Cats continue to mystify humans. Exhibit #564945: Some cats are fans of cantaloupe. But it is safe? Can cats eat cantaloupe?
Kitties have been known to seek out the delicious melon and, in true cat fashion, sneak onto their human’s plate to lick up a taste. All this, despite the fact that they shouldn’t be tasting anything at all.
Cats do not have taste buds that can detect sweetness. They are omnivores who evolved to subsist on a meat-only diet rich in protein and fat, and yet cantaloupe is incredibly low in both of those nutrients. It would be like if humans willingly ate dirt despite it tasting like, well…dirt.
Why cats are attracted to cantaloupe is one of the many, many unsolved mysteries that surround our four-legged, internet-friendly friends. But more importantly, is it okay for your cat to eat this sweet melon? Fortunately, that’s one cat mystery that we’ve been able to clear up.
Can Cats Eat Cantaloupe?
Raise your paws to the heavens because the answer is yes. Cantaloupe is safe for cats to eat. It isn’t poisonous to cats. However, as with all human food, check with your vet before adding it to your cat’s diet and only feed it sparingly to your pet.
All cats may look the same in the dark, but each cat stomach is unique whether the lights are on or off. Some cats can handle eating cantaloupe, while others may have a bad reaction. Your cat may have a bad reaction, or your cat may have zero interest in trying it.
Just Don’t Overdo It!
Moderation is key. You can introduce your cat to cantaloupe by trying to feed them a small piece. Don’t force your cat to eat it. It’s perfectly okay if they’re not feeling cantaloupe. As long as you’re feeding them quality cat food, they’re getting all necessary nutrients for their diet. There’s no need for melon FOMO.
Things to Watch For
If your cat eats cantaloupe that’s offered, monitor them for the next few hours to see if they’re having a negative reaction. Some signs to look out for:
- Loss of appetite for water and their regular food
- Excessive grooming or itching
When to be Concerned
Ultimately, if your cat starts showing any kind of unusual behavior after eating cantaloupe, then there’s a good chance it’s because of the cantaloupe. If the symptoms don’t go away by the next day, or if they are markedly severe, then take them to a vet.
Which Parts Can They Eat?
While cantaloupe is safe for cats to eat, stick to the fleshy orange part. The closer to the center, the better, as that’s the most ripe. Do not let them the seeds or the rind. The seeds aren’t digestible and are small enough to present a choking hazard. The rind isn’t digestible either, and it can actually cause gastrointestinal issues.
Cats’ stomachs are highly sensitive; they aren’t as sturdy as human stomachs, so be delicate with what you feed them.
Health Benefits and Risks of Cats Eating Cantaloupe
If your cat eats cantaloupe, they’ll be getting some extra vitamins and minerals in their diet. Cantaloupe is rich in vitamin A and C, as well as zinc, copper, and potassium. It’s a good source of fiber and water, both of which aid in digestive health.
Yet as stated before, cats already get these nutrients from their regular food. Cat food is engineered to provide cats all of the necessary vitamins and minerals they need. Cantaloupe was never meant to be a required part of a cat diet. If it was, they’d be able to actually taste it.
Feline Diabetes Risk
While cantaloupe isn’t poisonous and is chock full of nutrients, it’s also filled to the brim with sugar. Cats evolved to have a low sugar diet, so feeding them foods high in sugar could lead to diabetes and obesity in your cat, especially if your cat is already on the lazy side. (No judgment here.)
Vets are noting that diabetes is on the rise among housecats, with approximately one out of every 300 cats suffering with the disease. Older, physically inactive cats are already at higher risk of diabetes. The health benefits of cantaloupe would be outweighed by the deleterious impact of adding sugar to their diet.
Think of cantaloupe as a sporadic treat for your cat. If they do show an interest in cantaloupe, only feed it to them once in a while and a very small amount.
So Why Do Cats Like Cantaloupe?
There are two theories as to why cats have an interest in cantaloupe, despite not having the taste buds necessary to enjoy it.
A 2010 study from the Journal of Experimental Botany theorized that cats eat cantaloupe because they can smell the protein content in the melon. Cantaloupe contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. The scent they give off, called the volatiles, are strong enough to get kitty’s attention. Cats are wired to sniff out protein and fat. This is why they instantly charge for your tunafish sandwich.
Another theory goes for a more behavioral explanation. Cats learn behavior from their humans. When they observe humans enjoying cantaloupe, they want to join in the fun. This theory explains why your cat may be interested in food that biologically they shouldn’t be.
Perhaps it’s a combination of both.
Final Thoughts on Cats Eating Cantaloupe
We’ll never know the true reason why some cats eat cantaloupe despite not being able to enjoy sweet foods. Maybe one day if cats gain the ability to speak, they’ll explain it to us.
But for now, if your cat does show interest in cantaloupe, let them sample a small amount and then gauge their reaction. If they don’t show signs of illness, then it could be a fun treat for them every now and then. Don’t make it a regular habit. Because of the sugar content, too much melon could lead to obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.
And if your cat is just not that into cantaloupe, then let it be.
Wondering what other fruits are and aren’t okay for your feline family member to sample? Read our other “Can Cats Eat” blog posts to find out!