Mushrooms, visually interesting fungi, have become a popular choice among fairy garden hobbyists and are commonly found growing in forests and even our back yards. Some people enjoy eating them, some just enjoy looking at them, and some do not give them a second thought. Due to the odors some types of mushrooms emit, animals can be attracted to them. Their popularity and their potential to attract animals make it important for cat owners to know; can cats eat mushrooms?
The shiitake mushroom is commonly found at grocery stores and is one of the most frequently consumed types of mushrooms. As you are preparing a meal including this variety of mushrooms, you may be wondering if your cat could enjoy them with you. So, can cats eat shiitake mushrooms? Yes, but only a very minuscule amount.
Firstly, while you may enjoy mushrooms on your pizza, your cat may not be as excited to have mushrooms in their bowl. Most cats do not have a desire to eat mushrooms; dogs are much more likely to fetch these fungi as a snack. Secondly, mushrooms are not essential to a cat’s diet; this is not the hill to die on if you have a finicky feline. Cats need a diet high in protein, and while mushrooms can have a meaty texture, they are a low protein food.
Some pet owners state that the shiitake mushroom has medicinal benefits. Practitioners of Chinese veterinary medicine often utilize shiitake mushrooms as an alternative to drugs when treating pets with weakened immune systems. A study of mice with tumors found shiitake mushrooms may have contributed to the reduction of existing tumors and the recession of new tumor growth. Before incorporating these mushrooms or a similar supplement into your cat’s meals or health care plan, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to make sure it is the best choice for your cat’s health.
Cats and psychedelic mushrooms are a different story. Psychedelic mushrooms contain ingredients similar to the drug LSD. Recreational drugs are not safe for humans or animals. It does not matter if the psychedelic mushroom was found in the forest, organically grown at home, or purchased from a third party; if it is a psychedelic mushroom, it is not healthy for your cat to eat.
If your cat has consumed a psychedelic mushroom, the first physical symptom you are likely to notice is an inability to walk and function normally. While ingesting a psychedelic mushroom has the potential to be life-threatening, it is not guaranteed to be lethal. If your cat does survive ingesting a psychedelic mushroom, the physical side effects your cat would experience are scary and have the potential to cause real harm and lasting side effects, such as a seizure. If your cat consumes psychedelic mushrooms, seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible. If you are unsure if your cat ate a psychedelic mushroom, you can find a more in-depth guide to assist you by clicking here.
With today’s culture valuing natural and organic foods, picking mushrooms in the forest to eat may seem on point with making healthy choices. So, can cats eat mushrooms found in the forest with you? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Firstly, it is incredibly difficult to properly identify a mushroom. While there are many varieties safe for people to eat, that does not mean that it is safe for your cat to eat. Further, there are also toxic varieties, which may look similar, and in some cases identical, to non-toxic varieties of mushrooms. Unless you are a mycologist (a mushroom expert), identifying the mushrooms you find is not easily done by googling which types of mushrooms may be eaten and comparing photographs.
Additionally, mushrooms can absorb environmental toxins. If you find a mushroom growing in your yard, and your neighbor treated their lawn with fertilizer, it is highly likely that your mushroom absorbed the fertilizer. Even if you locate the mushroom in a less populated area, growing in the vicinity of a road can cause the mushroom to absorb toxins. This means that even if you properly identify a non-toxic mushroom, it still has the potential to be toxic.
A cat who eats a type of mushroom that is non-toxic is still likely to experience gastrointestinal upset. However, toxic mushrooms can cause cats to experience life-threatening physical reactions, such as seizures and organ failure.
Oh shiitake mushrooms, my cat ate a mushroom! What do I do?
If your cat ate a mushroom, take a piece of the mushroom and store it in wax paper or a paper bag in your refrigerator if you will not be taking your cat to the veterinarian immediately to preserve the specimen for identification later if necessary.
The next step is to observe your cat and monitor its physical state. If you observe your cat exhibiting any of the following symptoms, veterinary care is urgently needed:
- Drooling or excessive/abnormal salivating
- Sleeping in a state similar to a coma
- Lack of coordination
You may call the ASPCA poison control hotline or the Pet Poison Hot Line for immediate assistance if your veterinarian is closed. Please be advised that the hotline is not complimentary; you will need a credit card ready to pay for their services. However, if your cat is exhibiting serious physical symptoms as listed above, locating an emergency veterinarian to treat your cat is likely the best option to save their life.
In a nutshell, mushrooms and cats are not a winning combination.
If you did not love your cat, you would not be researching this topic. In an effort to ensure your cat’s safety and the longevity of their life, it is in their best interests to keep their diets mushroom-free. Your cat will not be likely to complain if their pizza has anchovies instead of mushrooms on it.
While it may seem like a good idea to give an interesting new snack to your cat to enjoy, in reality, it is not a good idea. The risk outweighs the benefit. Mushrooms that humans may eat can still be harmful to cats. Identifying non-toxic varieties of mushrooms is very difficult, and mushrooms are not essential to a cat’s diet. Thankfully for most cat owners, cats are not often attracted to mushrooms; dogs are much more likely to eat a mushroom than cats.
To summarize, we have learned the following about cats and mushrooms:
- Cats may eat shiitake mushrooms in moderation.
- Cats should never eat psychedelic mushrooms.
- Cats should never eat wild mushrooms.
- If your cat eats a mushroom, call the ASPCA poison control hotline or the Pet Poison Control Hotline for assistance.
- If your cat exhibits serious physical symptoms after eating a mushroom, seek emergency veterinary treatment.
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