Are Bananas Safe for My Cat?
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Bananas are a nutritional and convenient snack for humans, but the same may not be true for your pets. If you have a feline family member, for instance, you might be wondering, are bananas good for cats? Or, can cats eat bananas as a treat? Let's take a closer look.
Can Cats Eat Bananas?
The simple answer is yes — but while bananas aren't toxic to cats, they can cause digestive issues. Many "people foods," like chocolate, are toxic for cats and other pets, and they should be avoided altogether. Bananas, however, are one of the fruits that cats can eat safely in small portions: approximately one to two chunks that are each 1 inch in size, once in a while. But be sure that your cat doesn't munch on any banana peels; the fruit's skin is a choking hazard and not digestible.
As with many human foods, giving bananas to your cat in moderation is key to keeping them healthy. However, bananas may be problematic for cats due to the large amount of sugar they contain. Gastrointestinal issues "are most commonly caused by dietary indiscretion," says the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, like when your cat steals a snack from the kitchen table that doesn't end up agreeing with their stomach. Bananas can fall into this category because they don't offer the specific nutrition that cats need. Specifically, they are higher in starchy sugars that could upset your cat's stomach. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they are less tolerant of sudden changes in the amount of carbohydrates (sugars) in their daily diet, especially those coming in the form of sugary snacks, than our canine companions.
Because a cat's gastrointestinal system doesn't always handle sugary foods well, it's important to choose food for your cat that they can easily digest and provides the nutrients they need. If you feed banana to your cat, some of the digestive issues to look for include diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and regurgitation. If you notice any of these or other unusual symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.
Are bananas safe for kittens? Kittens that are weaned (usually around the age of eight weeks) should be fed "a good-quality kitten food," says International Cat Care. A kitten's digestive system is still developing, and introducing a human food at this early stage can cause inflammation, irritation, sensitivity or other distress.
Treat Time: Are Bananas Good for Cats?
Treats should make up less than 10% of your pet's caloric intake, says the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, and a little banana goes a long way toward that calorie count.
Can cats eat bananas as a nutritious snack? Again, the answer is yes, but in moderation. Because they are carb-dense and calorie-rich, bananas are not at the top of the cat treat list, and your cat may not even want to eat bananas. As Cat Health points out, a cat's "sweet" taste bud receptors are not very strong, so they are not instinctually drawn to sweet foods like bananas. However, if given the chance, many cats may take the opportunity to try something new.
Although bananas are on the safe list, there are certain fruits that you should never feed your cat, including the following:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, limes, etc.)
If your furry friend ingests any of these or other toxic foods, contact your vet or an emergency vet clinic right away to determine treatment.
So, can cats eat bananas? As an occasional, fun treat for your kitty, sure, but the better option is to give them healthy cat treats (in moderation) and meals that are specifically formulated with the nutrition they need. Cats require a meat-based meal plan with the right balance of protein and other nutrients, all of which help to keep your feline friend in top form.
Christine Brovelli-O'Brien, Ph.D., is an award-winning writer, long-time pet mom, and a professional member of the Cat Writers' Association (CWA). Find and follow Christine on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien