Watermelon has a distinctive scent that some cats find irresistible. The taste and texture of the flesh can also be appealing. This may leave you wondering if watermelon is safe for cats to eat.
Watermelon is not harmful to cats. This fruit is hydrating and packed with Vitamins A and C. The lycopene that gives watermelon its unique color is also a natural antioxidant. However, watermelon seeds contain cyanide, and the rind is too tough to digest.
If your cat enjoys the taste of watermelon, it can be offered in moderation. As with all fruits, watermelon contains naturally-occurring sugars. This is a good addition to the diet of a feline, but with certain caveats.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Do Cats Like Watermelon?
- 2 Is it Good to Feed Cats Watermelon?
- 3 How Much Watermelon is Safe for Cats?
- 4 Serving Watermelon to a Cat
Do Cats Like Watermelon?
Usually, cats do not enjoy eating watermelon because they are indifferent to the taste of fruit. There will be exceptions to this rule, with watermelon being one common example.
We need to consider why a cat would not like watermelon. As explained by PLoS One Genetics, felines cannot taste sweetness. This is because cats have comparatively few taste buds on their tongue.
Sweetness defines the taste of watermelon. The scent is equally strong, though. This is what will capture the imagination of a cat. The first bite of a cat meal is with the nose. Watermelon has an aroma comparable to meat, which many cats cannot resist.
The Journal of Experimental Botany explains that watermelon is packed with amino acids. These replicate the scent of meat. To an extent, watermelon can also imitate the eating of meat.
Not in flavor – watermelon will likely be tasteless to a cat. The flesh of the fruit will be chewy, crunchy, and moist. This will bring a prey animal to the cat’s mind. Tearing flesh from a watermelon is the next best thing to hunting and killing a rodent.
Is it Good to Feed Cats Watermelon?
Watermelon can be fed to a cat in moderation. Watermelon is not toxic or harmful to cats. This means that it is theoretically safe to feed a cat.
All the same, there is always a risk attached to feeding human foods to cats. Before offering watermelon, you must remove the rind and any seeds. Look out for any warning signs of an allergic reaction. These include:
- Excessive scratching
- Coughing and sneezing
- Streaming from the eyes or nose
- Breakouts of hives or hotspots on the skin
If a cat shows no side effects, consider bringing watermelon into its diet. Watermelon provides a handful of health advantages. You can review these at a glance below.
|High water content:||Hydration for cats that do not drink enough|
|Vitamin A:||Improves skin, fur, and night vision|
|Vitamin C:||Staves off scurvy, improves mobility|
|Low in calories:||For cats of a healthy weight, watermelon is a low-calorie snack|
|Lycopene:||A natural antioxidant that quenches oxygen|
|Potassium:||An electrolyte that keeps the kidneys healthy|
|Magnesium:||Encourages healthy digestion and urinary tract|
|Fiber:||Keeps feline bowels regular|
The hydrating elements of watermelon are among the main selling points of this fruit. Watermelons are large, and they are made up of 92% water. That’s a lot of potential fluid.
This can be essential for cats in the hottest months of the year. Domesticated felines are descended from desert-dwelling ancestors. This makes them natural sun worshippers that rarely drink enough water.
A cat can stay on the right side of dehydration during the typical day. If a heatwave has struck, though, it’s easy for a cat to become hyperthermic. Sadly, cats rarely realize they are in danger until it’s too late.
Combat this by offering watermelon slices. Better yet, freeze the fruit into ice cubes. The scent and taste entice cats to eat. This tricks your cat into hydrating. Just remember to keep fresh water available too. Watermelon is an addition to fluid, not a replacement.
Vitamin A is critical to feline health. This vitamin is responsible for vision, bone growth, and healthy skin. While excessive Vitamin A can lead to toxicity, a deficiency is just as dangerous.
Watermelon is a great way to provide safe doses of Vitamin A to cats. The first perk your cat will experience is shinier, higher quality fur. In addition, your cat’s skin will feel clear and soft. Watermelon may soothe any sores or spots.
In fact, you could rub watermelon flesh on your cat’s skin. This will act as a moisturizing exfoliator. Keep the quantity safe for consumption, though. Your cat will doubtless try to lick off the remnants.
