- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Whether you’re baking an apple pie or enjoying a crisp apple slice with peanut butter, apples are quite the diverse and satisfying fruit. Packed with vitamins and fiber, apples have long been a late-summer, early fall staple of our diets. But can your cat, the apple of your eye, enjoy this hearty fruit?
Apples may be filled with health benefits for us, but our feline friends have different digestive systems that process “human foods” quite differently. Some foods may be non-toxic or even beneficial to a cat’s diet, while other foods can cause issues and have long-term, lasting effects.
Here’s what you need to know about whether cats can eat apples.
Does an apple a day, in fact, keep the doctor away? It certainly can help! Apples have a huge amount of vitamins and minerals. With vitamin C, A, E, B1, B2, and B6, along with copper and manganese, for humans, you can’t go wrong with this amazing super fruit.
Apples, especially their whole fruit form, are often recommended by nutritionists as a way to curb hunger cravings. In fact, one study concluded that participants who ate fruits in their complete form (not juiced or pureed) felt fuller and more satisfied.
Apples are also rich in polyphenols. This micronutrient is linked to helping combat digestive issues, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and more.
The truth of the matter is, fruits are not part of a cat’s natural diet. Cats are carnivorous and having too much sugar (yes, even natural sugar found in fruit!) in a cat’s diet can cause digestive or diabetic issues over time. It’s ultimately recommended to not feed cats apples in large quantities, especially as a meal replacement.
The good news is, you most likely won’t have to fight them off from apples. Due to their carnivorous appetites, cats lack taste receptors for sweetness, as Scientific American explains, so they won’t be too excited by a sweet treat of any type, including apples.
If you do feed your cat a part of your apple, however, be sure they don’t eat the seeds. The apple itself is non-toxic for cats, but the seeds contain cyanide and are poisonous for cats.
Applesauce may seem harmless, but prepackaged applesauce may be filled with chemicals and preservatives that a whole apple wouldn’t have. On the other hand, if you’re fixing homemade applesauce and your cat takes a lick or two, it won’t have any harmful effects, as pureed foods are easier to digest for cats.
If your cat takes a little crunch of your apple, don’t worry, as apples are not toxic to cats. However, if apples were introduced to your cat’s diet regularly, they could lead to obesity and diabetes symptoms. Even though apples are a great help to humans with diabetes, cats digest fruit sugar very differently. Raising a cat’s blood sugar level on a frequent basis can create many long-term health issues.
Feline diabetes is one such concern. According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, symptoms of feline diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Constant urination
- Lack of appetite
- Inability to jump
Even if you’re not feeding your cat sweets, contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice these symptoms as it may be the beginning signs of diabetes.
If you’re worried about your cat’s sugar intake in general, consider checking the packages of food items you buy. Some cat treats may have excess amounts of sugar and carbohydrates.
In general, “Fruits are not problematic for cats although most won’t really eat fruit in any quantity,” Gary Richter, DVM, owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California and Holistic Veterinary Care, tells Rover. “Since they are not going to eat large amounts of fruit anyway, the sugar content is not a major concern.”
Though apples are non-toxic, there are certain fruits that cats should steer clear of:
- Citrus (all citrus contains some level of citric acid, which can cause central nervous system issues in large enough doses; it causes stomach upset in smaller amounts, according to the ASPCA)
- Grapes/Raisins/Currants (toxic to cats, according to the ASPCA)
- Coconut or coconut oil (technically a seed, but we’ll include it here—coconut can cause an upset stomach in cats, per the ASPCA)
If you’d like to experiment with some alternative human foods, instead of fruit, consider vegetables. “Pet owners can always try to give vegetables to cats in food or treats. Not all will eat them,” Dr. Richter says. “There certainly are good nutrients in vegetables when part of a balanced meal.”
These veggies are not toxic to cats, according to the ASPCA:
- Celery (they love the crunch!)
- Green bell peppers
- Spinach (Filled with vitamins A, C, and K!)
- Peas (Often found in many prepackaged foods for cats and dogs as a vitamin-filled addition)
- Pumpkin (Pumpkin is used often as a way to get fiber in your cat’s diet)
At the end of the day. remember that your cat is still a carnivore, so use these alternative foods sparingly. If full meals are replaced with veggies they’ll miss out on vital nutrients of properly formulated cat food. “The large majority of what cats eat should be a balanced diet,” Dr. Richter says. “In general, treats are not balanced and should not make up a significant portion of their daily intake.”