If you bring home a punnet of strawberries, your cat will likely show some interest in them. Cats are attracted to this sweet fruit, tempted by the enticing aroma.
In moderation, strawberries are safe for cats to eat, but they’re high in natural sugars (carbs). Strawberries are a good source of antioxidants, potassium, vitamin B 9, Vitamin C, and manganese. A few slices of strawberry can improve hydration levels on warm and sunny days.
As cats are indifferent to sweet tastes, few will enjoy eating strawberries, so their interest begins and ends with the scent. However, if your cat likes strawberries, they can be offered to cats occasionally.
Do Cats Like Strawberries?
Cats have fewer taste buds than humans: the human tongue has over 9,000 taste buds, while cats have less than 500. Thus, cats are among the few mammals that are indifferent to sweet tastes.
The Journal of Nutrition stated that a cat’s tongue lacks sweet taste receptors. While cats don’t actively dislike the flavor of sweet foods, they’re apathetic toward them.
This means that cats are unlikely to consider strawberries a treat. Despite this, cats often show interest in this fruit due to the strong smell, which is comparable to catnip for some felines.
Why Can’t Cats Taste Sweet Foods?
All mammals, aside from cats, need small amounts of carbs to thrive. Before artificial sweeteners were invented, sugar was derived from natural sources, like strawberries.
However, this doesn’t apply to felines, as meat provides a cat with everything it needs to flourish. As a result, cats don’t instinctively crave sugar.
When other mammals eat something sweet, two proteins combine to create the flavor: Tas12r and Tas13r. According to The Journal of Heredity, the feline body doesn’t create Tas12r, so they can’t taste sweetness.
It’s believed that this mutation occurred over time through necessity. If cats grew distracted by the pleasure of sweet tastes, they might not consume enough quality proteins.
Some owners claim that their cats adore sweet foods, with cakes and donuts are often cited as examples. It’s not the sugar that interests cats but the high fat content.
Benefits of Strawberries
Strawberries aren’t bad for cats, but they’re not a feline superfood either. They have health benefits, but cats will need to eat more than their daily allowance to benefit.
Antioxidants are found in the skin and flesh of strawberries. Veterinary Therapeutics stated that antioxidants could prevent progressive disease in cats.
One benefit of fruit is that it is primarily water-based. As felines rarely drink enough water, strawberries can be a good way to hydrate a cat.
Manganese is an enzyme that cats require in trace amounts. Consuming manganese ensures that a cat grows at an optimal rate and has strong teeth and bones.
Folate (Vitamin B9)
Strawberries are high in folate, which aids the gut and digestion. Vitamin B9 can be useful for easing heartburn and gastric issues.
Cats usually meet their folate needs from eating wild grass. Eating the occasional sliced strawberry may boost its Vitamin B9 levels if you have an indoor cat that gets stomach problems.
Potassium is an electrolyte that’s essential to a cat’s health and well-being. A medium-sized strawberry contains about 18.4 mg of potassium.
A lack of potassium can lead to an unhealthy coat, leg cramping, weakness, and constipation. This is usually resolved with potassium gluconate supplements, but certain fruits can be beneficial.
Eating strawberries, bananas, grapefruit, and honeydew melon can benefit cats with hypokalemia.
Drawbacks of Strawberries
While a cat needs to eat many strawberries to benefit, the same applies to any negatives.
Let’s explore the disadvantages of feeding strawberries to cats:
Strawberries are harmless unless your cat experiences an immediate and visceral allergic reaction.
A cat can be allergic to any food, including strawberries. Some allergic reactions arise immediately, while others take up to an hour to manifest.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction in cats include:
- Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing
- Streaming from the eyes or nose
- Itching and scratching
- Breakouts of hives on the skin
- Vomiting and diarrhea
If your cat has an allergic reaction, it’ll pass. If you want to soothe your cat’s discomfort, you can use Benadryl. The right dosage is 2mg per pound of body weight.
Avoid feeding strawberries to your cat again. The allergic reaction will be a fleeting issue, and future avoidance will prevent reoccurrence.
Only seek veterinary assistance if your cat enters anaphylactic shock.
As established, the sweetness of strawberries is what makes them delicious.
Tooth decay is a prominent concern. The sugar found in this fruit will cling to the teeth and gums, leading to dental pain and gum disease.
If your cat eats strawberries, brush its teeth afterward.
As cats’ bodies aren’t good at processing carbohydrates, a cat that eats strawberries to excess will be prone to weight gain and diabetes.
A cat that eats too much of anything new will get an upset stomach.
Strawberries contain fiber, which is not a dietary requirement for cats, so too many strawberries can cause diarrhea. Your cat may also vomit, as its digestive system is not accustomed to fruit consumption.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)
Strawberries contain large amounts of Vitamin C, which is good for humans but not for cats. The feline body creates Vitamin C organically, so it doesn’t need supplementation or foods to gain more.
If your cat is prone to urinary tract infections, it should avoid strawberries. Reviews in Urology explain how Vitamin C promotes urinary oxalate excretion, leading to crystals forming in a cat’s urethra.
Unspayed females of middle age or beyond are particularly prone to feline UTIs.
Feeding Strawberries To a Cat
Cut the leaves and stem off if you want to test your cat’s reaction to strawberries. While not toxic, the leaves are an irritant as the sharp edges could cause itchiness to your cat’s eyes, nose, or throat.
Then, cut the strawberry into slices to release the scent and tempt the cat.
If your cat reacts OK and actively enjoys the taste, you can offer 1-2 strawberries a few times per week.
If your cat enjoys the smell of strawberries, it’ll likely enjoy strawberry-scented products.
Let’s explore some of the options and if they’re feline-safe:
You can dip your finger in the jam and allow a cat to lick it, which can be useful as a reward.
Use an organic, sugar-free jam as strawberries are already packed with sugar. A cheap jam from the supermarket will contain more sugar.
Sugar-free jam mustn’t contain the artificial sweetener xylitol.
Strawberry Milk And Strawberry Ice Cream
The vast majority of cats are lactose intolerant. To this end, dairy products should be avoided. As with sweet desserts, the stereotype of cats loving milk stems from the fat content.
Most cats will be indifferent to ice cream as they prefer their food at room temperature or just above. However, the fat content may still pique a cat’s curiosity.
If so, make a cat-friendly strawberry dessert. Pulp strawberries and mix them with a tiny amount of cream, but offer it sparingly as too much cream will upset your cat’s stomach.
Yogurt can provide a cat’s body with prebiotics and probiotics, promoting good gut health.
If your cat enjoys the taste of strawberries, this will make yogurt more enticing. It’s best to use unflavored yogurt and mix a small number of strawberries yourself.
Always avoid low-fat or fat-free strawberry yogurts, as they’re high in sugar.
Can Cats Eat Unripe Strawberries?
Cats can taste sourness, so you may wish to offer tart, unripened strawberries to a cat. However, unripened strawberries lack the scent cats love, so your cat will likely disregard them.
Unless a cat is allergic to strawberries, they’re safe to eat. No cat will decline strawberries on the grounds of well-being but will reject the taste outright.
Given that cats are obligate carnivores, the health benefits of strawberries for cats are minimal.