What Fruits & Vegetables Can I Feed Cats?

By C.O. Ryan

In the interest of eating as healthfully as possible, many people are now seeking out locally or organically grown foods and carefully reading food labels. Some are also asking if their cats can be fed fresh produce. Many animal experts consider cats to be "strict carnivores." Ask your veterinarian if these foods are safe for your cat. Though some fruits and vegetables are not harmful to cats, many are, and should be avoided.

Apples and Apricots

Studies by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and the website of the ASPCA state that cats are meat-eaters by nature, and that their systems cannot metabolize fruits and vegetables the way the human digestive system does. It is important to learn what fruits and vegetables, and what parts of them, are toxic for cats. For instance, only the fruits of apples and apricots are safe for cats. The stem leaves and roots are not safe, and will bring on vomiting and loss of appetite.

Cherries and Avocados

The fruit of a cherry is considered safe for cats, though the cherry’s leaves and roots are not. Avocados contain persin, a chemical that some medical researchers consider dangerously toxic, potentially causing damage to a cat's heart. The Guatemalan variety in particular has been called toxic to pets. Citrus fruits and oil extracts are also toxic. Lemons, oranges and limes are all unhealthy for cats, as are the fruit, peelings and seeds of grapefruit. Any of these can cause vomiting or diarrhea.

Grapes, Raisins, Peaches and Plums

Raisins and grapes should most definitely be avoided, as they can cause damage to a cat’s kidneys. The pits of peaches and plums and the seeds of persimmons can obstruct a cat’s the digestive tract. Plants that are toxic to pets -- both the plant and the fruit -- should be avoided at all costs. These include the blackberry, the chokecherry, the elderberry, the Jerusalem cherry, precatory beans, rhubarb, skunk cabbage, the taro vine and the wild black cherry.

Potatoes, Onions, Tomatoes and Spinach

Onions can create an anemic condition in cats, and should be avoided. Potatoes are also unhealthy for cats, as they can cause problems the brain and intestines. Spinach can create problems in a cat’s urinary tract. Some sources warn that red tomatoes are toxic to cats. Others state that the tomato itself is not toxic, but that all the other parts of the tomato plant are. Ask your veterinarian for advice on whether this and other fruits and vegetables are safe for your own cat.