Can Cats Eat Sunflower Seeds?

We all love our furry pets, and sometimes we’re tempted to slip a few treats to their delight. Some foods are toxic and poisonous to cats, while others are perfectly safe.

That said, can cats eat sunflower seeds? Do the seeds have any nutritional value to cats and other pets?

While sunflower seeds are rated among the most nutritious seeds to humans, understanding their nutritional value to cats is invaluable.

Below we highlight the basics such as whether cats can eat sunflower seeds and what nutritional benefits they get.

can cats eat sunflower seed, are sunflower seeds safe for cats to eat

Can cats eat sunflower seeds?

Yes, cats can eat sunflower seeds but only the kernels (sunflower hearts). The seeds are among the most nutritious seeds and boast loads of vitamins including vitamins A, D, E, and B complex along with iron, zinc, fiber, protein, and unsaturated fats. According to APSCA, sunflower seeds are non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.

Make sure to remove the shell of the seeds because they are hard to digest and can get stuck in the cat’s gut causing internal injuries. You should also feed the seeds to your cat in small, manageable portions. In case you’re buying the seeds from the stores then you need to ensure they’re natural and unseasoned with salts or artificial flavors.

Seasonings such as garlic and spicy flavors can be toxic to cats. That’s why making sure you only feed your cat hulled, unseasoned sunflower seeds is important.

When are sunflower seeds bad for cats?

Unhulled sunflower seeds are not suitable for cats because the shells are rough and hard to break down and will likely cause stomach problems if the cats do not chew them properly. The sunflower seeds we buy from stores are often salted and flavored, which makes them unsuitable for cats because additives such as processed salts, oils, herbs, and spices can be toxic to cats. 

It’s also imperative to keep in mind that sunflower seeds are high in calories and cats eating too many on a regular basis can lead to weight gain. It’s best to give hulled sunflower seeds as occasional treats and in small quantities.

Can sunflower seeds cause diarrhea in cats?

Cats are likely to experience vomiting and diarrhea when they eat too many sunflower seeds. Choking and abdominal discomfort are other complications when cats eat too many sunflower seeds within a short span. It’s imperative to seek urgent medical intervention from a veterinarian if you notice such symptoms.

Apart from vomiting and diarrhea, other symptoms your cat might have eaten too many seeds and needs medical attention include:

  • Change in bowel movement
  • Excessive drinking of water
  • Labored breathing
  • Frequent or inconsistent urination
  • Difficulty moving around
  • Dizziness and stumbling
  • Lethargy and drooling

How many sunflower seeds can cats eat?

Although cats can eat sunflower seeds, they should only consume them in moderation, like a few seeds once or twice a week. Eating too many unhulled seeds is likely to cause vomiting and diarrhea. Make sure to remove the shells and feed them the kernels only.


It is safe for cats to eat hulled sunflower seeds in moderate amounts. The seeds have lots of nutrients, including vitamins, iron, zinc, fiber, and unsaturated fats that come with amazing nutritional benefits. Consult your veterinarian in the event your furry friend eats too many unhulled sunflower seeds.