October 8, 2020

Can Cats Eat Bananas?

Risks, Benefits & Serving Size

Fact checked by Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM
Published by Sheila Wilson

Vet Approved

Unlike dogs, cats are true carnivores. That means they need to get the bulk of their nutrition from animal protein and fat. But this is not to say that cats cannot eat anything else. Many will enjoy stuff like popcorn and avocado as a snack.

It can be very tempting to offer your beloved fur baby the stuff that you find appealing. But a cat's digestive system is very different from our own, and not everything we eat is suitable for them.

Bananas are a delicious, nutritious fruit that most of us enjoy greatly. And your cat may often want to try something just because you're eating it too. But are bananas really safe for cats?

Can Cats Eat Bananas?

Yes, cats can eat banana. Although there is nothing toxic in bananas for cats, they offer no nutritional value, and they may even cause digestive issues like vomiting, diarrhea. Also, the peel may pose a choking hazard. Bananas are best avoided, but if your cat wants a taste, follow our vet-approved feeding guidelines to keep your cat safe.

But if your cat has eaten a bit of banana, there's no reason to rush off to the vet in a panic. Bananas are not toxic to cats and will not poison your pet.

For humans, bananas are quite nutritious and come with lots of health benefits. For cats, it's a different story. The bulk of a cat's diet should be protein and fat, and they don't digest fruits and vegetables as efficiently as dogs or people do.

Health Benefits: Is Banana Good for Cats?

Bananas are nutritious, right? Well, that really depends on your perspective. They're rich in vitamin B6 and vitamin C; actually, they contain lots of vitamins from the B complex. They're also a good source of several essential minerals, lacking only in calcium and sodium.

A little bit of banana isn't harmful to your curious cat, though it won't offer them any nutritional value.
- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

But all these health benefits apply to humans. Cats are built to digest animal-based food, meaning your cat needs to get most of its nutrition from meat, not plants.

Health Risks: Is Banana Bad for Cats?

By now, you've worked out that feeding your cat bananas is not such a great idea. It's not that the fruit is toxic: it's simply that your cat doesn't digest it as efficiently and needs to get most of their nutrition from meat-based foods.

There are also a couple of reasons why your cat is probably better off without banana altogether.

Cats Are True Carnivores

Domestic cats, just like all their wild cousins, are true carnivores. It means that they cannot digest plant-based food well, and they require essential nutrients that only meat can provide to them, unlike, for example, dogs and human beings.

Your cat's main source of nutrition should be a specially formulated feed for cats. Any good quality cat food will be built primarily on animal protein and fat. It will also contain all the nutrition your cat requires to remain healthy and strong.

But cats do love treats, and we know you love to let your cat have some every now and then. Even when it comes to treats, cats are generally best off with meat-based stuff, and you can find many good ones from pet shops or online.

If your cat is adamant about getting some of your banana as you enjoy it, you can go ahead and give it a tiny little bit.

The fruit is soft and mushy enough that your cat shouldn't have any trouble chewing it. Just keep it minimal, as there's nothing of benefit in it for your pet, and too much can actually harm him.

cut fresh bananas

Bananas Contain Sugar And Carbs

On the whole, cats have no need of sugar and carbs in their diet. As we've already said, they need to get their nutrition from animal protein and fat.

Keeping this in mind, not more than 2% of your cat's diet should be made up of sugars and plant carbs, which makes it a very, very tiny serving of banana that you can safely let your cat have to avoid digestive issues like diarrhea and vomiting.

Banana Peels Are A Choking Hazard

Sometimes people will let their cat play with a whole, unpeeled banana, but that's not such a good idea. Yes, your cat may enjoy pawing the banana and playing with it. But if it actually ingests any of the peel, it can easily choke on it.

If the peel is accidentally swallowed, it can cause a blockage in your cat's intestine, as your cat won't be able to digest it. This could cause your cat to suffer from constipation or even create a blockage that needs to be surgically removed.

Also, keep in mind that banana peels may have traces of pesticides and other contaminants on them, and ingesting these may be harmful to your feline.

