Cat Food
Can Cats Eat Bananas?

Can Cats Eat Bananas?

Monkeys love them, humans crave them on cornflakes, and dogs may even drool when offered a reward of banana bits. With their discerning (some might say finicky) palates, cats are not famed for going bananas over bananas. But do felines even need the popular fruit?

The 411 on bananas: they're a prime source of potassium, a mineral that supports heart and kidney functions. But bananas are decadent on carbs, which is one reason Margaret Gates, director of the Feline Nutrition Foundation, says cats do not need them.

Gates, who began the foundation as a way to educate people about cat food, says, "Cats have no requirement for carbohydrates in their diet, and feeding carbs to cats can lead to many problems."

"While cats can digest them in a limited way, carbs should only make up 0-2% of their diet," she adds.

Dr. Marcus G. Brown

DVM of the cats-only vet practice, NOVA Cat Clinic in Fairfax, Virginia, says that unless doing so prevents them from eating their regular diet, he sees no reason that cats cannot eat bananas. "Maybe an important question is, will cats eat bananas?"

Brown says that as carnivores, felines may not be able to use any of the fats or limited amount of protein in bananas because “cats lack the enzymes to digest and use a lot of plant food sources.”

Gates, who switched her cats to a raw-meat diet in 2008 and observed positive changes in all of them, elaborate further on carnivorous felines' nutritional needs. She emphasizes that cats are "obligate carnivores." That is a particular class of meat-eater that has come to rely on a diet of meat only. She cites other animals besides cats that are obligate carnivores, including raptors, minks, dolphins, and alligators, all of which have adapted physically to a diet that contains only animal sources. But she notes that dogs are not obligate carnivores—which is why dogs can function on a vegetarian food regimen, but cats absolutely cannot.

As for any possible feline nutritional benefits from bananas, such as potassium, Gates says that could be supplied "with more appropriate food. Cats fed a balanced raw meat diet do not need the addition of any fruits, vegetables, or grains."

But what if a cat, for whatever reason, loves and demands a banana?

“Well, there may be some cats that might want to, as cats can have unusual or unexplained food interests,” Gates says.

If you have a cat that likes bananas, a small bite now and then likely wouldn't hurt them. But keep in mind that this is utterly inappropriate food for a cat. Your cat would be much better off if you fed a healthy, meat-based snack. It also helps her pass stool softly.

In an unscientific experiment, I offered my cats, Starli and Shamrock, the chance to sample bananas: a few thin slices cut in bite-size quarters, a spoonful of mashed banana, and a larger, just-peeled piece. Both Starli and Shamrock sniffed delicately and then walked away. Starli returned and sat pointedly as if asking for a better snack than these, please.

Gates says that what cat parents need to realize is that “a cat is not a dog or a person. We need to think about what to feed a cat on their terms, not ours. Feeding a cat high levels of carbs is harmful and contributes to many of the diseases that cats suffer from in high numbers, such as diabetes and irritable bowel disease (IBD).”

So when it comes to cats and bananas, make your kitty’s home a banana-free zone.

Are bananas good for cats?

Bananas are an incredibly nutrient-rich fruit and are considered a healthy snack in human diets. The fiber, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C all make this fruit great for us. However, a cat fed a suitable, high-quality, complete cat food will be gaining all the nutrients they need from their diet and does not need additional dietary supplementation such as fruits. The health issues are likely to outweigh the health benefits, which is why fruits should only be given as a treat to our feline friends. Bananas are also soft and easy to chew for those with bad teeth.

cats and bananas

Cats are often quite indifferent to sweet foods such as bananas. Their sense of taste has evolved differently from ours, and while they can detect salt, bitter, sour, and umami, they are unable to taste the sweet flavor profile. If your cat is the odd one out, enjoying a bite of banana every once in a while, this might mean that they are neophilic – and like trying out new things! However, remember that bananas and their high sugar content can hurt your pet's health and should only be given as a treat in moderation.

If you want to find out more about getting the balance right when feeding your cat, check out our easy guide.

How to feed bananas to your cat

If your cat keeps pleading for a bite of banana, you can offer one every once in a while, provided the vet hasn't advised otherwise. Always remove the banana peel, as this can be a choking hazard. Banana peels are also unable to be adequately digested by cats, so it's always better to keep them out of reach. Cut the banana into bite-sized pieces before offering it to your cat. Start with a small tasting at first, and keep an eye on your pet if there are any unusual reactions.

Allergic reactions to bananas are infrequent, but they can happen to cats. Contact the vet as an emergency if you notice any allergic symptoms such as difficulty breathing, facial swelling, and a skin rash.

Bananas for cats

Although fiber is not a necessary component of cats’ diets, it can be useful.

For example, it can help to prevent obesity. Adding fiber to a cat’s diet makes their stomachs feel fuller without the addition of calories. This means they eat less.

Fiber also aids the digestive system and can assist in the treatment of diarrhea or constipation.

But, compared to humans and dogs, a cat doesn’t need that much dietary fiber anyway. So, if your cat eats a high-quality commercial feed, it will receive all the fiber it needs

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