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Can Cats Eat Apples?

We know that apples are a source of vitamins and nutrients that benefit humans, but can cats eat apples too? As pet owners, we want the best for our feline friends, which means ensuring they have access to a healthy and safe diet.

While the short answer is yes, cats can indeed eat apples, there are a few things to watch out for if you’re planning to incorporate this super fruit into their diets.

Apples should only be fed to cats in moderation, and their consumption should be monitored. In this article, we’ll look at both the benefits and the possible adverse side effects of feeding your cats apples.

Closeup of black and white cat sniffing a green apple.  As a cat owner, you may have wondered, "Can cats eat apples?"

Are Apples Safe for Cats to Eat?

Apples are safe to eat for cats that are in good health. That being said, human treats like apples should only be fed to cats infrequently and in moderation. These delicious fruits are full of beneficial sugars, fibers, and nutrients, but even so, they do not form part of a cat’s natural diet. Therefore, too much apple can be dangerous for your cat.

In addition, apples need to be appropriately prepared before feeding them to felines. There are trace amounts of cyanide in apple seeds which can be poisonous to your unsuspecting kitty. Apple leaves and stems can also contain detrimental toxins.

If you’re planning to slice up some apple for your cat, make sure the fruit is washed thoroughly in case there are pesticides on the apple skin, and then portion it into small and easily digestible pieces. You can also mash or puree apple and mix it into their everyday food.

Do Apples Have Nutritional Benefits for Cats?

Cats are classified as obligate carnivores, which means their bodies are not equipped to digest plants and rely on meat for survival.

Because of this, human foods like fruit and vegetables don’t hold any health benefits as a treat for cats. Instead, their dietary needs can be met by feeding them a commercial balanced diet or specially formulated cat foods.

Of course, some adventurous kitties may want to try apple to see how it tastes, and they may even enjoy a small piece of cold apple on a hot day. However, from a health perspective, there is no nutritional reason to feed cats apples so long as their existing diet is balanced.

Orange tabby cat lying next to a partially eaten apple.  Knowing that cats can eat apples, the next question you have may be "Should cats eat apples?"

What Are the Negative Side Effects of Feeding a Cat Apples?

All cats are different, and some tolerate apples better than others. At worst, our furry friends may suffer from an underlying health condition that can be triggered by the consumption of foods meant for a human diet.

So, if you have started to introduce apples into your cat’s diet, there are a few signs you can look out for that may indicate they don’t find this foodstuff agreeable.

Big tells are an upset stomach, digestive issues, vomiting, weight loss, lethargy, and listlessness. If your cat is displaying any of these symptoms, hold off on feeding them any more apples and get them to the vet as soon as possible.

Cats with feline diabetes should never be fed apples, as this fruit is a sweet treat with a high sugar content that can harm them by spiking their blood sugar.

Similarly, cats should not have access to apple stems, leaves, or seeds, and if they have consumed any of these, they should be taken to see a vet with urgency.

Fortunately, cats don’t generally seek out apples as a treat. As mentioned, these fruits that we humans love are not part of cats’ natural diets. In general, they tend more toward foods that they would eat as prey in wild environments.

And if their dietary needs are being met, they’ll be happy with their regular feeding habits.

How to Get Your Cat to Eat Apples Safely

We all know that cats can have very distinct personalities and tastes, so if your feline friend is determined to have pieces of fresh apple, for whatever reason, there are a few steps you can take to ensure they consume it safely.

For starters, consult your vet and make sure your cat’s general health is sound. If your vet gives you the go-ahead to feed your cat apples, you can start incorporating small portions in their diet.

This means staying within the recommended guidelines for their calory and treat intake too. Treats should never comprise more than 10% of a cat’s diet, so ensure you know how much you can feed them safely.

Furthermore, avoid feeding them any processed apple products, like apple sauce, apple juice, or puree. These types of products may contain dangerous additives, like excess sugar and preservatives. Even when we make them at home, we generally add ingredients like sugar.

Once you start introducing apples into your cat’s diet, monitor your pet closely to make sure it doesn’t start suffering from any negative side effects. If your cat has an adverse physical response to this fruit, contact your vet immediately.

Closeup of white cat licking a slice of apple.
While the answer to “Can cats eat apples” is technically “Yes,” the other question to consider is “Should cats eat apples?”

Alternatives to Feeding Your Cat Apples

While cats don’t generally seek out plant-based human foods, there are some human foods that can be beneficial to our kitties when they’re part of a healthy, balanced diet. Any of these options serve as a good alternative to feeding your cat apples.

Peas, carrots, bell peppers, spinach, and zucchini all contain beneficial vitamins. Celery is a lovely crunchy, cool treat, while pumpkin and broccoli are nutritious. Pet stores also sell scientifically formulated tasty treats that are safe for cats and contain vegetable elements.

Either way, human treats should only be given to cats sparingly, with balanced pet food forming the majority of their regular diet.

Fruits to Avoid Feeding Your Cats

While apples are a safe fruit for cats in small quantities, there are a few fruits that should be avoided, as they can be dangerous or even fatal for felines.

This includes all citrus fruits, like lemons, oranges, and limes, which negatively impact the central nervous systems of cats.

Grapes and grape products are toxic to cats, too, and can cause kidney failure, while coconut causes stomach problems.

Stone fruit like cherries and plums should not be fed to cats either.  

Multicolored cat on a kitchen counter near some whole apples.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is applesauce bad for cats?

A: Store-bought apple sauce is likely full of chemicals, sugar, and preservatives and should not be fed to cats. However, if you’re making 100% natural, organic applesauce at home, which is not loaded with other ingredients, it’s okay for your kitty to have a lick or two. In fact, pureed apple is a lot easier for cats to digest than raw apples. 

Q: Can cats live on dry food or kibbles only?

A: A balanced dry cat food is sufficient for cats to live on. However, make sure they have access to plenty of water as they are not ingesting any water content via their kibbles. If you are unsure if your cat’s dietary needs are being met, consult your veterinarian for expert advice about adapting their diet plan.

Q: Do cats like the taste of apples?

A: Unlike humans, cats don’t have sweet taste receptors, and it is, therefore, unlikely that they will enjoy the taste of apples. These house-dwelling carnivores far prefer the taste of meat and animal products.

Cat owners know that these fluffy little beasts are unique in every way, but one thing that cats have in common is that they’re all carnivores, no matter their size or breed. Therefore, they need access to a nutritious diet specifically formulated to contain plenty of meats and proteins. Commercial cat foods are ideal.

So…Can (and Should) Cats Eat Apples?

Apples do not really benefit cats, nor are they a treat that most cats enjoy, so while it is okay to feed them apples as an occasional snack, it’s not necessary unless they are actively seeking them out. In which case, make sure to prepare your apples properly and be mindful of how much your furry friend consumes.

Curious about how other fruits may affect your kitty? Click here for other feline fruit articles. (And if you have a dog, click here to find out what fruits are and aren’t safe for Fido.)