Can Cats Eat Strawberries: What You Should Know

Key takeaway

Strawberries are non-toxic to cats, but they still shouldn't eat them. Since strawberries contain high amounts of carbs and sugars, even healthy cats should avoid strawberries because they can lead to GI issues or weight gain. Cats with diabetes shouldn't have strawberries because they can cause blood sugar spikes. Additionally, your cat's diet should be filled with all the nutrients they need, so there's no reason to give your cat strawberries.

Strawberries are non-toxic to cats, so if your cat eats a small piece out of your bowl, they should not experience any adverse side effects. However, just because strawberries are non-toxic to cats doesn't mean they should eat them regularly. Cats are carnivores with digestive systems designed for absorbing nutrients from protein sources like fish. Additionally, some cats shouldn't eat strawberries, especially if they're suffering from a medical illness like diabetes. 

While dropping a small piece of strawberry on the floor and allowing your cat to get it won't cause irreparable harm, cats shouldn't eat strawberries because they don't need them in their diets. Your cat should get all the nutrients they need from their regular cat food. Some cats won't even want to try strawberries because they don't contain any meat, but if they do happen to, you can rest assured that they haven't consumed anything toxic. This article will answer “can cats have strawberries?” and discuss what you should know before feeding your cat strawberries.

Cats and Their Carnivorous Diet

Can cats eat strawberries? Technically, yes, because they're non-toxic, but cats don't need to eat strawberries. Cats are carnivores, so they don't get any nutritional value out of strawberries even though they're packed with vitamins. Cats function better when their diet consists only of meat, which is why your cat loves their canned food so much. 

Cats don't digest carbs well, and fruits like strawberries contain more carbs than your cat's regular diet. Additionally, they can't absorb the vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables because their digestive systems only process the nutrients from meat products. 

Giving your cat more carbohydrates than their digestive systems can handle comes with risks. While a strawberry is considered a low-carb fruit for humans, it's a high-carb snack for cats. Because their bodies can't process it, and they should be getting all the nutrients they need from their regular cat food, there's no reason to give your cat strawberries as a treat or snack. Ultimately, there's no nutritional benefit for your cat. 

Graphic featuring an image of beige cat eating with text that reads, “How Many Strawberries Can I Give My Cat? Treats should make up < 10% of their daily diet.”

Are Strawberries Bad for Cats?

In addition to asking “can cats have strawberries?” you should also consider whether they are good or bad for your feline. Strawberries are non-toxic for cats,1 but that doesn't mean they're good for them. Cat's bodies can process fiber, but they can't absorb any other nutrients in strawberries, including vitamin C, potassium, and manganese.2 

Additionally, cats don't like sweet things because their bodies crave meat. That being said, cats can be curious and want to try some of your food from time to time. Since strawberries are non-toxic, you can try giving your cat a small piece to see how they react. That being said, some cats should not have any treats or snacks outside of their regular diet, especially those suffering from diabetes, because strawberries contain sugar.

Many cats won't even try fruits like strawberries because they can't taste them like a dog or a human, so your cat might not even be interested in your snack. While strawberries aren't necessarily bad for most healthy cats, they're not good for them, so there's no reason to feed your cat strawberries. 

Nutritional Value

Cats can eat strawberries, but are strawberries good for cats? Not really. Strawberries contain various vitamins and minerals, but your cat's body isn't designed to absorb or process nutrients from plant-based foods. While they may be able to absorb some vitamin C, folate, or potassium, strawberries don't provide your cat with any nutritional value. 

Additionally, because strawberries are high in carbohydrates that cats can't digest, they're unable to eat enough strawberries to get any real nutritional value. 

How to Feed Your Cat a Strawberry

If you want to see if your cat likes strawberries or your cat has shown an interest in sharing your snack with you, you can follow these steps to give your cat a small piece of strawberry:

  • Consulting a vet: Always consult a vet before feeding your cat anything new, especially if they have special dietary needs or an underlying health condition. 
  • Thoroughly cleaning them and removing the stems: Washing the strawberries and removing the stems will rinse away any potentially dangerous pesticides and fertilizer, while removing the stems prevents a possible choking hazard. 
  • Cutting them into small pieces: Cutting strawberries into small pieces prevents your cat from choking on the strawberry. You can also add the strawberry to their food or hand it to them and allow them to try a taste. 
  • Only feeding in moderation: Cats shouldn't eat strawberries every day, and they shouldn't eat too much at one time. Instead, follow the 10% rule, which states that cat treats and snacks should not make up more than 10% of their diet. However, remember that strawberries are a different kind of treat for your cat, so you should start with a small amount and monitor them to see how they react. 

