It’s sometimes hard to resist wide eyes and nudging paws from a cat while we’re eating. Felines don’t understand that some human foods are dangerous, and assume that we’re not sharing. We are always tempted to cave in and hand something over.
Strawberries do not have any toxic properties, and are safe for cats in moderation. However, they also have minimal health benefits. Strawberries are essentially vitamin-neutral, and packed with sugar.
There’s a lot to learn about strawberries, and the role they play in your cat’s life. Some felines go crazy for these fruits, providing a reaction usually associated with catnip. Not all human foods are safe for cats to eat. Some can be highly toxic. Read on to learn more about strawberries, and how your cat may react to their flavor.
Do Cats Like Strawberries?
Cats tend not to be attracted to sweet-tasting foods due to the physiology of feline taste buds. Like humans, cats can process a variety of complex flavors.
As Petful explains, sweet flavors are just not one of them. Many people question whether cats can even taste strawberries. This is why cat treats tend to be savory rather than sweet.
There is, however, more to the appeal of strawberries than just their sweetness. Some cats go crazy for them, rolling around in a punnet as though it were catnip.
Even if a cat is not interested in eating strawberries, they may rub their bodies over them. If you are struggling to bond with a new cat, strawberry-scented body butter may help.
Cats also find tart or sour tastes more appealing. This means that strawberries that we consider unripened may taste appealing. This is an excellent way of using up unwanted fruit. It also means that cats will be safe eating fruit straight from a strawberry plant.
They will need to avoid the leaves of the plant itself, though. While not toxic, the leaves are saw-toothed. This can irritate the eyes, nose, and skin.
Thankfully, you shouldn’t have to worry about this. Cats actively seeking out strawberries are other wild fruit will be a rare occurrence. Given a choice, felines would remain 100% carnivorous, and fruit rarely registers with them. A cat developing a taste for strawberries will be the exception to the rule.
Are Strawberries Good for Cats?
Strawberries are considered neutral. There are benefits to strawberries, but cats need to eat plenty to receive them. This is not recommended as the impact on their digestive health can be severe.
What are the Health Benefits of Strawberries for Cats?
The most significant health benefit of strawberries is the fact that they contain antioxidants. Antioxidants can boost heart health, boost the immune system and decrease cancer risk.
Cats will also obtain Vitamin C, potassium and folic acids from strawberries. Also, the fruit has plenty of water. This may prevent a cat from becoming dehydrated.
Are Strawberries Toxic to Cats in Any Way?
Strawberries, or Fragaria spp. for any science enthusiasts, are deemed non-toxic to cats. This is confirmed by the ASPA.
However, like anything, there will be problems if your cat eats too many strawberries. Just because they will not be poisoned, it doesn’t mean that there are no health concerns or side effects.
What are the Problems with Strawberries for Cats?
We discussed the health benefits of cats eating strawberries. The problem is, cats will need to eat a lot of strawberries to obtain these benefits. Also, cats can obtain these health benefits through other nutrient-rich sources.
Their liver organically generates Vitamin C, they obtain folic acids through eating grass, and cat food contains potassium. They only need microscopic amounts of each of these vitamins, which a balanced diet already provides.
Other than this, strawberries are vitamin-neutral. The only real benefit will arise if your cat enjoys eating them as a treat.
If you want your cat to get antioxidants in their diet, salmon is a better source. This is a central ingredient in many wet foods, and tastier for felines.
Again, though, don’t feed your cat too much fish. Once or twice a week is fine. You could always add some eggs to your cat’s food for additional protein and antioxidants.
Another sizeable drawback of strawberries, and any fruit, is the sugar contained within. While this is naturally occurring sugar, it can still be unhealthy. Your cat will be at risk of gaining weight, and risks eventual diabetes.
Also, sugar can be very bad for oral hygiene. Felines are unable to brush their teeth. Sugar getting trapped between their teeth will not be a pleasant experience.
Speaking of unpleasant experiences, there is the fact that excessive fruit can be a laxative. If your cat ends up with diarrhea, it won’t just lead to a messy litter tray.
This can be stressful for your cat, and potentially dangerous. A cat with diarrhea can quickly end up dehydrated. This, in turn, can be lethal in felines if not treated quickly.
Of course, there is also the fact that many cats will simply not like eating strawberries. Offering your cat a treat that they can’t taste is just giving them empty calories. For the sake of your pet’s weight and oral care, strawberries are best avoided unless requested.
Can Cats Be Allergic to Strawberries?
A cat can be allergic to any foodstuff. If feeding your cat strawberries for the first time, be vigilant about any signs of a reaction.
Common symptoms of allergies in cats may include:
- Running or streaming eyes and nose.
- Breakouts of hives or other itchy patches on the skin.
- Trouble breathing.
- Coughing and wheezing.
- Vomiting and diarrhea.
If your cat is displaying any of these symptoms, take them to a vet. Do not attempt to induce vomiting, as this can be dangerous.