A cat’s vision, especially in the dark, will also be boosted by Vitamin A. As per Experimental Eye Research, this vitamin staves off conjunctivitis, retinal damage, and cataracts. All cats experience eyesight deteriorates over time. Watermelon can slow this down.
Vitamin C isn’t an essential supplement to cats. Felines create this vitamin in their body organically. There are some advantages to additional Vitamin C, though. Older cats, in particular, will benefit.
Any animal that lacks Vitamin C can develop scurvy. While this is unlikely in cats, organic production slows down with age. When your cat is more senior, it may appreciate the additional vitamins found in watermelon.
In addition, Vitamin C can improve mobility. Older cats with arthritis can feel more limber with the aid of Vitamin C. Appropriate amounts are important, though. Watermelon contains less of this vitamin than citrus fruit, making it safe to consume.
Lycopene is a hydrocarbon found in all red fruits. This is what gives watermelon flesh its bright, distinctive color. More importantly, lycopene is a natural feline antioxidant.
Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics explains how lycopene improves cardiovascular performance. This is important in senior cats. Older felines have weaker hearts and are more sensitive to stress and strain.
Lycopene also naturally quenches oxygen in a cat’s blood. This prevents chain reactions that allow free radicals to form cancerous cells.
Obviously, your cat will still need regular veterinary check-ups. Watermelon is not a miracle cure, or a substitute for medication. As a preventative measure, though, it can be impactful.
Fiber is not necessarily essential to cats. Protein remains the single most important food group in feline nutrition. A little fiber goes a long way in cats, though. Watermelon contains just the right amount.
Fiber aids the digestive tract of a feline. The primary advantage of this is regular bowel movements. Constipation can be painful for cats. Left untreated, it can lead to intestinal blockages. Appropriate levels of fiber minimize this risk.
In addition, fiber can clear temporary blockages from a cat’s stomach. Hairballs, for example, will pass faster with a fibrous diet. Just do not offer too much fiber. An excess can lead to gas or diarrhea.
Metabolites also explain how fiber can also boost a cat’s kidney health. As cats age, their kidneys become increasingly dysfunctional. Feeding a cat fiber can enhance the quality of kidneys, potentially prolonging its life.
Potassium and Magnesium
Potassium and magnesium are key vitamins and minerals in the feline diet. Without these electrolytes, a cat’s body starts to break down. Some felines are naturally deficient due to illness or genetic disorders. Watermelon can negate the need to take supplements.
Potassium and magnesium are often linked as they work in tandem in the feline body. These electrolytes keep the organs functioning and ensures that muscles do not seize. This becomes increasingly critical in senior cats.
Do not force excessive potassium or magnesium into a cat’s diet. A healthy, balanced diet will offer all that is required. In moderation, though, the excess provided by watermelon is a welcome bonus.
How Much Watermelon is Safe for Cats?
Watermelon is additional food for cats, not a cornerstone of the feline diet. Watermelon must never make up more than 10% of a cat’s daily food allowance. Even then, it is best not to offer watermelon daily.
The main reason for this is the sugar content of watermelon. As discussed, watermelon is almost entirely made up of water. This makes it low in sugar. It is packed with fructose, which your cat won’t be able to taste.
Watermelon is best offered in small chunks, under supervision. Offer this snack to your pet 2-3 times a week at most. Cut it into pieces before serving. If the cat does not eat the watermelon immediately, dispose of it. Do not allow the fruit to rot.
Consider the health benefits of watermelon. Most of these stem from the vitamins and minerals within. Too many vitamins are just as dangerous to cats as not enough vitamins.
Risks of Excessive Watermelon
The primary risk of excessive watermelon intake is obesity. The sugar content of this fruit should never be underestimated. Diabetic cats, in particular, must avoid watermelon. It will do them more harm than good.
Even a healthy cat can suffer from excessive watermelon, though. Cat bodies are not equipped to process sugar. It will lead to weight gain and potentially cause organ damage. Even naturally-occurring sugars, such as fructose, have this effect.
There is also the possibility that watermelon will give your cat a stomach upset. Any cat can have too much of a good thing. This is especially prevalent in fruit.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology explains that cats are obligate carnivores. This means that felines have unique nutritional needs. Watermelon will not meet these. Thus, it should be considered a bonus food. The feline body is not designed to consume watermelon in large quantities.
