It's tempting to want to share a bite of your banana snack with your feline friend. Bananas are a healthy sweet treat for many humans, but as cat parents you may wonder, can they be safely shared with a cat? Can cats eat bananas? Below, we'll talk about if cats can eat bananas, what nutritional benefits bananas may offer, and how to serve bananas to your cat.
Can Cats Eat Bananas?
Yes, cats can eat bananas. Bananas are safe and non-toxic to cats. You can give a piece of banana as an occasional treat, but your cat's diet should consist of specially formulated food designed for cats. They offer a complete and balanced diet without needing additional food.
Not many cats will eat bananas as they are notoriously picky eaters. Most cats may even be scared of bananas. You may have seen funny videos where a cat gets terrified by a harmless banana because they dislike bananas' ethyl acetate odor.
Not all human food is safe for cats, so if you are going to introduce new human foods to your cat, check with your vet first. They will know the specific benefits and risks it may have on your cat's health and your cat's nutritional needs.
Health Benefits of Eating Bananas
Bananas are a densely packed nutrient powerhouse. Bananas are low in protein and completely free of fat, consisting almost completely of dietary fiber and carbohydrates.
The fiber in ripe bananas is a soluble fiber, which combines with a high amount of carbohydrates to create a sweet snack that won't spike blood sugar levels. They are also rich in potassium, a necessary mineral that functions as an electrolyte in supporting your nervous and muscular systems.
The Downside of Eating Bananas
Despite all of the nutritional benefits of bananas, cats are obligate carnivores, and this means that the vast majority of a cat's diet should consist of meat proteins.
Cats don't just prefer meat - they require it. Cats also simply don't have the same nutrient requirements as humans do. They don't have a digestive system that can efficiently break down and process carbohydrates, even if paired with soluble fiber. Cats can obtain all of their nutrients from a protein-rich diet.
Too Much Sugar
Overeating sugar is arguably more dangerous for cats than it is for humans. Cats are meant to run on meat, so they don't have the enzymes required to digest plant-based foods. Sugar and carbohydrates should never make up more than 2% of a cat's diet. Otherwise, your pet can quickly spiral into such issues as feline obesity, tooth decay, weight gain, and diabetes. One banana now and then isn't a cause for concern, but keep an eye out for these diabetes symptoms:
Inability to jump
Too Much Potassium
Bananas are high in potassium. Potassium is necessary for a healthy nervous system, but an overabundance of potassium in a cat's diet can lead to hyperkalemia. This means that the cat's blood becomes too acidic, directly impacting their heart health.
Too Much Fiber
The soluble fiber in ripe bananas pairs uniquely with its high carbohydrate content. However, since cats can't digest the carbohydrates, they will only absorb the fiber. Fiber is beneficial for humans in regulating their digestive processes, but cats don't need fiber the same way that humans do. The fiber in bananas can quickly cause stool to back up in your cat's digestive system.
Allergies aren't very common but can happen when a cat eats a banana or any human food. Still, cats aren't meant to eat bananas as part of their natural diet. This means that introducing food that is strange to their digestive system, such as bananas, can trigger an allergic reaction. If you've never fed bananas to your cat before, keep an eye out for these symptoms:
If your cat is experiencing an adverse reaction, call your vet immediately.
Lack Of Enzymes
Cats lack the enzymes required for digesting and processing plant-based foods, and their diet should not exceed 2% of carbohydrates or sugar. Because they may not be able to process or digest bananas, they can experience digestive issues like vomiting, gas, gastrointestinal upset, or abdominal pain.
How To Safely Feed Bananas To Cats
Since bananas aren't toxic and pose no problem when eaten in moderation, you may wonder how to go about feeding them to your cat in a safe way.
Be sure to peel the bananas. The peel is inedible, becomes a significant choking hazard, and causes digestive upset if swallowed.
Cut the banana into bite-sized pieces, about the size of a piece of dry cat food. You can also mush it into a puree and thin out the consistency with water.
Moderation Is Key
Perhaps the more important question about feeding your cat bananas isn't "how" but "how many." Most veterinarians suggest that treats should never account for more than 5 to 10% of your cat's daily calories. As far as fruit goes, bananas are very high in calories, and eating a whole banana would completely go over both their daily limit of treat calories and carbohydrate calories. A small slice is ample.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Cats Like Bananas?
Quite possibly not. Cats do not have sweet taste receptors, so they can't taste sweetness! This is what makes cats "picky eaters" - they simply can't pick up on the flavors in various foods and are therefore happy just to eat meat.
Some cats seem even to be scared of bananas. Some scientists believe this is because bananas produce a gas called ethyl acetate, which has an odor that is strong and repulsive to cats. It's an old trick to prevent cats from clawing furniture by rubbing banana peels on them, thereby covering them in that scent.
What Are Some Alternative Healthy Snacks?
It's natural to want to give your furry friend a special treat on occasion. There are many different human foods that make great cat treats while supporting a balanced diet. These include cooked meats (particularly oily fish!), rice, carrots, and cheese (in small amounts).
What Other Fruits Can Cats Eat?
All fruits have natural sugar and should only be fed to your cat in moderation. However, berries are lower in sugar than many other fruits and are safe to feed your cat as an infrequent, healthy snack. Learn, can cats eat watermelon?
However, pet parents should be aware that some fruits are harmful to cats and should be avoided. These include grapes, raisins, currants, and all citrus fruits.
Can Kittens Eat Bananas?
During the first year of a kitten's life, they need specially formulated food to support their growth and development. After 12 months, a kitten can eat bananas as small treats. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian before introducing new foods to your cat.