Mmmm…. Cherries. Cherry pie, ice cream sundaes with cherries on top, and Cherry Limeade from Sonic. Who doesn’t like cherries in some form or fashion? But what about cats?
If you offer your cat a cherry, odds are they’re going to want it.
Whether they like to bat the cherry around like a ball or take a little nibble from it, cherries seem to pique the interest of most cats.
But are cherries healthy for cats or can cherries be harmful to a cat’s health?
In this article we’ll cover the following;
A cherry is the fruit of one of many flowering trees or shrubs from the genus Prunus. Most of the cherries commonly eaten by people come from one species in particular, Prunus avium.
This type of cherry is referred to as the “sweet cherry” or “wild cherry.” The sour cherry, black cherry, laurel cherry and the Japanese cherry are just a few of the other hundreds of species of cherry.
Almost all cherries are important foods for wildlife and one, the chokecherry, is known for being an essential part of the diet for early Native Americans.
It seems that most cats like cherries, either as a toy or as food, as you can see from this video:
But are cherries healthy for cats?
Well, first cats are obligate carnivores, which means all they really need to eat is meat.
While cherries do contain vitamins and anti-oxidants, cats actually are very poor at deriving nutrition from foods that aren’t meat. So, they certainly don’t need to eat cherries. Even if it’s some type of delicious cherry filling from a donut, it’s no good for them.
The short answer is that you are probably okay giving your cat small amounts of de-seeded cherry flesh. Cherries do contain some good nutrients.
The problem is that the rest of the plant, besides the fruit, contains measurable levels of cyanide, which is poisonous. Additionally, the seed can be a choking hazard.
Kittens tend to be even more susceptible to things that adult cats are sensitive to because kittens are tiny and their bodies have not yet fully developed.
For this reason, kittens should never be given any part of the cherry plant besides the flesh of the fruit. The cyanide amounts in other parts of the cherry plant could be extremely harmful for a kitten.
Similarly, cherry seeds present a choking hazard. Kittens do not have as much experience with different food items and may try to swallow the seed. It is simply too dangerous to give kittens cherries that still have the seed in them.
With the above cautions in mind, small amounts of flesh of the cherry fruit probably won’t hurt your kitten. At worst, if they eat too much, they might have indigestion and diarrhea.
Since cats derive the vast majority of their nutrition from eating meat, there is very little benefit for cats to eat cherries. Too much cherry fruit could cause indigestion and loose stools.
Further, the seeds and other parts of the cherry contain cyanide which could poison your cat. Some of the highest levels of cyanide are found in wilted cherry leaves. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include:
If your cat has eaten cherry leaves, stems or pits and/or is showing signs of poisoning, contact poison control and your vet immediately!
Cats are fine to have a small amount of cherries from time to time.
And, instead of real cherries, check out this cute cherry cat toy!
Cats and kittens are fine to eat small amounts of the flesh of a cherry fruit without the seeds. However, they derive very little benefit from eating cherries and other parts of the cherry plant can actually be harmful to cats.
Another small fruit that cats may be interested in are blueberries, but can they eat them?
If you have any questions or would like to share a story about your cat and cherries, please tell us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.
Phil’s lifelong love of animals began as a young boy growing up with three pet dogs. As a teenager and young adult, Phil spent six years working as a veterinary technician, later earning a B.S. in Animal Science. After college, Phil continued working as a vet tech part-time while caring for a private collection of mountain lions used in wildlife educational programs. During this time, Phil volunteered at the Dallas Zoo and was eventually offered a position as a zookeeper in the zoo’s naturalistic Wilds of Africa area. Phil became the primary keeper for a black leopard named “Grady” and a caracal named “Tut” in the predator/prey exhibit.