Do not overlook the risk of excessive hydration. While cats rarely drink enough, their organs adapt. A cat’s body can be overwhelmed by fluid.
Serving Watermelon to a Cat
If you decide to introduce watermelon into a cat’s diet, do so appropriately. As discussed, watermelon should not be an everyday treat. Never offer watermelon in place of a balanced meal. There are three other golden rules that must be followed when offering watermelon to cats.
- Watermelon must be served without seeds
- Watermelon flesh must be separated from the rind
- Watermelon must be ripe
A ripe watermelon will feel heavy and display a creamy yellow spot where it rests. Tap the base of the watermelon, too. A ripe watermelon will make a deep, bassy thud. A dull, light sound suggests the watermelon is unripe or past its best. There are 3 primary ways to serve watermelon to cats.
- Chunks of flesh – most appealing to natural feline instincts
- Balls scooped from the fruit – great for portion control
- Frozen into ice cubes – perfect for hydrating on a summer’s day
You could allow your cat to play with a watermelon. A watermelon is essentially a giant ball. This will appeal to certain cats. Its size can also be intimidating, though. Equally, it would be best if you did not permit a cat to chew through watermelon rind to reach the flesh inside.
How you serve watermelon to your cat is a matter of personal preference. Assess your pet’s needs and react accordingly. If the cat is not interested, though, never attempt to force-feed watermelon. This will create a damaging association with food, period.
Can Cats Eat Watermelon Rind?
Watermelon rind, much like watermelon flesh, is not toxic to cats. This means that a cat may enjoy playing with watermelon rind. It is tough, meaning that teeth and claws will need to work hard to penetrate it.
Despite this, it is inadvisable to allow a cat to chew on watermelon rind. This skin is hard that it will take hours to work through. Initially, this is entertaining for a cat. It’s certainly better than chewing on wires or furniture. Eventually, though, it becomes tiresome.
If a cat grows impatient, it may try to swallow watermelon rind whole. This will risk a choking hazard. If the rind makes its way down the throat, it can still cause intestinal blockages. Surgery will be needed to remove watermelon rind that is too tough to digest.
Even if the rind is digested, this will happen slowly. The cat will experience bloating and stomach cramps until the rind dissolves. All of these hazards can be avoided. Just trim the rind from watermelon before offering it to a cat.
Can Cats Eat Watermelon Seeds?
The seeds of any fruit should be removed before serving to a cat. Watermelon is no exception. The seeds of watermelon are toxic, due to the presence of cyanide. This applies to white and black watermelon seeds.
Watermelon seeds are so small that they may pass without incident. This is a best-case scenario, though. If the seed is bitten into, the toxicity will be released. This can render a cat unwell, or worse, within 60 minutes.
At best, a cat that consumes a single cyanide-loaded seed will need to purge it. This will happen organically through vomiting and diarrhea. As well as being distressing to the cat, this leaves the feline body dehydrated.
All of this neglects the fact that seeds are choking hazards, too. A seed is small, but so is a cat’s throat. If a seed is lodged, it will create a blockage. This makes eating, drinking, and even breathing troublesome.
Thoroughly deseed a watermelon before offering it to a cat. If you cannot be certain that you have done so, purchase a seedless fruit. There is nothing to gain by taking any chances.
Can Cats Drink Watermelon Juice?
Watermelon juice has the same scent as watermelon flesh. This means it can be tempting for a feline. If your cat is fussy about water, drop some watermelon juice in its bowl. This may encourage more hydration.
For the avoidance of doubt, watermelon juice should be added to water. The intention is to make water appealing. Squeeze drops of juice from the fruit into the bowl to achieve this.
The same trick can also be used on food, especially kibble. Some cats reject dry food due to a lack of appealing scent and texture. Watermelon juice can rectify both of these complaints.
Always use juice from a fresh watermelon for these actions. Do not purchase watermelon-flavored water from a store. No matter what protestations the label makes, such products are high in sugar. You need to moderate your cat’s sugar intake.
Watermelon is safe for cats to eat as a treat. Do not be surprised if your cat rejects this fruit. Some cats will never take to sweet foods. If your cat does enjoy watermelon, it certainly has health benefits. Just ensure it is consumed in moderation.