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Cat eating watermelon

The essentials

  • Watermelon is non-toxic to cats — Technically, small pieces of watermelon are fine for healthy cats to eat in moderation, but that doesn’t mean the fruit is “good” for them.
  • Your cat probably won’t like it anyway — Cats lack the taste buds needed to enjoy sweet things, so the most your cat will get out of a chunk of watermelon is the moisture or the satisfying crunch.
  • There are much better options — Cats are carnivores, so their snacks should reflect that. Plenty of store-bought or at-home treats are available for your feline friend to feast on and are better options than human food.

A sunny summer afternoon just isn’t complete without a juicy watermelon just waiting to be sliced up and served. And as your friends and family gather around to tuck into the refreshing fruit, you may wonder if the furry baby winding its way through your legs and meowing up at you expectantly would like a bite.

As tempting as it may be to reach down to pop a chunk of watermelon in your cat’s mouth, you should stop and consider a few things first.

White cat yawning

Is watermelon safe for cats? 

If you are reading this because your cat pounced on a bit of watermelon you accidentally dropped on the floor, you can breathe easy. Watermelon is perfectly safe in small quantities for healthy adult cats — you haven’t poisoned your cat. On the other hand, diabetic cats might struggle with the sugar in watermelon, so keep that in mind if you have watermelon lying around. You should also note that too many sugary treats can lead to dental disease, so moderation is a good idea.

You should also note that the flesh of the watermelon is the only part considered safe for your kitty. You want to make sure that your pet doesn’t get its claws into any watermelon rind as ingesting that can cause intestinal distress.

Cats are obligate carnivores

While watermelons technically have flesh, it is far from the kind of flesh that cats require. Felines are obligate carnivores, which means they are obligated to eat meat. While cats can still eat certain fruits and vegetables, the majority of their diet needs to be meat. Fortunately, most cat foods are balanced to ensure that cats get all the necessary vitamins and minerals, but many owners supplement diets with treats.

Cats lack the ability to taste sweet things

Cats may have much better eyesight than we do, but their sense of taste is a bit lacking. Mostly because sweet rarely occurs in meats, cats don’t have much need to sense that particular taste. That means that foods that are predominantly sweet, like watermelon, come across as bland to cats.

Some owners have likely seen cats happily devour watermelon, though, so why might that be? For one, watermelon has a lot of, well, water in it, and cats are not one to say no to a refreshing drink. The texture might also be quite pleasant to them, too. Everyone likes a nice crisp crunch.

Couple petting a cat whilst eating watermelon

Health benefits of eating watermelon 

Even though many other fruits and veggies have more nutrients to offer, watermelon is still a great source of potassium and vitamin C. However, those benefits are limited to creatures with digestive systems capable of breaking down plants, which cats, sadly, lack. However, there are still a few benefits cats can receive from an occasional melony snack.

  • Digestive health — Watermelon has a decent amount of dietary fiber, which can help with your cat’s digestion. Of course, too much of this fiber can have negative effects on digestive health, so watermelon should not not be considered a solution to dietary woes.
  • Hydration — Watermelon is obviously packed with water, which makes it a great way to hydrate. Naturally, watermelon is no substitute for a bowl of cool, clean water, but a few bites of watermelon can still help with dehydration on a hot summer day.

Risks of cats eating watermelon

For healthy cats, watermelon isn’t much of a threat, but certain circumstances and health conditions make the fruit a risky snack.

  • Sugar — Even if your cat doesn’t have diabetes, it may still struggle with digesting sugar. Even a small amount could lead to diarrhea and upset stomach. The sugar can also have a detrimental effect on your cat’s dental health.
  • Toxins — Watermelon seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide, and even though your cat would need to eat a lot of them to feel the effects, it’s better to remove seeds from any watermelon you offer to your cat.
  • Choking hazards — In addition to the toxins the seeds contain, they can also be a choking hazard. The rinds can also clog your cat’s digestive system since they are so hard to chew up and digest.

How to safely feed watermelon to your cat

If you think your cat might like a bite of this juicy treat, there are a few things you need to do in preparation. Keep in mind that cats are picky eaters, so if your cat shows no interest in this snack, do not force it on them.

  • Consult a veterinarian — To be safe, consult a vet before introducing any new food into your cat’s diet. Cats with any underlying medical conditions should never be fed foods that have not been previously approved or wary too much from their set diet. .
  • Stick to small portions — Keep the amount of watermelon you give your cat to a minimum. A few bite-sized pieces worth is fine, but more than that can result in indigestion and diarrhea even in healthy cats.
  • Give them fresh seedless watermelon — If you wouldn’t eat the watermelon, you should definitely not give it to your cat. Look out for discoloration or a sour smell and toss any watermelon past its prime.
  • Cut away the rind and seeds — To prevent choking, take time to trim away the green rind and all the seeds, even the little underdeveloped ones.
  • Observe — Watch over your cat after they eat watermelon to make sure they don’t experience any adverse effects, including food sensitivities or allergies.  Contact your vet immediately if your cat shows any worrying reactions.

Other snack options for cats 

Even though watermelon is fairly safe for kitty consumption, there are plenty of better options out there that are both healthier and also more appealing to your cat.

  • Cat treats. As you would expect, vet-approved, specially formulated cat treats are the best option. These treats are made with a cat’s dietary needs and abilities in mind, which means you don’t need to worry. As with any treat, commercial cat treats should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s diet.
  • Fish. Salmon and tuna are great for humans and cats alike. In addition to being excellent sources of protein and omega-3 fats, they have potassium that your cat can actually digest. Just don’t use this as a meal replacement because these rich foods can easily lead to obesity.
  • Meat. Unseasoned and cooked lean beef and chicken promote the production of essential antioxidants in cats and can make for wonderful treats in moderation. Aim for organic options, though, since factory farm meats can contain hormones and chemicals that may be detrimental to your cat. Make sure to remove all bones before feeding meat to your cat, as they pose a potential choking hazard.
  • Eggs. Fully-cooked boiled or scrambled eggs are a safe, healthy treat for cats, containing antioxidants and several amino acids needed to build essential proteins in the body. Cats can also absorb the nutrients in eggs, an animal product, more easily than they could from plants. Just like with meat, avoid seasoning and limit additives like butter.
  • Pumpkin and squash. Pumpkin and squash are safer plant sources of fiber that promote a healthy digestive system and prevent constipation in cats. These gourds are also high in vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta carotene, and they also help overweight cats feel full without all the extra calories.
A person feeding a white and black cat

Frequently asked questions

Are fruits toxic to cats?

Watermelon is fairly safe for cats, but grapes can lead to kidney disease. Citrus fruits are also toxic to cats.

Why does my cat like watermelon?

Between the high water content and the overall texture, your cat might just like the experience of eating the fruit rather than the taste.

Why does my cat hate watermelon?

Watermelon is very much not part of a cat’s regular diet, and the fruit offers very little nutrients that your cat can actually use.

Is it OK for my cat to lick watermelon?

As long as your cat doesn’t have any problems with sugar, licking watermelon is completely safe. Just make sure they don’t accidentally lap up a seed.