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Can Cats Eat Cherries? Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Chris Dinesen Rogers

By Chris Dinesen Rogers

Can Cats Eat cherries

Many people view their pets as members of their families. It’s no wonder that some may want to share what they’re eating with the dogs or cats. The fact is that animals can’t necessarily eat anything that a human can. Think chocolate, which is highly toxic to canines and felines. As far as cherries are concerned, we must conclude the same thing. It’s best not to give your cat cherries.

The Nutritional Value of Cherries

At first glance, it may seem like cherries would be okay to give to your pet. After all, they’re over 82% water1. This fruit is also high in potassium and other nutrients. A 100-gram serving would go a long way to meeting your cat’s need for this mineral. The other thing to consider is the overall nutritional value of cherries for your pet.2

This fruit has a relatively high amount of sugar and carbohydrates at 12.8 and 16 g, respectively. Cats don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so it’s not necessarily an ideal treat. Remember that felines are obligate carnivores. You may even call them hypercarnivores since meat makes up over 70% of their daily diet3. Other than dietary preferences, there’s another compelling reason not to give your pet cherries.

Unfortunately, sugar and some vital nutrients aren’t all this fruit contains.

basket full of cherries
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

The Problem With Cherries

This fruit also has chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides (CNGs). However, many other plants have them, too, including apricots, apples, and plums. The CNGs are concentrated mainly in the pips or seeds. If your cat accidentally swallows one, it may not be an issue—unless it causes a bowel obstruction. Of course, that is a big deal.

The other concern is if your cat chews on the cherry pits. That’s when the CNGs come into play. While cherries don’t contain it per se, the chemical reaction with the digestive enzymes will cause the CNGs to convert to cyanide. You don’t have to read too many mysteries to know that it’s a problem.

Symptoms of poisoning include:
  • Loss of coordination
  • Shortness of breath
  • Convulsions
  • Shock
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

It doesn’t take much to make your pet sick or worse. The lethal dose is 1.52 mg per kg. A single cherry pip contains 0.17 g per g of kernels. Luckily, the seeds taste bitter, so your cat isn’t likely to eat many of them, anyway. However, it’s also worth mentioning that the stems and other parts of the tree also contain CNGs in varying amounts.

Unfortunately, your pet probably won’t know to spit out the seeds. It may just swallow them, or it may chew on them. While the seeds don’t technically contain cyanide, there’s enough evidence to steer clear of giving them to your cat. The takeaway message is that the crushed pips are poisonous to your pet. And they are also toxic to you if either of you eats the crushed pips.

british shorthair cat being treated by a vet
Image Credit: Andrii Medvednikov, Shutterstock

Better Choices for Fruits and Vegetables

Just because your cat is a carnivore doesn’t mean you can’t offer your pet fruits and vegetables. If you want to give your kitty fresh produce, some safe alternatives are the following.

Cat friendly fresh produce:
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Pumpkin
  • Bananas

Just make sure to cut them into small pieces to make it easier for your pet to swallow. We also recommend limiting fruits and vegetables to no more than 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake. Your kitty’s food should be its primary source of nutrients.

Final Thoughts

The essential thing to remember is that it isn’t a given that anything you can eat you can also give to your pet. Always check before your offer your cat anything new. Cherries as a fruit aren’t necessarily bad. It’s the other parts of the plant that are problematic. However, it’s probably more work than it’s worth to pit the cherries for your kitty. We suggest playing it safe with other foods your pet can enjoy.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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