Did you know that bananas are one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world? They’re grown in more than 150 countries and more than 105 million tons of the fruit are produced each year . Further, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bananas are the most popular fresh fruit in the United States .
If you’re a fan of this tropical treat, you may be wondering if cats can have bananas, too. The answer may surprise you!
Can Cats Eat Bananas?
Short answer: Yes! “Cats can eat bananas safely and they are digestible,” says Dr. Emily Swiniarski, medical director for Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, Illinois. “While cats are obligate carnivores—meaning they must eat meat—their digestive systems can handle some carbohydrates and fiber.”
However, just because cats can eat bananas doesn’t mean it should be a staple of their diets. Bananas are best served as an occasional treat.
“Treats, including bananas, should not constitute any more than 10 percent of a cat’s diet,” Dr. Swiniarski explains. She adds that if you’re serving your cat bananas, that would mean you’re feeding no more than 1-to-2 tablespoons per day, and that’s only if you’re not giving Fluffy any other treats.
So, now that we’ve established that bananas themselves are safe to eat, what about banana-based snacks?
Can Cats Eat Banana Bread?
Dr. Swiniarski doesn’t recommend feeding banana bread to cats. “Food items made with bananas can have added sugars, fats, or potentially toxic ingredients like chocolate,” she says. “Before feeding a cat anything made with bananas, pet parents should know what the ingredients are and feed very, very little,” she notes.
Can Cats Eat Banana Peels?
Unlike banana fruit, banana peels are not good for cats to eat. “The peels hold very little nutrition and are extremely fibrous,” says Dr. Swiniarski. “Besides being tough to chew, they will be tough to digest and cats’ tummies may become upset.”
Can Cats Eat Banana Chips?
Depending on how they’re prepared, cats may be able to eat banana chips. If the chips are simply dehydrated bananas with no added sugar, spices, or salt, they should be fine for cats to eat. If there are added ingredients—especially salt and sugar—pet parents should pass.
Can Kittens Eat Bananas?
Kittens can eat bananas. But it’s important to keep in mind that kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats, so their banana intake should be limited. “Because kittens need high levels of protein and fat in their diet, [pet parents should] keep bananas to a minimum and ensure your kitten is eating a high-quality diet approved for kittens or all life stages,” Dr. Swiniarski recommends.
Are Bananas Good for Cats?
While cats can eat bananas, they aren’t necessarily good for cats. Most cats also don’t have a drive to eat sweet things like humans or dogs, and may not enjoy the taste of bananas. As stated above, cats are obligate carnivores and must eat meat to survive. In terms of nutrition, cats require a high-protein, moderate fat, minimal carbohydrate diet that mimics the prey they would eat in the wild. There are certain vitamins and minerals that cats need in a healthy diet, but those are typically covered if you’re feeding your cat a high-quality commercial cat food, ideally one that meets AAFCO standards.
Are Bananas Bad for Cats?
While bananas are healthy for humans, they are high in carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugar, which are not a major part of a balanced feline diet . They’re also high in potassium, which isn’t necessarily bad for a healthy cat, but it could be a problem for cats with underlying health conditions.
“Any cat with healthy kidneys will have no problem getting rid of extra potassium,” Dr. Swiniarski explains, “And some kitties with kidney problems actually need more potassium. But if a cat has kidney disease, and their potassium is too high, feeding your cat bananas would not be a great choice.”
Bananas and Cats: The Verdict
Bananas are safe to give a healthy cat in small quantities, no more than 1-to-2 tablespoons per day if you’re not giving your cats any other treats. Think of bananas as a “sometimes treat” for your cat, like a cookie or a candy bar might be for a human.
The one caveat is that if your cat has existing health issues, the potassium in bananas may be dangerous, so be sure that your cat has a clean bill of health before sharing your snack.