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Can My Cat Eat This?

B-A-N-A-N-A-S: Can Cats Eat Them?

Gwen Stefani taught us how to spell it, but can we feed it to our cats?

by Jodi Helmer
Updated September 14, 2022
A cat staring at a peeled banana
tugolukof / Adobe Stock

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

Your cat might brush up against your legs, or — when they are feeling bold — lunge for your sushi as you guide it toward your mouth with chopsticks. There are times, though, that they might shock you with the kinds of snacks they beg for. For example, when you sit down for your morning dose of potassium in the form of a banana, you might feel that familiar brush against your legs. You might also hear a purr or a meow of impatience. Should you give in and let them snack on your breakfast?

Cats should be able to bite a banana into smaller pieces, but some cats who enjoy the snack may get so excited that they might try to eat the banana whole. For this reason, it’s best to cut it into chunks and skip the banana peel, which is hard for cats to digest. As with all new foods, offer a small amount at first to see how your cat reacts.

What Should I Do If My Cat Eats Too Much Banana?

It’s not a big deal if your cat eats a few bits of banana — but you should still be on the lookout for potential (mild) reactions. Bananas, like other sugary foods, could cause stomach upset with symptoms ranging from diarrhea to constipation to vomiting to regurgitation.

“Cats are carnivores, which means they are less tolerant of sudden changes in the amount of sugars in their diet,” says Jessica Sewell, regional technician and assistant director for VCA Animal Hospitals.

Why Don’t Cats Like Bananas?

Yes, bananas are a great source of potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and fiber in human diets, but that doesn’t mean cats want to eat them. In fact, don’t be surprised if your cat refuses your offer to share your morning snack. Bananas are high in sugar, and cats lack the taste receptors to recognize sweetness, which could make bananas unappetizing to them. It all comes down to individual taste preferences.

There is also a theory that cats hate the smell of bananas. The peel contains a chemical compound called ethyl acetate, which becomes stronger as bananas ripen; cats dislike the smell, which sends them running from the fruit bowl. 

There are countless online videos of cats reacting with fear and suspicion when they see bananas. You may be surprised by your cat’s outsized reaction to a little piece of fruit; it’s worth your entertainment alone.

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Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer is a North Carolina-based freelance writer who shares her home with an embarrassing number of rescue dogs and relies on four feral cats to patrol the barn. When she isn’t refilling food and water dishes, Jodi writes about animals for Scientific American, Sierra, WebMD, AKC Family Dog, Living the Country Life, and Out Here.