You’ve seen your cat eat a few tomatoes on several occasions in the past. But your friend told you to stop doing so. So you ask yourself: ‘Are tomatoes bad for cats?’
You might have even gotten more confused after learning that tomato is an ingredient commonly used in cat food. So, what’s really the score about tomatoes and cats? Is it safe to feed your cat with this popular fruit?
Tomatoes are Safe for Cats
Technically speaking, tomatoes are safe for cats. Ripe tomatoes won’t hurt your feline friend when she ingests one.
Several veterinarians have dispelled the myth that cats should not be eating tomatoes at all.
Dr. Ihoe Basko, a veterinarian who graduated from the Michigan State University and one of the founders of the Veterinary Botanical Medical Association, says we shouldn’t believe the myth that tomatoes are toxic for pets like dogs and cats.
He even mentions that he feeds his cats and dogs with tomatoes in various forms. He admits giving raw and ripe fruits to his pets. He also cooks tomatoes into paste, and feeds this to his cats.
Dr. Basko suggests cooking the tomatoes to be fed to cats to prevent possible contamination. He says feeding your cats with organic tomatoes is also a good idea.
Dr. Marie Haynes, a veterinarian based in Ottawa, Ontario, also corroborates Dr. Basko’s claim. She notes in a blog post that she has never heard of a cat getting ill because of eating tomatoes.
Going back to tomato use in cat food, you can try reading the labels of cat foods and there’s a good chance that you will see tomatoes listed as an ingredient.
It should be noted, though, that ripe tomato is used in said cat foods. Moreover, the amount is very minimal to cause any negative effect on cats.
Most experts agree that cats can safely eat the ripe fruit of the plant. Don’t worry though, as cats are unlikely to nibble on raw tomatoes because the texture and taste of green tomatoes aren’t pleasing for most of our feline friends.
Toxic Parts of the Tomato Plant
However, you should not give your cat the green parts of the plant such as the leaves and stems. These parts are very toxic to cats because of the presence of the glycoalkoloid called solanine.
Solanine is also present in plants under the Solanaceae family such as eggplant, paprika, and peppers.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, cats can exhibit the following symptoms when they ingest the green parts of the tomato fruit:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Behavioral changes
- Slow heart rate
- CNS depression
Due to the fact that adult cats are very picky about their food, it is very unlikely for them to chew on tomato leaves and stem. Kittens, for all their inquisitiveness, are more prone to eating these toxic parts of the tomato plant.
Young cats which have been kept indoors and then allowed to roam outside of the house may also sample unfamiliar vegetation such as tomato leaves and stem.
Cats May Be Allergic to Tomatoes
While ripe tomatoes are generally considered safe for cat consumption, this doesn’t mean that your pet isn’t allergic to the fruit.
How would you know that your cat has tomato allergy? You should watch for the following signs:
Benefits of Eating Tomatoes in Cats
Tomatoes are rich in water and fiber, which could be beneficial to your cat’s digestion. If your cat is being slowed down with constipation, then it isn’t a bad idea to feed her with tomatoes.
The high water and fiber content of tomatoes can help in sweeping out the colon of your cat, improving her digestion in the process.
But aside from that, cats don’t really get any health benefit from eating tomatoes. Their bodies are designed to get protein from meat sources.
Their digestive system lacks the enzymes needed to digest carbohydrates found in plant sources, like tomatoes. Cats, in particular, don’t have the carbohydrate-digesting enzyme called amylase that is present in human saliva.
So your cat may be able to eat ripe tomatoes and feel full afterwards, but she won’t be getting any health benefit from it.
So is feeding a cat with tomatoes a no-no? Of course not! You can give your cat tomatoes if she likes it. Just don’t expose your kitten to the green parts of the tomato plant such as the plants and stems as these are toxic to our feline friends.
However, since tomatoes don’t really provide any nourishment to cats, it may be wise to use it as a treat to your furry friends instead of making it part of his daily diet.