If you bring home a basket of strawberries, everyone in the household will be happy. Maybe your cat will be happy too and show an interest in them. But are cats even allowed to eat strawberries?
Cats are allowed to eat strawberries, but only in moderation. Strawberries contain sugar, which can have negative consequences for cats. However, they are a good source of antioxidants, vitamin B9, vitamin C, potassium and manganese. Strawberries can also improve your cat’s fluid balance on warm and sunny days.
Cats are indifferent to sweet tastes, so few of them eat strawberries. Their interest is usually limited to the smell.
However, if your cat likes strawberries, you can occasionally offer him a strawberry or two.
This article explains whether cats like strawberries and why they are indifferent to sweets. We also discuss the health benefits and disadvantages strawberries have for cats.
Do Cats Like Strawberries?
The human tongue contains over 9,000 taste buds to taste different types of tastes. In contrast, cats have less than 500 taste buds. The cat’s tongue, therefore, also lacks receptors for sweet taste.
Cats are one of the few mammals that are indifferent to sweet tastes.
Although cats do not actively reject the taste of sweet foods, they are indifferent to them.
This means cats are unlikely to consider strawberries a treat simply because of their sweetness.
Nevertheless, cats often show interest in this fruit because it has an intense odor. This may be comparable to catnip for some cats.
Why Don’t Cats Like Sweet Foods?
All mammals, except cats, need small amounts of carbohydrates to survive.
However, this does not apply to cats, as meat provides them with everything they need to survive. Therefore, cats do not have an instinctive craving for sugar.
When mammals consume something sweet, two proteins join to generate the taste: Tas12r and Tas13r. However, the cat’s body does not produce Tas12r, so cats cannot taste sweetness.
It is assumed that this mutation arose over time out of necessity. When cats are distracted by sweetness, they may not consume enough high-quality protein.
Some cat owners claim their cats love sweet foods, often citing cake as an example. However, it’s not the sugar that interests cats, but the high-fat content.
What Are the Benefits of Strawberries for Cats?
Strawberries are not unsuitable for cats but are not a superfood, either. They do offer health benefits, but cats would need to eat more than the permitted amount to benefit.
Strawberries contain antioxidants in the skin and flesh. Antioxidants can prevent certain progressive diseases in cats.
One advantage of fruit is that it consists mainly of water. Since many cats tend to drink water sparingly, strawberries can be a good way to keep your cat hydrated.
Manganese is an enzyme that cats need in small amounts. Consuming manganese ensures that the cat grows optimally and has strong teeth and bones.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Strawberries are rich in vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, which supports the intestines and digestion. Vitamin B9 can help relieve heartburn and stomach problems.
Cats usually meet their folic acid requirements by eating wild grass.
If you have an indoor cat with stomach problems, occasionally eating sliced strawberries can increase their vitamin B9 levels.
Potassium is an essential electrolyte for a cat’s health and well-being. A large strawberry contains about 27.5 mg of potassium.
A potassium deficiency can lead to unhealthy fur, leg cramps, weakness, and constipation. This deficiency is usually remedied with potassium gluconate supplements, but certain fruits can also be helpful.
Eating bananas, grapefruit, strawberries, and honeydew melon can help cats with hypokalemia, i.e., low blood potassium levels.
What Are the Disadvantages of Strawberries for Cats?
Cats would need to eat a lot of strawberries to really benefit from them. Unfortunately, this also brings out the harmful effects of strawberries.
Regular consumption or eating large quantities of strawberries can negatively affect the cat. Let’s look at the adverse effects strawberries can have on cats.
A few strawberries are harmless to cats unless your cat is allergic to them.
Cats can be allergic to any food, including strawberries. Some allergic reactions occur immediately, while others manifest for up to an hour.
The most common symptoms of allergic reactions in cats include:
- Discharge from the eyes or nose
- Rash on the skin
If your cat has an allergic reaction, strawberries are unsuitable. Therefore, avoid feeding your cat strawberries again.
