- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Bananas are a popular snack for humans praised for having a variety of positive health effects while giving an energy boost from their natural sugars. But can your cat enjoy this sweet tropical fruit?
Our feline friends have different digestive systems than us, and although some foods may be non-toxic or even beneficial to a cat’s diet, other foods can cause serious issues immediately or have long-term effects. Though bananas are healthy for us, that doesn’t mean they’re safe for other animals.
Here’s what you need to know about whether cats can eat bananas.
Bananas are hailed as one of the healthiest human snacks due to their high potassium and fiber intake. They’re also frequently used as an aide to help an upset stomach. They’re essential in the “BRAT” (bananas, rice, apples, toast) diet as a way to help people recover from many stomach-related illnesses.
Bananas are filled with vitamins A and C, something both cats and humans need in their daily diets. Nutritionists recommend bananas to ease irritable bowel syndrome and help with lactose intolerance.
With all of these amazing benefits, we may want to share the wealth with our cats! However, if you notice your cat isn’t interested in the banana you’re eating, it’s with good reason. Cats lack taste receptors for sweetness, as Scientific American explains, so they won’t be too excited by a sweet treat of any type, much less a banana.
Although bananas aren’t toxic, cats shouldn’t digest bananas regularly because they don’t digest sugar the same way humans do. Cats are carnivorous and having too much sugar in a cat’s diet will cause digestive issues over time. It’s ultimately recommended to not feed cats bananas in large quantities, especially as a meal replacement.
If your cat takes a curious bite of your banana without your permission, don’t fret. A little nibble won’t hurt them.
But if they were to continuously eat this sugar-filled fruit over time, it may lead to obesity and diabetes symptoms. Cats can digest banana sugar in small amounts, but raising their blood sugar levels on a frequent basis will wreak havoc long-term.
Symptoms of feline diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Constant urination
- Lack of appetite
- Inability to jump
Contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice these symptoms as they may be the beginning signs of diabetes, according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
This is true for all sugary foods including cereals or other types of fruit. Consider checking the package when purchasing cat treats, as some may have excess amounts of sugar and carbohydrates.
“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.” Beyond sugar, however, there are other things to watch out for.
These are fruits you’ll absolutely want to steer clear from with cats:
- 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’re looking for some healthy snacks for your cat beyond regular canned or dry food, they might also like 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)
However, remember that your cat is still a carnivore, and they’ll miss out on vital nutrients if they fill up on vegetables instead 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.”