A common dilemma every cat owner faces is whether or not they can share their human food with their pet. Cats are naturally curious creatures, and they like to express that curiosity by stalking over whenever their human decides to eat something. If you’ve ever had your dinner interrupted by a furry paw, you know what we’re talking about. So, that pack of strawberries you’ve just opened is attracting your cat’s attention. The question is, can cats eat strawberries? Let’s take an in-depth look.
What Are Strawberries?
The common garden strawberry, despite the name, is actually not a berry. It is actually a hybrid species of Fragaria, and is categorized as an “aggregate accessory fruit.”
Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C, which apparently is great for humans. They also contain manganese and subdued levels of other vitamins and minerals.
In one 100g serving of strawberries, there can be up to 90g of water. Aside from this, carbohydrates make up around 7g, with 4g devoted solely to natural sugars. Apart from vitamin C, strawberries also contain vitamin B6, vitamin K, and vitamin E. There are small traces of iron, calcium, and potassium, among other minerals.
Are Strawberries Toxic to Cats?
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA) says no, strawberries are not toxic to cats. Aside from the ASPCA, there are no available scientific studies on the matter.
A quick look at what the common strawberry comprises of can give us an idea of its effects. The minerals and vitamins found in strawberries are all safe for cats to eat, and can usually be found in cat food. Although cats have no need for large amounts of vitamins, unlike other animals with more complex gastrointestinal systems, you can still feed them strawberries as a supplement.
Basically, there is no need for concern. There will be no toxic side effects if you do wish to feed strawberries to your cat as an occasional treat.
Not Toxic, But Possibly Dangerous
One thing that makes strawberries such a favorite fruit with humans is their sweetness. That sweetness is thanks to the sugar content in strawberries.
That is one of the only reasons to remain cautious when feeding strawberries to your cat.
Unfortunately, what makes strawberries so sweet and tasty can also be harmful to your cat.
Cats have evolved to derive nutrients and energy mainly from proteins and fats. They have little to no use for sugar, and their taste buds are even limited so that they don’t taste the sweetness in the same way that we humans do.
Effects of Sugar on Cats
Cats can metabolize sugar, however, if given to them in small, measured amounts. The sugar content of strawberries is low enough that the risk isn’t a huge one. But keep in mind that the effect of too much sugar on cats isn’t a pretty one. Although not toxic, sugar can lead to obesity in cats, something that is becoming more common as keeping cats as pets continue to rise in popularity.
Obesity isn’t the only adverse side effect of too much sugar. Cats can also suffer from what’s known colloquially as sugar diabetes. Middle-aged and old cats have a higher disk of sugar diabetes, as well as hyperglycemia. This is a chronic disease often targeting cats that are aging.
Hyperglycemia symptoms include weight gain leading to obesity as well as increased thirst, and excess urination. Strangely, another sign is weight loss. Basically, if your cat starts to exhibit weight gain or loss that is unusual, get him to an expert as soon as you can. Other symptoms of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, and hair loss should also be cause for concern.
An excess of strawberries can lead to unnecessary and dangerous levels of sugar intake. Therefore, while strawberries are safe for your cat to eat, they should do so in moderation. If you wish to share a strawberry snack with your kitty, experts advise a maximum amount of one or two strawberries a day. Even then, try not to feed your cat strawberries, or other fruits, every single day. Most fruits have a high concentration of natural sugars, much like strawberries do.
While intolerance to the fruit and seeds is commonly seen amongst humans, cats do not have this problem. The one factor that may cause allergic symptoms is the stem and leaves of the strawberry plant itself.
Although not harmful if she ingests it, contact with strawberries leaves has been known to cause skin irritation in cats. If your cat develops a rash after rubbing up against strawberry plants, or after walking in a field with strawberry plants, contact a veterinary expert immediately.
Skin irritation can cause your cat severe discomfort, and rashes may take a long time to heal properly. Infection is also a risk. If your cat has skin irritation and won’t leave it alone, this gives bacteria the chance to get under the skin and cause inflammation.
Strawberry Treats… Only Sometimes
It’s safe for your cat to eat strawberries… but, again, only in moderation. Consider just sharing a slice or two of a strawberry when you cat comes sniffing around. There is no reason for you to supplement your cat’s daily diet with strawberries.
Think of it just as a fun little treat every now and again. Since your cat is not biologically driven to eat strawberries, it won’t be something that it craves. You should have no problem discouraging your cat from overeating, as they most likely will only take a bite or two out of curiosity.
Weird Cat Cravings
There is a rare exception since cats are—let’s be honest—just super weird in general. If your cat discovers a pack of strawberries and starts rolling around in it like it’s catnip, don’t be alarmed. It may just enjoy the smell of strawberries, even if it can’t taste the sweetness and it isn’t biologically inclined to eat them.
Cats like to play with their food, so try tossing your cat a whole strawberry and see how it reacts. Keep a close eye on it so that you can control how much it eats, of course. But you’ll be surprised by how much play time a cat can glean from something as simple a strawberry.
In conclusion, strawberries are not toxic, although they offer no nutritional value for your cat. Offer them a sliver or two, and see how they like it.
You May Also Interested In:
- Can Cats Eat Cherries?
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