The allergic reaction is a temporary problem; if you avoid strawberries in the future, it will not recur.
If your cat experiences a severe allergic reaction or undergoes anaphylactic shock, take it to the vet.
It’s the sweetness of strawberries that makes them so delicious. It is the reason why many people love strawberries.
However, the sugar responsible for the sweetness can lead to tooth decay. And this is not only the case for humans but also for cats.
Caries are a big problem. The sugar in strawberries attaches itself to the teeth and gums, leading to toothache and gum disease.
Brushing your cat’s teeth after eating strawberries to prevent tooth decay is recommended.
Because cats’ bodies cannot process carbohydrates well, a cat that eats too many strawberries is prone to weight gain and diabetes.
Both are bad for the cat, as they can lead to secondary diseases and a reduced quality of life.
A cat that overeats something new often gets an upset stomach.
Strawberries contain fiber, which is not essential for cats, so too many strawberries can lead to diarrhea.
Your cat may also vomit as their digestive system is not used to eating fruit.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Strawberries contain high vitamin C levels, which is beneficial for humans but not for cats.
A cat’s body produces vitamin C, so it does not need supplements or food to absorb this vitamin.
You should avoid strawberries for your cat if he is prone to urinary tract infections. Vitamin C promotes the excretion of oxalates in the urine, leading to crystals forming in the cat’s urethra.
Unspayed middle-aged or older female cats are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections in cats.
How to Feed Strawberries to Cats
Cut off the leaves and stems to test your cat’s reaction to strawberries.
Although the leaves are not poisonous, they are irritating as the sharp edges can cause itching in your cat’s eyes, nose, or throat.
Slice the strawberry to release the scent and attract the cat.
If your cat reacts well to the strawberry and enjoys the taste, you can offer him 1-2 strawberries a few times a week.
If your cat likes the smell of strawberries, he will probably also like strawberry-scented products.
Let’s take a look at some everyday strawberry products and see if they are suitable for cats.
Jam is often very high in sugar, so it is best to be careful. Use a sugar-free jam, preferably organic, as strawberries naturally contain sugar. Cheap jam from the supermarket contains significantly more sugar.
However, ensure the sugar-free jam does not contain the artificial sweetener xylitol. Xylitol is toxic to cats and can lead to serious health problems.
If you want to treat your cat with strawberry jam, dip your finger in it and let the cat lick it. This can be helpful as a reward.
Strawberry Milk and Ice Cream
The majority of cats are lactose intolerant. For this reason, you should generally avoid dairy products for your cat. The cliché that cats love milk is due to the fat content, just like cake.
Most cats are indifferent to ice cream because they prefer their food at room temperature or above. Nevertheless, the fat content can arouse a cat’s curiosity.
In this case, you can prepare a cat-friendly strawberry dessert yourself.
Chop up the strawberries and mix them with a tiny amount of cream. Use the cream sparingly, as too much can upset your cat’s stomach and digestive system.
Yogurt can give a cat’s body with probiotics and prebiotics to promote gut health.
If your cat likes the taste of strawberries, it will make the yogurt even more tempting.
It is best to use unflavored yogurt and mix in a small amount of strawberries yourself.
Avoid low-fat or fat-free strawberry yogurts at all costs, as these usually contain a lot of sugar.
Are Cats Allowed to Eat Unripe Strawberries?
Cats can taste sour, so that you can offer your cat sour, unripe strawberries.
However, unripe strawberries lack an exciting smell, so your cat will probably not notice them.
Conclusion: Can Cats Eat Strawberries?
If a cat is not allergic to strawberries, it can eat them without hesitation. However, ensure your cat does not eat too many strawberries too often.
In most cases, however, it will not happen that a cat eats too many strawberries. Most cats don’t care about strawberries since they can’t taste the sweetness.
If your cat doesn’t like strawberries, it’s no big deal. Since cats are obligate carnivores, the health benefits of strawberries for cats are minimal.