For humans, tofu is nutritious, tasty, and a versatile recipe ingredient. But can cats eat tofu as well?
In this post, we take a closer look at tofu and how suitable it is for felines. It’s important to understand the components of this food item to see whether it’s toxic or not for kitties.
Overall, there’s no short answer to the question above. While tofu has one main ingredient, cats can have varying reactions to it.
Read on and see how these points apply to your pet.
What is tofu made of?
Tofu is made of dried soybean. The dried soybean is soaked in water, ground, crushed, and then boiled.
After that, the ‘milk’ will be separated from the soybean pulp. A mixture of calcium, magnesium chlorides, and sulfates will be added to the milk to extract the curds.
Next, the curds will be collected and pressed into the blocks. This is now the tofu we purchase in supermarkets and wet markets.
Overall, the process of making tofu is similar to cheese making. The good thing is that tofu doesn’t have any other ingredients and is gluten-free and guaranteed to be healthy.
While tofu originated in Asia, it has reached popularity in many countries around the world. From steamed, stir-fried, baked, scrambled, and more, tofu has found its way to match the taste of many people.
In terms of nutrients, tofu is a good source of plant-based protein. It’s also rich in healthy unsaturated fats as well as Vitamin B1 and a myriad of minerals.
So with such versatility, guilt-free nature, and nutrient profile, is tofu suitable for cats, too? This is the question we answer in the section below.
Is tofu safe for cats?
Tofu is not toxic to cats, but it’s not in line with their diet either. As obligate carnivores, felines are supposed to get their protein and fat supply from meat.
To be fair, most cats can safely ingest one or two small tofu cubes without experiencing adverse reactions. If your kitty snacked on a raw tofu cube you dropped on the floor, it should be fine.
Other than that, you shouldn’t consider tofu as a regular treat, let alone a major part of your cat’s diet.
Here’s my assessment as to why tofu shouldn’t be given to cats regularly:
1. Some cats are allergic to soy.
It’s said that around 10% of cats have allergic reactions to soy. In this case, consumption of tofu in any way can be dangerous if your kitty has the same problem.
Take note that a feline’s soy allergy won’t go away by exposing your pet to it regularly. In fact, your cat’s allergy will just worsen the more it becomes exposed to the allergen.
Aside from tofu, cat food formulated with soy can also trigger allergies for sensitive felines. The key here is avoiding any soy ingredient or product to save your pet from discomfort.
2. Tofu is a plant-based protein source.
Tofu is a plant-based food, which is healthy for humans. However, cats don’t need plant-based protein as a major part of their diet.
Overall, a small amount of tofu will be fine as an ingredient in your pet’s homemade food. But when it comes to a protein source, you should stick to real meat.
Always remember that cats should never– and never will – be vegetarians or vegans. It will take thousands of years of evolution for that to even happen.
3. Tofu doesn’t have the nutrients cats need.
Tofu is a good source of Vitamin B1 as well as calcium, zinc, and magnesium. While cats need small amounts of such nutrients, they are better off getting them from a different source.
For example, poultry and red meat have all these nutrients and more. Even if your cat won’t drop dead eating tofu every day, it will suffer in the nutrition aspect.
4. Cats lack the enzymes to fully digest tofu.
Another reason why tofu shouldn’t be a major part of a cat’s diet is its digestive system. Felines don’t have enough enzymes to digest the sugars found in tofu.
Such intolerance can trigger diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness in cats. Diarrhea and vomiting are specifically dangerous since they can lead to dehydration if not subsiding.
5. Cooked tofu can be harmful to cats.
Lastly, cooked tofu can be dangerous to cats. Tofu cooked with spices like onion, shallots, garlic, and chives should never be given to pets.
The spices mentioned above are toxic to cats. Even a small amount can damage the feline’s red blood cells, leading to anemia and even death.
With that, it’s best to keep stir-fried tofu to yourself. Your cat is better off enjoying its kibble or pet treats.
What to do if your cat ate tofu
Overall, a small amount of tofu won’t kill a cat as long as it’s not seasoned with any toxic herbs. If you’re still worried, you should keep observing your pet for the next 24 hours.
Most of the time, cats will exhibit symptoms of poisoning or intolerance 4 to 8 hours after the consumption of the food item. Ingestion of larger servings will trigger faster symptoms.
If your cat looks fine and normal within 12 to 24 hours after eating tofu, it’s safe to assume that the kitty is already out of the woods.
However, if your pet starts vomiting, having loose stool, or becoming restless, you should call the vet for advice. You may or may not need to bring the feline to the clinic, depending on how fast its symptoms are worsening.
Can cats eat soy protein?
Technically, soy protein is safe for cats. However, some felines may have an allergic reaction to it.
If your pet is allergic to soy, you should refrain from giving it any soy-laced products. This includes cat food with soy on its ingredients list.
The good thing here is that soy isn’t really the best source of protein for cats. Felines need meat and they can forego soy and other plant-based protein.
Can cats eat uncooked tofu?
Uncooked tofu is safe for cats as long as it’s fresh and properly stored. However, if the uncooked tofu already has a strong, foul smell, you shouldn’t give it to your cat, let alone eat it for yourself.
Overall, uncooked tofu should only be given to cats in very small amounts and on limited occasions.
Can cats eat tofu? This nutritious soy product is considered non-toxic for cats, but it shouldn’t be considered a serious part of their diet.
Also, it’s important to check if your feline has soy allergies or intolerance. This is to avoid adverse reactions like vomiting, diarrhea, and potential dehydration.
Marco Vasquez is a passionate animal lover and writer with extensive experience in the pet care industry. He has worked with various pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and fish, and deeply understand their unique needs and behaviors. Marco’s love for animals has driven him to become an expert in pet health, nutrition, and behavior, and he is always eager to share his knowledge and insights with others. As a member of the Petcosset team, Marco brings his expertise to help pet owners make informed decisions about the well-being of their little friends. He enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with his pets in his free time.