Strawberries are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—ones that protect the brain and the heart as well as prevent cancer.
But can cats eat strawberries? Even better question—SHOULD cats eat strawberries? Read on about the nutrition and related research around strawberries for cats.
Can Cats Eat Strawberries?
The short answer is that cats can eat strawberries! However, strawberries cannot replace a well-balanced diet and should be considered an additional treat more than a part of a cat’s routine diet. Without meat and a whole host of vitamins and minerals in the correct proportions, cats can become very ill. As obligate carnivores, meat-based diets for cats are a must.
On average, a cat should only eat approximately 10 percent of their total diet as other food besides their well-balanced cat food. For example, eating strawberries as 10 percent of a cat’s diet would add up to approximately 1 tablespoon of strawberry per day.
Are Strawberries Good for Cats?
There is no evidence to show that cats specifically benefit from strawberries. However, multiple studies show benefits to a variety of other species, especially humans. Research shows that strawberries:
- Have many vitamins, antioxidants and polyphenols known to reverse damage to cells due to aging and other factors .
- Are associated with decreased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) .
- Help maintain a steady blood glucose (sugar) level .
- Animals fed strawberries (2 percent of their diet) demonstrated better motor skills and increased cognition, or mental ability for logic .
- May protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and neurologic disease (disease of the brain and/or nerves) .
Are Strawberries Bad for Cats?
Strawberries are not poisonous to cats. Allergies to strawberries are suspected but not proven in dogs as well as cats. Cats that are allergic to birch and alder pollen can be allergic to strawberries, so cats with a history of allergies should be monitored for increased itching after feeding strawberries.
Strawberries do contain a lot of sugar, and they should never be fed as more than 10 percent of the diet. High sugar content can lead to obesity, which is linked to diabetes and many other health issues in cats.
In addition, strawberries are one of the most contaminated crops with pesticides . There are no reports of poisonings of animals having reactions to strawberries due to pesticides. However, limiting the amount of strawberries that are fed to your cat is wise due to the high likelihood of contamination.
Do Cats Like Strawberries?
Individual cats will vary on whether or not they appreciate the taste of strawberries. Most humans enjoy strawberries for their sweetness, but cats cannot taste sweet things—they lack the sweet taste receptor all together ! The tartness and texture may be appealing to some cats, and not to others.
Pet parents can feed strawberries daily to their cats if they show no symptoms of an upset stomach and 90 percent of what they are eating is a well-balanced food made for cats. Any increase in weight in your cat should be taken seriously and treats that are lower in sugar should be considered.
Can Cats Eat Strawberry Leaves?
Yes! Strawberries and their leaves are not poisonous to cats. However, eating the stems and leaves may cause gastrointestinal (stomach) upset such as vomiting, so it’s a good idea to monitor your cat for signs of upset if they consume strawberry leaves.
Can Cats Eat Strawberry Yogurt?
Yogurt can be fed to cats, but stomach upset is a relatively common consequence. Dairy products—such as milk, cheese, and yogurt—may cause stomach upset including vomiting and diarrhea since cats do not have much enzyme to break down lactose.
Plain unflavored yogurt would be preferable over flavored, strawberry yogurt since the sugar content should be lower in plain yogurt. Cats do not need any extra sugar in their diet.
One possible difference between strawberry yogurt and plain yogurt may be the content of xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener in place of sugar. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Animal Poison Control has had no reports of cat toxicity to artificial sweeteners before, but pet parents should still be cautious as xylitol is very toxic to dogs. Toxicity is typically similar between dogs and cats.
Can Cats Eat Strawberry Ice Cream?
Ice cream is a dairy product, and due to the lack of an enzyme to break down lactose, cats may have gastrointestinal upset after eating strawberry ice cream. Ice cream in general contains a high amount of fat and sugar. Food high in fat can result in stomach upset as well as obesity, pancreatitis, and diabetes if fed in high amounts.
Strawberry ice cream is not toxic to cats, but it is likely to upset the cat’s stomach and should only be fed on occasion, if ever. Pet parents should avoid any product that contains xylitol.
Cats and Strawberries: The Verdict
Strawberries are a generally safe treat to give to your cat. Cats should not be eating more than approximately 1 tablespoon of strawberries (or any other food!) per day if pet parents choose to feed their cats with this fruit.