Most cats aren’t interested in eating fruit. But if you have an adventurous feline who loves going after fresh produce, you might be wondering: can cats eat cherries?
In this article, we’ll talk about everything you should know about cats and cherries and what to do if you think your cat is becoming sick from eating cherries.
Can Your Cat Eat Cherries?
The short answer is that, while cherries are full of health benefits for people, it’s not a good idea for your cat to eat cherries. Though the flesh of the cherry isn’t harmful, all the other parts of the cherry can cause serious injury to cats. That includes the stem, leaves, and pit.
Health Benefits of Cherries For Cats
Cherries are high in important vitamins like vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. They also have some important antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and choline.
All these vitamins are an essential part of your cat’s diet, and choline especially is vital to their well-being.
Vitamin A helps maintain healthy vision, bone growth, and reproductive function, as well as promote healthy skin. It helps cats maintain healthy teeth as well.
Vitamin C promotes a healthy and strong immune system, which helps cats fight off infections.
Vitamin K plays a vital role in helping a cat’s body clot blood normally, which is especially important in older cats.
Potassium is an important electrolyte that helps the muscles and organs function properly. It’s especially vital for senior cats or cats who have been sick, losing electrolytes through vomiting or diarrhea.
Magnesium helps with bone building and the operation of enzymes, which affect many parts of the body.
Calcium plays an important part in controlling the fluid in your cat’s body as well as contributing to muscle function and electrical signals in the brain and body.
Choline is an extremely important nutrient for cats. It affects the body’s ability to send signals between neurons and aids in brain development. Choline deficiency can result in brain impairment or even death.
So if cherries contain all these vital nutrients for cats, why shouldn’t they eat them?
The simple answer is that while these important nutrients are abundant in cherries, there are severe enough health risks to make it not worth the risk. Cats get enough of these vitamins from other sources (such as commercial cat food), so they don’t need supplementation from fruits like cherries.
Health Concerns Of Cherries for Cats
The biggest concern with cherries and cats is cyanide poisoning. Cherry pits, stems, and leaves contain significant amounts of cyanide. Cats and dogs are especially sensitive to this and can become extremely sick or even die from it.
If you think your cat has eaten a cherry pit or other parts, it’s important to keep an eye out for cherry poisoning. A cat that has only eaten a small or moderate amount of cherry plant matter probably won’t be severely sick. But if they have eaten a lot, contact their vet right away.
Symptoms of cherry poisoning in cats include:
- Dilated pupils
- Panting or trouble breathing
- Red mucus membranes (such as in the gums)
Because cyanide affects the body’s ability to carry oxygen, cats with cherry poisoning might not be able to breathe. If you notice these symptoms in your cat, it’s important to contact your vet right away.
Though the main concern of cherries is cyanide poisoning, there are a few other health concerns for cats. The pit can cause choking or a bowel obstruction. Meanwhile, the high sugar content of cherries is unhealthy for cats, especially if they are elderly or diabetic.
Should You Get Your Cat To Eat Cherries?
It’s really not necessary to coax your cat into eating cherries. They don’t provide any significant health benefits that cats don’t get from their main diet, and the effects of cherry poisoning can be severe. Don’t offer cherries to your feline friend, and if you notice them trying to sneak a taste, discourage them and move the cherries somewhere safe.
Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores. That means that they have evolved to get most of the nutrients they need from meat and can’t digest plants very well. Make sure your cat eats a healthy commercial cat food, which will provide everything they need for nutrition and vitamins.
Are Cherry Cat Treat Recipes Safe?
If you want to make your cat some healthy, safe homemade cat treats, steer clear of cherry recipes. Instead, stick mainly to ingredients like meat and fish. Some feline-safe recipes include fruits that cats can eat without issue, such as these frozen banana bites or these tuna and blueberry treats.
Remember that too many treats aren’t good for cats and can contribute to weight gain or unregulated blood sugar. While cats can safely eat certain kinds of fruit (including apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, and watermelon), treats of any kind shouldn’t make up a significant part of their diet.
A good rule of thumb is to stick to the 10 percent rule — treats should make up no more than 10 percent of their diet. Many owners give one or two treats a day.
Should I include fruits and vegetables in my cat’s diet?
If you have owned more dogs than cats, you probably know that dogs need healthy supplementation of fruits and vegetables. But unlike dogs, cats really don’t need fruits or vegetables in their diet and don’t really benefit from them. They get everything they need from nutrient-dense commercial cat food, which includes the main staples of their diet as well as all the vitamin supplementation they need.
It may be a moot point, since most cats aren’t very interested in fruits and vegetables. But if your feline does try to grab produce off your plate, do some research to learn what fruits and veggies are safe for cats to eat and give these only as an occasional treat.
What should I do if my cat eats a cherry?
If your cat eats a single cherry, they aren’t likely to become extremely sick. They might experience vomiting or stomach upset or have diarrhea in the coming days. If you think your cat has eaten a lot of cherry plant matter or swallowed a cherry pit, call your vet to get their advice on how to proceed and what symptoms to watch for.
Can cats have cherry yogurt?
Though cats don’t usually go for fruit, they do love dairy products. There is no harm in giving your cat a lick or two of cherry yogurt, since it doesn’t contain pits or stems. The negative health effects of cherry yogurt for cats are actually more about the high sugar content and the fact that dairy can make cats sick. A small amount as an occasional treat, however, isn’t likely to hurt.
While Delicious For Us, Cherries Aren’t For Cats
Though cherries contain many of the vital nutrients that cats need to thrive, they can also cause severe health problems if your cat eats a pit or any other part except the fruit. It’s best to avoid them altogether and contact your vet if you notice signs of cherry poisoning in your feline.
If you also have canine family members, read our post Can Dogs Eat Cherries? for all you need to know to keep Fido safe!
For more information about cherries, visit our Cherry Trees hub page. There you’ll find all kinds of resources about different cherry varieties, how to grow and care for your trees, how to get the best fruit harvests, and even recipe ideas for your cherries!