Cats easily can still your heart. We try our hardest to keep them safe and healthy and happy. So when the opportunity arises to treat your cat to some ‘human food’, it is a great idea to check on the safety of those foods first. How about bananas? They are healthy for most of us to eat. So can cats eat bananas?
Dr. Jess explains the answer in this article:
Let’s Talk Cats:
Cats, also known as felines, are small mammals that are a popular choice in house pets. There are tens and tens of different cat breeds in the U.S. and world-wide.
Not only are there domesticated cats, but there are farm cats that are primarily used for hunting rodents, as well as feral cats that are not tamed, the exact opposite of a domesticated house cat.
Some domesticated cats are bred to be show cats and enter into shows to compete with other cats of the same breed over their conformation, or how closely they are built like how the breed was intended.
Cats are natural-born hunters, chasing and hunting prey such as mice, rats, and other small rodents.
Cats, being mammals, have fur, produce milk and nurse their babies, have sharp pointed teeth and retractable claws to help hunt down their prey and to protect themselves.
Their claws also help them climb.
Cats are quite fast and nimble.
They are playful and curious.
Cats can range in size and shape, with most cats weighing between 10 – 15 pounds as healthy active adults. Of course there are always outliers to both ends of this spectrum.
Cats can live up to 20+ years old if very lucky – remember the old adage… cats have 9 lives! 😉
What Do Cats Eat?
This is a hard question to answer because each cat is going to be so different from the next.
Let’s start with this – cats are carnivores, meaning that they eat meat. This is great news since they are natural born hunters!
That being said, most cats prefer meat, or meat-flavored foods and cat treats.
A cat’s diet can include many things. It depends on your cat’s flavor preferences, their medical conditions, their stage of life, and your living situation and your preferences too.
Most cats that I have seen in practice, eat a selection of commercial cats foods, including wet and dry foods.
Dry kibble is ideal for cats that have no problem chewing their food. There is the added benefit that the texture of the dry kibble helps to keep the teeth clean.
Wet food is softer and easier to eat and also has a much higher moisture content than dry kibble does. The extra water content in wet food will help to keep your cat hydrated.
Some clients get their cat’s food through brick and mortar stores like PetsMart or Petco, others order online through stores like Chewy like me, and others purchase commercial feed that needs a prescription from a veterinarian because of specific medical concerns.
Cats need a complete and balanced diet.
Whichever food you choose for your cat, whether it is a commercial food or another protein source, fresh meat or store-bought kibble, it needs to have the AAFCO label indicating the diet is complete and balanced for your cat’s life stage.
AAFCO approved foods have gone through testing and compliance to make sure that the diet is safe and healthy for your pet.
Check that label small print! Look for the AAFCO statement that reads “complete and balanced nutrition for cats based on AAFCO feeding trials” on the label.
The AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials), tests pet feeds to see the nutritional makeup in the foods that you are serving to your pet.
Some foods “meet the requirement” that the AAFCO sets forth during their testing, but they have not actually been tested by the AAFCO.
Be careful of the tricky language, as it could mean a big difference to your cat!
If your cat’s commercial food is the only food that you are offering to your cat or kitten, make sure that it is “complete and balanced”, meaning that your feline friend will not need to be supplemented with anything because the food you are giving them has all the daily nutritional requirements necessary for proper growth, development, and daily management.
Be very concerned if your cat food does not describe the above verbiage.
Cats can get everything that they need from their AAFCO-approved kibble or canned food because they are complete and balanced.
There are a few ingredients that should be avoided in a cat’s food.
Milk has been misrepresented as a healthy snack for our feline friends. The truth is that they may like the taste but many kittens and cats can’t handle the milk, leading to an upset digestive system.
Also avoid raw meat ingredients (including fish and egg ingredients) unless approved by your veterinarian beforehand, as these choices may be harboring harmful bacteria or parasites.
You will want to avoid feeding your cat human treats like peanut butter too, that contain ingredients that have the potential to harm your kitty.
Make sure you talk to your veterinarian before starting or changing your cat’s diet program!
Also note, that cats need fresh food, free of bugs and other pests, and fresh, clean water.
Let’s Talk Bananas…
Bananas are a very popular fruit because of their mild tasty flavor, beautiful yellow exterior peel which makes it easy to pack as a snack, and its many uses in cooking, especially in desserts.
“A banana is an elongated, edible fruit – botanically a berry – produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa. In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called “plantains”, distinguishing them from dessert bananas. The fruit is variable in size, color, and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch covered with a rind, which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. ” [source]
Just like with any other fruit, bananas have their nutritional value…. as well as some things to be weary of!
Bananas have many nutritional benefits as well as tasty benefits.
Bananas contain antioxidants that may help to prevent cell damage that harmful free radicals can cause. These antioxidants can help with things like preventing certain cancers and diseases.
With how tasty they taste, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that bananas contain quite a bit of sugar, but not as much sugar as some other fruit choices contain.
Too much sugar can cause health concerns such as obesity or diabetes in your cat, so be careful.
