Can Cats Eat Avocado?

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Avocados offer a variety of health benefits to humans, including fiber and vitamins C, E, K, and B6. They're also an excellent source of healthy, unsaturated fat. In the last few years, avocados have become even more popular in households. From avocado toast to guacamole and avocado in sushi, there's a lot you can do with this nutrient-packed superfood. 

Since avocados are good for you, you might wonder, "Can cats eat avocados?" Avocado flesh contains low levels of a toxin called persin, so while in small amounts, avocado flesh won't harm your pet, there's really no reason to risk it. Feeding avocados to cats should be avoided because the lethal dose of persin is unknown.1 Additionally, the flesh isn't the only dangerous part of avocados for cats; the stem, leaves, seeds, skin and bark contain higher levels of persin and should be completely avoided.2 

Persin is a fungal toxin that can trigger fluid accumulation in the lungs, chest, heart, pancreas, and abdomen, resulting in difficulty breathing and other health problems. In addition, since avocados contain high levels of fat, eating them can contribute to pancreatitis.1 So is avocado safe for cats? Small amounts of avocado flesh likely aren't dangerous to their health, but because the lethal dosage of persin is unknown and eating this fruit can lead to serious health problems, your cat shouldn't eat avocados. 

Is Avocado Bad For Cats?

Although eating a small amount of avocado flesh is safe for cats, the other parts of the fruit, stems, leaves, and seeds are toxic

Avocado is not recommended for cats. Cats shouldn't eat any part of an avocado or an avocado plant, including the leaves, seeds, stems, bark, and fruits, which are all dangerous to cats. Avocado leaves and Guatemalan avocados are the most associated with toxicosis.2 

In addition, avocado skin and seeds are choking hazards to pets. If your cat gets ahold of the pit, they may have difficulty swallowing it because they're fairly large. However, the skin is difficult to digest and can lead to GI issues, including diarrhea, vomiting, and blockages. 

Of course, the main reason why your cat should never eat avocado is because of the risk of poisoning due to the toxin persin, which doesn't harm humans. However, while persin isn't necessarily life-threatening in cats, it can cause unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms. Most of the persin in avocados is found in the skin, leaves, and pit, so the flesh is fairly safe even though it contains trace amounts. Of course, you should still avoid feeding them any avocado because the amount of persin it takes to affect a cat is unknown and not worth the risk. 

In addition, some cats may be allergic to avocados. While food allergies in cats aren't lethal, they can cause unpleasant symptoms, including:

  • Itchy skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Ear and paw infections

If you notice your cat has trouble breathing or appears uncoordinated as a result of an allergy, take them to the vet as soon as possible. They could be experiencing anaphylactic shock. 

Signs Of Avocado Toxicity In Cats

Signs of avocado toxicity in cats

Avocado toxicity is rare because most cats don't get ahold of the most toxic parts of an avocado. However, if your cat eats any part of an avocado, they may experience these side effects: 

  • Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory distress
  • Congestion
  • Fluid accumulation1

Avocado can also cause necrosis and hemorrhaging in the mammary gland in lactating animals, so it's especially unsafe for pregnant or lactating cats.2

The toxin in avocado persin can lead to fluid accumulation in cats

What To Do If Your Cat Ate Avocado

If your cat ate a small piece of the avocado flesh that fell off the counter while you were preparing a sandwich, they would likely be fine. However, you should avoid letting them eat avocado when possible. When preparing avocado for yourself, always toss the pit and the skin in the trash immediately to prevent your cat from climbing on the counter for it later. When your cat eats a small piece of avocado flesh, it's best to monitor them for signs of illness, typically an upset stomach. Since avocado is a fatty food, it can cause GI upset because your cat's digestive system isn't used to it. You should also look for signs of:

  • Licking lips
  • Vomiting
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Diarrhea3

In most cases, GI symptoms due to consuming fatty food should clear up once it passes through your cat's system. However, if your cat vomits persistently or hasn't eaten in a day or two, you should go to your nearest emergency vet clinic as soon as possible because it could indicate avocado poisoning. 

If your cat eats a lot of avocado or avocado skin, take them to the vet immediately. In most cases, the main concern should be persin poisoning. If you're unsure how much avocado your cat ate, you can choose to monitor them for signs of illness. However, for your peace of mind, we recommend taking them to the vet as soon as possible. If your cat has avocado poisoning, the earlier they get treatment, the better their outlook. 

