Can Cats Eat Rice? A Quick Answer

Last updated:
We may earn through links from our affiliates including Chewy, Amazon, and Pet Circle.

Can cats eat rice?

Cats can eat up to 1/2 cup cooked white rice per day.

Rice is high in carbs.

Too much rice can cause digestive issues, as cats are sensitive to high carb diets.

I’ve reviewed the scientific evidence around whether cats can eat rice and that’s the conclusion.

In the rest of this article I’ll look at the nutrition of rice, as well as benefits and drawbacks for cats. I’ll also cover frequently asked questions.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.

Let’s get into the article.

Can Cats Eat Rice?

Can Cats Eat Rice?

Cats can eat up to 1/2 cup cooked white rice per day.

Rice is a high carbohydrate starch. As carnivores, cats can tolerate small amounts of carbohydrate.

Rice is popular with humans as a cheap and versatile staple.

However, cats are obligate carnivores.

In the wild, cats eat small prey such as birds, rodents, rabbits, lizards, and insects.

Cats eat mice, not rice.

Let’s delve deeper to learn more.

Rice Nutrition 101

Rice is a high carbohydrate grain.

Here is the macronutrient ratio of rice:

The macronutrient ratio of cooked rice. This shows a breakdown of the amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrate in one cup of cooked white rice.

What we typically eat is the endosperm of rice.

This is the high energy core of the rice grain, extracted through milling.

The micronutrient content of white rice is low. This causes deficiency in populations using rice as a main food source.

Rice accumulates arsenic from the soil, a trace element. Chronic intake of rice may increase the risk of diabetes, and cancer, although the link is unclear.

Is Cooked Rice Good for Cats?

Rice doesn’t offer any benefit to cats.

As discussed, rice is high in carbs.

Cats are carnivores.

Here’s a diet of a wild cat macronutrient basis:

  • 1–2% carbohydrate
  • 30–68% fat
  • 30–68% protein

Cats chew grass, which helps eliminate parasites. Aside from that, cats don’t eat much else.

Given rice is 87% carbohydrate and cats consume 1-2%, it’s easy to see a problem.

Why is Rice Bad for Cats?

Rice can cause:

  • Digestive upset
  • Long term metabolic health problems

Domestic cats still prefer a wild diet.

When given a choice, cats prefer a low carb diet (~12% dry matter basis). Cats reject higher carb diets, with no added flavor enhancers.

Scientists suggest that this is due to a carbohydrate ceiling effect. Cats tolerate a carbohydrate intake of about 20g per day (~300kj or 71 kcal).

Any reason for this?

Cats have fewer carbohydrate digesting enzymes. Excess can cause diarrhea.

A cats liver is always in gluconeogenesis. This means their body always able to produce sugar endogenously (i.e. without food).

Cats eating a high carb diet have more sugar in their urine (glycosuria). This can damage kidneys over time.

It makes sense that cats are averse to carbs as an evolved adaptation. They’re optimized to use protein for fuel; a nutrient in abundance with a prey based diet.

How Much Rice Can I Give My Cat?

No more than 1/2 cup cooked rice per day.

As discussed:

Cats tolerate a carbohydrate intake of about 20g per day. 1/2 cup of cooked white rice is ~20g of carbohydrate.

So this lines up with a tolerable limit for cats.

Of course this assumes no other source of carbohydrate in the diet.

If there’s other sources of carbs in the diet, limit rice intake even more.

In short:

A small amount of cooked rice isn’t harmful, but don’t overdo it.

Rice being weighed on a scale
Cats can tolerate 1/2 cup cooked white rice per day

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Cats Eat Rice and Chicken?

In small amounts, yes.

However, these two foods don’t give cats a full range of nutrients.

A diet of only meat and rice, can cause nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. This is due to a lack of calcium.

Kittens fed a diet of all meat can have depression, mobility, and bone growth issues.

As I’ve mentioned, cats can have as much as 1/2 cup cooked rice. Too much causes digestive upset and high blood sugar.

Can I Give Rice to My Cat Daily?

Yes, in small amounts.

You can give your cat up to 1/2 cup of cooked white rice. This depends on the rest of their diet though.

Why Does Cat Food Have Rice?

Saves production cost.

Rice is more affordable to use as a main ingredient than meat. It increases profit margins.

Learn how to read cat food labels to find the best food for your cats health.

Learn More:

Are Cats Allergic to Rice?

Rice allergies are rare in cats.

Common food allergies include:

  • Fish
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Pork

Signs of allergies include itchy skin, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you suspect a food allergy, see a vet.


Can Cats Eat Basmati Rice?

Limit cooked basmati rice to no more than 1/2 cup per day.

In humans, basmati rice is thought to be healthier as it is a lower glycemic index food. It’s not clear if that benefits cats.

What Can’t Cats Eat?

Some foods are toxic to cats.

This includes things like onion and garlic. A cats liver has differences in its ability to detoxify compounds in food.

Learn More:

Can I Mix Rice With Cat Food?

There’s no benefit to this.

Cats don’t need extra rice in the diet. Choose a complete and balanced cat food per nutrition guidelines.

If attempting a homemade diet, you don’t need to use rice.

I don’t recommend homemade diets because it’s hard to balance nutrients, but I have a guide below.

Learn More:

Can Cats Eat Potato?

Yes, in small amounts.

Potato is a high carbohydrate starch based food, similar to rice.

Stick to less than 100g of cooked potato at most. This equates to 20g of carbohydrate, which is around a cats tolerable limit.


What Foods Give Cats Diarrhea?

Food intolerances can cause diarrhea.

A high carbohydrate diet can cause digestive upset in cats.

Keep in mind, dehydration, stress, and infection can lead to diarrhea in cats.

Learn More:


Cats can have up to 1/2 cup cooked white rice a day.

As carnivores, cats aren’t adapted to high carb foods like rice. They have a tolerable limit of about 20g of carbs per day.

Stick to a diet high in animal based foods to keep your cat healthy. Speak with your vet for more advice.

Further reading:

Photo of author


I'm qualified dietitian that's turned their attention to cat nutrition. My goal is to help tease out the science on how best to feed your cat.