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Strawberries are one of the first signs of summer. If your cat watches you wash a basket of just-picked berries or sniffs around your fresh-out-of-the-oven strawberry shortcake, you might wonder whether it’s safe to offer them a bite. We’ll save you the googling: “Strawberries are a perfectly safe snack to feed your cat in moderation,” says Dr. Tina Wismer, senior director of the ASPCA Poison Control Center.
The Health Benefits of Strawberries for Cats
Strawberries are chock full of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. It’s this big nutritional punch packed in low-calorie, super sweet little berries that earned strawberries the title of “superfood.” It’s possible that the high fiber content helps treat constipation, but there is a lack of research showing a correlation between eating strawberries and good feline gut health.
Are There Downsides to Feeding Your Cat Strawberries?
It might be safe for cats to eat strawberries in small quantities, but that doesn’t mean strawberries are the best option for cats. Despite being nutritious and delicious, strawberries lack nutrients like protein, taurine, and vitamin A that are essential for your cat’s overall health. Strawberries are also high in sugar and carbohydrates, which are difficult for cats to digest.
The kicker? Your cat might not even want to eat strawberries. Cats are considered “sweet blind,” meaning they lack the receptors that allow them to taste sugar. Unlike dogs, who are eager to satisfy their sweet tooth with strawberries and other sugary treats, cats may not find strawberries that enticing.
How to Add Strawberries to Your Cat’s Diet
If your cat does like strawberries, go ahead and offer them as an occasional treat — but prep them first to ensure they’re safe. Wash the berries to remove any dirt and residual chemicals and cut off the leaves and stems, which are difficult to digest. Instead of tossing your cat an entire strawberry, Dr. Wismer suggests cutting the berries into bite-sized pieces to prevent a potential choking hazard.
Stick with fresh strawberries. Canned berries and jams are often packed in sugary syrups, adding excess calories that cats don’t need. Remember, treats — even nutritious ones like strawberries — should make up no more than 10 percent of your cat’s daily caloric intake, so moderation is key.
Dog food is safe for cats in small amounts, but it shouldn’t be their main course.
Go ahead and give your carb-loving cat a few bites, but don’t hand over the bread basket.
Save the charcuterie for the humans.
Yes, the summertime staple is on the list of “safe” foods for cats.
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.