Cats can have some very peculiar eating habits. I’ve known two cats who would beg plaintively for frozen peas, one who was obsessed with noodles and several who would practically tear your arm off for just a sliver of cheddar cheese. My friend’s rescue cat, who once lived as a stray on the streets of London, has never lost her taste for cold leftover pizza despite being fed the best quality wet food every day. Since cats can’t taste sugar, they tend to leave the fruit alone — but there are a few exceptions.
Can cats have bananas? Cats can have a little banana now and then but should not eat it every day. Bananas aren’t toxic to cats but are high in sugar and may cause stomach upsets. Cats who are prone to weight gain should not eat bananas. Most cats won’t be interested in bananas as they can’t taste sweet things.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have questions about whether a banana is safe for cats. Maybe your cat has been stealing fruit and you’re worried about her. Perhaps you’ve heard that fruit can be healthy for cats and want to know if this includes banana.
- Are bananas safe for cats?
- Why does my cat want to eat bananas?
- What kinds of fruit can cats eat safely?
- You’ve come to the right place.
We have the answers you’re looking for. Just keep reading to find out everything you need to know about cats and the place of bananas in their diet.
Can cats have bananas?
Many human foods are off-limits for cats due to their toxicity. Onions, garlic, chocolate — these are just some examples of foods that could harm your cat if she eats them. Bananas don’t fall into this category, as they are non-toxic. That said, bananas really aren’t something your cat should be eating. Cats can have small amounts of banana on an occasional basis. They should not have banana too frequently, however, as it’s very unhealthy.
Bananas are a very healthy snack for a human but they’re not at all appropriate for a cat. A cat’s digestive system has evolved to digest one thing well, and that thing is animal protein. Their systems can’t really cope with large amounts of plant material, although small quantities are fine. The high sugar and fibre in bananas can be particularly upsetting for a cat’s GI tract, potentially causing intestinal distress and loose stools.
Another issue is potential weight gain from eating bananas. A cat who regularly eats banana can become overweight as the additional sugar in the fruit gets stored as fat. While large, chunky cats are cute to look at and wonderful to cuddle, too much additional weight can make a cat ill. They’re prone to similar issues as humans — damaged lower joints, heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and so on.
Pet food manufacturers often play up the value of fruits and vegetables in a cat’s diet. Frankly, this is motivated less by nutritional know-how and more by a desire to bulk out their products with cheaper ingredients. Cats do not really need fruits or vegetables at all.
The only appropriate diet for a cat is one based around animal protein. Cats should be fed primarily on a good-quality wet food. Choose a grain-free brand, ideally one based on animals similar to those a feral cat might consume. I like to give my cats food that’s made from chicken, duck or turkey, as poultry is pretty close to their natural prey. Rabbit is a good choice too. Feed adult cats twice a day and make sure your cat doesn’t overeat. If your cat begs for treats and extra food, try distracting her with games and fun activities.
Snacks and treats are fine but they should make up no more than 10 per cent of your cat’s daily calories. I find that giving my cats a puzzle toy slows down their snacking and provides valuable mental stimulation. You can give your cats small amounts of vegetables or fruit — we’ll discuss which ones are most appropriate later in the article — but avoid giving banana.
It’s not a problem if your cat gets a bite or two of your banana. Unlike foods that are outright toxic, bananas are harmless to your cat in small doses. You should not deliberately feed your cat bananas but you don’t need to call in the vet if she happens to steal a banana slice from your fruit salad.
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Why does my cat try to eat bananas?
