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Watermelon is the quintessential summertime fruit. It contains tons of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin A, potassium and lycopene. It’s also very high in water content — with water making up 90 percent of the fruit’s composition — which helps boost hydration to beat the heat. Watermelon isn’t toxic to cats, so don’t fret if your cat snatches a few pieces from the picnic table or you want to share a sweet slice.
How Should I Feed My Cat Watermelon?
You might like to eat watermelon straight from the rind, but Dr. Autumn Vetter, clinical assistant professor at the University of Georgia Pet Health Center, says it’s best to cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces for your cat, as big chunks of melon are a potential choking hazard. Too much watermelon could cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. If your cat wants a bite of watermelon, offer them small amounts and watch for potential reactions.
Are There Reasons Not to Give Cats Watermelon?
Watermelon is low in calories and safe for cats to eat, but that doesn’t mean it should be part of their daily diet. Cats are obligate carnivores and watermelon lacks protein, taurine, and other essential nutrients that cats need to live. So, it’s okay as a snack but should never be used as a replacement for a complete and balanced meal.
Cats shouldn’t eat watermelon rinds, as they’re difficult to digest and could cause a gastrointestinal obstruction if your cat swallows a chunk of rind. “The rind of watermelon, much like apple peels and the other outside parts of fruits and veggies, are what get exposed to pesticides during the growing process,” Dr. Vetter adds. “Even when we wash our fruits and veggies well, who’s to say we can get everything off.”
It’s also important to remove the seeds before giving your cat watermelon; while they aren’t toxic, Dr. Vetter warns that watermelon seeds could pose a choking hazard. When it comes to feeding the various parts of a watermelon, Dr. Vetter notes, “A good rule of thumb to follow is, ‘If we don’t eat it, they shouldn’t eat it.’”
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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.