If you are particularly concerned and want to ease your cat’s symptoms, use over the counter Benadryl. This is safe if you prove 2mg per 1lb of body weight. However, at least consult a vet over the phone before administering medication for the first time.
How to Feed a Cat Strawberries for the First Time
If you are curious about how your cat will react to strawberries, you should introduce them slowly.
- Remove any trace of the leaf and stem of the strawberry.
- Give the strawberry a thorough wash in cool water. This is especially important if picked from the wild. It may be covered in pesticides or herbicides.
- Cut a small piece off the strawberry. This will be a new experience for your cat’s digestive tract. If they try to eat too much at once, their stomach will expel it.
- Offer the strawberry piece to your cat, and observe from a safe distance. If they ignore the strawberry, do not try to force them to eat it. If they decide to consume it, watch for any allergic reaction before feeding more.
- If the cat ignores the strawberry, remove it and throw it away. Allowing it to spoil on your carpet creates a potential future health hazard.
- If your cat wants more, limit them to a maximum of two strawberries per day.
Cats that love strawberries will be able to enjoy them as a treat. Just remember that moderation is essential. Treats should only amount to around 10% of a cat’s daily food allowance.
Feeding strawberries that exceed this level mean that you are replacing nourishing food with vitamin-neutral alternatives. Your cat’s health could suffer in the longer term.
Can Cats Eat Strawberry Leaves?
Cats should always avoid strawberry leaves. They are not toxic in any way, so there is no need to panic if consumed. They will, however, irritate your cat.
A cat that gets too close to a strawberry leaf may find their nose tickled, causing a bout of sneezing. The sharp, saw-toothed leaves are also stinging and irritable. If your cat eats one of these, they may hurt their tongue or throat. Even approaching them can lead to itchy, irritated skin.
If you introduce strawberries to your cat’s diet, lop off any leaves before feeding them. If you grow your own, it may be worth installing cat-repellent around the plant.
Can Cats Eat Strawberry Jam?
If your cat does have the rare sweet tooth, strawberry jam may be considered a treat. Pick up a sugar-free jar, as jam contains even more sugar than a fresh strawberry. Make sure that it is NOT sweetened with xylitol as it is considered toxic to all animals.
Resist the temptation to fill the lid and leave your cat alone to lap, though. They may enjoy this, and it will probably look very cute. They may well eat to excess, however, which will be problematic to their health. You will also need to ensure that jam does not stick to your cat’s teeth.
Can Cats Eat Strawberry Ice Cream?
Most cats are lactose intolerant, and cannot safely consume cow’s milk. This means that store-bought ice cream is usually a strict no-no. This is especially prevalent for sugar-free variations, which also include the artificial sweetener xylitol. Once again, this ingredient is toxic to cats.
Cats will probably be interested in your ice cream. Even though they tend to avoid sweetness, they’ll detect the fat and carbs within the treat. If your cat wants their own dessert, try making one yourself.
Pulp some fresh strawberries and mix them with goat milk for cat-friendly ice cream ingredients. This should still only be fed very sparingly though, with all the usual warnings and caveats. It is very much possible for your cat to have too much of a good thing.
Can Cats Eat Strawberry Yogurt?
Yogurt that contains probiotics can sometimes be good for cats, especially if they have digestive problems. Tread very carefully when selecting a human yogurt for your feline, though.
Fat-free or low-fat brands tend to be packed with sugar to compensate for the taste. Sugar-free brands will also have xylitol as a key ingredient, making them lethal. There will be many ingredients contained within yogurt, some of which may be harmful.
If you wish to bring yogurt into your cat’s diet, strawberry flavoring is best avoided. Stick with a very plain, probiotic yogurt, and add your own strawberries if necessary. It’s safer than taking a risk on artificial flavorings.
What Fruits are Safe for Cats to Eat?
If you want to offer your cat fruit, consider some of the following alternatives to strawberries:
- Apples. Make sure you remove the seeds, as these contain Cyanide.
- Blueberries. These are good for night vision, and packed with antioxidants.
- Mango. These are filled with vitamins – but peel off the skin and, as with apples, remove seeds.
- Pineapple. Only the soft, fleshy interior is safe, but it’s excellent for feline digestion.
- Watermelon. This is a fantastic source of water, so watermelon will keep a cat hydrated.
Just remember, as far as fruit and in a cat’s diet is concerned, less is more. Fruit is packed with sugar, and you’ll find the results of excess in their litter tray. Cats prefer to eat grass as a source of fiber.
Cats can eat strawberries. If you are tucking into a bowl and your pet seems interested, you can share without concern. Likewise, your cat insisting upon rubbing and rolling around on them is nothing to fear.
Just don’t be shocked if your cat spits the strawberry out, or ignores it completely. Felines are not hardwired to enjoy eating sweet, sugary fruits. If your own pet is an outlier that wants to tuck in, take a less-is-more approach. There is nothing wrong with strawberries as an occasional treat, but excess can be damaging.