5 min read

Can Cats Eat Strawberries?


By Leslie Ingraham

Published: 06/01/2022, edited: 06/18/2022

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

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Strawberries are a favorite fruit among us humans who love their sweet, distinctive flavor. Arguably, the sweetest, juiciest strawberries are the ones picked up in season at the local farm stand, but in truth, there’s probably no such thing as a bad strawberry. If your cat has noticed you eating these glossy red berries, and is looking like they want to try some, you might wonder if it's okay to share this yummy fruit with them. 

Can cats eat strawberries? The answer is yes, they can! These delicious red fruits are safe for felines, and while some cats aren’t at all interested in them, you can treat your kitty to plain strawberries if they'd like, within reason. Let’s find out a little more about strawberries as a treat for your furvorite feline pal.

Do cats like strawberries?

There’s some disagreement about whether a cat actually likes the taste of the soft, moist berry or is just being curious. Cats don’t have sweet taste receptors on their tongues, so they don’t experience the same luscious strawberry flavor as a human does. However, a cat is capable of smelling a strawberry's distinctive aroma and may show interest because it smells good. Strawberries are 95% water, so Fluffy might just be quenching their thirst with the berry’s ample juice as cats get most of their water from food.

If you offer a piece of strawberry and your kitty rejects it, there’s no reason to try to persuade them to like it. The fruit has little or no dietary value for a cat, and if they don’t eat strawberries, they and their bodies won’t miss them.

Strawberries falling out of a cornucopia horn

Health benefits of strawberries for cats

A strawberry’s health benefits are limited in the case of cats. Strawberries are packed with healthful nutrients like antioxidants, Vitamin C, and potassium. But a cat is an obligate carnivore, and their good health is supported mainly by animal proteins. Felines don’t need fruits, vegetables, or grains to keep them fit. The limited amount of strawberries that a cat should eat is not enough for the feline to get nutrients from them. But let’s look at a few other potential benefits for some cats.

Improves your cat's energy levels

One of the nutrients in great supply in strawberries is a simple carbohydrate, in the form of fructose, a sugar found in all fruit. Simple carbs like those found in strawberries provide fast, useable energy and may supplement the energy acquired from fats and proteins in a cat’s regular food.  

Help with hydration

The high water content in strawberries may add a small amount of hydration if your cat isn’t drinking enough water on their own. It isn’t a reliable substitute for fresh water, but any source can be helpful if your Fluffy’s fluid level is depleted.

Aids your cat's digestion

All berries are a furtastic source of fiber, and strawberries are high on the list of fiber-rich fruits. While the high sugar content and the green stems and leaves can upset a cat’s stomach, the fiber in the fruit can help relieve diarrhea, bloat, or constipation. The fiber in strawberries is both soluble and insoluble, both of which regulate intestinal function to improve digestion. 

How many strawberries can I give my cat?

While giving your cat a small piece of strawberry from time to time is fine, it’s important to remember that only a half strawberry or less than a tablespoon of mashed berry is the recommended amount per day. Another way to calculate a safe amount is to use the 90/10 rule: 90% (or more) of their calories should come from cat food and 10% (or less) from treats. Because strawberries are most definitely treats, be sure their six calories per berry are included in your caloric calculations. The Pet Nutrition Alliance offers a handy online form that helps determine your cat’s caloric requirements.

As with any new food, it’s a good idea to check in with your veterinarian before giving strawberries to your cat. The vet may know of health reasons for avoiding them for your fluff baby. For example, fruits like strawberries can cause allergic reactions in some pets. It’s also important to wash strawberries carefully to remove any traces of fertilizer or pesticide, both of which are toxic to cats.

Are there any reasons NOT to feed strawberries to my cat?

Although strawberries aren’t toxic to cats, they may cause serious health issues because of their high sugar level. Sugar is known to cause obesity, which may lead to diabetes. High sugar levels in the blood can also cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, and loss of appetite.

Diabetes may make a cat vulnerable to other serious conditions such as heart and kidney disease, nerve dysfunction, loss of eyesight, and stroke. A cat who already has diabetes should not be given strawberries. Symptoms of diabetes may include: 

  • Increased thirst 
  • Constant urination
  • Vomiting 
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss 

Allergic reactions to fruits and vegetables may also occur in cats. Symptoms of an allergic reaction might include:

  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Itchiness and skin breakouts
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Cat sitting next to three bright red strawberries on a table

What about strawberries in other foods?

Combining strawberries with other foods or in other forms may disguise allergies or other side effects. It will be difficult to tell if the response is from the strawberries or from other ingredients.

Also, eating strawberries in jam or yogurt can not only increase the volume of sugar but also raise the possibility of the cat consuming xylitol, a frequently used artificial sweetener that is a feline toxin. Xylitol is an ingredient in many products that contain fruit.

Strawberries contain their own sugar, which can be harmful to a cat if eaten in large quantities. Making jam out of strawberries or mixing them with sweetened yogurt will increase the negative effects that sugar can have on a cat. Giving a cat plain, unsweetened yogurt with a few bits of strawberry in it is a much better choice. However, watch for signs of stomach upset as some cats develop vomiting or diarrhoea after eating dairy.

What's the bottom line: should I give my cat strawberries?

Strawberries for cats are like sugary candy or soda for humans: they contain plenty of potentially harmful sugar and few useable nutrients. So the question becomes whether there’s any reason at all to give your cat strawberries. While the water content and fiber can have a minimally positive effect in a cat, there are many other food treats that offer better nourishment.

The decision to treat your furry feline friend with a piece of strawberry is ultimately up to you as their parent. If the kitty likes it, a bit of strawberry from time to time is not harmful and may offer some non-nutritive benefits.

A high-quality diet is essential for keeping your cat happy and healthy. Digestive problems and food allergies can be expensive to treat, but could appear when you least expect them. Compare pet health insurance plans to save more than $270 a year on vet care and keep your feline bestie protected.

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