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Can Cats Eat Olives? What You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

olives

Although they’re picky eaters who sometimes scoff at their commercial offerings, cats sometimes express interest in human foods. Veterinarians do not recommend feeding your leftovers or favorite meals to your pet because some food is unhealthy or hazardous to felines. But some cat owners are curious about human food that could be safe to feed to your cat.

If you’re an olive lover, you may have wondered, can my cat eat olives? Yes, your cat can eat olives as a small treat, but they should not make up a substantial part of its diet. There is no nutritional benefit to feeding olives to cats, but the fruit is not toxic or harmful to felines. However, there are several types of olives, and some can be more harmful to your furball than others. Read on to learn more about deciding whether to feed your cats olives as a treat!

Hazards of Feeding Olives to Cats

There are a few things you want to keep in mind before giving your cat an olive. If you’re a fan of Kalamata, Manzanilla, Gaeta, or Nicoise olives, you can give your cat a taste if the pits are removed. Pit-less varieties are the only types of olives that are safe for your cat. Regardless of its size, the pit can become lodged in the back of the animal’s throat and restrict its breathing. Sliced and whole pit-less olives are widely available, and they’re easier to find in grocery stores than ones with pits.

The pimentos stuffed into Manzanillas green olives are safe for your cat to consume, but most of the ingredients in commercial stuffed olives are not cat-friendly. Avoid olives stuffed with bleu cheese or jalapenos to prevent upset stomachs, diarrhea, and vomiting. Cheese is high in fat and contains lactose, which is not easy to process in a cat’s digestive system. The components of olive stuffing can also include additional sodium and preservatives that are detrimental to your cat’s health.

Olives are brined in a salt solution to reduce the fruit’s raw bitterness, and most marinated olives are incredibly high in sodium. Thoroughly washing the olives will not reduce their sodium content since the brining process helps imbed the salt into the fruit’s flesh. Some olives are so salty that you should only feed your cat an olive or less every day as a treat. Cats with medical conditions such as kidney disease or heart disease are particularly vulnerable to food with high sodium levels and should avoid olives altogether. Smaller cats are better off eating half an olive, and you can dice the fruit up to make it easier to eat and digest. Olives are also high in fat and can lead to obesity if they’re fed to cats too often.

cat licking mouth after eating
Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

Cats’ Strange Attraction to Olives

Although all cats will not be fascinated by olives or glass jars that hold olives, some felines are attracted to the salty fruit. The reasons for their curiosity have not been confirmed by scientific studies, but some suggest that cats are drawn to green olives because they contain a compound similar to nepetalactone found in catnip. However, cats do not exhibit euphoria after eating olives as they experience after consuming catnip.

Is Olive Oil Safe for Cats?

Olive oil is safe to serve your cat, but like olives, it’s an unnecessary food that’s not essential to the animal’s health. It’s high in fat and should not be given to mature cats on a restricted diet, but a small piece of chicken or fish coated in olive oil is safe to feed most cats as a treat. If you provide olive oil to your feline, try to avoid flavored oils with spices that can irritate the cat’s stomach.

olive oil
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Ideal Diet for Cats

Cats have different preferences for the meals they enjoy, but you should always feed your cat a diet that’s appropriate to its age. Some pet food brands claim they’re designed for all life stages, but that’s might be a marketing ploy to entice more people to buy their products.

Kittens

Young cats develop quickly and require a more specialized diet than adults. Compared to adult cat food, kitten food should have more nutrients and calories. There are numerous brands that market to kitten owners, but you should avoid discount food loaded with fillers and preservatives. Fillers are not harmful to cats, but they’re not beneficial, and they sometimes take the place of more nutritious ingredients. When you’re shopping for healthy kitten food, look for brands that use meat as the primary ingredient. Brands high in protein and moisture, low in carbohydrates, and supplemented with vitamins and minerals are the best meals for your little feline friend.

Adults

When your cat enters adulthood, you can switch to an adult cat food that’s lower in fat. Cats are omnivorous, but they benefit from a primarily carnivorous diet. Their digestive systems are not efficient at processing plant proteins, and they should be fed cat food that sources its protein from chicken, duck, lamb, beef, or fish. Although the protein content, fat levels, and carbohydrate amounts in dry food are much closer to wet food than they were a few decades ago, dry foods’ moisture levels are inadequate compared to wet food. High moisture meals are beneficial to felines because they typically drink less water than other pets like dogs.

british short hair cat eating
Image Credit: Lilia Solonari, Shutterstock

Seniors

Obesity, renal failure, and heart disease are medical conditions that threaten some vulnerable senior cats, but these diseases can be avoided or minimized by feeding your mature cat a healthy diet. Unlike adults or kittens, seniors require lower-calory meals. Senior food should be high in protein and moisture, low in carbohydrates, and boosted with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Diet Recommendations from Veterinarians

After searching for pet foods online, you’ll probably be bombarded with multiple ads from the companies you visited. Pet food manufacturing is a massive, profitable industry that’s highly competitive. Producers will tempt you with clever catchphrases and claims that are often misleading and sometimes factually incorrect. Some of their favorite adjectives include “all-natural,” “premium,” “gluten-free,” “grain-free,” and “nutritionally-balanced.” It’s best to ignore pet food marketing and only concentrate on the ingredients. Most companies have become more transparent about their recipes and sometimes provide detailed information about the ingredients’ sources.

The best way to ensure your feline is eating a healthy diet is to talk to your veterinarian. Your cat’s doctor understands its body better than anyone, and you can rely on vets to give you unbiased advice about a particular brand or food program.

Final Thoughts

Cats are less likely to beg for food under the dinner table than dogs, but some felines are more curious about human food than others. Relying on protein-rich commercial pet food for your cats is safer and less likely to cause stomach irritations than most human food, but olives are a safe treat for your cat if the pit is removed. Because of olives’ high sodium and fat content, they should only be fed to your pet in moderation.

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Featured Image Credit: Peter H, Pixabay

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