Potential Digestive Issues

Again, this comes back down to the fact that cats are simply not meant to live on fruits and vegetables. They need a meat-based diet to get all the nutrition they require and to be healthy.

Most cats can handle a little bit of banana without any problems, but if your cat has a sensitive tummy, even a small bit can cause an upset. And even less sensitive cats are likely to end up with diarrhea if they eat too much banana in one go.

Serving Size and How to Feed?

Bananas aren't the ideal treat for your cat, as we've seen with the numerous points above. But if you decide to give your cat some, it's best to keep the quantity really small.

Make Sure To Remove The Peel First

If you are going to give your cat any banana, select one that is ripe, but still reasonably firm. An overripe banana is more likely to cause diarrhea and may leave a mess as your cat tries to figure out what to do with it.

It's always a good idea to remove the peel completely, and only offer your cat the fruit itself. The trouble with peels is that if your cat swallows some, it can easily choke on it. The peel may also get stuck in your cat's digestive system, causing a blockage.

Don't Give Your Cat The Whole Banana To Play With

Cats really don't need sugar and carbs to survive. They're much better off living on meat-based food. To avoid any digestive and other health issues, keep the servings of banana (and any other plant-based food) very small.

In fact, cats cannot even taste sugar as such, because they lack the taste receptors for it on their little tongues. The only reason your cat may want to eat that banana is that you're eating it, or because they're naturally curious.

Give one tiny piece, about a teaspoon's worth. That may seem like very little, but remember, cats are not very big animals, even the larger breed like Maine Coones. This will help make sure that your cat doesn't get too much sugar or carbs, neither of which it needs.

Bananas Aren't Toxic, But They Don't Offer Much To Your Cat

Bananas are safe for cats to eat in small quantities. At any rate, they're not toxic to your cat. If your cat did go ahead and swallow some accidentally, there's no need to call your vet right away. The banana will probably just pass through your cat's system as is without causing any harm.

Nutrition Facts

Bananas are considered healthy food for us humans because of their nutritional values.

  • Calories: 89
  • Water: 75%
  • Protein: 1.1 grams
  • Carbs: 22.8 grams
  • Sugar: 12.2 grams
  • Fiber: 2.6 grams
  • Fat: 0.3 grams

Not only are bananas a nice low-fat snack, but they also contain many healthy nutrients like:

  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Manganese

Beneficial as bananas are for human beings, they're practically useless to cats. All those vitamins and minerals they contain simply pass through their systems because cats don't have the enzymes to digest plant matter.

The only stuff your cat will be getting from bananas is some of the sugar and carbs they contain, neither of which your cat needs. Your pet is actually better off without them altogether.

Bottom line: Can Cats Have Bananas?

Your cat may be begging you for a bit of the banana that you're eating while watching your favorite movie, but it's only doing it out of curiosity and a desire to eat the same things you're eating. Your pet doesn't need that banana, and there's nothing useful it will get out of it anyway.

If you really want to feed your cat some banana, or it's desperately begging you for some, you can. You just have to keep the quantities very small and take care that there are no peels around for your cat to swallow accidentally.

Ultimately, there are much better treats for your cat out there than sugary bananas that don't do your cat any good.

If you prefer to give food from your kitchen, you can always opt for meat or fish. Otherwise, there are plenty of excellent cat treats available.

Vet's Comment

A little bit of banana isn't harmful to your curious cat, though it won't offer them any nutritional value.

As obligate carnivores, cats need a meat-based diet to keep them healthy. A small amount of fruits like bananas are okay as an occasional treat, but you need to ensure that the majority of their diet consists of meat-based cat food.

One of the most important reasons cats need meat to survive is an amino acid called taurine. Unlike people and dogs who can make their own taurine, cats are only able to obtain it from meat.

If cats don't get enough of this amino acid, it can lead to life-threatening problems. To keep your cat as healthy as possible, feed them a commercial cat food that is higher in protein and fat, and low in carbohydrates and sugars.

- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Leonie McKinlay

DVM

Dr. Leonie McKinlay has always had a special fondness for animals and knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Calgary and then her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Since graduation, Dr. McKinlay has been working at the same small animal practice, caring for dogs and cats.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your cat's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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