Can cats eat strawberries? Sweet, juicy strawberries are a summer favorite on many tables. We love them and love sharing food with our furry friends. Dogs can eat strawberries, so can cats eat strawberries and enjoy the health benefits of these sweet berries too?
The short answer is yes, your cat can eat them as strawberries are non-toxic to your cat. The bigger question is: what are the health benefits for your cat from eating them? To answer that, we need to examine the cat’s digestive system and nutritional needs.
Can Cats Eat Strawberries?
The short answer is that cats can eat strawberries! However, strawberries cannot replace a balanced diet and should be considered an additional treat rather than part of a cat’s daily diet. Without meat and plenty of vitamins and minerals in the right proportions, cats can become very ill. As obligate carnivores, a meat-based diet for cats is a must.
On average, a cat should only consume about 10 percent of its total diet as other foods in addition to its balanced cat food. For example, eating strawberries as 10 percent of a cat’s diet would equate to about 1 tablespoon of strawberries per day.
Are Strawberries Good for Cats – Can Cats Eat Strawberries?
There is no evidence that cats benefit from strawberries specifically. However, several studies show benefits for a variety of other species, particularly humans. Research shows that strawberries:
- Are there any vitamins, antioxidants, and polyphenols that are known to reverse cell damage due to aging and other factors?
- Are associated with a reduced risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Help maintain stable blood sugar (blood sugar) levels.
- Animals fed strawberries (2 percent of their diet) showed better motor skills and increased cognition, or the mental ability to reason.
- May protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and neurological disorders (diseases of the brain and/or nerves).
Are Strawberries Bad For Cats?
Strawberries are not toxic to cats. Strawberry allergies are suspected in both dogs and cats, but not proven. Cats allergic to birch and alder pollen may be allergic to strawberries, so cats with a history of allergies should be monitored for increased itching after feeding strawberries.
Strawberries are high in sugar and should never be fed more than 10 percent of the diet. The high sugar content can lead to obesity, which has been linked to diabetes and many other health problems in cats.
In addition, strawberries are one of the crops most heavily contaminated with pesticides. There have been no reports of poisoning from animals that react to strawberries containing pesticides. However, due to the high potential for contamination, it is wise to limit the number of strawberries fed to your cat.
Do cats like strawberries?
Individual cats vary in whether or not they like the taste of strawberries. Most people like strawberries for their sweetness, but cats can’t taste sweet things – they lack the sweet taste receptor! The sharpness and texture may appeal to some cats and not to others.
Pet parents can feed their cats strawberries daily as long as they don’t show symptoms of an upset stomach and 90 percent of their diet consists of a balanced cat diet. Any weight gain by your cat should be taken seriously and lower sugar treats should be considered.
Now let’s look at strawberries.
Health Benefits of Strawberries
For humans and dogs, strawberries offer amazing health benefits. They’re packed with powerful antioxidants that boost our immune systems, sugar, fiber, and even malic acid, which can whiten teeth! Strawberries are low in calories, moderate in sugar, and contain important vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B6, and C as well as manganese, folic acid, potassium, and magnesium, all of which are important for our nervous system. But for cats, it’s a different story.
Cats only benefit from the fiber found in strawberries as they lack the enzymes needed to digest and absorb nutrients from plants. They also don’t have sweet taste receptors and can’t taste the juicy sweetness of the strawberry like we humans or a dog can.
Many cats have unusual taste preferences and will want to taste your food, even if they are on a balanced diet. Strawberries aren’t poisonous, so it’s okay to offer your cat a small piece of your strawberry. However, given their specific nutritional needs, your cat will thrive on commercial cat food formulated by a certified feline nutritionist and cat treats designed to meet their nutritional needs.
Most cats will turn away from plant-based foods like strawberries because they can’t enjoy the taste, but your cat may be the exception! If your cat seems to want a bite of strawberries, this is the best way to give her a tasty bite.
