- Cats can technically eat some fruits — While cats are considered obligate carnivores, there are some plant-based foods they can safely digest.
- Cats aren’t usually interested in eating fruit — Since cats don’t have the taste buds necessary to taste sweetness, they aren’t typically interested in foods like fruit.
- Only feed cats fruit in moderation — Never feed your cat more than a few bites of fruit at a time, and make sure the bulk of their nutrition comes from a meat-based diet.
Ever bite into a mouthwatering piece of fruit and wondered if you could share some with your cat? Depending on the type of fruit, you may be able to treat your kitty to an edible experience outside their usual cat food and treats. But just because cats can safely eat some fruits doesn’t mean they necessarily should or that they’d even enjoy the experience. Consult a vet before introducing any human food into your cat’s diet, and make sure you choose a high-quality dog food that provides all the nutrients they need to thrive.
Should cats eat fruit?
Cats are obligate carnivores whose bodies require the nutrients found in meat to function properly. Their digestive systems cannot process many plant-based human foods, but they can enjoy some fruits and vegetables in small amounts on occasion.
Only feed your cat fruit if they seem curious about trying it. Cats don’t have the taste bud receptors required to taste the sweetness in foods like fruit, and many won’t be interested in the flavor. However, some cats are drawn to certain fruits because they enjoy the texture.
As long as you stick to small pieces of safe fruits, your cat should be okay to enjoy a little every now and then. Make sure to follow your vet’s instructions for introducing the new food to make sure you’re not doing anything that may be detrimental to your cat’s health.
Importance of moderation
As a general rule, fruit should only be given as an occasional treat and be no more than 10% of a cat’s total diet. Fruits are high in sugar, which can cause mild to severe vomiting, diarrhea, and discomfort in cats if eaten in excess. If it becomes a recurring problem, sugar consumption can lead to long-term issues like dental erosion, weight gain, and feline diabetes.
👉 Speak with your vet to determine the best diet for your cat’s specific health needs.
If you are thinking of feeding fruit to your cat, it’s important to take the necessary precautions beforehand to make sure you’re doing so as safely as possible. These include:
- Do your research. Before feeding fruit to your cat, you need to make sure it’s safe for them to eat. The best way to do this is by consulting your vet, but lots of articles online (like this one!) can give you a good idea of what is and isn’t safe to feed your pets.
- Wash the fruit before eating. Whether you’re preparing it for yourself or your cat, it’s a good idea to thoroughly rinse off a piece of fruit before consuming it. This washes off the dirt and any potentially harmful pesticides on the surface.
- Cut it up. Always cut fruit into small, bite-sized pieces before feeding it to your cat to eliminate the risk of potential choking hazards. You should also use this opportunity to remove any stems and seeds from the fruit.
List of safe fruits for cats
When served correctly, these are a few of the fruits safe for cats to enjoy in moderation. Pet parents interested in treating their cat to a little fruit can use this list as a good jumping-off point!
Apples are rich in fibers and essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and pectin. Cats can’t absorb these quite the same as dogs or humans since they’re obligate carnivores, but they can still get some of the benefits by eating small quantities of apple flesh.
To safely feed apples to your cat, wash, peel, and core the fruit before cutting the remaining flesh up into bite-size pieces. Peeled apples are easier to digest and pose less of a choking hazard. You should also avoid feeding your cat the seeds, stem, or leaves of an apple, as these parts contain a toxic substance called amygdalin, which releases a small amount of cyanide into the bloodstream when ingested.
Bananas are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and fibers that promote a well-functioning digestive system. As is the case with all plant-based foods, cats don’t necessarily need bananas in their diet — but a small piece every now and then shouldn’t hurt them.
Feed your cat fresh or frozen banana by peeling the fruit and cutting it up into thin, digestible slices. Alternatively, you can try mashing the banana and putting a small amount on top of their normal cat food. Just be careful not to give your cat too much banana, as the fruit’s high sugar content can contribute to long-term issues like weight gain and diabetes.
Blueberries make a healthy treat for both cats and humans, with high concentrations of essential antioxidants, flavonoids (which lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease), fibers, and vitamins A, C, K, and E. While carnivorous cats won’t get quite as many benefits from eating berries, research suggests the antioxidants may still prove beneficial in boosting their immune system and joint health.
Wash your blueberries before feeding them to your cat to remove unwanted dirt and pesticides. Then cut each berry in half, giving your cat a nice long opportunity to smell and inspect it. We recommend mashing the berries into a paste and putting a little bit on top of your cat’s regular food, but you can also try giving them half of a sliced berry to see if they like the texture.
Pears are a safe fruit for cats loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, and copper, which promotes increased energy and blood circulation. Pear is also a low-calorie fruit, which makes it an excellent substitute for standard treats for cats that need to lose weight.
To safely feed pear to your cat, start by washing and peeling it. Toss out the stem, seeds, and any leaves that may be attached, and cut the fruit into tiny pieces similar to your cat’s kibble in size. One tablespoon is usually more than enough for an average-sized cat, and you can feed it to them either fresh or cooked.
