Can I Give My Cat Strawberries?
Berries are one of the best parts of summer. Strawberries in particular stand apart as a seasonal favorite, gracing our plates inside cakes, cloaked in chocolate, or sliced atop our green smoothies as a beautiful, fruity garnish. For those of us who love to treat ourselves to fresh, in-season produce, strawberries are one of the high points of summertime. For us seasonal eaters who also love to pamper our pets, the temptation to share summer’s bounty of berries is all too real—we love these colorful, juicy, cancer-fighting fruits, so it is understandable that we would want to let our pets enjoy them, too.
But we have also learned to be cautious of feeding ‘people foods’ to our pets, because what is a healthy treat for you and me is often a dangerous source of empty calories for our furry friends. While this is definitely a concern for our dogs, it’s an even bigger obstacle when it comes to finding treats for our cats, who are obligate carnivores. So, where do berries fall on that spectrum? Can cats have strawberries?
Surprisingly, yes! This is one fruit that is not poisonous or otherwise dangerous to your cat. Though our carnivorous cats are not biologically ‘designed’ to eat plant foods, strawberries are one fruit that they tend to handle very well in moderation. There may even be some modest health benefits to giving your feline friend a couple of fresh strawberries from time to time. That being said, it still isn’t a good idea to give your dog large amounts of fruit of any kind, because high amounts of carbohydrate can often result in stomach problems and weight gain.
Health Benefits of Giving your Cat Strawberries?
While strawberries are chock full of vitamins that help keep us happy, many of these vitamins are not present in forms that are readily available for cats—their bodies are not calibrated to pull nutrition from fruits. Actually, cats’ bodies manufacture some of our favorite plant vitamins on their own. So, while we have to get our daily dose of Vitamin C from plan foods like strawberries, cats’ bodies can produce enough of this vital vitamin to meet their needs. Since cats have evolved to extract most of their nutrition from meat sources, there are really only two benefits your cat may reap from strawberries: fiber and antioxidants.
Cats do not need nearly as much dietary fiber as people do. In the wild, cats would take in very little plant fiber—instead, they would consume a lot of indigestible animal materials, such as fur, bones, and cartilage, which would serve the same purpose. Wild and outdoor cats may also supplement their diets with dietary fiber by eating small amounts of grass, which helps to regulate their digestive system. For cats who spend most of their lives indoors, high-fiber fruits like strawberries may serve as a good substitute to the less glamorous indigestible materials your cat would naturally eat.
Fiber can help prevent both diarrhea and constipation. How? Because there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water, which turns it into a gelatinous, slippery substance that can help ‘lubricate’ the inside of the intestines. Soluble fiber can also soak up excess fluid inside the colon, which will make stool firmer. Insoluble fiber, which doesn’t absorb water, adds bulk to stool, which can stimulate larger, fuller bowel movements.
Strawberries are also loaded with antioxidants, which can be just as helpful to our cats as they are to us. Antioxidants are powerful chemicals that destroy free radicals inside the body. Free radicals are highly charged particles that can cause severe damage to cells, which can lead to mutations and various illnesses. Antioxidants are most often praised for their cancer-fighting properties. Though they can’t cure or prevent cancer on their own, feeding your cat antioxidant-rich foods like strawberries may lower their risk of developing it.
Things to Keep in Mind
Despite the perks, it’s important not to feed your cat too many strawberries. Even though cats often supplement their diet with small amounts of fibrous plants like grass, they still are not biologically suited to a diet high in plant foods. When compared to the ideal feline macro-nutrient ratios, strawberries contain far too little protein and far too much carbohydrate. Cats don’t even produce many of the enzymes that herbivores and omnivores use to properly digest carbohydrates! This means that eating too many strawberries can result in digestive problems and weight gain. Too many carbohydrates may also increase your cat’s risk of developing diabetes, so be sure to practice moderation.
While cats can’t benefit from eating large amounts of strawberries as much as we can, the little red fruits are generally recognized as safe to feed your cat. They contain fiber and antioxidants, which regulate digestion and lower the risk of cancer. Just remember to control your cat’s portions—they should not eat large amounts of any fruit.
Cat Eating Strawberry Video: