While it shouldn’t be your cat’s go-to snack, they can enjoy the occasional piece of bell pepper. With their satisfying crunch and dense nutritional content, bell peppers can help boost your kitty’s immune system and provide many other health benefits. Just be sure to give your cats bell peppers in moderation.
What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Bell Peppers for Cats?
Bell peppers are packed with nutrition that can make a great addition to any cat diet. They can help support the immune system, vision, the heart, red blood cell production, and overall health.
There’s plenty of water in bell peppers (about 92% water), which helps promote hydration and provides fluid that is essential for nearly every bodily function.
Besides water, bell peppers are high in healthy fiber to help keep the digestive system in check and promote regularity.
Bell peppers contain a wide array of healthy vitamins, including vitamin C and vitamin E, powerful antioxidants that help support the immune system and prevent and treat cellular damage. They also contain beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which is important for healthy vision. Vitamin K is included in there for proper blood clotting functions and bone health. Bell peppers are also sources of many B vitamins, including folate and B6, which are essential for many bodily functions, including red blood production and nervous system development.
Potassium is the main mineral in bell peppers and is important for heart health and fluid balance in the body. Iron is also found in bell peppers and is vital for proper red blood cell function.
We already named a few, but besides vitamin C and E, bell peppers also contain the antioxidants capsanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, quercetin, and luteolin of which are important for immune system health and prevention of oxidative cellular damage.
Along with all of these beneficial nutrients, bell peppers are low in calories and fat, another great bonus for kitties battling the bulge.
What Are the Differences Between the Different Colors of Bell Peppers?
You’re no doubt familiar with green bell peppers and possibly even red, orange, and yellow varieties, but is there any difference in these colorful vegetables?
Nutritionally there is. Bell peppers come in red, orange, yellow, and even purple varieties. Green bell peppers are simply the unripe version of all of these different colors. If left on the vine, green bell peppers will ripen into red, yellow, orange, or whatever color the mature version of their variety is.
Green bell peppers are often picked before they mature because they have a bitter, rather than sweet, flavor that some people prefer for cooking or snacking. Ripe versions of bell peppers tend to be sweeter. Green bell peppers also have a longer shelf life and are less expensive.
Is There a Nutritional Difference Between the Colors of Bell Peppers For Cats?
Since green peppers are the immature, or unripe, versions of different bell peppers, they also tend to be the less nutrient-dense. The longer bell peppers stay on the vine, the more nutrients it provides. Green peppers tend to have fewer vitamins and antioxidants. However, they also have less sugars, making them a better choice snack for weight loss or diabetic kitties.
Yellow and orange bell peppers have about equal amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while red bell peppers tend to be the most nutrient-packed. They contain almost 11 times as much beta-carotene as green bell peppers and substantially more vitamin C.
How to Feed Your Cat Bell Peppers
The easiest way of sharing bell peppers with your cat is by offering small chunks of raw pepper to them. Ensure the chunks are small enough that choking isn’t a worry, and don’t give more than a couple of pieces at a time. Too much fiber can cause digestive upset. Also, the higher sugar content found in ripe versions of bell peppers may cause digestive problems if given in high quantities.
You may choose to cook bell peppers for a softer snack for your feline friend. If you cook peppers, steaming or roasting is the best way since it doesn’t add any additional oils or fats to the vegetable.
Be sure to serve them plain, without any additional seasonings, as high amounts of salt can be detrimental, and garlic and onion are toxic to cats. Again, keep the amount fed small to avoid digestive upset or risk filling your cat up to the point that they don’t get the protein and other nutrients they need from their regular diet.
Bell peppers can be a great “once-in-awhile” snack to share with your kitty. They contain many beneficial nutrients and are low in calories. There is some variation in the nutritional load between the varieties and ripeness of bell peppers, so choose accordingly and have fun mixing and matching this colorful treat.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.