Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they depend on meat and fat for their survival. Some carnivores such as canines and bears can also obtain nutrients from plants, however cats are hypercarnivores who require a diet of at least 70% meat. A cat’s digestive system has evolved to require a meat based diet, they cannot properly digest plants.
Cats may consume the occasional plant matter such as chewing on catnip, grass or vegetation in the stomach of prey (for those that hunt). Fruit and vegetables may contain micro-nutrients, but as a whole, are not necessary to include in your cat’s diet. Cats are unable to taste sweet stimuli.
Can cats eat fruit and vegetables?
Some fruit and vegetables are safe for cats to eat, but not all. They should only make up a small percentage of the cat’s diet to avoid nutritional imbalances. Most fruit is high in fructose (fruit sugar), which adds unnecessary calories to the cat’s diet.
Please bear in mind that this is not an endorsement for feeding fruit and vegetables to cats, even in small quantities. The purpose of this article is for pet owners to know if fruits and vegetables are a risk to cats if accidentally ingested.
Garlic, onion, leeks and chives are all toxic to cats. These plants contain organosulfides which causes Heinz body anemia, where the red blood cells are destroyed due to the formation of Heinz bodies.
The ripe fruit of apples is safe for cats to eat, however the seeds contain amygdalin, which breaks down into cyanide.
Avocado contains persin which can cause mild toxicity to cats. Symptoms relate to gastrointestinal disturbances.
The ripe fruit of bananas is safe for cats to eat.
Beetroot is safe for cats to eat. Be warned, beetroot can cause pigmentation of the urine (beeturia) and feces which resembles blood in the urine and/or stool.
Blueberries are safe for cats to eat.
Broccoli is safe for cats to eat.
Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, mandarines, limes etc.) contains psoralens which are mildly toxic to cats and can cause gastrointestinal disturbances. Cats show an aversion to tart tasting foods, and most will avoid citrus fruits.
The kernels of corn are safe for cats to eat. They can also eat air popped popcorn (minus the salt and butter).
Cucumber is safe for cats to eat.
I have been unable to verify from a reliable source if eggplant is toxic when cooked. Eggplants are a member of the nightshade family and contain solanine which is toxic to cats. I do not recommend eggplants for this reason.
Grapes and raisins are a known toxin to dogs, resulting in kidney failure. The compound remains unknown. There have been anecdotal cases of toxicity in cats, so it is recommended that cats don’t eat grapes and if they are consumed, seek veterinary advice.
Green beans are safe for cats to eat.
Kiwi fruit is safe for cats to eat.
The ripe fruit of mango is safe for cats to eat.
Ripe melon flesh is safe for cats to eat, remove the seeds first.
Peas are safe for cats to eat.
The fruit and leaves of pineapple are safe for cats to eat.
Cats can eat cooked potato in small amounts. All members of the nightshade family (which potatoes are a member of) contain solanine in different amounts. Avoid potatoes with green on the skin which contains the highest levels
Cooked pumpkin is safe for cats and can be used to treat mild cases of constipation and diarrhea.
All parts of the rhubarb plant are toxic to cats due to soluble calcium oxalate crystals. Leaves contain the highest amount, but they are also present in the stalks. Soluble calcium oxalate crystals can cause blood calcium levels to drop, and in rare cases, acute kidney failure.
The fruit of ripe cherries, plums, apricots, pears, nectarine is safe to eat, however the seeds/pips contain amygdalin, which breaks down into cyanide.
Also be aware that not only do the seeds cause toxicity, if enough are ingested, they also pose a choking risk or gastrointestinal obstruction.
Strawberries are safe for cats to eat.
Sweet potato is safe for cats to eat.
The leaves, stems and green fruit contain solanine which is toxic to cats and can cause gastrointestinal disturbances. The ripe fruit is non-toxic to cats.
Zucchini is safe for cats to eat.
Toxicity can range from mild to severe. How the cat is affected depends on the amount consumed, the degree of toxicity and the overall health of the cat.
If you are worried your cat has ingested a potentially toxic fruit or vegetable, seek veterinary advice or contact your local poisons helpline.