It’s Pasta Joke For Garfield – Can Cats Really Eat Lasagne?

Red Persian exotic cat in front of white background

It’s fair to say that we’re a nation of pet lovers with over half of the UK’s population owning a pet. Dogs are the most common pet with 36% of Brits owning one while 29% of households own a cat.

With many of us pet owners, over recent years we’ve seen a growing trend of our pets becoming humanised from celebrating their birthday with presents and cake to dressing them up for seasonal holidays. There’s also a shifting sentiment towards traditional family structures, as research has revealed over 2 in 5 of dog owners (48%) and cat owners (46%) without children see their pets as a child.

While the humanisation of pets is relatively recent in the real world, in the land of cartoons it has been played out a number of times. With The Garfield Movie hitting cinema screens in May 2024, it has got us thinking about foods that our feline friends can eat, in particular Garfield’s favourite food – lasagne.

Understanding a Cats Dietary Needs

A tabby cat sits in the garden and looks out of the bushes. Walking Pets in nature in the Park

Cats are obligate carnivores – meaning they eat meat because their diet requires nutrients that are only found in animal flesh. When in their natural habitat of the wild they are known for eating mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and amphibians.

Therefore, it’s important for owners to understand the fundamental to a cat’s diet as a domestic household pet to ensure it lives a healthy lifestyle. Food sourced in the wild provides cats with high amounts of protein, moderate amounts of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates which is similar to the diet needed for a domestic cat.

Commercial cat food typically comes in two forms dry or wet, and more often than not which type your cat eats is driven by their preference. It’s important to choose a ‘complete’ cat food, so they are receiving all the vital nutrients they need from one food source.

Always read the label of your cat food to ensure you’re feeding them the correct amount of food to meet their nutritional needs, weigh out your dry food to avoid over-feeding your kitty. And ensure they have a source of water, especially with dry food as it doesn’t contain as much water as wet cat food does.

Depending on the life stage of your cat for example, a kitten has different nutritional needs to that of a senior cat or even a pregnant or lactating female cat therefore, consider buying age-appropriate food to meet these needs and to keep them healthy.

The Ingredients in Lasagne

The English spelling of the name differs in countries across the world, ‘lasagne’ or ‘lasagna’, and when it comes to home cooked lasagne it’s not just the name that is likely to change. However, the fundamentals of this classic Italian dish remain the same, meat, tomato sauce, onion and garlic, cheese and pasta.

But how do these ingredients affect cats?

Meat: as we know, cats are carnivores and when cooking a lasagne, it’s likely that it’s the meat that may arouse your feline companion’s senses. While cooked meat isn’t dangerous to cats, it’s the other ingredients in this dish that could make this meal potentially harmful to your cat.

Tomato sauce: is a main part of lasagne and while it’s unlikely to pose too much of a threat to your kitty it’s worth noting that ‘solanine’ which is found in unripe tomatoes (green tomatoes) and in the leaves and flowers is toxic to cats. If ingested it could cause gastrointestinal problems as well as slow heart rate and lethargy.

Onion and garlic: as well as other members of the allium family such as chives and leeks are toxic to cats (and dogs). Garlic in particular is considered five times as toxic as onions for cats. Therefore, these are some of the most toxic ingredients of the dish.

Cheese: is a key component to the bechamel sauce used in a lasagne. It’s also often grated on to for extra flavour and to ensure a crispy topping to the dish, however, cheese and other dairy products aren’t healthy for cats. Many cats are lactose intolerant so cannot properly digest the sugar found in dairy products. While not all cats are intolerant the high fat and salt content mean they’re not healthy choices for your cat.

Pasta: is generally safe for cats however, when thinking about the diet of a wild cat it isn’t something they’d typically eat, therefore it isn’t going to offer your feline any of the nutritional needs that they require. Frequent consumption of pasta could also lead to your cat gaining weight over time.

Can Cats Eat Lasagne?

Portion of ground beef lasagna topped with melted cheese and garnished with fresh parsley served on a plate in close view for a menu

Unfortunately, as we’ve mentioned a few of the ingredients are toxic to cats and therefore, cats cannot eat lasagne. Despite its likely appeal to your moggy, that’ll be the meat and cheese, it could make your pet quite ill.

If you suspect your cat has eaten this or anything that they shouldn’t have, don’t wait for symptoms to appear, call your veterinarian for advice immediately.

Garfield and Lasagne

Lovely Cat Persian very smooth hairs.

The original Garfield comic strip was published in June, 1978 and throughout its evolution one thing remains true since its inception – Garfield loves lasagne. In fact, in the cartoon alone ‘lasagna’ makes an appearance 114 times. Indeed, Garfield is also a bit of a foodie and has a penchant for pizza among other things.

Yet, it’s not just Garfield that has made a name for himself as a food loving cartoon character. Mystery solving duo Scooby-Doo and Shaggy are huge fans of Scooby Snacks, Popeye the Sailor wouldn’t be Popeye without his spinach, Winnie the Pooh keeps his hunger at bay by eating honey, and then there’s Homer Simpson who is well known for his adoration of donuts with a pink glaze and rainbow sprinkles.

So, despite Garfield’s affirmation of lasagne, it’s a hard no as far as our real-life moggies are concerned. Instead feeding your feline companions the appropriate cat food, whether that’s dry or wet food, and offering them plenty of drinking water is all they should need to support a healthy lifestyle. While the occasional cat treat is fine, especially to reinforce good behaviour, try to avoid too many as they could lead to weight gain over time.

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