Dates are tasty and sweet for healthy desserts or mid-afternoon snacks. Many of the foods that we enjoy can be dangerous to our feline family members, though. While dates aren’t toxic to cats, there are several health risks associated with letting them eat too many.
If you find your cat sneaking a few bites of the dates that you left on the counter, there’s no reason to panic. Although they’re not recommended as treats for your cat, dates are relatively safe in small, rare doses.
That said, there are many things to remember when it comes to cats eating dates and other human foods. We put together the information in this guide to help you keep your feline safe.
Are Dates Toxic to Cats?
Dates aren’t toxic to your cat. Your feline can eat dates on rare occasions. There is a caveat to this, however. Dates aren’t part of a cat’s natural diet, and it’s not a good idea to feed them more than one or two small pieces in one sitting. There are several reasons for this, all of which are related to your cat’s health.
Unlike dogs, cats aren’t scavengers. While they can eat a few fruits and vegetables, they thrive best on meat-based diets. They are physically unable to receive the nutrients that they need from plant matter.
As obligate carnivores, cats have a much more limited ability to synthesize the amino acids that they need to stay healthy than most other animals.
Dates, being fruits, won’t cause fatality on cats, outright. While they’re not recommended, your cat can eat them. The issues come when you let your feline eat too many. With their inability to properly digest plant matter, too many dates can upset your cat’s stomach as the dates pass through their digestive system.
Most instances of stomach upsets, even for cats, pass within a few hours or days. Unfortunately, these issues can also become more serious and can require a visit to your veterinarian.
You may find that even a small nibble of one date causes loose stool or vomiting in your pet, depending on how sensitive their stomach is.
On average, cats only need 200–250 calories a day to stay healthy, and snacks can add up quickly. A single date contains 67 calories. If your cat eats too many of them, they’ll soon surpass the number of calories that they need to stay healthy.
The flesh part of dates is fine for your cat to eat, provided that it’s only on rare occasions. However, there is a choking risk presented by both the skin and the pit, which can lead to a sudden visit to your veterinarian.
You might assume that the skin of the dates is fine for your cat, but the issue falls on the stickiness of the fruit. You understand this if you’ve ever gotten a particularly stubborn chunk of date caught on your teeth or the roof of your mouth.
While it’s relatively easy for us to dislodge sticky food, our cat doesn’t have the same ability. A piece of date stuck to their teeth or gums might only cause irritation and discomfort. If it gets caught in their throat, however, the result could be far more serious.
Fruit pits, on the other hand, are dangerous for many reasons. Date pits might be too big for your cat to eat comfortably but accidents happen. Many fruit pits also contain toxins like cyanide, so it’s ideal to steer clear of all of them.
Despite how healthy they are, fruits contain a large amount of sugar. Dates are no exception to this, and their sugar content can lead to issues like obesity and diabetes. Diabetic cats are at far greater risk when it comes to eating sugary foods, including dates.
Too much sugar can also lead to dental issues. While you can help reduce the plaque and tartar build-up on your cat’s teeth with specialized treats, those are not something that you should rely on. The sugary stickiness of dates can be devastating to a cat’s dental health.
Finally, cats can’t taste sweet things. Unlike humans, who enjoy anything from spicy curries to sweet danishes, cats don’t have much of a sweet tooth at all. While it might seem like they enjoy the sweet taste of dates as much as you do, to them, it just feels chewy.
What Fruit Can Cats Eat?
While cats are obligate carnivores, there are several fruits that they can safely eat. It’s not a great idea to make them a big part of your cat’s diet, but in moderation, fruits can help boost your cat’s health.
When it comes to feeding your cat fruit, keep the chunks bite size and only offer a few pieces. A 1-inch portion a day or less is more than enough for felines. Stick with fresh fruit to ensure a healthy snack, and avoid store-bought fruit snacks due to their much higher sugar content.
What Fruits Are Toxic to Cats?
Dates might not be toxic to our felines, but the same can’t be said for many other fruits out there. This list isn’t all-inclusive, and if you’re ever not sure about a particular fruit, you should double-check with your veterinarian or stick to specialized cat treats.
Fruits that you should never feed your cat include:
Cats can eat dates, but they’re not recommended as regular treats for your feline. Your cat can’t taste the sweetness of the treat, and consuming too many can cause diarrhea, vomiting, or dental decay. The skin and pit of a date can also pose a choking risk to your cat and should be avoided.
While it can make a nice change for your cat to nibble on something new, sometimes the risks outweigh the benefits. If you want to feed your cat dates, only give them one or two on rare occasions, and pay close attention to any health issues that may occur. When in doubt, stick to the fruits or treats that you know that your cat can eat.
Featured Image Credit: Enotovyj, Pixabay