Watermelon is a good source of potassium, vitamin C, dietary fibers that support a healthy digestive system, and of course, water! On a hot summer day, the high water content in watermelon can be a great way to keep your cat cool, hydrated, and happy. Healthy adult cats usually have no trouble digesting the occasional piece of watermelon or two, so long as you avoid feeding them the rind or seeds, which can trigger diarrhea and other intestinal distress if eaten in large quantities.
If you are going to feed your cat watermelon, stick to small pieces of fresh, seedless flesh; toss out any discolored or funny-smelling pieces. To minimize the risk of choking, you should also take the time to trim away the green rind and all visible seeds, including the smaller underdeveloped ones.
👉 Never force new foods on your cat. If they seem uninterested in a particular fruit, let them be, and don’t make them eat it!
Potential risks and hazards
While these fruits are all technically safe for cats to eat, none of them are essential to a cat’s well-being. Eating any fruit exposes cats to potential hazards including:
- Sugar. Cats have trouble digesting sugars and other carbohydrates since their digestive systems are specifically designed to break down animal proteins. The sugars in fruit can trigger upset stomach, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues in cats.
- Toxins. The seeds, stems, and leaves of many fruits contain small amounts of cyanide. This is true for any fruit — even the ones whose flesh is deemed technically safe for cats to ingest.
- Choking hazards. Fruit seeds not only contain known toxins, they also pose a potential choking hazard for cats. Additionally, rinds and other hard-to-digest parts of a fruit can block up a cat’s digestive system and trigger stomach upset and other gastrointestinal issues.
🚨 Seek immediate veterinary care if your cat is choking. In emergency situations, you can also try performing CPR.
Fruits that are unsuitable for cats
The following fruits are generally considered unsafe for feline consumption. While some fruits like cherries and tomatoes may be safe for cats to eat under the right circumstances, we’d still advise against them given the potential risks they pose.
Citrus fruits. Fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes contain high levels of citric acid, as well as essential oils like limonene and linalool, all of which are known irritants to a cat’s digestive system. While citrus poisoning is rarely fatal, affected cats may still experience symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and weakness.
Grapes and raisins. Every variety of grape or raisin is poisonous to cats, as is grape juice. Not only can grapes and raisins trigger serious gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, they can also lead to life-threatening conditions like kidney failure. Scientists don’t exactly know why grapes are toxic to cats, though some speculate their toxicity is tied to their tartaric acid content.
Avocados. Avocados contain a known toxin to cats called persin, a fungal compound that can cause fluids to accumulate in the lungs, chest, heart, pancreas, and abdomen, resulting in difficulty breathing and other health problems. Avocados also contain high levels of fat that can contribute to conditions like pancreatitis in cats.
Cherries. The ripened flesh of a cherry is technically safe for cats to eat, but unripe cherries, as well as cherry pits, stems, and leaves, are all toxic to cats. This is largely due to the presence of cyanide in cherries (especially in the pit). Adverse reactions to cherry consumption typically result in symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, muscle spasms, shock, and collapse.
Tomatoes. While cats can technically eat small amounts of ripe, red tomatoes, they can’t consume unripe green tomatoes or the leaves and stems of tomato plants. Cats who eat unripe tomatoes may experience gastrointestinal upset characterized by vomiting and diarrhea, as well as lack of energy (lethargy), weakness, and confusion.
Symptoms of poisoning or toxicity
Regardless of which fruit your cat has eaten, most cases of poisoning tend to produce a similar set of symptoms. Be on the lookout for these signs if you suspect your cat has eaten an unsafe fruit, and contact your vet immediately if you spot any.
- Refusal of food
- Pale gums and tongue
- Swollen tongue
- Abdominal pain
Dr. Dwight Alleyne
Common symptoms you may see if a cat has ingested a toxic fruit may include dilated eyes, excessive salivation, lethargy, vomiting, shaking, and an unsteady walk.
Frequently asked questions
What is a cat’s favorite fruit?
Since cats lack the receptors necessary to taste sweetness, they don’t normally have one “favorite” fruit. However, many cats prefer the texture of fruits like melon, banana, and berries over other fruits.
Can cats eat berries?
In most cases, yes. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries are all safe for cats to eat in moderation. All of these fruits are high in antioxidants, fiber, and other essential vitamins including vitamin A, C, K, and E. However, they’re all pretty high in sugar, too — so make sure you don’t give your cat too many.
Are there any fruits that are potentially harmful or toxic to cats?
Yes. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are mildly toxic to cats and can result in gastrointestinal upset consumed in even small amounts. Grapes, raisins, avocados, cherries, and tomatoes are similarly unsuitable for feline consumption, and can result in serious conditions like kidney disease and organ failure in severe cases.
Can cats derive any health benefits from consuming fruits?
Cats’ digestive systems are specifically designed to absorb all the nutrients they need from protein sources like meat, fish, turkey, and chicken. They’re not designed to metabolize fruits, but they may still be able to absorb some of the vitamins and nutrients inside (just not as many as an omnivorous human could).
Do cats in the wild ever eat fruit?
SInce all cats are obligate carnivores, wild cats aren’t generally known to eat anything other than animal proteins. In rare cases, an extremely hungry wild cat may attempt eating a piece of fruit if there are no suitable food sources within reach.