Can Cats Eat Sunflower Seeds

can cats eat sunflower seeds

Can cats eat sunflower seeds?

I am honored and blessed to have a cat and dog and like all pet parents I too worry from time to time whether my furry kids have eaten something they weren’t supposed to.

Whether your cat has eaten sunflower seeds or you want to feed these seeds to your pet because of their health benefits – this guide will help answer all your questions about sunflower seeds and their safety for cats.

Let us dive straight into it:

Also Read: Can Cats Eat Black Beans

Can Cats Eat Sunflower Seeds? Are Sunflower Seeds Poisonous or Toxic to Cats

can cats eat sunflower seeds

The ASPCA or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® does not include sunflower seeds in their ‘toxic food for cats’ list.

In fact, many vets recommend unsalted sunflower seeds without the kernels/hulls/shells in moderation for cats owing to their many health benefits.

Sunflower seeds are a rich source of proteins and omega 3 fatty acids. However, you should make sure to remove the seeds’ shells before feeding them to your pet.

After all, the shells contain chemical residues which can be toxic to cats, if consumed in excess.

In general though, your cat can get many vital nutrients and vitamins from sunflower seeds. Find out the health benefits of sunflower seeds for cats in the next section.

Also Read: Can Cats Eat Ginger

What Are the Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds for Cats?

can cats eat sunflower seeds

The tiny sunflower seed is a powerhouse of nutrition. 1 ounce of shelled sunflower seeds contain the following nutrients:

Protein5.5 g
Fiber3 g
Vitamin E37% of human RDI
Vitamin B611%

A. Sunflower seeds contain vitamins and antioxidants

Cats can benefit from the sunflower seed oil which provides Vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acid, saturated fat, essential nutrients, and selenium found in sunflower seeds.

B. They could help your cat fight inflammation

The flavonoids and other compounds in these seeds can help fight inflammation.

C. Could prevent diabetes in cats

Regular though moderate intake of sunflower seeds could reduce the risk of feline diabetes thanks to the plant compound chlorogenic acid present in it.

Also Read: Can Cats Eat Bell Peppers

Can Cats Eat Sunflower Seeds with Shells?

can cats eat sunflower seeds

No. Never feed shelled sunflower seeds to your cat. This is because:

1. Shells have salt on them

Sunflower seeds shells contain nearly 2500 mg of sodium which is almost 108% of the human RDI (in just 1/4th cup or 30 grams of seeds.)

Cats should not eat sunflower seed shells because of the risk of salt toxicity. Salt toxicity can cause symptoms like vomiting, dehydration, tremors, coma, and even death in cats.

Sodium on the shells can also affect your cat’s electrolytic balance and could even harm its kidneys in the long run.

2. They are fibrous and indigestible

Secondly, shelled sunflower seeds are fibrous and indigestible.

Their lignin and cellulose fibers are quite hard to digest and could cause intestinal blockages in cats. The signs of intestinal blockages include: impacted stools, constipation, and abdominal pain.

Can Cats Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds?

can cats eat sunflower seeds

No. Vets recommend not to feed any salty snacks to cats and that includes salted sunflower seeds.

Salt can have many detrimental effects on a cat’s health.

In excess, salt can lead to poisoning or toxicity in felines which could even cause neurological effects in the long run.

So, please refrain from feeding salted sunflower seeds to your beloved furry friend.

Also Read: Can Cats Eat Chocolate Ice Cream

Can Cats Eat Black Oil Sunflower Seeds?

can cats eat sunflower seeds

Black oil sunflower seeds are black in color unlike the regular sunflower seeds which have a striped appearance.

Black oil sunflower seed are also popular as bird seed. (I have discussed bird seed and whether or not to feed it to your cat – later in this guide.)

 Black oil sunflower raw seeds are a rich source of healthy fats, iron, protein, calcium, Vitamins A, E and B, as well as potassium.

You can remove the sunflower seed shell or kernel and feed the inner part to your cat, in moderation.

Avoid feeding your pets the seed’s dark shells as they could cause diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, and even vomiting in your pet.

Also Read: Can Cats Eat Mint Leaves

What is the Best Way to Feed Sunflower Seeds to Your Cat?

can cats eat sunflower seeds

1. Choose organic sunflower seeds

This will minimize the chemical content and keep preservatives minimum.

You can also grow and harvest your own sunflower seeds. If you use home-grown seeds, then you need not even de-shell them. Simply wash them in running water and feed them to your pet.

2. De-shell shop-bought seeds first

Remove the shells of the sunflower seeds if you have bought your seeds from the store. This will minimize the fibrous cellulose content as well as sodium and keep your cat safe.

If your pet happens to have eaten a few shelled seeds, please keep an eye out on it and report to a vet if there are any bowel changes, vomiting, etc.

3. Add them to cat food

You can powder/grind the seeds or sprinkle them as is over your cat’s food. Many cats enjoy the crunchy texture of the seeds.

4. Everything in moderation

Never feed seeds in excess. If you aren’t sure how much seed your pet has eaten, please keep an eye out on it for any symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite etc.

5. Avoid salted/flavored ones

Many shops sell salted and flavored sunflower seeds as well as seed mixes. Please avoid these especially if you aren’t sure about the ingredients.

Also, several seeds contain preservatives, artificial flavors, etc. which can be hard to digest for a cat.

What Are Possible Side-Effects of Eating Sunflower Seeds in Cats?

can cats eat sunflower seeds

While sunflower seeds are healthy in moderation, in excess, they have the following downsides to it:

1. They are high in calories and sodium

Just one ounce or 1/4th cup of sunflower seeds contains about 163 calories. Also, the shells of the seeds contain nearly 2500 mg of sodium in about 1/4th cup of seeds.

