You've probably heard that eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away for humans, but is the same true of the veterinarian for your cat? Maybe not, but apples are generally safe for cats to eat, with just a few cautions.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must have meat in their diet to live. While fruits like apples aren't a required part of their diet, they do provide them with a bit of healthy fiber in small amounts. Learn how to safely offer your cat a bit of apple without making her sick.
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Can cats have apples?
When apples are chopped into small pieces, they are generally safe for cats. Apples are rich in healthy fiber, including pectin along with vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, calcium, and potassium. Apples are also rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and can protect the body from cell damage.
Keep in mind that your cat won't bite into an apple like a person. Large pieces of apple are hard for cats to eat and could even prove to be a choking hazard. For that reason, chop your apple into small slices or pieces and offer them to your cat alone or mixed into a bit of wet food.
Can cats eat applesauce?
Applesauce is an excellent choice for cats because it's easy for them to eat, and it's simple to mix into their food. However, with that being said, not all types of applesauce are the same. Store-bought applesauce might contain additional ingredients, like excess sugar, dangerous artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives, and spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg.
While cinnamon and nutmeg are safe for humans, nutmeg contains a toxin to cats called myristicin. In small amounts, it will likely cause stomach upset, but in large amounts, it can cause everything from high blood pressure to seizures. Cinnamon is generally not considered toxic to cats, but it can cause skin irritation and can irritate the inside of your cat's mouth when eaten.
To avoid any issues, make plain applesauce from fresh apples yourself or only purchase all-natural applesauce with no additives, spices, preservatives, or sweeteners.
Cats and apple toxicity
Not all parts of an apple are safe for cats. In fact, the seeds, leaves, and stems all contain cyanide, a substance toxic to both humans and pets. If your cat eats any of these parts of the apple, he can experience trouble breathing, panting, or shock.
Because apples are sprayed with pesticides while they are being grown, it's important to thoroughly wash and rinse them with water before giving them to your cat. Even organic apples may be treated with natural pesticides that a good rinse will eliminate. A dash of baking soda can help thoroughly clean off the outside of the apples when mixed with water.
Always check any apple that you give to your cat for freshness. Rotten or moldy apples can upset your cat's stomach and be dangerous for him, just as they are for humans.
Cat apple overload
A little bit of apple is perfectly acceptable to give to your cat. However, too much of a good thing can give your cat stomach upset. That's because this fiber-rich fruit can act as an all-natural laxative. While this is a good thing for cats dealing with constipation, if your cat's digestion is normal, it could result in diarrhea.
To prevent any stomach upset, give your cat no more than a teaspoon or less per day. You'll also want to see if your cat even likes apples. Add a small amount to canned cat food and see if your cat will eat it. If your cat doesn't like it, don't force her to eat it because apples are not an essential part of her diet.
- FelineLiving.net: Can Cats Eat Apples? The Truth About This Juicy Treat!
- Pet Poison Helpline: Nutmeg and Cinnamon Toxicity
- Best Cat Advisor: Can Cats Eat Apples? Are Apples Safe For Cats?
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Apple
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Apples, Raw, with Skin (Includes Foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program)
- Verywell Health: 64 Foods High in Polyphenols