Strawberries are delicious and healthy summer fruits that are loved by many, and it's for good reasons too. As pet parents, you may wonder, is it okay to share one with your cat? Can cats eat strawberries? Keep reading to find out if strawberries are safe for cats, what nutritional benefits they might offer, and how to best feed them to your pet.
Can Cats Eat Strawberries?
Yes, cats can eat strawberries, and they are not toxic to cats. Most cats will turn away from human food like strawberries, but they should only be offered as an occasional treat if your cat likes strawberries. You should keep in mind a few precautions if your cat eats strawberries.
Health Benefits of Eating Strawberries
Strawberries are full of vitamins and minerals that are highly beneficial to humans. Some of these are vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Eating strawberries can help regulate your blood pressure, boost your immune system, reduce any inflammation, and even fight cancer!
Nutritional Benefit Limits
However - despite all of these health benefits, most of these nutrients aren't accessible to cats. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that the vast majority of a cat's diet should consist of meat proteins. Cats can obtain all of their nutrients from a protein-rich diet. They may benefit slightly from the fiber and extra hydration, but your cat would have to eat a large number of strawberries to get any benefit from the vitamins and minerals truly. At that point, any gain would be offset by the high amount of natural sugars consumed.
The Downside of Eating Strawberries
Strawberries may be nutrient-dense, but they are also high in sugar content. And, every time a cat eats a strawberry instead of meat or well-formulated cat food, it is losing out on the protein it requires. However, there is no harm in your cat eating one or two once in a while.
Too Much Sugar
Consuming too much sugar isn't good for humans, and it's particularly terrible for cats. Cats are meant to run on meat, and a cat's digestive system isn't meant to break down sugars and carbohydrates. Because of this, sugar in a cat's diet can easily lead to a spiral of problems, starting with general digestive upset and ending with feline obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes. One strawberry now and then isn't a cause for concern, but keep an eye out for these diabetes symptoms:
Inability to jump
Too Much Potassium
Strawberries are high in potassium. Potassium is essential for a healthy nervous system, but an overabundance of potassium can lead to hyperkalemia. This means that the cat's blood becomes too acidic, directly impacting their heart health.
If you've never fed strawberries to your cat before, keep an eye out for an allergic reaction. It's not common for cats to have allergies to strawberries, but it does happen sometimes. Symptoms include:
What Is The Best Way To Feed Your Cat Strawberries?
Since strawberries aren't toxic and pose no problem when eaten in moderation, you may wonder how to feed strawberries to your cat safely.
Be sure to cut off all of the strawberry leaves and stems. The strawberry itself is safe for cats, but the leaves and stems can cause skin irritation and sneezing.
Wash and rinse the strawberries. Likely, they have been sprayed with pesticides. You wouldn't eat an unwashed strawberry, and neither should your cat. Pesticide poisoning can lead to considerable gastrointestinal upset.
Cut the strawberry into small pieces, about the size of a piece of cat's kibble.
Moderation Is Key
Perhaps the more important question about feeding your cat strawberries isn't "how" but "how many." As mentioned many times, cats are strict carnivores, and they don't just have a preference for eating mainly meat - they require it. Most veterinarians suggest that treats should never account for more than 5 to 10% of your cat's daily calories.
If cats eat too many strawberries, it can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Cats Like Strawberries?
Most cats won't be interested in eating strawberries—however, some may be interested due to curiosity. Cats do not have sweet taste receptors, and they can't taste sweetness! This makes cats "picky eaters" - they simply can't pick up on the flavors in various foods and are therefore happy just to eat meat.
What Are Some Alternative Healthy Snacks?
It's natural to want to give your furry friend a special treat on occasion. Many different human foods make great cat treats while supporting a balanced diet. These include cooked meats (particularly oily fish!), rice, carrots, and cheese (in small amounts).
What Are 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. Watermelon and apples are also good sweet fruit options for cats.
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 Cats Eat Strawberry Yogurt And Other Products?
Just because strawberries won't negatively impact your cat's health does not mean that a wide variety of strawberry products are now on the table. Many strawberry products, such as strawberry ice cream, strawberry yogurt, and strawberry jam, are filled with additional sugar, and even canned strawberries have more artificial sweeteners added to them. All of these products should be avoided as they are likely to upset the cat's stomach and cause other health concerns.