Can I Give My Cat Papaya?pineapple and mango, papaya is one of the most beloved tropical fruit flavors. Satisfying enough for dessert yet nutritious enough for breakfast, this soft, sweet tropical berry is, for many of us, a summer treat for both our bodies and our brains.
Our doctors would probably leap for joy if they saw how much tropical fruit we gobbled up in the summer, but when it comes to fruit, our pets’ veterinarians are much less vocal. Is it a good idea to give our cats tropical fruit? Aren’t they meat eaters? Can cats have papaya?
The answer is yes, cats can eat papaya in moderation. Unlike some other fruits such as grapes and raisins, papaya does not contain significant amounts of any substance that may be poisonous to your pet. Like all fruits, papaya should only be given to cats in small amounts—felines have finicky digestive systems and may get an upset stomach from eating too much fruit. So, feel free to give your feline friend a couple chunks of papaya flesh, but if they get sick afterward, take the hint and keep it off their plate in the future!
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Papaya
Your cat will not miss much if they pass on the papaya. You may even find that your cat is utterly uninterested in having anything to do with this tropical treat. Unlike us and even our dogs, cats have evolved to be obligate carnivores, which means that their bodies—and yes, that includes their taste buds—have adapted to get everything they need by eating the flesh of prey animals. Because they are biologically set up to eat an all-meat diet, cats are not likely to crave high-carbohydrate plant foods like fruit. In fact, cats lack the ability to taste sweet things. All that sugary sweetness is lost on them!
Another result of their carnivorous diets is this: they really can’t reap the same benefits from plant foods that we can. They need a different balance of vitamins and amino acids than we do, and they need to consume them in different forms. For example: humans often eat fruit for the Vitamin C, but cats already produce all the Vitamin C that they need to function properly. On the other hand, cats must consume taurine in their diets, but human bodies synthesize enough taurine to meet their daily needs. Simply put, you and your cat have vastly different dietary needs. Fruit is great for us, but it is a pretty mediocre source of nutrition for our cats.
So is there any good reason to give your cat papaya? While felines have no need to regularly consume this or any fruit, there may be a few small benefits to tossing your cat the occasional fruity snack. The biggest one is dietary fiber. In the wild, cats would get indigestible animal parts that would help bulk up their stool and stimulate digestion—things like fur, bones, and even the plant fiber inside prey animals’ stomachs.
Our housecats, however, often miss out on these animal parts when they eat processed kibble or canned food. Giving them small amounts of plant fiber may help soothe upset stomachs and improve digestion. Plant fiber can also help with weight management—high-fiber foods take up a lot of space in the stomach while packing a fairly small number of calories, so your cat can fill up their stomach while taking in fewer calories.
For cats, fruit is something to consume in small amounts. In the short term, eating too much papaya is likely to result in diarrhea, vomiting, and upset stomach.
Things to Consider
If you decide to share some papaya with your furry friend, make sure to remove the peel and the seeds first, and cut it into bite-sized pieces to prevent choking. Though your cat does not need papaya to be healthy, they may receive some small benefits from the dietary fiber, which can aid in digestion. It’s important to remember to practice moderation, however—fruit offers little in the way of feline nutrition, so eating too much of it can cause weight gain or other nutritional problems.