4 min read

Can Cats Eat Bell Peppers?


By Leslie Ingraham

Published: 04/13/2023, edited: 04/18/2023

Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

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It may surprise you to know that your purr baby may be interested in veggies. As obligate carnivores, their primary food is meat. Unlike humans, cats can synthesize their own vitamins and minerals so they don't need vegetables' rich sources of these nutrients. Your cat’s interest in bell pepper is more about color, taste, and crunch. In fact, there may some bell pepper in your cat’s food, but the protein is the star of the show.

Are bell peppers safe for cats to eat? The answer is yes! There are no toxins in bell peppers that will harm your cat, and in fact, there may even be some bell pepper in your cat’s food. If your feline friend begs for a piece of this green, yellow, orange, or red vegetable, it’s purrfectly okay to give them a small piece as a treat. 

Let's take a look at the benefits of bell peppers for cats and how to safely feed them to your feline pal.

Do cats like bell peppers?

Some cats enjoy bell peppers, while others don't. Their preference may be for red peppers because they’re more flavorful and sweet than green, orange, or yellow ones. While cats don’t have sweet receptors on their tongues, they might be attracted to the underlying taste and crunch of a fresh bell pepper. Red peppers are also more easily digested than other colors, so they are a good variety to start with if your cat is pawing to get a bite!

red and green bell peppers growing on the vine

Health benefits of bell peppers for cats

While your purry pet doesn’t need all the vitamins and minerals found in bell peppers, these veggies may still be beneficial. Bell peppers can impact a cat’s health in positive ways. Some benefits for cats include:

Helps prevent anemia

Anemia, a lack of red blood cells and hemoglobin in your kitty’s blood, causes symptoms that include fatigue, reduced appetite, pale gums, and an inability to exercise. The vitamin C and iron found in bell peppers can prevent or treat anemia. Vitamin C also boosts the cat’s immunity and helps the body absorb iron more readily.

Reduces cancer risk

The development of some cancer types is thought to be related to a cat’s diet. Bell peppers are rich in substances called antioxidants that lower inflammation and prevent cancer cells from multiplying out of control. This same mechanism works against dementia, arthritis, and heart disease.

Supports eye health

Bell peppers contain carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin that prevent or slow down the process by which a cat’s lenses and retina deteriorate, potentially causing blindness. 

Relieves indigestion and constipation 

The fiber in peppers helps to absorb water and bulk up stools to make them easier to pass. Fiber also stimulates the colon to contract and move waste effectively.

Prevents dehydration 

Bell peppers contain 93% water, which they can release into the intestines to combat the effects of dehydration and constipation.

How much bell pepper can I give my cat?

It’s important to know that you shouldn’t feed large amounts of peppers to your purr baby. Too much bell pepper may cause GI problems like indigestion, diarrhea, and vomiting. So how much is too much?

A 10 lb cat should eat approximately 350 calories a day. If you’re following nutritional guidelines, a 10 lb cat should eat approximately 350 calories a day, with only 10% of its calories, or 35, as treats. There are 31 calories in four-tenths of a cup of bell pepper, or between a quarter and half cup of small pieces of bell pepper as treats. While you shouldn't feed your cat more than this amount per day, most cats should eat even less. These crunchy, juicy veggies can be fun to chew, but most cats will only want to munch a bit at a time. Plus, giving them too much, especially at first, can cause some digestive issues, so always start small and work up to more if your cat enjoys them. 

Raw bell peppers can be cut up into cat bite-sized pieces for your kitty to enjoy. If your feline buddy has a sensitive stomach, however, it’s a good idea to give them their bell peppers cooked. Peppers, whether raw or cooked, should be washed thoroughly and cut into small pieces, with any stems discarded. Then, boil, steam, or roast them without salt, pepper, onions, garlic, butter or any other seasonings which can be dangerous for cats. Let the pieces cool thoroughly before offering them to your cat. Bell peppers cooked into your own food, however, should be avoided because of various harmful seasonings. 

red, yellow and green bell peppers on a cutting board

Will bell peppers cause allergies in my cat?

If you suspect your cat is susceptible to a food sensitivity or allergy, give them a very small amount to start. If you see no allergy symptoms, you can slowly increase the amount to about one-quarter cup. Allergy symptoms to look for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflamed or itchy skin
  • Hair loss from excessive scratching
  • Gurgling stomach
  • Excess gas

Are the stems and leaves of a bell pepper plant safe for a cat to eat?

Experts disagree on whether cats can eat the bell pepper plant itself. Some say it’s toxic, while others warn against a choking hazard. It's best to avoid giving your cat any stems, leaves or other green parts of the bell pepper plant.

Does it matter what color bell pepper I feed my cat?

It’s thought that cats prefer red peppers over green, yellow, and orange, but it doesn’t matter which you give them. From a nutritional standpoint they're the same, as the different colors are simply different varieties of the same species. 

Is it okay to feed my cats hot peppers such as jalapeno?

Some purr buddies may find the spicy taste of other kinds of peppers appealing. But a spicy jalapeno slice or other type of hot pepper can cause GI problems and have the same burning effect as it does for us humans. Hot peppers should be avoided. 

Bell peppers, like other veggies, are a nice change for your cat if they like them. Cats don’t reap the same benefits as humans do, but they make a nice occasional change from their other treats. If your purr baby doesn't like them, no worries  there are many other veggies to choose from.

A high-quality diet is essential for keeping your cat happy and healthy. Digestive problems and food allergies can be expensive to treat. Compare pet health insurance plans to save more than $270 a year on vet care.

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