How to serve strawberries to your cat
Before offering your cat a piece of your strawberry, check with your veterinarian to make sure there aren’t any health conditions that could make ingesting the strawberry a health risk.
Once you get the green light, wash the strawberries to remove any pesticides or fertilizers, then remove the stems and leaves. Strawberry leaves and stems can pose a choking hazard.
Cut the berries into small pieces (about the size of your cat’s kibble) and offer one to your cat. Remember that even if your cat enjoys eating strawberries, it may turn away if given the opportunity. The thought counts, right?
While fresh strawberries are safe, you should avoid any processed strawberries in strawberry jam, syrup, ice cream, and even strawberry yogurt. These products may contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can be fatal to your cat if ingested.
If your cat eats strawberries, be aware of common side effects that occur when cats eat new foods. Let’s look at those now.
Risks when cats eat strawberries
If your cat is overweight or has diabetes, avoid strawberries as they contain too much sugar. Eating too much sugar can spike your cat’s blood sugar and cause serious health problems. This is another good reason to check with your vet before offering your cat any human food.
In addition, large amounts of carbohydrates can cause problems for a cat’s digestive system. They can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, or loss of appetite in a cat. If you notice any of these symptoms, a visit to your veterinarian may be necessary.
Diabetes is another condition that can develop if your cat is fed the wrong diet. Your cat can gain weight if they eat too many treats or too much food. In this case, you should consult your veterinarian.
Signs of diabetes are:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to jump
- Vomiting or upset stomach
Allergies are rare but can occur when cats eat new food. The signs of an allergic reaction appear soon after ingestion and include:
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Coughing or wheezing
- Itchy, watery eyes and/or nose
- To throw up
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. Keep in mind that this is not common, but you should know what to look out for when introducing new foods to your cat.
FAQ – Can Cats Eat Strawberries
Can Cats Eat Strawberries Leaves?
Yes! Strawberries and their leaves are not poisonous to cats. However, eating the stems and leaves can cause gastrointestinal upsets like vomiting, so it’s a good idea to monitor your cat for signs of stress when eating strawberry leaves.
Can Cats Eat Strawberries yogurt?
Yogurt can be fed to cats, but stomach upset is a relatively common result. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt can cause stomach upset, including vomiting and diarrhea, because cats don’t have many enzymes to break down lactose.
Plain yogurt is preferred over strawberry-flavored yogurt because the sugar content in plain yogurt should be lower. Cats do not need additional sugar in their diet.
A possible difference between strawberry yogurt and regular yogurt can be the xylitol content. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener instead of sugar. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Animal Poison Control hasn’t received any reports of feline toxicity for artificial sweeteners, but pet owners should still exercise caution, as xylitol is highly toxic to dogs. Toxicity is usually similar in dogs and cats.
Can Cats Eat Strawberries Ice Cream?
Ice cream is a dairy product and due to the lack of an enzyme to break down lactose, cats can develop gastrointestinal problems after eating strawberry ice cream. Ice cream is generally high in fat and sugar. Also, high-fat foods can lead to upset stomachs, as well as obesity, pancreatitis, and diabetes when fed in large quantities.
Strawberry ice cream is not toxic to cats, but it can upset the cat’s stomach and should only be fed occasionally or at all. Pet parents should avoid products that contain xylitol.
The Bottom Line On Can Cats Eat Strawberries
Yes, strawberries are delicious and you’re welcome to give your cat a little taste.
Make sure you follow the 90/10 rule of daily calorie intake if you have an adventurous cat that eats strawberries. 90% of your cat’s nutrition should come from their regular balanced cat food, while the remaining 10% can come from treats. Any more and your cat could become obese or have diabetes.
The bottom line is that cats do not need plant food and cannot process it either. So your cat may eat the strawberry, but a healthy snack like a commercial cat treat or a bite of unseasoned cooked meat may be a better choice for your cat’s overall health.