Packed with Vitamins and Minerals!
Bananas contain vitamins A B1, B6, and C, which aid in maintaining the cat’s immune system, eye sight, reproductive system, and body growth while they are young.
Bananas also come packed with essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron, which strengthen bones and tissues throughout the feline friend’s body systems.
Potassium helps regulate fluid balance, nerve signaling, and aids in muscle function.
More on the Importance of Vitamin C:
Bananas contain vitamin C. Remember that cats have the need vitamin C because it is one of the major factors helping their immune systems in preventing diseases and keeping their immune system strong.
Are Bananas Harmful to Cats?
Yes, they can be.
Remember that too much banana fed to your furry buddy can give them side effects like an upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
This can lead to a multitude of problems including things like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that could impart a trip to the veterinary clinic for your vet to fix.
The higher sugar content in bananas can also lead to some pretty big health concerns as well.
Not only does excess sugar leave your cat prone to weight gain and obesity, but also diabetes and gastrointestinal (digestive) upset due to the sugar-overload in their systems.
Can Cats Eat Banana Peels?
Another issue is the peel…….
No, your cat can not eat the peel with their banana pieces.
Don’t be surprised if your feline doesn’t eat the peel either, because it’s not tasty to a cat and releases a strong repulsive odor that cats can smell.
The peel is much less tasty (and has less sugar content to boot!) to your kitty than the soft fruit of the banana inside of it.
The peel is also very hard for your cat to digest because their carnivorous digestive tract is not set up to digest something so fibrous as a banana peel.
Medical & Health Concerns of Feeding Banana to Cats:
Are there any circumstances when banana might be bad for your pet?
Yes, some of the common issues seen with feeding bananas to cats include:
- Pesticides: Bananas should always be washed to make sure they are free of any pesticides or chemicals that could be harmful to cats.
- Parasites: Bananas should be checked over for parasites that can lead to potential parasite problems with your cat.
- Acidity: Bananas contain natural acids in them. Therefore, too much banana means your cat is getting a lot of unnecessary additional acid – not a good idea for your cat’s health!
- Overly Ripened: Avoid rotten fruits and vegetables that can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset.
- Baby Kitties: Kittens have a more sensitive digestive system than their adult counterparts do, and therefore you shouldn’t give your rabbit friend any fruits or vegetables.
How To Feed Banana To Your Cat:
First off, you should always purchase high-quality bananas for your cat from a reputable food source.
All fruits and vegetables will need to have a visual inspection done to make sure that you are giving your pet a ripe, healthy food to eat.
Next, you will need to remove the peel and any defects from the banana. Then cut, slice, chop, or dice up the banana so that your cat can safely eat it.
They will need food in a small bite-sized piece at first. When first introducing your cat to banana, you want to see how they do after giving them one small piece!
Food should be presented in a shallow clean dish that is not easily tipped over.
Fresh water should always be available in a shallow dish that can’t be easily tipped over. This water dish should be washed and cleaned daily.
Any food left in your cat’s dish that is not eaten up will start to get old and become unsafe for your cat to eat, if they will even touch it at all.
This could lead to some major health issues, as well as a smelly dish and a bug problem – things you definitely do not want to deal with.
So, it is very important to clean out any foods that your cat leaves behind in a timely manner.
- 1 ripe, fresh banana
- cutting board
- kitchen produce knife
- Check your banana for signs of parasites or irregularities. If there are concerns with your fruit, do not feed it to your pet.
- Peel the banana peel away and discard the peel. Cut the banana into small 1/2" thick slices, pieces, or bites.
- Remove any remaining banana that has been in the food bowl or dish for longer than 12-24 hours.
- Monitor for signs of GI upset or adverse reaction.
Contact your veterinarian before changing parts of your pet's diet. Stop the feeding of banana immediately and contact your veterinarian if any signs of ill health appear.
Serving Size of Banana To Feed Your Cat:
First step to focus in on is the serving size that you are giving your fur baby.
Depending on your cat’s size, the average banana portion should be up to one 1/2″ slice or ‘coin’ of banana per serving.
When first introducing your cat to banana, offer one small piece of banana and wait at least 24 hours to see if any adverse reactions occur before offering your pet more of the fruit.
They should only be fed banana up to once per week at most, and not on a daily basis or any two days in a row. Work up to this frequency and amount however!
Remember that banana should be limited to a special treat only because of potential digestive and other assorted health problems.
Moderation is key when it comes to feeding bananas to your cat!
Common Signs of Adverse Reaction:
- diarrhea/loose stool
- excessive or increased itching/scratching/licking of skin or paws
Can cats eat bananas?
Yes, they can in very small amounts.
However, most cats will not eat bananas due to the taste, texture, and the smell that they can detect coming off from the banana peel.
If you are going to offer your cat a piece of banana, make sure that you have read through this article to know exactly how to do it, as well as contacting your veterinarian to make sure that that is the right choice for your pet before changing up their diet.
Lastly, watch your pet for any adverse effects from this new treat and report it to your local veterinarian immediately if any are observed.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.