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Interpretive Summary: Feeding graded inclusion levels of raw and cooked garbanzo beans to cats

By: Anne Kamiya, MS

Garbanzo beans (Cicer arietinum) are a popular and important legume food protein crop in human nutrition but is not as well utilized or studied in companion animal nutrition. Because raw garbanzo beans contain anti-nutritional factors, it may potentially have negative impacts on digestibility, fecal characteristics, or the gut health of companion animals. Although heat processing increases digestibility and eliminates anti-nutritional factors, cooking may not be cost effective. In this recent Journal of Animal Science study, researchers evaluated how the addition of graded inclusion levels of raw garbanzo beans impacted the nutrient digestibility and fecal characteristics of cats. 

Ten adult male cats were fed one of five different diets which included either cooked garbanzo beans at 30% of feed, or raw garbanzo beans at 0%, 7.5%, 15%, or 30% of feed. Feces, urine, and blood were collected and analyzed for four days after feeding. Cats fed no garbanzo beans had the highest feed intake and cats consuming the 30% cooked garbanzo beans had the lowest apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD). Gut microbiota composition was also different in cats fed no garbanzo beans (more Firmicutes and Fusobacteria) compared to the cats fed raw or cooked garbanzo beans. 

Overall, the authors of this study concluded that raw garbanzo beans in the diets of adult male cats (up to a 30% inclusion level) did not negatively impact feline health, nutrient digestibility or fecal characteristics and had an overall high digestibility. Larger and more in-depth studies evaluating how long-term feeding of graded inclusion levels of raw garbanzo beans might impact the health, nutrient digestibility, and fecal characteristics of cats is justified. 

The original article, Effects of graded inclusion levels of raw garbanzo beans on apparent total tract digestibility, fecal quality, and fecal fermentative end-products and microbiota in extruded feline diets, is now viewable in the Journal of Animal Science.