Can Cats Eat Fruit and Vegetables?

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they depend on meat and fat for their survival. Some carnivores such as canines and bears can also obtain nutrients from plants; however, cats are hypercarnivores who require a diet of at least 70% meat. A cat’s digestive system has evolved to require a meat-based diet; they cannot properly digest plants.

Cats may consume the occasional plant matter such as chewing on catnip, grass or vegetation in the stomach of prey (for those that hunt). Fruit and vegetables may contain micro-nutrients, but as a whole, are not necessary to include in your cat’s diet. Cats are unable to taste sweet stimuli.

Can cats eat fruit and vegetables?

Some fruit and vegetables are safe for cats to eat, but not all. They should only make up a small percentage of the cat’s diet to avoid nutritional imbalances. Most fruit is high in fructose (fruit sugar), which adds unnecessary calories to the cat’s diet.

Please bear in mind that this is not an endorsement for feeding fruit and vegetables to cats, even in small quantities. The purpose of this article is for pet owners to know if fruits and vegetables are a risk to cats if accidentally ingested.

Allium:

Onion and garlic

No

Garlic, onion, leeks, and chives are all toxic to cats. These plants contain organosulfides which causes Heinz body anemia, where the red blood cells are destroyed due to the formation of Heinz bodies.

Apple:

Apples

Yes, with care

The ripe fruit of apples is safe for cats to eat; however, the seeds contain amygdalin, which breaks down into cyanide.

Avocado:

Avocado

Yes, with care

Flesh only, the skin, leaves and bark contain persin which is mildly toxic to cats.

Bananas:

Banana

Yes

The ripe fruit of bananas is safe for cats to eat and are a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.

Beetroot:

Beetroot

Yes

Beetroot is safe for cats to eat. Be warned; beetroot can cause pigmentation of the urine (beeturia) and feces which resembles blood in the urine and/or stool.

Blueberries:

Blueberries

Yes

Blueberries are safe for cats to eat and are a rich source of antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C.

Broccoli:

Broccoli

Yes

Cooked broccoli is safe for cats to eat, and is a rich source of fibre and protein, and also contains iron, potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium as well as the vitamins A, B, C, E and K.

Citrus:

Citrus

No

Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, mandarins, limes, etc.) contains psoralens which are mildly toxic to cats and can cause gastrointestinal disturbances. Cats show an aversion to tart-tasting foods, and most will avoid citrus fruits.

Corn:

Corn

Yes

The kernels of corn are safe for cats to eat. They can also eat air-popped popcorn (minus the salt and butter). Corn is rich in vitamin C, magnesium, B vitamins and carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin

Cucumber:

Cucumber

Yes

Cucumber is safe for cats to eat.

Eggplant:

Eggplant (aubergine)

Unsure

I have been unable to verify from a reliable source if eggplant (aubergine) is toxic when cooked. Eggplants are a member of the nightshade family and contain solanine which is toxic to cats. I do not recommend eggplants for this reason.

Grapes:

Grapes

No

Grapes and raisins are a known toxin to dogs, resulting in kidney failure. The compound remains unknown. There have been anecdotal cases of toxicity in cats, so it is recommended that cats don’t eat grapes and if they are consumed, seek veterinary advice.

Green beans:

Green beans

Yes

Green beans are safe for cats to eat.

Kiwi fruit:

Kiwifruit

Yes

Kiwi fruit is safe for cats to eat.

Mango:

Mango

Yes

The ripe fruit of mango is safe for cats to eat.

Melon:

Melon

Yes

Ripe melon flesh is safe for cats to eat, remove the seeds first.

Peas:

Peas

Yes

Peas are safe for cats to eat.

Pineapple:

Pineapple

Yes

The fruit and leaves of pineapple are safe for cats to eat.

Potato:

Potato

Yes, with care

Cats can eat cooked potato in small amounts. All members of the nightshade family (which potatoes are a member of) contain solanine in different amounts. Avoid potatoes with green on the skin which contains the highest levels

Pumpkin:

Pumpkin

Yes

Cooked pumpkin is safe for cats and can be used to treat mild cases of constipation and diarrhea.

Rhubarb:

Rhubarb

No

All parts of the rhubarb plant are toxic to cats due to soluble calcium oxalate crystals. Leaves contain the highest amount, but they are also present in the stalks. Soluble calcium oxalate crystals can cause blood calcium levels to drop, and in rare cases, acute kidney failure.

Stone fruit:

Stone fruit

Yes, with care

The fruit of ripe cherries, plums, apricots, pears and nectarine is safe to eat; however, the seeds/pips contain amygdalin, which breaks down into cyanide.

Also be aware that not only do the seeds cause toxicity, if enough is ingested, they also pose a choking risk or gastrointestinal obstruction.

Strawberries:

Strawberries

Yes

Strawberries are safe for cats to eat.

Sweet potato:

Sweet potato

Yes

Sweet potato is safe for cats to eat.

Tomatoes:

Tomato

Yes, with care

The leaves, stems and green fruit contain solanine which is toxic to cats and can cause gastrointestinal disturbances. The ripe fruit is non-toxic to cats.

Zucchini (courgette):

Zucchini

Yes

Zucchini is safe for cats to eat.

Key points:

Toxicity can range from mild to severe. How the cat is affected depends on the amount consumed, the degree of toxicity and the overall health of the cat.

If you are worried your cat has ingested a potentially toxic fruit or vegetable, seek veterinary advice or contact your local poisons helpline.

Sources:

ASPCA

Pet Poison Hotline

Author

  • Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio