No summer picnic is complete without the perfect dessert. And what beats a healthy serving of fruit? Especially everyone’s favorite: watermelon. It’s sweet – without packing on the sugar – and hydrating. And you can enjoy it so many different ways! Best of all, it’s a nifty treat you can share with your dog. But when your cat jumps up on the table, what do you do? (Or maybe I should say picnic blanket, as most cats aren’t supposed to get on the table) Can cats eat watermelon? Yes, but in LIMITED amounts. While an occasional taste of watermelon won’t hurt your cat, it’s also not doing your feline many favors.
The scientific name for watermelon is Citrullus lanatus. It’s in the same plant family as other water-containing gourds: cucumber, pumpkin, and squash. (I know, everyone forgets they’re fruits. But if you find seeds inside, it’s a fruit – by definition) The original watermelons got their start in south Africa. People found seeds and art depicting watermelons in the tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt. It’s such a well-respected fruit, it gets its own special day every year: August 3rd.
And it’s no wonder. They’re pretty fantastic health foods. Chow down on 1 cup of this bright red dessert, and you gain SO MANY daily benefits:
- Calories: 40
- Magnesium: 3%
- Phosphorous: 1%
- Potassium: 3%
- Thiamin: 4%
- A: 4%
- B6: 3%
- C: 12.5%
Plus, that brilliant shade of red? It’s full of phytonutrients. These natural chemical compounds help watermelons resist bacteria, fungi, and viruses. And, of course, that single cup of watermelon contains 92% water (hence, the water in the name). Cats aren’t the best drinkers out there. So when cats eat watermelon, they get natural hydration they may miss out on when they avoid the water bowl.
Can Cats Eat Watermelon?
All of those nutrients and vitamins sound great, right? And cats DO need those important elements in their diet. This is why it’s okay when cats eat watermelon. The boost of water into their system can often help keep their kidneys – and bladder – happy. You still want to convince your kitty to head for the water bowl, though. And you need to mind the AMOUNT of watermelon your feline’s snacking on. Because while it isn’t toxic, it’s also not an ideal kitty treat.
Cautions When Cats Eat Watermelon
For a happy, healthy cat? A nip or two of watermelon won’t hurt. Odds are the average feline WON’T dive into your dessert plate with the same enthusiasm as their canine partner. But you don’t need to panic if you see cats eat watermelon now and then. Do you need to take some precautions, though? Absolutely. While safe, watermelon still holds some concerns.
Watermelons have sugar. ALL fruits contain natural sugars (which are better than added sugars, but they’re still sugar). It’s a lower amount than some fruits (8.5g in one cup), but for cats? That’s high. Diabetic cats should NOT eat watermelon. The insulating fiber helps prevent the sugar from spiking in an ordinary bloodstream, but that’s still too much for a compromised pancreas to cope with. And frequent treats with sugar may predispose a cat toward diabetes. Their systems aren’t designed to cope.
The other problem is the amount of carbohydrates in watermelon. When cats eat watermelon, they get hit with around 10.5g per cup. That’s a lot of carbs. Not for a human or a dog, but a cat? Cats only need 10% of their diet to come from carbohydrates. Stretched over a day, that’s NOT much. They need a protein focus to satisfy their obligate-carnivore stomachs. And watermelon? It only has 1g of protein. The math doesn’t skew in your cat’s favor. Signs your cat’s stomach ISN’T agreeing with the excess carbs?
- Abdominal pain
Most people know that black fruit seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide. Now, you have to consume around 400 seeds to feel those effects – if you’re a human. For an animal the size of a cat? The amount is smaller. To avoid potential problems, ALWAYS remove the seeds before allowing cats to eat watermelon. Now, the white seeds you note in seedless watermelon? They don’t contain the same levels of cyanide.
However, the other seed issue is a potential choking hazard. Cats have smaller throats, and the seeds can end up lodged within. Your best bet is to remove ALL seeds – regardless of color – before you offer any cuts of watermelon. Then you keep everyone safe and sound.
Safe Ways for Cats to Eat Watermelon
You know you need to take out the seeds (and skip the rind – your cat’s teeth will never chew through that), but how best for cats to eat watermelon? You don’t want to overdo the sugar or carbs and end up with a kitty with an upset tummy. Luckily, cats aren’t too picky about their summer fruit preparation.
Make sure you wash the watermelon first. DON’T add anything on top. (Yes, it’s trendy to sprinkle on salt or feta – for US. Cats don’t need the sodium or dairy!) Then cut into bites about the size of your cat’s kibble. And that’s it! The perfect feline fruit treat! You CAN freeze slightly larger pieces for your cat to chew on, but place them on something your cat can sit with. It’ll take them longer to gnaw away.
Cats and Fruit CAN Mix
Can cats eat watermelon? Yes – in moderation. As low as the sugar count is, it’s still high for felines. And the carb count is WAY too high to make the treat a regular summer option. But the extra hydration is a nice bonus, especially in cats that aren’t drinking much. And you can’t deny the punch of nutrients. So as long as you trim away the seeds and keep the portions small, you’re in the clear.