Broccoli may seem like an unlikely snack for most cats, but there are some sneaky benefits to be had for any kitty brave enough to take a taste.

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Broccoli is not the first thing people tend to think of when it comes to snacks for cats. Vegetables in general are not something that should ever make up a significant part of any cats diet, as cats are obligate carnivores. But for the cat parents who find their felines are curious enough to give broccoli a try, there's some good news to be had here.

Can Cats Eat Broccoli Safely?

Yes, broccoli is completely safe for cats of all ages and breeds to enjoy, if they're so inclined. In fact, getting your feline companions interested in broccoli could even provide some nutritional benefits.

First of all, broccoli is absolutely packed with antioxidants. This can help reduce free radicals in the body, as well as help your kitty with regular bowel movements and calm upset stomachs. As an added bonus, the bright green florets might even satisfy your kitty's plant chomping urges, offering a reprieve to your houseplants!

Cat licks lips with illustrated broccoli background
Credit: Julia Bohan / Luxx Images / Getty

One caveat here: make sure you're only giving your kitty plain, unseasoned broccoli. Steaming it beforehand will make it easier for them to chew, but stay away from cooking in butter or oil, and don't coat the broccoli in salt, pepper, cheese, or any other toppings. Additionally, be aware of how large the florets are, in relation to small kitty mouths.

"Cats don't tend to rip and chew foods in the same way that dogs do," says Kaci Angelone, DVM, MS from Denver, Colo. "Giving them smaller, softer bites is important because it will help cut down on the risk of choking."

How Much Broccoli Can Cats Eat?

Thanks to its antioxidant count and lack of toxicity, broccoli is a safe and even healthy snack for your cat. However, your cat will probably enjoy a variety of other antioxidant-rich foods (including a balanced diet of regular cat food) more than broccoli. And because cats are obligate carnivores, the majority of their caloric intake should be coming in the form of meat or a good quality cat food (which will have a high percentage of meat protein). Which means that, as with any snack, moderation is key.

Other Cat-Safe Vegetables

Broccoli isn't the only vegetable that cats can eat safely, or that provides some kind of additional benefit. Other healthy options include:

When it comes to vegetables, watch out for onion, garlic, leeks, scallions, shallots, and chives, as these are all toxic for cats and can cause some pretty serious health issues.

Keep in mind that everything your cat eats that's not meat protein leaves less space in their bellies for the nutrients and vitamins they need to grow and stay healthy. So it's always a good idea to talk with your cat's veterinarian before changing or adding anything new to your cat's diet.