Certain snacks that people enjoy eating regularly are really harmful to felines, but bananas are not on the list of risky foodstuffs. If your cat is fed a few pieces of banana, its life isn’t in any danger.
Bananas are not toxic to cats, so they are entirely safe to eat in moderation. Bananas are high in sugar, calories, and fiber. If eaten to excess, a cat will gain weight and experience stomach upsets. You should limit a cat’s banana intake to two small slices a day.
Most cats will show little-to-no interest in eating bananas as they are not tempted by sweet tastes. However, bananas have a distinctive scent, and cats may be curious about the unusual flavor.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Will Bananas Make a Cat Sick?
- 1.1 Do Cats Like to Eat Bananas?
- 1.2 Health Benefits of Bananas for Cats
- 1.3 Dangers of Cats Eating Bananas
- 1.4 Should My Cat Eat Bananas?
Will Bananas Make a Cat Sick?
Any food has the potential to make a cat sick, if eaten to excess. Similarly, cats could be allergic to any kind of food. Overall, bananas are considered safe for cats. These fruits will not feature on any list of toxic foods.
However, there is a difference between “safe” and “advisable.” Just because bananas are not outright harmful to felines, they should not make up the core of a cat’s diet. If offered at all, bananas should be an occasional treat.
Your cat will wonder what you are doing when you peel a banana. It’s safe to offer a slice. If the cat is indifferent to the taste, it will not miss out.
Do Cats Like to Eat Bananas?
Do not be surprised if your cat is indifferent to bananas. Cats, as explained by PloS Genetics, cannot taste sugars. As one of the appeals of bananas is sweetness, this reduces their appeal to cats.
There are exceptions to every rule. Some cats appear to enjoy sweet-tasting fruits. This is rare, though. As a species, cats will always be drawn more to protein. If your cat does beg for some banana, it is likely to just be curious.
Bananas have a strong, distinctive scent. Some cats will be deterred by this, while others may find it appealing. In addition, the cat will see you eating a banana. As cats are natural imitators, it may want to do the same as you.
If your cat wants to try banana, offer it a small taste. It’s likely the cat will spit it out. If that’s the case, do not worry. The limited health benefits of bananas do not make them worth persevering with. If the cat does enjoy banana, exercise appropriate portion control.
Health Benefits of Bananas for Cats
In theory, bananas have health benefits for cats. There is a sizable difference in size between humans and cats, though. Felines need to eat more banana than is advisable to boost health.
This does not mean that banana is not healthy for cats. Just do not feed your cat banana expecting it to drastically improve its health. The gains will be marginal, so rely on high-quality food and a balanced diet.
The biggest reason for anybody to eat bananas is the rich potassium content. Potassium is the mineral responsible for heart and kidney health. This is essential in senior cats. Older felines have weaker hearts and often experience chronic renal failure over time.
Feline potassium intake requires a balancing act. A well-balanced senior cat food will require all the vitamins and minerals that your cat needs. If further supplementation is required, take professional advice. Potassium should make up 0.6% of a cat’s daily diet.
If your cat’s blood potassium is low, it will develop hypokalemia. Occasional feeding of bananas, in appropriate doses, can stave this off. Equally though, an excess of this mineral leads to hyperkalemia, which is just as dangerous.
The Vitamin B6 found in bananas can be a great boost for older cats. Vitamin B6 is critical for performance of the organs in the feline body. It is particularly important for kidney function. This vitamin is shed in urine throughout the day and must be replaced.
As always, do not rely exclusively on bananas for Vitamin B6. A cat will need to eat more banana than is safe to get a full, required dosage. It makes a helpful supplementation if your cat also enjoys the taste, though.
Another trace element found in bananas is manganese. Manganese can be beneficial to the skin as it encourages the creation of collagen. This can be important for senior cats. Older felines have weak skin, sometimes suffering with scabs and sores on the body and head.
Cats require little manganese to meet their daily needs. A deficiency of this ingredient is rare in cats. All the same, there is no harm in topping it up. A small slice of banana will add more manganese to a cat’s diet.
Dangers of Cats Eating Bananas
As mentioned, bananas are not toxic to cats. All the same, despite the limited advantages, they are not a feline superfood. Take the following risks into consideration before offering a cat banana.
The average banana contains around 17g of naturally occurring sugar. That’s even more than strawberries.
The obvious risk of sugary foods is obesity. Senior cats, in particular, move less than they once did. This means that a cat’s calorie intake must be watched carefully. If a cat is consuming empty calories, it will gain weight.
Obesity leads to a heightened risk of feline diabetes. The Journal of Nutrition confirms that weight is linked to diabetes in cats. What’s more, bananas will spike blood sugar in the short-term. Even if your cat is not diabetic, it may experience an energy crash.
We need to consider the impact that sugar has a cat’s teeth. Dental issues can be problematic for senior cats. There are risks involved with professional tooth cleaning, so it is best avoided. A low-sugar diet reduces the chances of your cat’s teeth developing plaque.
Fiber is important to cats. Fiber helps the digestive tract to manage food and pass it as healthy waste. Bananas are high in fiber so, in theory, they are a great feline snack. In practice, it’s easy for a cat to have too much.
