least once in their lives. In this Waldo’s Friends post, we find out: 

A reminder for cat parents and foster carers: This cat food article is only an informative guide. It must not replace your veterinarian and/or pet nutritionist’s advice on the food your cat should eat. 

How to know what belongs to the legumes and beans family?

Belonging to the flowering plant family Fabaceae, legumes are plants that bear fruits inside a pod. The term legume includes beans and pulses, so it goes without saying that all beans are legumes. The main difference is that beans are the seeds taken from the plant, while legumes include the plant’s leaves, stems, and pods. Nevertheless, the seeds of the legume plant are what we usually find on our plates. 

Reports indicate that there are about 16,000 types of legumes and 400 types of beans cultivated all over the world, but only a small percentage of it is for consumption. Edible legumes and beans are great sources of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, folate, iron, phosphorus, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. When eaten by humans, they are known to help reduce cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and maintain healthy stomach bacteria.

Can cats eat legumes and beans?

Cats are obligate carnivores that need a daily nourishment of animal-derived meat to develop properly. Aside from protein and fat, meat contains essential nutrients that cats cannot produce on their own. Arachidonic acid, taurine, and vitamins A and B12 are such examples. Without these nutrients, a cat may suffer from health problems such as skin irritation, hearing loss, and liver and heart conditions. 

Technically speaking, your cat may be able to eat a selection of legumes and beans since they are classified as vegetables. But because of how a cat’s body works, she will not survive by only eating these plant-based proteins. Moreover, legumes and beans do not contain all the vitamins and minerals your cat needs, nor can she digest large amounts of these in her stomach. Eating too much may result in digestive distress and flatulence.  

It is important to remember that even though they are called beans, coffee beans and cocoa beans do not belong to the legume family. These should never be fed to your cat since they can cause toxicity and may even lead to death in extreme cases. 

Which legumes and beans are good for cats?

Now that you know what your cat must eat to function at her best, we list down the common edible legumes and beans a cat can and cannot eat. 

Black beans

Known for being high in calcium, iron, and vitamins C and B6, black beans may be eaten by your cat since they are not toxic for her. However, she may be better off eating other types of beans and legumes as snacks.


Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are not recommended for cats to eat especially those with skin issues, arthritis, rheumatism, gout, kidney stones, and hyperacidity. The oxalic acid found in them may trigger or aggravate these conditions.

Green beans

Green beans are actually legumes that can be safely eaten by a cat in moderate amounts. An excellent source of protein and fiber, this vegetable can assist with weight loss and can be fed to both young kittens and adult cats.

Kidney beans

Available in red and white varieties, kidney beans are okay for cats to consume in moderation. They are packed with potassium and zinc, which can help improve your cat’s muscles, nerves, and skin.


Cats can eat a moderate amount of green or red lentils as long as they are prepared properly. The lens-shaped seeds are known to grow mostly in Canada and India. 

Lima beans

Your cat can eat a few pieces of these soft, starchy, and green-coloured beans. Just make sure the lima beans are cooked properly to eliminate the poisonous compound, linamarin.


Mistaken as nuts, peanuts are a type of a legume that are high in iron and magnesium. Your cat can occasionally eat peanuts as long as they are cooked without flavouring and unshelled before serving. 

Derived from peanuts, peanut butter should be given to your cat sparingly since it contains salt, sugar, and additives that are toxic for your pet. Some even contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is not recommended for cats.


All Pet Magazine reports that some commercial cat food brands contain peas, so your cat may have already tried it. Snow, snap, and green or garden peas are the three types of peas that can be moderately fed to your cat. This low-calorie vegetable can be given to cats suffering from constipation. 

Pinto beans

Known for having a creamy, earthy texture, pinto beans are flavour-packed beans that can be fed to your cat in small amounts.


Containing significant amounts of phytic acid, dietary minerals, and B vitamins, soybeans can be consumed by your cat occasionally. This includes edamame, a type of soft, immature soybean that is cooked then removed from the pod before eating.

What to do when feeding your cat legumes or beans for the first time?

Never give raw legumes or beans for your cat to eat. The raw, dried variety may contain high levels of potentially toxic glycoproteins (lectins) and harmful bacteria such as Staphylococcus and E.coli, which can cause digestive problems. The dry beans may also cause blockages in your cat’s mouth, throat, or intestine.

Always choose fresh or frozen varieties without any seasonings. They should always be washed and cooked without adding oil, butter, salt, sugar, and spices (such as powdered onion and garlic) since these ingredients may poison your cat. Boiling your chosen vegetable in plain water until it is soft enough to chew is the best cooking option for cats. Before giving it as a snack, remove the hard, inedible parts to avoid airway or intestinal blockages. Additionally, fried and canned baked beans should never be fed to your feline pet.

To be on the safe side, clear things with your veterinarian before giving your cat any type of legume or bean. Make sure she does not have any health conditions (such as skin conditions or musculoskeletal diseases) that may be triggered or aggravated by these vegetables. 

You may not know it but your cat may also be intolerant or allergic to legumes and beans. As such, it is best to feed her a small piece and observe her for the next 24 hours. Cats allergic to beans may manifest the following symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, eczema, and impaired consciousness. If these symptoms appear, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

Which beans and legumes have you successfully fed to your cat? Let us know by sharing your stories in the comment section below! To learn which seafood, fruit, and vegetable options cats can safely eat, do a quick search on our blog.

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