For many people, strawberries are the taste of summer. These delicious fruits are sweet, juicy, and tasty- but if your cat agrees, you might be wondering whether cats can eat strawberries, whether strawberries are safe for cats, and whether you can give your cat strawberries as a treat.
We’re going to take a look at strawberries in detail, so you can have all the information you need to make a decision about feeding your cat strawberries.
What Are Strawberries?
You’ll probably be surprised to hear that strawberries aren’t actually berries! This is because they are not made from the ovary of the plant, but from the ‘receptacle’ that the ovary sits in. They’re red (sometimes white), fleshy, and covered in tiny seeds.
Strawberry plants are commonly cultivated in gardens, and you may have noticed your cat snacking on the strawberries straight from the plant! These low-lying plants put out runners and clone themselves, meaning they can quickly ‘escape’ your vegetable beds and into your garden.
There are many varieties of strawberries that fruit at slightly different times, meaning the strawberry is available throughout Spring and Summer- and year-round if grown under glass or imported.
Strawberry Nutrition Stats
Strawberries contain a range of different nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. According to the USDA, 100g of strawberries contains the following macronutrients:
They’re higher in protein content and lower in calorific value than apples, but they also contain much less healthy fibre.
In addition, strawberries contain the following vitamins and minerals:
Strawberry Nutritional Benefits
Strawberries are low in calories, high in fiber, and low in water. This makes them an excellent healthy snack that’s great for the digestive system and treating constipation.
However, they also contain over 5g of sugar in every 100g strawberries, making them a little too sugary for eating large amounts regularly. Despite this, the amount of fiber helps to regulate the rise in blood sugar, giving strawberries a relatively low glycaemic index.
Luckily, strawberries are also loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium. They also contain a number of important phytonutrients such as polyphenols and the antioxidant compounds quercetin and anthocyanins such as pelargonidin.
These nutrients are currently being studied for their important benefits to blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. Strawberries have one of the highest polyphenol contents of all fruits.
Can Cats Eat Strawberries?
You might now be wondering whether cats can eat strawberries? The good news is that cats can eat strawberries, as long as you follow a few key rules.
Strawberries are considered a safe human food to feed to your feline friend. The ASPCA lists them as non-toxic to cats, dogs and horses. They are tasty, nutritious, and attractive to cats.
It’s not clear why cats want to eat strawberries, as cats have no ‘sweet’ taste receptors and therefore lack the ability to taste ‘sweet’ things. However, if you’re a cat owner, you’ll know how curious cats are, and how much they enjoy trying whatever you’re eating.
Hang on… cats are carnivores- are you sure they can eat strawberries? Yes, cats are obligate carnivores, and you might have heard that this means they cannot digest strawberries and other fruits and vegetables. However, this is not true; ‘obligate carnivore’ simply means that cats need amino acids that are only found in meat- they can eat plants if they choose, but they cannot live without meat.
Are Strawberries Good For Cats?
Ok, so cats can safely eat strawberries, but are strawberries good for cats? Do cats actually get any nutritional benefit from eating strawberries?
As with so many things, vets and researchers don’t yet know whether eating strawberries is good for cats. However, we do know that the high sugar content of strawberries means cats shouldn’t have too many strawberries, especially if they are diabetic. The high fiber content can also cause a problem- too much fiber can cause constipation or diarrhea.
The problem is that, despite all the amazing nutrients in strawberries, they are mostly found in small amounts. Unless your cat can stomach several hundred grams of strawberries (which we would definitely not recommend attempting!), they are unlikely to get any health benefits from eating strawberries- or any other fruit!
However, many cats like the taste of strawberries, and the water and fiber content can be useful additions to their diet. Compared to many treats, strawberries are relatively low-calorie, so if your cat likes them, they can be given as a healthy reward.
How Much Strawberry Can A Cat Eat?
This brings us on to how much strawberry you can safely feed a cat. As usual, I would advise that your cat’s diet is mostly a formulated complete and balanced diet. This cat food should be his main meal- making up at least 90% of his daily calories. The final 10% of his calories can come from snacks and treats, such as strawberries.
For the average cat, this means 20 calories a day can come from an unbalanced source. Assuming you give a variety of other cat treats, you shouldn’t give your cat more than 20g of strawberry per day to avoid obesity. Having said this, many cats will get gut upset from the fiber if they are eating any more than a teaspoon (10g) of strawberry a day.
With this in mind, you may want to feed a small slice of strawberry to your cat as a reward, or chop it up into small pieces and sprinkle it over his meal. Don’t forget to wash the strawberry to remove any traces of pesticides, and remove any greenery (the stem and top) if it’s still present, as this can get stuck in your cat’s throat.
As with all new foods, the first time you give your cat a slice of strawberry, you should give a piece smaller than your fingernail, then monitor your cat for 48 hours for adverse effects. Although strawberry allergies are rare, this is the best way to make sure your cat can cope with strawberries in their diet.
Strawberries are a safe treat for cats and contain a variety of nutrients. They’re also full of water, which is important for maintaining your cat’s hydration. Having said this, you should bear in mind that the fiber in strawberries can cause digestive system upset if you feed too much- and this might prevent your cat from getting any health benefits from strawberry. If you do choose to feed strawberries to your cat, only feed them very small quantities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can cats eat strawberry wafers?
Strawberry wafers are ‘empty calories’- they contain no useful nutrition but plenty of calories. They can be very high in sugar and are not recommended to feed to cats. You should also watch out for ‘diet’ or ‘low-cal’ versions, that may contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol.
What fruits can cats eat?
As well as strawberries, cats can also eat other berries including raspberries and blueberries, and fruits like bananas, watermelon, and mango.
Can cats eat strawberry yoghurt?
Strawberry yoghurt is not toxic to cats. However, it’s usually very high in sugar and you should therefore avoid giving it to your cat. Many cats also cannot tolerate yoghurt and other forms of dairy, so yoghurt should be avoided.
Can cats eat strawberry ice cream?
It's not a good idea to feed ice cream to your cat- it's very high in sugar and fats and has no nutritional value. Whilst not directly toxic, ice cream is likely to cause an upset stomach.