Can cats eat blueberries?
Cats can eat blueberries, these delightful berries are packed with antioxidants and nutrients which include folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and fibre.
A 100g serving of blueberries contains 57 calories, which makes them a great low-calorie snack.
Do cats need fruit in their diet?
No, cats do not need fruit in their diet, cats are obligate carnivores who must consume meat out of biological necessity as they are unable to manufacture (synthesise) essential nutrients and must get from food. It is not necessary for the cat to make these nutrients, as the animals they are eating have already done it for them and contain all the essential nutrients in their pre-formed state.
Most fruit will not harm a cat, but they have no nutritional requirements for fruit or vegetables in their diet. In the wild, cats will consume a small amount of vegetation via the stomach contents of their prey.
Why feed cats blueberries?
Blueberries are considered a superfood, they are packed with nutrients that provide several health benefits.
- Antioxidants may help protect cells against damage from free radicals.
- Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9 and plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair.
- Fibre increases the size and weight of the stool and softens it, making it easier to pass.
- Vitamin C is responsible for the proper functioning of the immune system, wound healing, maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth and absorption of iron.
- Vitamin K makes the proteins needed for proper blood clotting.
Some cats enjoy the taste of blueberries and pet owners may choose to feed them as a snack or treat. A punnet of blueberries may not be an issue for people to consume, but it is a lot for a cat and could potentially cause an upset stomach. Stick with 3-5 blueberries at a time and no more than 2-3 times a week.
Do all cats like blueberries?
No, each cat has his or her preferences and some are not interested in blueberries. Cats are strict carnivores, which means they must consume meat to survive. A mutation on one of the two genes responsible for tasting sweet (Tas1r2) has meant that the sweet receptor cannot be formed and cats can’t taste sweet. This is of no importance to an obligate carnivore, who eats a predominantly meat-only diet.
But why would a cat eat blueberries if they can’t taste sweet? This attraction may lie in the fact that many cats are neophilic, which means they are attracted to novel foods and textures.
Why do cats like ice cream if they can’t taste sweet?
Many pet owners have experienced their cat demanding a sample of their ice cream or yoghurt. It is not the sugar that attracts the cat, it’s the fat content.
If you do share your dairy treats with your cat, watch for signs of lactose intolerance such as bloating, flatulence and diarrhea and discontinue if this occurs.
How many blueberries can cats eat?
While blueberries are safe, they are not part of a complete and balanced diet and should only make up a small amount of a cat’s daily food intake. 2-4 blueberries per day are enough as a treat without adding excessive calories.
How to feed blueberries to a cat
Blueberries can be fed raw or frozen for a summer treat. Thoroughly wash blueberries to remove any potential chemicals from the fruit and slice in half.
Can all cats eat blueberries?
No, blueberries are not suitable for the following:
- Cats who are on a prescription cat food diet to manage an underlying medical condition
- Cats who are on a hypoallergenic diet
- Any cat with known toxicity to blueberries
- Kittens who have not weaned onto solids
As always, always check with your cat’s veterinarian if you have any questions regards to what your cat can and can’t eat as they know your cat’s medical history.
Other fruit and vegetables safe for cats
There are many types of fruit and vegetable that are safe for cats to eat, this includes strawberries, mango, bananas, apples, pears (seeds removed), melon, broccoli, zucchini, cucumber and corn. The same 10% rule must be applied to all kinds of fruit and vegetable and always remove seeds and pips, which can be a choking hazard and some are toxic to cats.
Fruits to avoid include rhubarb, citrus, coconut and gooseberries.
Related: Human foods cats can eat