If you're worried your cat has consumed avocado, consult a vet or call Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.4

Fruits That Are Safe For Cats

If your cat seems to show an interest in the fruit you eat, there are safer alternatives to avocados. Of course, cats don't need any fruit in their diet. They are carnivores, and their diet should consist primarily of meat. In addition, there's really no benefit to feeding your cat fruit because they should already get all the essential nutrients they need from their regular diet. Still, it's normal for pet parents to want to share their snacks with their pets. What can cats eat? Here are a few healthier alternatives if you want to share a small snack with your cat: 

  • Bananas: Bananas are safe for cats in moderation and can help keep your cat cool on a hot summer day if you freeze them beforehand. Of course, only feed your cat bananas in moderation because they contain sugar. In addition, always toss the peel in the trash to prevent your cat from getting it later. 
  • Strawberries: Several types of berries are safe for cats, including strawberries. Since they contain sugar, you should only feed your cat a small amount at a time. Always remove the stems and leaves and wash them before cutting them into small pieces to prevent choking hazards. 
  • Apples: Apples are another safe fruit to share with your cat, but it's best to slice it into small pieces to avoid a choking hazard. Like other fruits with pits, always remove the pit to prevent a choking hazard. In addition, the skin is full of fiber, which may cause digestive issues, so consider peeling the apple before sharing it with your cat. 
  • Blueberries: Blueberries are another safe berry for cats. They're high in antioxidants and fiber, but you should cut them up into small pieces for your cat to avoid a choking hazard. 
  • Pineapple: Cats can eat pineapple, but there are a few caveats. This fruit is high in sugar, which can lead to weight gain and obesity in cats. In addition, you should completely remove the leaves, thorns, and rind, which can be harmful to cats.5

Always feed fruit to your cat in moderation. They don't need fruit in their diet, so feeding them additional calories can lead to weight gain. Additionally, your cat may experience negative side effects from consuming fruit because it contains sugar and fiber. While fiber is generally good for cats, too much fiber can cause GI issues like diarrhea and constipation. In addition, sugar can lead to weight gain and associated health problems like diabetes. 

Whenever feeding your cat something new for the first time, monitor them for signs of illness. It's always best to start small to see how they'll react to new foods. If your cat experiences digestive issues, it's best to avoid feeding them the food again. 

What Should Cats Eat To Stay Healthy?

As we've mentioned, cats are obligate carnivores and don't need fruits in their diet. Instead, they benefit from animal products. Cats need high protein, moderate fat, and minimal carbohydrates. Of course, they also need certain vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids, all of which are found in high-quality cat food.6 When looking for cat food, look for nutritionally complete and balanced kibble or canned food for your cat's life stage. For example, if you have a kitten, they'll need kitten food, as they have different nutritional requirements as they age.6

Can Cats Eat Avocado?: FAQs

Is avocado flesh poisonous to cats?

Avocado flesh contains persin, a known toxin to cats. Unfortunately, the exact amount needed to cause symptoms in cats is unknown, so it's best to avoid it completely. 

How much avocado can I give my cat?

Feeding your cat avocado is not recommended because it contains persin, which can cause toxicity in cats. If your cat eats a small portion of avocado accidentally, they shouldn't experience any negative side effects. However, you should never willingly feed them avocado. 

What human foods can cats eat?

There are several human foods safe for cats. However, they should only be fed these foods in moderation because they can lead to weight gain or other potential health problems. Human foods considered safe for cats include:

  • Apples
  • Mangos
  • Pineapple
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cooked lean meats 
  • Cooked eggs
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Peas

Of course, while many foods are safe for cats, many aren't. Never feed your cat dairy, chocolate, grapes, raisins, or any foods containing caffeine or xylitol. Consult your vet if you're unsure which foods are safe for cats.

Cat hovering over a plate of avocado toast

Final Notes

Can cats have avocado? Technically, eating a small piece of avocado flesh is safe for most healthy cats. However, that doesn't mean they should eat it. Since avocado contains a toxin called persin, it's always best to avoid feeding it to them. Instead, you can find other safer alternatives for when you want to share a snack with your cat. 

Consult a Dutch vet if you're ever unsure what foods are safe for your cat. Depending on your cat's health, some cats should not eat any human foods, even if they're considered non-toxic. Your cat's diet is crucial to their health, so you should ensure they're always eating a complete and balanced diet. Worried about your cat's nutrition? Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. Kovalkovičová, Natália, et al. “Some Food Toxic for Pets.” Interdisciplinary Toxicology, Slovak Toxicology Society SETOX, Sept. 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2984110/.

  2. Gwaltney-Brant, Sharon M. "Avocado Toxicosis in Animals - Toxicology." Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Oct. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/toxicology/food-hazards/avocado-toxicosis-in-animals.

  3. "How to Relieve Cat Stomach Issues." PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/cat/how-relieve-cat-stomach-issues.

  4. "Animal Poison Control." ASPCA, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control.
  5. "Which Fruits Can Cats Eat?" PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/cat/which-fruits-can-cats-eat.

  6. "Feeding Your Cat." Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 20 July 2018, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feeding-your-cat.

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