Tomatoes are a staple in almost everyone’s diet. Whether they are used in a sauce, eaten in salads, or enjoyed raw, it’s likely that your cat will come into contact with a tomato at some point in their lives!
It’s natural to want to share whatever you’re eating with your cat. It’s a great way to promote bonding between you and your feline friend and is also a great way to offer your cat a little taste of different foods.
However, not all human foods are safe for cats, and some foods are only safe sometimes. Tomatoes, which are technically a fruit, seem like a pretty safe bet, but the reality is a little more complicated.
So, can cats eat tomatoes?
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
Tomatoes are a fruit (yes! A fruit!) that are indigenous to North America. While they are commonly found in cuisines all around the world, the history of tomato cultivate can be traced back to the ancient Aztecs. In fact, it wasn’t until the 16th century that tomatoes were introduced to Europe and became immensely popular in Italian, Spanish, and French gastronomy.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, copper, potassium, and vitamin E. These are all vitamins that cats need (and likely already get from their cat food.)
While the stems and leaves of tomato plants are highly toxic, the fruit (the actual part you eat) is unlikely do your cat harm in small quantities.
Yes and no. Let’s start with the basics: tomato plants are actually a part of the nightshade family, and many plants in this family are highly poisonous, even to humans.
However, there are some safe members of the nightshade family, such as tomatoes and potatoes.
Confused? Well, it’s a little complicated.
While the tomato is not necessarily harmful for cats as long as they only eat a little bit, the leaves and stems of the tomato plant contain two properties called solanine and tomatine, which are very dangerous for cats.
Some sources will tell you that unripe tomatoes are poisonous for cats, while ripe tomatoes are fine. Others will say that cooking the tomatoes removes the dangerous chemicals.
Most cats won’t be interested in tomatoes. However, there are surely some cats that, for whatever reason, can’t get enough of these red fruits. Another red fruit popular with cats is the apple.
Because so much is still up for debate about how cats react to tomato, it’s best not to give your cats tomatoes at all, and to make sure that any tomato plants are kept safely out of reach of your cat.
This als0 applies when your cat is begging you for a slice of pizza.
This cat is enjoying a tiny taste of tomato, but notice how little he’s eating!
If your cat absolutely won’t stop begging for tomatoes, you can try feeding them a tiny bit. Keep the following in mind, though:
No, cats can’t eat tomato sauce. But the tomatoes aren’t really the problem here!
Tomato sauce, especially commercial varieties that you buy at the supermarket, almost always contain onion and garlic, both of which are toxic to cats. Tomato sauce also contains salt and sugar, neither of which will do your cat any good.
While tomato sauce may be the tomato product that your cat seems most interested in, do yourself and your cat a favor and skip the spaghetti.
No, it’s not a good idea to give your kitten tomatoes. Even though a tiny bit of tomato may not hurt an adult cat, it’s never a good idea to get creative with your kitten’s diet, especially with something as risky as tomatoes.
Even just a little bit of a tomato or tomato sauce may cause your kitten to become very ill. And keep curious kittens far away from tomato plants, as the leaves and stems are highly toxic to cats.
Kittens are best given a diet comprised solely of a high-quality kitten food with few fillers, only high-quality grains, and meat listed as the primary ingredient such as Wellness Core kitten food.
These kittens are playing it safe and just enjoying an empty tomato basket, rather than the tomatoes themselves.
While tomatoes contain a lot of nutrients that are very important for people, there is really no good reason to feed your cat tomatoes from a nutritional point of view.
As long as you are feeding your cat a high-quality cat food, such as Blue Wilderness Adult Grain-Free, which contains no grain and lists meat as the first ingredient, your cat is already getting all the vitamins and minerals they need.
Some cats may be crazy about tomatoes and beg for them every time you make a salad, but it’s your responsibility to either skip them entirely or only offer your cat the occasional tiny taste.
If you really want to incorporate some fruits and vegetables in your cat’s diet, you can do so safely by offering them treats with vegetables in the mix, such as Dr. Becker’s Veggie Bites. While these treats are often made mostly of meat, they have some added veggie goodness.
There are also liquid treats that contain veggies, like Delectables Bisque. While these are often caloric, they can be an excellent alternative to tomato sauce (they contain vitamins and minerals without the dangerous garlic and onion.)
Technically speaking, a tiny bit of tomato is unlikely to do your adult cat much damage, and some cats inexplicably really like tomatoes.
However, there are many reasons not to give your cat tomatoes:
Because there are so many safe alternatives your best bet is to skip the tomatoes completely! Instead just try these vegetable bites and see how that goes.
If you’re also wondering if your feline friend can eat watermelon, you can find out about that by clicking here.
Have you found the perfect way to incorporate fruits and veggies into your cat’s diet? Does your cat beg for tomatoes anyway? How do you satisfy their cravings? We want to hear about it in the comments- let us know!
After moving to New York City from Rome, Italy, I began working in the nonprofit world. Despite my day job, my passion has always been animals, especially dogs and cats, and writing. What better way to combine the two? I’ve been a pet owner for 15 years, and my menagerie includes dogs, cats, hamsters and the occasional hermit crab. My beloved cat, Mozart, who I found as a newborn kitten, sparked my love for felines and is now nearly 15 years old. I am an enthusiastic volunteer at the local ASPCA, where I enjoy spending time with the cats and cleaning up after the dogs. I’ve been writing about pet ownership and care for the past five years.