Mushrooms are quite healthy for humans but, can cats eat mushrooms? The answer to this depends on the type of mushroom you want to feed them.
Let’s find out.
Can Cats Eat Mushrooms?
The majority of store-bought mushrooms are safe for cats to eat and many will enjoy their taste. Mushrooms shouldn’t be a big part of your cat’s diet and should be considered a treat.
Generally speaking, there are 2 categories: cultivated mushrooms and wild mushrooms. Cultivated mushrooms are what you’ll find in grocery stores and markets.
They’ve been cultivated indoors under controlled conditions to keep the strain pure. This process also prevents any additional fungi and bacteria from contaminating the mushroom.
Familiar names for these types of mushrooms include portobello, morel, cremini, and shitake although there are hundreds in general cultivation.
Wild mushrooms are ones you’ll find in nature, and safely consuming them can be hit or miss as many are poisonous.
For this reason, if you want to feed your cat mushrooms, stick to the cultivated kind. It’s a no-brainer, but you should only feed your cat food that you’re 100% certain is safe.
The majority of edible mushrooms have little to no toxicity, but the highly toxic ones can cause life-threatening issues with your cat if ingested. Additionally, when you do feed them, ensure that the mushrooms aren’t making up more than 10% of their daily diet.
Why Do Cats Like Mushrooms?
Cats like the taste of mushrooms as well as the texture. This can be attributed to the high level of amino acid glutamate being present. Glutamate gives the mushroom a savory flavor, sometimes referred to as umami flavor.
Cats are familiar with umami flavors in the amino acids of meat protein (which cats are predisposed to eating). This could also explain their affinity for eating mushrooms.
Alternatives To Feeding A Cat Mushrooms
Feeding your cat a mushroom dietary supplement is a great way to provide your cat with all the benefits of mushrooms.
They’re fat-free, low-calorie, and jam-packed with vitamins and minerals. They also contain fiber, antioxidants, copper, potassium, and B vitamins which all work to boost health.
This makes them a healthy treat for cats, and a great alternative if you are apprehensive about potential toxins being present in traditional mushrooms.
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they don’t require any vegetables such as mushrooms, broccoli or spinach in their diet. They can get all their nutrients they need from animal meat proteins such as chicken or pork.
Which Mushrooms Are Toxic For Cats?
The most infamous poisonous mushrooms are of the Amanita genus, which shuts down liver and kidney functions, as well as the central nervous system via its toxins. The Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) is one of the deadliest if consumed, with Destroying Angel (Amanita verna) being another.
Some little brown mushrooms (LBMs), can contain the same amatoxins found in the Amanita genus, so it’s best to steer clear of these as well.
False morels are another poisonous mushroom that shouldn’t be confused with the edible morel (sometimes referred to as true morels) mushrooms in the Morchella genus.
What all these deadly mushrooms have in common is that they’re wild. If you’re looking to feed mushrooms to your cat, only ever feed them cultivated mushrooms.
If you’re curious about whether or not it’s a good idea to feed your cat psychedelic mushrooms (Psilocybe cubensis aka magic mushrooms), it’s not.
They could become unsteady on their feet, agitated, and more sensitive to sounds and touch. In most cases, they’ll be ok, but it’s best not to put them through that experience.
What Are The Signs A Cat Has Eaten Poisonous Wild Mushrooms?
If your cat has eaten a poisonous wild mushroom, here are the signs you need to look out for according to the ASPCA:
- Muscarinic issues: The toxins can affect the parasympathetic nervous system. This will cause the cat to drool, and can also result in a lowered heart rate.
- Neurological issues: Toxicity can affect the cat’s motor cortex, impairing their motor skills. The cat might get the shakes/tremors, depression, become overly sensitive to sounds or light, become unsteady when walking, or easily agitated.
- Gastrointestinal issues: At the very minimum, eating a toxic mushroom will undoubtedly cause issues with your cat’s digestive system. An upset stomach, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea are all red flags that you should contact your vet as soon as possible.
- Liver issues: Liver issues can be delayed by up to a day, but they usually start as gastrointestinal issues with a decrease in energy and appetite. The cat’s skin and eyes can yellow, which is then followed by liver damage and liver failure. If left untreated, liver failure is irreversible.
How Serious Is Mushroom Poisoning?
Serious cases of mushroom poisoning can lead to a host of physical issues. If not treated quickly, the cat may not survive the ordeal. High levels of mushroom toxins may take multiple days (sometimes even weeks) for them to reach their full effect.
For this reason, you should seek medical attention regardless of the seriousness to minimize the chance of the situation ending badly for your cat. Mild cases can be as simple as an upset stomach, but it’s still something you won’t want your cat to go through.
Treatment For Mushroom Poisoning
Time is of the essence where mushroom poisoning is concerned, so you’ll need to seek medical attention immediately.
Limiting/decreasing the number of toxins in the cat will be a top priority and your vet will likely induce vomiting. This is usually done through an orally administered 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide. The chemical will irritate the cat’s intestinal tract and can be successful in recovering 50% of its contents.
Activated charcoal is another treatment that’s commonly used. Charcoal binds to the toxins to prevent them from being absorbed into the body. The bound toxins are then expelled when the cat uses its box. In extreme cases, a vet may perform gastric lavage, otherwise known as stomach pumping, to empty as much of the stomach as they can.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do toxic mushrooms look like?
There’s a variety of poisonous mushrooms and they all vary in appearance. However, one thing they have in common is they’re all wild mushrooms. Additionally, they share a common parasol-shaped look which includes a cap, a stem, gills under the cap, a ring around the stem, and a volva at the base.
Where do toxic mushrooms grow?
Toxic mushrooms grow outdoors. Most grow in soil or on wood and can be found in forests, pastures, and lawns.