A cat that is fed a high-quality, balanced diet will receive all the fiber it needs. Adding more of this food group can cause digestive upset. Your cat is likely to suffer from diarrhea. This, in turn, leaves the cat dehydrated.
In addition, it takes a cat quite some time to process fiber. Again, this looks great on paper. It means the cat will be fuller for longer. It will not bother you for food or treats. This slow digestion can also leave a cat feeling sluggish and bloated, though.
Only push additional fiber upon your cat if recommended by a vet. As an obligate carnivore, a cat will always need protein over other food groups. A little fiber goes a long way in the feline body.
Much like fiber, carbohydrates are one of the five major food groups. In felines, though, carbohydrates are surplus to requirements. A cat eating carbs is essentially consuming empty calories. If the cat does not burn off these calories, obesity is likely.
As explained by Veterinary Sciences, carbs are detrimental to a cat’s long-term health. Wild cats actively seek out low-carbohydrate diets. Wild prey, such as rodents or birds, offer pure protein. A domesticated cat begging for carbs is learned behavior.
Your cat may develop a taste for carbs if it eats low-quality wet food. Some manufacturers pack food with carbohydrate-rich filler ingredients. With 27g of carbs in the average banana, these fruits must be approached with caution.
Should My Cat Eat Bananas?
Having weighed up the pros and cons of cats eating bananas, you can make this choice. Your cat is not missing out on any major nutrition. Bananas are an optional extra, not a core ingredient in the feline diet.
If your cat does like bananas, ensure it does not react poorly to the fruit. Watch your cat’s demeanor. If it is sluggish and appears uncomfortable, cease feeding banana. Clearly, the cat is struggling to digest this fruit.
In addition, watch out for allergy symptoms. If your cat displays any of these warning signs after eating banana, stop feeding it at once:
- Excessive scratching
- Breakouts of spots or hives on the skin
- Streaming from the eyes or nose
- Difficulty breathing
Even if bananas are safe and requested, ensure that you limit intake to a safe level. Bananas should make up no more than 10% of a cat’s daily food allowance. Any more than this risks a stomach upset and weight gain.
If you decide to offer your cat banana, you also need to consider how. Fresh banana can be offered when sliced. A maximum of two slices per day is recommended. Alternatively, you could offer banana in different forms.
Even if your cat does like bananas, it will likely avoid the peel. This is because banana peel contains salicylic acid. This provides the most concentrated doses of goodness from a banana. Unfortunately, and ironically, the smell of this acid will deter most cats.
Even if the cat gets past the scent, banana peel is tough. Many cats will struggle to chew through this part of the fruit. This makes banana peel a choking hazard. Your cat may attempt to swallow before sufficient mastication.
Again, even if the cat manages to force down banana peel, it takes even longer to digest. If a large enough piece is consumed, it could cause an intestinal blockage.
Cats may enjoy playing with banana peels. The cat is imitating you, having seen you peel the fruit. Keep these peels out of feline reach.
A cat that enjoys banana may appreciate frozen slices in the summer. Dilute the banana with water before serving.
This serves two purposes. It makes the fruit a little more moist and easier to digest. It also aids hydration. Banana contains less water than many fruits.
Frozen banana must be served with the same restraint in quantity as fresh. Never exceed two slices per day. The water found within will do nothing to negate the sugar or fiber content.
The scent of banana bread will often attract cats. The banana is just one part of the equation. Cats also love the scent of fresh bread due to the presence of yeast.
Banana bread has other ingredients that cats enjoy, too. Butter, for example, has a pleasingly fatty flavor. Some cats also enjoy nuts. None of the ingredients in banana bread are ideal for cats, though.
In addition, you must never offer the raw ingredients of a banana bread mix to a cat. The yeast will cook and expand in the warmth of a cat’s stomach. This will lead to significant gastric distress and discomfort.
Banana chips are the best way to manage a feline banana craving. These fruits are small and easily digestible. You can also manage your cat’s banana intake when offering chips. They make a great training reward if your cat is so inclined.
The best way to offer banana chips to a cat is investing in a dehydrator. This is considerably healthier than relying upon store-bought chips. The latter are usually deep-fried in fat and add salt for flavor. This negates the limited health benefits of banana chips.
By slicing and dehydrating at home, you know exactly what you are offering your cat. It’s a little more work, but it will pay off in the longer term. If your cat does develop a taste for these treats, they need to be prepared appropriately.
We have discussed how banana is high in fiber, which can cause diarrhea. Ordinarily, banana mash is something to avoid. The one exception to this rule is when a cat is constipated.
Mash an appropriate dosage of banana up and add water for hydration. Mix this in with food or serve in a saucer as a small treat. Just be prepared to manage the consequences. Keep an eye on your cat and ensure easy access to litter trays.
Never offer a cat banana milk. This is for the same reason that you should never offer a cat milk. Most felines are lactose intolerant. The cat will suffer gas, bloating, and diarrhea after consuming its dairy-based treat.
Banana milk will also contain more sugar and fat than traditional milk. It’s harder to manage liquid intake than solid. This means that your cat could drink to excess in a short space of time. This places the cat’s health at risk.
Bananas are not harmful to cats, but neither are they beneficial. If your cat enjoys this fruit, offer it occasionally and in small doses.