What is it about cats and cucumbers? This pairing was made famous by numerous YouTube videos where owners repeatedly surprise their feline friends with this green fruit (trust me, it is, just like a tomato is a fruit). While hilarious, it may have some of you wondering if cats can eat cucumbers, or are they just a stage prop for your cat’s next home movie?
The quick answer is yes, cats can eat cucumbers in small quantities. However, there are things that you need to take into consideration.
Can Cucumbers Be Harmful to Cats?
Cats are carnivores; they crave and need lots of protein. Their bodies are designed to get the majority of their nutrition from meat. Vegetables, fruits, and grains don’t play a major role in their diet as their bodies are not set up to digest them as efficiently. Giving your cat a lot of fruits and vegetables can actually starve them of some nutrients. If cucumbers or other fruits and vegetables make up a high percentage of your cat’s diet, they may be missing out on some of their essential nutrition.
Lots of fiber and water can also cause some digestive upset for kitties, mainly in the form of diarrhea.
Do Cucumbers Have any Healthy Benefits to Cats?
Though your cat is more than likely only after cucumbers for their pleasing crunch, you’ll be happy to know that they provide them with more than that. At the top of the benefits list is water.
Cucumbers contain over 90% water, something most cats can’t get enough of. Besides helping to keep a cat hydrated, a couple bites of cucumber will also provide them with fiber to regulate their digestion and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Cucumbers are also a source of antioxidants, which may help treat and prevent chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart, or kidney disease. This fruit is low in calories as well. With few calories and moderate amounts of fiber, cucumbers can make an excellent treat for kitties on a weight-loss plan.
How to Feed Cucumber to Your Cat
While cucumbers are considered a safe food for your cat, there are some guidelines that you should follow when feeding them. First of all, moderation is key. And by moderation, a slice or two a week is plenty. You don’t want to give much more than that, or they will get full from cucumber instead of their complete and balanced cat food.
You should also consider peeling the cucumber first. The skin is where most of the fiber is found. Even though some fiber is beneficial, too much may be hard for them to digest. Also, be sure to wash the cucumber thoroughly before peeling and slicing.
Serve it plain, without any seasonings or dips. Not only are these extras just additional calories, but some seasonings can be harmful to your cats.
You can feed cucumber as an in-between meals snack or as a topper to their cat food. Just be sure to keep the amounts small and the feedings infrequent.
Can Cats Have Pickles?
Fresh, peeled cucumber is the only recommended way to share this fruit with your cat. Even though pickles make a great partner for tuna fish, a cat favorite, they don’t have a place in your cat’s diet. That is because pickles are packed with salt and other seasonings that can be potentially dangerous for your kitty. While some kitties may crave pickles, high amounts of salt can lead to salt toxicity, a possibly serious situation.
If eaten consistently, other seasonings, mainly garlic, and onion, can lead to red blood cell issues. Even though your cat would have to eat quite a few pickles to have any real problems, it can happen, and that’s a chance most of us are unwilling to take.
There’s no doubt about it; cats and cucumbers have an interesting and often amusing relationship. That relationship only goes as far as a little scare for most cats when they see this greet fruit. For others, cucumbers may be a regular part of their snacking routine. If your cat is curious about eating cucumbers, remember only to feed them a slice or two a week and don’t make it part of their regular meals. Keep pickles out of their diet altogether.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.