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Cat looking at a banana

The essentials

  • Yes, cats can eat bananas — Bananas are a safe, non-toxic snack that cats can eat in small portions.
  • Never feed your cat banana peels — Cats can’t digest banana skins, and they pose a potential choking hazard.
  • Cats have a unique set of nutritional needs — Unlike dogs or humans, cats are obligate carnivores that get the nutrients they need from animal products.

For us humans, bananas are an ideal snack: tasty, nutritious, and conveniently easy to eat on the go. However, that doesn’t mean our pets should enjoy them as often as we do.

Can cats eat bananas? 

The short answer is yes. Bananas are non-toxic to cats and can generally be given to them in small quantities. However, while bananas are technically safe for cats to eat, they don’t offer any nutritional benefits. Bananas should be regarded as an occasional treat, especially since the starch inside can cause gastrointestinal upset for cats that eat large amounts.

👉 Treats should make up just 10% of your pet’s diet.

It’s important to remember that every cat has different nutritional needs, and human foods that one cat can tolerate may pose health risks to another. That’s why it’s always a good idea to see a veterinarian before introducing any human food to your cat’s diet. You should also avoid feeding bananas to kittens, as their digestive systems are still developing in the first 8 weeks of life. Feeding a kitten human food too early can cause health problems, including inflammation, irritation, sensitivity, and stress. Banana peels are indigestible to all cats and should never be fed to them as they pose a potential choking hazard.

Are bananas good for cats? 

Bananas are known to provide humans with several essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. However, cats are obligate carnivores that get most of their nutrients from animal products similar to what they’d eat in the wild. This means that while plant-based foods like bananas are not toxic to cats, they also don’t provide them with any real nutritional benefits. Since cats don’t have the taste bud receptors required to taste sweet foods, they may not even find bananas particularly appetizing.

Bananas are OK to give your cat as an occasional treat, but we wouldn’t recommend them over healthy cat treats formulated by veterinary professionals. The best way to ensure your cat’s nutritional needs are being met is to provide them with complete and balanced vet-formulated cat food. You should also avoid overfeeding your cat, as nutritional excess can trigger allergic reactions, diarrhea, and unwanted weight gain that eventually leads to obesity.

How to feed your cat bananas

Only offer your cats bananas if they seem interested in eating them — don’t force them or any other kind of treat. Here are a few steps suggested by veterinary nutritionists to make banana feedings the safest and most enjoyable experience possible for your feline friend.

  • See a professional — Consulting a vet is the first step to feeding your cat human food, regardless of whether it’s considered to be generally safe. Your vet can advise you on the optimal caloric intake for your cat.
  • Determine the right amount of banana to feed your cat — Treats should comprise no more than 10% of a cat’s daily caloric intake. To maintain a healthy weight, most cats should eat somewhere between 24 to 35 calories a day, per pound. If your cat weighs 10 pounds, that works out to 240-350 calories. Since just one medium banana contains around 110 calories, most cats should only eat a small piece or two per day at most.
  • Prepare the bananas — Remove the banana peel and cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces similar to your cat’s kibble. This allows their bodies to process the food more easily and reduces the risk of indigestion. Alternatively, you can try mashing the banana and putting a small amount on top of their normal food.
  • Keep an eye on your cat afterward — When your cat’s finished eating the bananas, monitor them for signs of gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. Call your vet immediately if you suspect your cat is having a negative reaction to bananas.

 🚨 Only feed your cat one new food at a time. This makes it easier to pinpoint the cause of any symptoms they experience after eating. 

Bananas and diabetes

Because bananas are high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates, they have the potential to cause weight gain and blood sugar spikes in cats. If these problems persist over time, they can eventually lead to obesity and diabetes. Don’t feed your cat bananas if they already have diabetes or struggle with other underlying health issues.

Fruits that are toxic to cats

While bananas are one of the few fruits that can be safely given to cats, there are some other fruits you should avoid feeding to your cat at all costs. These include.

  • Citrus fruits. Fruits like oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are high in citric acid, which can cause gastric irritation in cats and, in high enough quantities, lead to depression of the central nervous system, tremors, seizures, and death.
  • Apples, peaches, plums, pears, and cherries. While the flesh of some of these fruits isn’t technically toxic to cats, their seeds contain cyanide, a compound that inhibits the enzyme necessary to transport oxygen between cells. This can cause breathing problems, dilated pupils, and organ failure, all of which can prove lethal in severe cases.
  • Grapes, raisins, and currants. These fruits are toxic to dogs and cats. The exact cause for this is unknown, though veterinary experts believe it has something to do with their inability to metabolize compounds like tannins or harmful pesticides on the outside of the fruit. Consumption of grapes and raisins can lead to acute kidney failure and death in cats.
  • Tomatoes. Cats’ digestive systems aren’t built to digest tomatoes, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues if eaten in large enough quantities. Unripe green tomatoes (as well as the leaves and stems of tomato plants) contain a compound called solanine, which can cause lethargy, a dangerously slow heart rate, and extreme vomiting.

 🚨 Contact your vet immediately if your cat eats any of the fruits listed above. 

In small quantities, bananas can be a safe snack for healthy cats, but they’re far from the best treat you can give them. Ask your vet before introducing any people foods into your cat’s diet, and consider opting for professionally formulated meat-based treats instead. These not only contain the nutrients your cat needs to thrive, they’ll probably taste better to them, too!

Frequently asked questions

How much banana can a cat eat?

Bananas are a treat that cats should enjoy in moderation. Since every cat’s nutritional needs are different, asking your vet is the best way to determine how much banana your cat can eat. However, a good rule of thumb is about a one-inch square of banana every few weeks.

Why does my cat go after bananas?

Since cats can’t taste sweetness, most don’t naturally like the taste of bananas. However, some cats may take interest in the strong scent bananas emit or try eating them simply because they see their owner eating them.

Why can’t cats eat bananas?

Bananas are non-toxic to cats and generally considered safe for them to eat in small quantities. However, because cats are obligate carnivores that mainly get nutrition from animal products, bananas don’t offer them any health benefits. On the contrary, the high sugar content in bananas may cause gastrointestinal irritation in some cats, or cause spikes in blood sugar that can eventually lead to more serious health conditions like diabetes.

What is the healthiest fruit for cats?

Cats are obligate carnivores that can only get their nutrition through meat and other animal products. For this reason, fruits aren’t necessarily “healthy” for cats in the same way they are for humans. However, certain fruits like bananas, blueberries, strawberries, and seedless watermelon are safe for them to eat in small quantities.

What human foods can cats eat?

Cats can safely eat a variety of human foods, including whole grains like oats, corn, and brown rice; cooked, lean meats like beef, chicken, turkey, liver, lamb, and fish; and small portions of cooked eggs. It’s important to remember that just because these foods are generally safe for cats to eat does not mean they’re the best options for your cat. Always consult a vet before introducing any human food into your cat’s diet.