Delicious, mouthwatering, sweet. Those are just a few words that describe strawberries. Strawberries are a rich source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, and are a favorite in many homes. Its norm for pet keepers to share their delicacies with their furry friends. But is it safe for cats to eat strawberries? And which fruits can cats eat? Read on to find out.
Are Strawberries Safe for Cats?
Generally, strawberries aren’t toxic to cats. So, yes, cats can eat strawberries. However, you should practice caution when feeding your feline strawberries. Keep in mind cats are carnivorous in nature, meaning their digestive systems are designed to absorb animal protein.
Their gastrointestinal tracts have adapted to digesting fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Although most commercial cat foods contain these food types, it’s generally not recommended as part of a carnivorous feline diet.
So, in most cases, your cat won’t even be interested in eating strawberries. But, if your cat is curious and is trying to take a bite at these scrumptious fruits, giving the cat too much of the fruit may cause digestive issues due to the excess sugar they contain.
You see, cats don’t digest sugar the same way humans do. Plus, they don’t have sweet taste receptors, meaning they can’t taste the sweetness of strawberries. Since they don’t even have the enzymes necessary to digest, strawberries should only be considered an occasional treat rather than a routine diet.
How to Safely Feed Your Cat Strawberries
Cats are curious animals, and they might want to sample some of the food you’re eating. If the cat eats a strawberry slice by itself, it should be fine. Just keep in mind that treats should only make up 10 percent or less of your cat’s daily calories.
You should also keep in mind that cats’ digestive systems are different, and introducing them to new diets might cause diarrhea, stomach upset, or vomiting. There’s also the potential of an allergic reaction.
If your cat has shown some real interest in strawberries, be sure to prepare them well, so they are safe for cats to eat:
- The first step is to wash the strawberries thoroughly to get rid of all the pesticides or fertilizers.
- Remove the stems and leaves since they may be a choking hazard.
- Cut the berries into small bite-size pieces, like the size of your cat’s kibble, and offer one to your cat.
Don’t be surprised if the cat turns away after giving them the strawberry despite all the interest. It might take some getting used to. If it goes ahead and eats them, observe the cat for any allergic reactions. The rule of thumb is to feed your cat strawberries in moderation.
You want to stick to farm-fresh strawberries. Processed strawberries like in jam, ice cream, syrups, or strawberry yogurt should be avoided at total costs. They may contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol that can be toxic to your cat.
What Is the Nutritional Value of Strawberries to Cats?
Despite strawberries packing plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants, cats don’t receive any nutritional value since they can’t digest them. On a positive note, strawberries are water-packed, which can help your cat stay hydrated.
Side Effects of Cats Eating Strawberries
It’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian before introducing new diets to your pets. If you give your cat strawberries and notice any of these symptoms, you may need to check in with your vet right away:
- Stomach upset or vomiting
- Excess thirst
- Frequent urination
- Reduced appetite
- Inability to jump
On top of that, your cat may have the following allergic reactions:
- Itchy, watery eyes and nose
- Coughing or wheezing
- Sneezing and runny nose
What Fruits Are Toxic to Cats?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), these fruits can be harmful to cats, and you’ll want to keep them away from your cat:
- Citrus. All kinds of citrus fruits contain some level of citric acid which can cause stomach upsets and issues to your cat’s central nervous system.
- Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure, and it’s best to avoid giving them to your cat.
- Coconut. If ingested in large amounts, the oil contained in coconut flesh and skin can cause stomach upset or diarrhea. Coconut water has high levels of potassium and shouldn’t be given to your pets.
Alternative Healthy Snacks to Feed Your Cat
If you want to treat your cat to some healthy snacks beyond the regular dry cat food, you can try a variety of vegetables. However, not all will eat them. The ASPCA recommends giving these veggies to your cat:
- Green bell pepper
Don’t forget that cats are carnivorous and will miss out on vital nutrients if you replace their diet with veggies. Treats should only make a small part of their daily intake, and you should prioritize balanced diets.