Can Cats Eat Apples?
Does the old aphorism, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” apply to cats?
Cats can eat apples, but that doesn’t mean that they want to or should. Since cats lack the receptors to taste sweet things, only a select few cats will enjoy the soft, crisp texture and appreciate them as a healthy snack. However, if your cat is interested, apples are not toxic or considered dangerous. Cats are obligate carnivores and the nutritional benefits of apples for them are minimal at best. In humans, apples are considered a low-calorie food high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. The antioxidants in humans have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral, and antidepressant benefits, as well as the ability to lower blood sugar, and improve muscle strength and brain function. Benefits of apples have not been well documented in cats.
The Dangers of Apples to Cats
Ingestion of large amounts of apple can cause gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea. Although uncommon in cats, ingestion of apple stems, seeds, and leaves can be toxic, since they contain small amounts of cyanide. The leaves and stem are also difficult to digest and can lead to gastrointestinal irritation or obstruction. Signs of toxicity or indigestion include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, straining to defecate, or decreased appetite.
Choking is also a danger for cats – especially when eating a larger-sized piece. Some cats are not good at “chewing” their food, and apples certainly pose a risk, due to their size and texture.
Also, be careful to avoid anything apple flavored that contains the sweetener xylitol. Although primarily an issue in dogs, many veterinarians believe it is safest to avoid giving your cat products that include this sweetener. Xylitol is a common ingredient in diet or low-calorie pastries, applesauce, and drinks. Learn more about xylitol toxicity in dogs here.
Do Cats Need Apples?
There is nothing in apples that cats require on a regular basis. What cats do need is a high-quality, AAFCO-approved cat food. Learn more about nutrition in cats here.
The Safest Way to Feed Apples to Cats
The safest way to feed apples to your cat is to cut small pieces of clean, fresh, peeled fruit that is free of the stem, seeds, or leaf remnants. The size of the apple pieces should be similar to your cat’s kibble.
How Much Apple Can You Feed a Cat?
One tablespoon-sized serving of apple is plenty for a medium-sized small cat. There are treats that are far more appealing for cats and in line with their nutritional needs. Examples of healthy treats that cats love are small pieces of fresh-cooked chicken breast or small amounts of water-packed tuna. To make your own treats, check out these healthy cat treat recipes.
Can Cats Be Allergic to Apples?
While it is possible for a cat to be allergic to anything, allergies to apples are uncommon.
What Foods Are Dangerous for Cats?
The most dangerous foods for cats are onions, garlic, chocolate, alcohol, and excessive amounts of fish. Learn more about what cats can and can’t eat in this article: The Ultimate Guide to What Cats Can’t Eat.