Ordinarily, a cat wouldn’t really be very interested in a banana. Unlike humans, cats derive very little nutrition from fruits or vegetables and so they have never evolved taste receptors attuned to the sweet flavour of ripe fruits. There isn’t really anything about a banana that would recommend it to a cat — except, perhaps, that you were eating it. The ancestors of today’s domestic cats lived in loose colonies; you can see the same behaviour even in modern feral cats. While they don’t form the same close-knit bonds as dogs or wolves, these colonies do provide each other with a degree of support. Sharing food is one feature of colony behaviour. Cats have a strong tendency to observe the consumption of food — after all, how else do you know which foods are safe and healthy to eat? Since humans are terribly important members of the domestic cat’s pseudo-colony, it absolutely follows that their food is of tremendous interest. If you’re eating something, it might be good.
Another reason cats eat inappropriate foods is simply that they’re hungry. As a caring cat owner, you no doubt feed your cat regularly (most cat owners I know tend to overindulge their pets). Sometimes, though, a problem can crop up whereby your cat isn’t getting what she needs from her food.
• If you have other pets, supervise your cat’s feeding time — she might be missing out if she has to compete with more assertive creatures, especially if they’re bigger than her.
• If your cat is expecting kittens soon, she might not be getting enough nutrition. While overfeeding cats is not good, a gravid female may need more than her usual portions so it’s okay to give her a little extra. She’s eating for two — or three, four, and possibly more.
• Make sure your cat is getting the right food in the right quantities. I sometimes see pica and odd food cravings when people have been giving their cats dog food, feeding them on table scraps or giving them too little food. The worst cases involve people trying to put their cats on vegetarian or vegan diets. This is a terrible idea, frankly. If you’re feeding your cat a normal diet, try changing her food or supplying a small, healthy snack.
Something else to consider might be the possibility of dehydration. Bananas might not be very interesting to cats in terms of flavour but they contain a lot of fluid. A thirsty cat might try to eat fruit as a way to get liquids.
If your cat regularly attempts to eat bananas and other fruit, check that your cat is getting enough fluid. Even if you keep bowls of clean, freshwater in every room, you might just have a cat who doesn’t like to drink from a bowl. Try running the taps from time to time so she can drink from them. Better still, invest in a kitty drinking fountain. You can tell if your cat is dehydrated by symptoms such as dry stools and constipation. If left unchecked, chronic dehydration can lead to serious health problems: UTIs, kidney stones and other urinary tract issues are all common in cats who don’t drink enough liquid.
What fruits are safe for my cat?
If your cat gravitates towards fruit in general, it’s fine to indulge her as long as you’re careful which fruits you give her and how much. While vegetable matter doesn’t deliver much in the way of nutrition, some fruits are actually quite beneficial to cats. Fruit is particularly useful if your cat doesn’t seem to be drinking enough water. Along with regular brushing, crunching on fresh fruit can also help your cat’s teeth stay healthy.
Some fruits should be avoided for the sake of your pet’s health. Avoid giving your cats citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes. These can cause allergic reactions. Apricots, cherries, peaches and similar fruits can be dangerous as the pits contain cyanide.
Apple slices are okay now and then, as long as you peel the apple and scrupulously remove the core, pips, stem and any leaves. Even a single apple pip can be dangerous as they contain cyanide. Be sure not to miss any.
Cats can have tomatoes as long as they are very ripe and red. The tomato can’t have any green on it at all. Remove stalks, leaves and any flower remains as these are toxic to cats.
Cucumber chunks are often well-received by cats. They seem to enjoy the crunchy texture. The very high water content in cucumber makes this a good choice if you’re concerned about dehydration.
Avocado flesh is safe for cats but you must remove the pit. Avocado is quite fatty so avoid giving it to cats who are getting on the heavy side.
Cantaloupe melon is surprisingly popular with cats. The most convincing theory I’ve encountered as to why this might be is that the smell of cantaloupe contains something that cats find appealing. My long-haired boy absolutely loves a few chunks of cantaloupe in his bowl, especially on a hot day.
Article by Barbara Read
Barbara Read is the heart and soul behind CatBeep.com. From her early love for cats to her current trio of feline companions, Barbara's experiences shape her site's tales and tips. While not a vet, her work with shelters offers a unique perspective on cat care and adoption.