Image of woman with a bowl of strawberries on her lap holding a strawberry in front of her cat.

When Your Cat Shouldn't Eat Strawberries

While strawberries are non-toxic to cats, they're not exactly healthy for them either. There are also some cats that should not consume strawberries at all including those with:

  • Diabetes: Overweight cats or those that have been diagnosed with diabetes should not consume strawberries because of the high sugar content. Too much sugar could cause your cat's blood pressure to spike, creating a potentially life-threatening emergency. 
  • Special Dietary Needs: Cats with special dietary needs, such as those trying to lose weight to prevent diabetes, should not eat strawberries. Again, the high sugar content can be detrimental to your cat's health by causing weight gain and obesity. 
  • Allergies: Some cats may be allergic to strawberries. If you feed your cat a small piece of strawberry, it's best to monitor them to ensure they're not allergic. 

Additionally, even though strawberries are safe for healthy cats, you should avoid feeding them processed strawberry products like jams, syrups, ice cream, and yogurt, which may contain artificial sweeteners that are toxic to cats. 

Allergic Reactions Symptoms in Cats

Cats can have an allergic reaction to strawberries. If your cat tries strawberries for the first time, they must be monitored for signs of allergic reactions to ensure they won't have a life-threatening reaction causing them to go into shock. Signs of allergic reactions in cats include:

  • Sneezing or wheezing
  • Itchiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

Itchy skin is one of the most common signs of a food allergy in felines,3 but your cat may also experience vomiting and diarrhea as the body tries to expel the allergen. Food allergies can take a few hours to appear, so after feeding your cat a strawberry, they must be monitored closely for signs of an allergic reaction. 

Graphic featuring a photo of a small dog with text that reads, “Allergic Reaction Symptoms: Coughing;Wheezing; Skin irritation;Sneezing; Diarrhea; Vomiting; Watery eyes”.

Since your cat's body can't process carbohydrates and sugar as well as it does protein, your cat may have vomiting and diarrhea as their body's natural response to a strawberry rather than an allergic reaction. If your cat experiences these GI issues, make sure they have fresh water and continue to monitor them for signs of an allergic reaction. 

If your cat is coughing, wheezing, or having trouble breathing, take them to the nearest emergency vet clinic as soon as possible for treatment. While many cats won't consume enough strawberries to make them sick, allergies can be severe enough to be life-threatening. 

What Fruits Are Toxic to Cats?

Even though strawberries are non-toxic to cats, that doesn't mean they should eat them. However, there are many fruits that are toxic to cats and should be avoided at all costs, including:

  • Cherries: The pits of cherries contain trace amounts of cyanide. When consumed in large quantities, they can be dangerous. Pits are also a choking hazard. 
  • Grapes and raisins: Grapes and raisins are toxic to both dogs and cats and can cause digestive issues like diarrhea and vomiting and more severe symptoms like kidney failure. 
  • Plums and peaches: Plums and peaches are not dangerous to cats in small quantities, but the seeds and pits contain cyanide, so they're not safe for consumption. 
  • Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits are not toxic to cats, but they contain citric acid that can cause GI problems. Most cats don't like the smell of citrus fruits, so they won't be interested in eating any oranges, grapefruit, or lemons. 

Now, you might wonder, "What fruits can cats eat?" While many fruits are safe for cats to eat, cats shouldn't eat fruit because their bodies cannot digest it properly. Instead, feed your cat their regular diet and cat treats to give them the nutrition they need for a healthy life. 

Final Notes

Are strawberries safe for cats? Strawberries are technically safe for cats to eat, but that doesn't mean they should. Since strawberries contain sugar and carbohydrates, they don't offer your cat any nutritional benefit because their bodies can't process carbs. The high sugar content can also lead to weight gain, obesity, and feline diabetes. In addition, cats with existing medical conditions should not consume strawberries because they can cause dangerous spikes in blood sugar levels. 

Even though healthy cats can safely eat a small piece of a strawberry every now and then, there's no benefit for them. Instead, they should be eating a perfectly balanced diet to ensure they're getting all the essential nutrients for cats from their regular cat food. Consult a Dutch vet when you're unsure what to feed your cat, or you're worried they accidentally ate something off your plate. Our vets are available to answer your questions about cat nutrition to help you feed your cat a healthy diet and avoid giving them potentially dangerous foods.