4 min read

Can Cats Eat Cranberries?


By Jasmine Sawatzky

Published: 10/27/2022, edited: 10/28/2022

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

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As the cooler weather rolls in, cranberries make more of an appearance in cozy autumn salads, baking, and holiday dinners. Naturally, caring pet parents want to make sure their furry friends stay happy and safe this Thanksgiving season. You may want to share these sweet-tart treats with your kitty compadre, but this begs the question: Can cats eat cranberries? 

The bottom line is, yes, cats can eat cranberries. It’s actually one of the most common fruits that you'll see on cat food labels. About 28% of dry cat food varieties contains cranberries, and 16% of wet cat foods. This is usually because of their health benefits and pigmentation qualities. 

When giving your kitty these red berries, however, you should use some caution. Let's take a look at how to safely feed your cat cranberries.

Do cats like cranberries?

As a general rule, yes, some cats like cranberries. Every cat is different though, so don’t be surprised if your fussy feline turns their little nose up at it. Cats don’t have any sweet taste receptors on their tongues, so they often aren’t that interested in fruits unless it’s mixed into their food or in the form of a treat. 

They could be interested in cranberries because of the other flavors, or even because of a crunchy mouthfeel. A thirsty feline could also enjoy cranberries as a source of moisture. If your cat is just not interested, don’t fret, and don’t try to make them eat something they don’t want. Cats are considered obligate carnivores, meaning they depend only on meat to survive. Fruits don’t offer the same benefits to cats as they do two-legged folk, so cranberries are not a must have food for felines. 

Cranberries pouring out a burlap sack on a table - can cats eat cranberries

Health benefits of cranberries for cats

Cranberries are considered a superfood, and packed full of healthy nutrients. Let’s take a look at some of the top benefits they offer for our furry pals. 

May support urinary tract health

Although more scientific research is needed, some studies have shown cranberry supplements could help prevent a urinary tract infection in cats. However, they don’t seem to be as effective in treating a UTI once your cat already has one, so be sure to visit your vet for treatment. Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, which are responsible for their red color, and can discourage bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls. This makes some of the nasty bacteria get flushed out during urination and prevents infections. 

Good source of fluids 

Cats generally don’t have a strong urge to drink water like other animals do, so they can be prone to dehydration. Carnivorous kitties usually get most of their hydration from the food they eat, but indoor cats who eat dry cat food don't always get enough from their food alone. Fur-tunately, fresh cranberries are nearly 90% water. This tasty treat could help your cat hydrate. 

Good source of nutrients

Cranberries pack a powerful punch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support good health in your cat. These include high amounts of Vitamins A, C, and K.  Iron, copper, and magnesium are some of the key minerals found in them. Take a look at the list of nutrition facts for one-half cup of chopped cranberries: 

  • 25 calories
  • 0.25 grams (g) of protein
  • 0.07 g of fat
  • 6.6 g of carbohydrate, including 2.35 g of natural sugar
  • 2 g of fiber
  • 4.4 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 0.12 mg of iron
  • 3.3 mg of magnesium
  • 6 mg of phosphorus
  • 44 mg of potassium
  • 1.1 mg of sodium
  • 0.05 mg of zinc
  • 7.7 mg of vitamin C
  • 0.5 micrograms (mcg) of folate DFE
  • 35 international units (iu) of vitamin A
  • 0.72 mg of vitamin E
  • 2.75 mcg of vitamin K
Cranberries on a table near a glass of cranberry juice

How much cranberry can I give my cat?

When trying to feed your cat anything new, it’s always best to check with your vet first. Start with only a couple of cranberries to see how your kitty's stomach reacts. Cranberries can be fed raw, cooked, or dried, as long as there are no additives. Stay far away from sweetened cranberry sauces, juices, or candies, as these contain high amounts of sugar and other additives that could be harmful to your cat. You could also give your cat a commercial cranberry supplement or treat that’s formulated for felines, and carefully follow the directions. 

No matter what form, cranberries should definitely only be fed as an occasional treat because they’re high in carbs that your cat doesn’t need. Too many could upset their stomach or give them diarrheaThe Pet Nutrition Alliance offers a handy online form that helps determine your cat’s caloric requirements. Half a cup of chopped cranberries contains 25 calories, roughly the maximum amount you should feed cranberries to the average cat per day. But since that's a lot of carbs and could hurt your cat's tummy, aim for below that mark.  

A great way to calculate the right amount of treats your cat should be getting is using the 90/10 rule: 90% (or more) of their calories should come from cat food and 10% (or less) from treats.

Can I give my cat cranberry juice?

It would not be advised. While cats can technically have 100% cranberry juice, it has a lot of carbs and won’t offer them many benefits because it's not very concentrated. If you do decide to give them a taste and see if they like it, you’ll need to steer clear of cranberry juice with any added sugar, or cranberry juice cocktail, because even a little extra could seriously harm them.

Overall, cranberries are a purrific treat for your cat that could offer some benefits. But cats since cats don't require fruits and vegetables in their diet, your furry feline will be just fine without them. Cranberries could possibly help with overall urinary tract health, but it's always best to check with your veterinarian first.

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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