Vets recommend not to feed snacks to your cat in excess of 10% of its total calorie intake. That is why, it is best to limit your cat’s sunflower seed consumption to just a teaspoon of seeds per day.

2. High cadmium content

Cadmium is a heavy metal that the sunflower plant takes up from the soil. It is present in the seeds as well.

Just 9 ounces of sunflower seeds in a week can add increase one’s cadmium intake from 65 to 175 mcg.

For a young or a skinny cat or kitten, this amount is enough to cause a burden on the kidneys. In excess, it can even cause kidney damage.

That is why, you must limit your cat’s sunflower seed consumption.

Also Read: Best Cat Food for Kidney Disease

3. Stool blockage

Eating high amount of sunflower seeds can occasionally result in fecal impaction in cats and humans alike.

This mainly happens when you feed your pet the shells of the seeds. Sunflower seed shells contain lignin and cellulose fibers which are hard to digest.

In excess, these could cause severe constipation. So limit your pet’s consumption and especially remove the shells before feeding.

4. Allergies

Some cats could develop an allergic reaction to sunflower seeds which could result in breathing trouble, lesions, oral swelling, rashes, hives, etc.

This is a rare occurrence.

Also Read: Best Cat Food for Cats with Skin Allergies

Can Cats Eat Birdseeds? Is Birdseed Poisonous to Cats?

can cats eat sunflower seeds

Commercial birdseed contains a mixture of sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, nyjer, proso millets, shelled, thistle, and cracked corn etc. This mix can be toxic to a cat depending on how much of it your pet ingests.

Sometimes, cats can easily access birdseeds left outside for birds. A few cats are known to have a serious allergic reaction to birdseeds. Many cats vomit after eating birdseed and later, might fast for an entire day or two.

Please make a note of how much birdseed your pet has eaten. You must feel your cat’s tummy and mouth and watch out for any abnormalities. Make sure it is able to urinate and pass stool.

If your cat continues vomiting and does not start eating or drinking within a few days, please see your vet right away.

Are Pumpkin Seeds Good for Cats?

cat with pumpkin

Yes, pets can eat pumpkin puree and pumpkin seeds as they are excellent de-wormers for cats and dogs.

I add 3-4 boiled and mashed pumpkin cubes daily to my cat and dog’s meals as it keeps them regular and also prevents anal gland issues.

Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of omega fatty acids and they contain amino acid cucurbitacin which eliminates intestinal worms in pets.

Also Read: Best Over-The-Counter Cat De-wormer

Can Cats Eat Chia Seeds?

can cats eat sunflower seeds

Chia seeds are extremely healthy for cats and dogs.

More and more pet parents are adding chia seeds and flax seed to their cat’s diet for their numerous health benefits: vitamins, minerals, omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, for weight management etc.

If you want to add chia seeds to your cat’s balanced diet, use ½ to 1 tsp. of chia gel per 5lb. of your cat’s body weight.

 Also Read: Why is My Cat Licking the Walls?

Can My Cat Eat Dried Fruit and Nuts?

can cats eat dried fruit and nuts

Dried fruit

Cats can benefit from dried fruit as it provides many vitamins, minerals, fiber, and potassium etc. to your pet.

However, dried fruit should only constitute a small part of your cat’s diet.

Avoid feeding dried grapes or raisins as these are extremely toxic to cats. They can even cause kidney failure in pets.

Dried apple, dried bananas, and dried apricots are good to feed a cat in small amounts – remember that they contain quite a bit of sugar.


Cats are allowed to eat certain nuts– however you must avoid feeding nuts in large amounts as they could lead to intestinal blockage and even diarrhea in cats.

Keep macadamia nuts out of your cat’s reach because they are known to induce symptoms of toxicity such as vomiting, lethargy, and even seizures in cats. The same is the case with walnuts – do not feed walnuts to your cat.

Feed cashews and almonds, their milks and nut butters in moderation as they contain a lot of fat and calories. You can also feed pistachios (without shells) in moderation to your cat.

Nuts like peanuts and peanut butter are also safe for a cat to eat – in moderation. Avoid salted ones and ensure there are no flavors or preservatives used in them.

FAQs on Can Cats Eat Sunflower Seeds?

can cats eat sunflower seeds

1. Can cats eat seeded breads?

Cats could eat small quantities of seeded breads but remember: cats are carnivores. They do not really need carbohydrates found in breads.

Also, some cats are allergic to gluten, so if the bread contains wheat gluten, then avoid feeding it to an allergic cat.

2. Why is my cat eating birdseed?

If your cat is continuously attracted to birdseed, then it could be due to some nutritional deficiency or even intestinal parasites.

Please prevent your cat from doing this. Pack all the birdseed in tight containers and avoid placing it within your cat’s reach. Birdseed can cause intestinal blockage and other serious health issues in your cat.

Also, consult your vet so you can determine the exact reason why your pet is attracted to birdseed.

3. Can cats eat cracked corn?

No. Cats do not need to eat corn as corn isn’t healthy for them. Some manufacturers add corn as a filler material in commercial cat food but it has absolutely no nutritional significance for cats.

4. Are apple seeds toxic to cats?

Apple seeds contain traces of cyanide which can be toxic to cats. If your cat ingests apple seeds in large quantities, please call your vet right away.

Conclusion – Can Cats Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Can cats eat sunflower seeds?

Yes, in moderation, sunflower seeds are okay to feed your cat as they are an excellent source of protein and omega fatty acids.

Never feed the shells of sunflower seeds as they contain hard-to-digest and could lead to blockage. Always speak to your vet before feeding anything new to your pet.

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