There’s nothing like mouthwatering, invigorating strawberries. And while you—and dogs—may love to snack on them, what about cats? Can furry felines eat strawberries, too? Yes!
“In moderation, this refreshing fruit falls under the category of safe cat treats for felines,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack, veterinarian, certified veterinary acupuncturist, certified Chinese veterinary herbologist and owner of New York City-based veterinary practice Animal Acupuncture. “If they enjoy the taste of them, go for it.”
All About Cats and Strawberries
Benefits of Strawberries for Cats
In moderation, strawberries make a “fun, perfectly acceptable treat” for cats, says small animal vet, Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ based in Silverthorne, Colorado, adding, “as long as they like them and they don’t cause problems.”
Here’s a look at the health benefits of strawberries:
- Strawberries are a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (vitamin C, folate, manganese, potassium and polyphenols).
- Strawberries have less sugar than many other fruits, making them a better snack, says Dr. Wooten. For comparison, strawberries have 7 grams of sugar per cup, while mangoes have 23 grams of sugar per cup and watermelon has about 10 grams of sugar per cup.
- Strawberries are hydrating, with a 91 percent water content. They should never, however, replace water.
Downsides of Strawberries for Cats
One of the main things to keep in mind with a human food such as strawberries is they don’t fall under natural feline fare.
“Cats don’t need carbohydrates,” says Dr. Wooten. “As obligate carnivores (meat eaters), they’re meant to get all their energy from proteins and nutrients in meat.”
Here’s why strawberry treats may not be a cat’s best bet:
- While strawberries may have less sugar than many other fruits, they still have sugar. That translates to excess calories for kitty, says Dr. Wooten. And if your cat has a health condition, like diabetes, strawberries could have a negative effect on their blood sugar.
- Strawberries could cause diarrhea, loose stool or upset stomach. If your cat eats too many strawberries, they could get sick. And if they’re really binging and indulging in large quantities of strawberries, they may not want to eat their regular food, which will interfere with their overall balanced diet.
- Some cats are inherently intolerant to strawberries. Because cats have digestive systems that weren’t designed for carbohydrates, some fur babies might be inherently intolerant to strawberries, resulting in icky gastrointestinal issues if they ingest them. If you’ve got a stomach sensitive feline, it’s generally best not to give strawberries, says Dr. Deborah Bayazit, DVM, co-owner and medical director of Brilliant Veterinary Care in New York City.
- Cats may not even want a sweeter treat, like strawberries. “Sweet treats are just not a go-to for cats,” says Dr. Bayazit. As unbelievable as it may seem to humans and dogs, cats don’t tend to gravitate towards treats that contain sugar. In fact, they’re genetically wired, not to taste sweets the way we do.
- Strawberries’ nutritional benefits may not have much impact on cats. Though strawberries have nutritional benefits that certainly don’t hurt your cat (vitamin C, potassium, manganese, antioxidants and fiber), the truth is these upsides may have a minimum effect at best for feline friends because cats can’t safely consume enough to really make a big impact.
How to Feed Strawberries to Cats
If your kitty likes strawberries and doesn’t exhibit problems, here’s how to feed your cat strawberries.
- Clean the strawberries. Wash the strawberries in water (to help remove pesticides) and cut off the leaves and stems. The leaves and stems could be a choking hazard, or your buddy could get into digestive trouble from partaking.
- Cut one medium strawberry into small, bite-size pieces and serve it up no more than a couple of times a week.
- Keep amounts small, serve occasionally, and never serve as a meal replacement instead of their regular pet food. “Only 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake should consist of cat treats,” says Dr. Barrack. Let’s say your cat enjoys 200 calories a day, and let’s figure a medium-sized strawberry has about 4 calories. That puts this one strawberry at just 2 percent of your cat’s everyday calories—which is right in the ballpark and won’t mess with their regular nourishment.
- Don’t push it. Cats are notoriously curious creatures, but if they’re not interested in this luscious treat, move on.
Pet parents should consult their vet before treating their cat to strawberries. The vet can determine the right amount for your critter and bring up any cat health issues that might rule out a strawberry snack.
Watch out for signs of digestive disagreement, like upset stomach and diarrhea, the first time your cat tries strawberries–or any new food, says Dr. Wooten. If your cat has a bad response, be sure to check in with your vet. Diabetic cats, in particular, should steer clear of this fruit because they process sugars differently than we do.
Cat-Friendly Recipe with Strawberries
This DIY Strawberry-Flavored Cat "Cocktail" will set tails wagging. This homemade cat treat is alcohol-free and includes a feline-friendly calming supplement—purr-fect for fur babies that get a tad anxious amidst the festivities.
FAQs About Cats and Strawberries
Q:What fruits are toxic to cats?
A:There are certain fruits that are toxic to cats and should never be included in your cat’s diet. Considered unsafe for cats and could lead to negative reactions, those fruits include:
- Citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, limes, and the like
- Unripe tomatoes
Q:When are cats not supposed to eat strawberries?
A:Cats should not eat strawberries if they’ve ever had any bad reactions to them, Dr. Wooten says. Cats should also steer clear of strawberries if they have any of the following:
- History of stomach or intestinal issues
Other reasons not to serve strawberries:
- If the strawberries are rotten, never give one to your kitty as it could make them sick, says Dr. Bayazit.
- If they’re frozen, that’s a no-no too. You don’t want your cat to break a tooth on one, says Dr Bayazit.
Overall, “[cats’] bodies weren’t designed to eat carbohydrates, and they might be intolerant to snacking on the fruit,” adds Dr. Bayazit.
Q:Why do cats love strawberries?
A:Who knows! Vets sure don’t know why cats love strawberries. “Maybe it’s personal preference,” says Dr. Wooten.
Or maybe it’s attention-seeking behavior, adds Dr. Bayazit. “They may want to eat one because you are eating it, in the same way they get on top of your computer. They are very curious critters.”
Cats aren’t drawn to sweet things, so it may just be that you have a strange, quirky cat on your hands with a taste preference for strawberries, notes Dr. Bayazit.
“Cats can be weird,” Dr. Wooten adds.
Q:What are the benefits of feeding cats strawberries?
A:The benefits of feeding cats strawberries includes…
- Strawberries have a smaller amount of sugar than other fruits.
- They’ve got fiber, vitamin C, potassium, manganese and antioxidants.
- Strawberries’ 91 percent water content makes them a hydrating treat. (Though, they should never take the place of water.)
While the nutritional benefits may be slight in kitties (they eat such small quantities that there’s not a gigantic payoff), as long as your feline is eating balanced pet food, strawberries can be a healthy treat—and if your cat really likes them, a fun fruit treat, too.
Q:What are some healthy alternatives for cats to eat?
A:Cats, being carnivores, need meat for optimum physical fitness. That means lean meat snacks are ideal. You’ll get more bang for your buck in terms of nutritional value, while keeping kitty in tip-top condition. That said, some healthy alternatives for cats include the following:
- A tablespoon of cubed cooked chicken
- Deli turkey meat, about a tablespoon torn up
- Cooked, lean beef
More Human Foods Cats Can Eat: