Watermelon is a favorite summertime treat by many, and it's for good reasons too. Kids love it, pet parents love it, everyone loves consuming watermelon in the hot summer months, and dogs can eat it, too. Oddly, cats seem to enjoy stealing watermelon bites when they can, and don't be surprised if your cat turns her nose up at your offering. As pet owners may wonder, is watermelon safe for cats to eat? Does it pose any problems? Is watermelon good for my cat?
Can Cats Eat Watermelon?
Yes, cats can eat watermelon. This human food is considered non-toxic and generally safe for cats to eat, and there are even some health benefits. However, if your cats enjoy the taste of watermelon, there are a few precautionary considerations you should keep in mind. And remember, a properly formulated cat food should always form the bulk of your cat's daily caloric intake, as cat food provides essential nutrients for cats.
Health Benefits of Feed Your Cat Watermelon
Watermelon is a nutrient-rich fruit. Although cats and humans don't share the same dietary requirements, watermelon is a healthy treat to add to your cat's diet occasionally. Let's take a look at some of the nutritional benefits of watermelon.
The red of watermelon is due to high levels of lycopene, and this compound can decrease blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease. It is a powerful antioxidant that is currently being studied for its ability to build up enzymes that break down cancer growth.
Vitamins and Minerals
Watermelon is full of a long list of vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A particularly guards against macular degeneration. Cats frequently struggle with eye diseases, and vitamin A can be a great preventative nutrient.
Well known for its immune-boosting properties, vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant.
Vitamins B1 and B6
These B vitamins help with hormone health, carbohydrate digestion, and brain development. Even though cats don't consume traditional carbohydrates, they still eat them in limited quantities to thrive.
Potassium is necessary for nerve signals and muscle function. Severe depletion can cause muscle weakness.
Magnesium also supports nerve and muscle health and balances blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
You wouldn't think of watermelon as having notable levels of fatty acids, but they do! Watermelon contains five different unsaturated fatty acids, necessary for healthy brains and nerves.
Watermelon flesh is made up of 92% water! Eating watermelon is incredibly hydrating, particularly on a hot summer day.
Watermelon contains a significant amount of dietary fiber, which can help your cat's digestive system.
The Downside Of Cats Eating Watermelon
Watermelon isn't toxic to cats, but there are some considerations you should keep in mind. Remember - watermelon is not essential to a cat's diet. It would be better not to feed your cat watermelon than to risk any concerns listed below.
While watermelon is great hydrating food, all of that hydration can create a false sense of fullness. In humans, that can be a great hydrating and weight-loss food. But cats are obligate carnivores, and they require a much higher quantity of protein than most other mammals. If your feline friend overeats watermelon, it will likely impair your cat's meat consumption or other high-quality cat food. Without enough meat in their diet, cats suffer from severe health issues.
If your cat doesn't like to drink water, it may seem like a good idea to feed your cat watermelon or other foods that contain high water content. However, you may want to switch your cat to a wet food diet instead.
High Sugar Content
Watermelon is high in carbohydrates and natural sugar. Therefore, you should never feed it in large quantities. Cats don't share the same nutrient requirements as humans, and they don't require carbohydrates for energy as humans do, so it sits unused in their bodies. Unused carbohydrates break down into sugar, and watermelon already has high levels of natural sugar. All of this sugar can spell trouble for many cats.
While cats can eat watermelon, the high sugar content can simply lead to digestive issues, such as stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. Or, it can lead to more severe conditions - weight gain, diabetes, and obesity. Diabetic cats should not be fed watermelon. Not sure if your cat has diabetes? Look for these symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Inability to jump
- Constant urination
Cats aren't designed to eat human foods, and it's not uncommon for cats to have allergic or adverse reactions when fed new foods outside of their normal diet. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any adverse reactions after feeding your cat watermelon. Thankfully, allergic reactions to watermelon are typically more uncomfortable than dangerous.
Watermelon seeds can be a choking hazard for small cat breeds. The seeds are too small to bite or chew, so they are swallowed as a whole effectively, which can be a choking hazard to small cat breeds.
How Much Watermelon To Feed Your Cat?
Even though watermelon is not toxic for your feline friend, it should only be given as an occasional treat and only in moderate amounts. To determine how much watermelon to feed your feline friends will require a little math. Treats are not part of a complete and balanced diet, and therefore, they should never make up a significant portion of their daily intake. Snacks shouldn't account for more than 10 percent of your cat's daily caloric intake. If you replace full meals with human food, they will miss vital nutrients.
The best way to determine how much watermelon to feed your cat is to consult with your vet first. Depending on your cat's health conditions and weight, your vet can guide you on how much watermelon is safe for your cat to consume.
What Is The Best Way To Serve Your Cat Watermelon?
To safely feed watermelon to your cat, wash your watermelon thoroughly with water. Then, cut a small wedge into bite-sized pieces, being sure to remove both the rind and the seeds, to avoid choking hazards. Remember that watermelon should be an occasional treat only. A particularly refreshing way to serve watermelon to your cat is by taking the pieces and freezing them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Cats Eat Watermelon Rind?
None of the nutritional benefits outlined above are found in watermelon rinds, so there's really no reason to feed them to your cat. The rinds are also difficult to chew, which means that watermelon rinds can easily become a choking hazard or lead to intestinal blockages. It's important to completely remove the rind before serving watermelon to your feline friend.
Can Cats Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Watermelon seeds contain cyanide, which is incredibly dangerous to cats and humans alike. A couple of seeds aren't going to pose any sort of threat to humans since we are so much larger than cats. However, they can really upset the digestive systems of cats.
Can Kittens Eat Watermelon?
Technically, yes. However, because a kitten's body is smaller, its digestive system is more easily disturbed. Kittens are also more liable to choking on seeds. It's best to avoid feeding watermelon to kittens. If you are concerned that your kitten isn't drinking enough water, consider feeding them wet kitten food.
Can Cats Eat Other Fruits?
To begin with, your cat probably won't want to. Cats seem to enjoy watermelon but avoid many other fruits. This is just as well, as all fruits are high in sugar, and some fruits pose additional problems.
- Citrus fruits contain citric acid, which causes problems ranging from stomach upset to serious negative impacts on your cat's central nervous system.
- Coconut and coconut oil both lead to a significantly upset stomach.
- Raisins, grapes, and currants should all be avoided outright, as they're toxic to cats.
What Are Some Options For Healthy Cat Treats?
Watermelon may not be the best treatment for your cat's digestive system, but there are other healthy treats to consider—vegetables in particular offer many additional health benefits. Try celery, zucchini, green bell peppers, carrots, peas, and pumpkin. But don't be disheartened if your cat isn't interested. Cats are carnivores and don't need watermelon or vegetables to live a happy and healthy life.
Can Diabetic Cats Eat Watermelon?
No. Like humans with diabetes, a cat with diabetes should not eat watermelon due to its high natural sugar content.