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Cat licking a strawberry

The essentials

  • Strawberries are considered safe for cats in moderation — Before serving the fruit to your kitty, remove the stem and leaves to avoid a gastrointestinal blockage.
  • Feeding cats strawberries isn’t a huge benefit — Your cat would need to consume a lot of strawberries to absorb the nutrients, and they can only have small amounts due to the high sugar content.
  • Consult your vet before feeding your cat strawberries — Every cat is unique. Your vet will be able to advise you on the safety of this snack based on your kitty’s individual needs.

In addition to being delicious and cat-safe, strawberries are packed with antioxidants and fiber for your cat to enjoy. However, there are a few things pet parents need to keep in mind before feeding cats strawberries or fruits in general.

While the fruit isn’t considered toxic, it is high in sugar — and should only be given to cats in moderation, not every day. It’s also important to remove the stems and leaves to avoid a gastrointestinal obstruction.

Are strawberries good for cats?

Before you begin slicing up strawberries for your feline companion, it’s good to think about what your cat will be getting out of the experience.

In addition to being low in calories, strawberries are a nutrient-rich fruit packed with vitamin C, B9 (folate), fiber, potassium, and manganese. They also contain high water content, which can be good for dehydration. However, it’s worth noting that cats would need to eat a lot of strawberries to absorb these nutrients the way that humans do — and they can’t eat enough to make an impact safely.

While they’re nutritious in several ways, strawberries are also high in sugar. If you’re feeding the fruit to your cat, you need to stick to feeding them small amounts in moderation to prevent feline diabetes. Strawberries also contain a good amount of carbohydrates, which cats have trouble metabolizing.

Cats are obligate carnivores

While humans and dogs are omnivores who can benefit from animal-based and vegetable-based foods alike, cats are obligate carnivores. This means they only really benefit from the animal proteins, which are commonly found in your refrigerator or in cat foods on the market. While a little strawberry isn’t going to harm most cats, it won’t provide any nutritional value to them.

Why do cats like strawberries?

Cats don’t have the same taste buds as humans and other pets and don’t really enjoy the sweetness , tartness, or flavors that we enjoy the fruit for. Instead, cats are drawn to the texture and smell of strawberries in a similar way that they respond to catnip. This is why, in addition to eating the fruit, you may find your cat playing with it, rubbing on it, or smelling it.

In some cases, your cat may ignore the fruit completely, and that’s okay too. They’re not conditioned to enjoy foods high in sugar and carbs, which strawberries and most other fruits are.

How to safely feed cats strawberries

As with any new food you are introducing to your kitty, it is best to consult your veterinarian before feeding your cat strawberries.

Every cat is different, and your vet will be able to address any concerns with feeding the fruit to your cat based on their health history. They can also provide you with guidance on how much strawberry you can safely feed your cat following their breed, size, and age.

Here is a guide on how to prepare strawberries safely for your cat:

  1. Rinse the fruit — First, you’re going to want to wash any possible pesticides or bacteria off of the strawberries. Either in a colander or by hand (wash first!), hold the strawberries under running water and gently rub them.
  2. Remove the stems and leaves — While they’re not poisonous to cats, strawberry leaves and stems can damage their digestive system and cause stomach upset.
  3. Cut into small pieces — Strawberries can be a choking hazard for cats if they’re not diced up enough. Feed your cat small pieces of the fruit about the size of their kibble so it’s easier for them to digest.
  4. Only use strawberries as occasional treats — Overuse of strawberries can cause nutritional deficiencies in cats. Instead, try using bits of strawberries as a treat to reward your cat’s positive behavior during training, or as an occasional meal topper to entice picky eaters.

As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid feeding your cat strawberry derivatives like yogurt, ice cream, and jam. These products usually have sugars and chemicals mixed in, which can be dangerous for your pet. Plus, adult cats are actually lactose intolerant, so it’s best to avoid giving them dairy products altogether.

🚨 You should also watch out for sugar-free strawberry products that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to cats and dogs.

Adverse reactions your cat may have to strawberries

When you feed a cat strawberries for the first time, it’s important to monitor them afterward for any negative reactions.

Every cat is different, and some may tolerate strawberries more than others. Keep an eye on their body language and consult your vet if they exhibit any of these symptoms or conditions:

  • Upset stomach. This is the most common adverse effect that happens when cats eat strawberries. Watch for vomiting, dry heaving, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in your furry friend.
  • Allergies. Though rare, some cats have had an allergic reaction to strawberries. In addition to GI upset, look out for increased itchiness, coughing, and sneezing. These can all be signs of an allergic reaction.
  • Choking. The best way to prevent your cat from choking on strawberries is by removing stems and leaves and cutting the fruit into small pieces. If they choke on strawberries or another snack, try to remove the obstruction with your finger (carefully so you don’t get bitten) and seek emergency care if you can’t.
  • Weight gain. Because the fruit is high in sugar and carbs, giving your cat too many strawberries or other treats can lead to obesity or feline diabetes.
  • UTIs. Though vitamin C is generally beneficial, too much of it in a cat’s system can cause crystals to develop in your pal’s urethra and bladder, heightening the risk of contracting a UTI.

Other “people” foods cats can (and can’t) have

You may be wondering what other human foods you can serve to your cat.

While some foods have been deemed safe in moderation, others are toxic and can have potentially dangerous consequences, including death. It’s important to remember that cats should never be fed “people” foods in place of a balanced diet tailored to felines, like commercial cat foods or specially formulated prescription diets. The occasional snack is okay, but any more than that and you are putting your kitty at risk of serious health conditions.

Here is a guide to some common “safe” and “unsafe” foods for cats:

Safe human foods for cats Unsafe human foods for cats
Apples ✕ Cherries
Bananas ✕ Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruit)
✓ Berries ✕ Avocado
Pumpkin Chocolate
Cucumbers Canned tuna
Cooked eggs Grapes and raisins
Red tomatoes (must be ripe) ✕ Green tomatoes
✓ Broccoli ✕ Liver
✓ Cantaloupe ✕ Milk (including products that contain milk)
✓ Squash ✕ Onions and garlic
✓ Cooked lean meat and fish Raw meat
Carrots Nuts

While there are no real health benefits to feeding your cat plain strawberries, serving small quantities is generally fine if your vet gives the OK. Be sure to remove the stems and leaves to keep the snack as safe as possible for your pet, and monitor them for signs of allergic reactions during and after they eat the strawberry. Chances are, your pet will appreciate this once-in-a-while sweet treat.

Frequently asked questions

Can cats eat strawberry seeds?

All parts of the strawberry are considered non-toxic to cats, including the seeds. That said, you should remove the stems and leaves to avoid gastrointestinal blockage and an upset stomach.

Can cats eat strawberry ice cream?

Adult cats are lactose intolerant, and therefore shouldn’t consume ice cream of any kind. Even if they weren’t, it’s still best to stay away due to its high fat and sugar content, which can lead to weight gain and diabetes in your cat.

Do cats like strawberries?

Cats don’t have sweet taste receptors to enjoy the taste of strawberries, but they may be drawn to the texture of the fruit. In addition to eating the fruit, your cat may enjoy playing with it, rubbing up against it, or smelling it.

What fruits are safe for cats to eat?

Fruits that are considered safe for cat consumption include strawberries, apples, bananas, red tomatoes (if ripe), pumpkin, and cantaloupe. Diabetic cats should avoid fruits because of the sugar content.

What fruits are unsafe for cats to eat?

Fruits that are considered unsafe for cat consumption include grapes, green tomatoes, and citrus.