As pet parents, when we’re trying to be healthy, we might order a salad. Perhaps the epitome of healthy foods, a simple bowl of salad contains fresh ingredients like tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, and other low-calorie salad vegetables.
These salad vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So, what if you want your feline family member to benefit from these super-healthy ingredients too? Can cats eat tomatoes?
Well, the truth is that although a small amount of fully ripe tomato is unlikely to do any harm, underripe tomatoes are toxic to cats. Therefore, if you’re looking for a healthy snack for your feline friend, there are better, less risky options.
Tomato Nutritional Stats
One slice of raw tomato (50g) contains the following nutrients. However, it’s important to remember that your cat may not be able to utilize all of the nutrients, as they may not be bioavailable.
Tomato Nutritional Facts
Commonly mistaken for a vegetable, a tomato is actually a fruit. While water makes up most of a tomato (a whopping 95%!), the remainder is mainly carbohydrates and fiber.
They’re a source of the antioxidant Vitamin C, and Vitamin K1, which is vital for blood clotting. In addition, they contain the B vitamin folate, and potassium, which is essential for heart function and circulation.
Benefits Of Tomatoes For Cats
Tomatoes contain important vitamins and minerals like Vitamins C, K, B9, and potassium. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant and is vital for growth and repair. However, cats can make their own Vitamin C, so it’s not an essential vitamin like it is in humans.
Vitamin K has a vital role in blood clotting, so it’s pretty important for your kitty. Potassium is important for nerve and muscle function, maintaining blood pressure, and fluid balance.
Even though these potential benefits sound great, there are much safer alternatives to tomatoes that you can feed your paw-some friend without worrying. So, although the risk from a small amount of ripe tomato is negligible, is it really worth the risk when there are safe foods you can offer?
How Many Tomatoes Can A Cat Eat?
As mentioned above, ripe tomatoes are very unlikely to cause your cat harm. The toxic compound solanine is only present in significant amounts in underripe tomatoes and the tomato plant itself. Therefore, if your cat ate a small amount of ripe tomato, for example, half a cherry tomato, it shouldn’t make them unwell.
On the other hand, the tomato stalk and the leaves and stem of the tomato plant all contain larger amounts of solanine. So, even a small amount could cause your cat to become unwell.
How Often Can A Cat Eat Tomatoes?
It’s safest to avoid tomatoes altogether, especially since they don’t provide any nutrition that your cat can’t get from other foods. However, if you decide to feed your cat small amounts of ripe tomato with the stalk removed, you should do so only occasionally.
Remember, as long as your cat’s food is nutritionally complete, it will contain everything they need to be healthy. Any little extras you give them won’t just increase their calorie intake for the day; it could also throw off the balance of nutrients provided by their cat food.
Are Tomatoes Used In Commercial Cat Food?
You might be surprised to find that some commercial cat foods contain tomatoes. However, it’s important to remember that ripe tomatoes pose no risk to your cat’s health because they don’t contain solanine.
So, don’t be alarmed if you spot tomatoes on the ingredients label of your cat’s food; it’s often used as a filler, with the added benefit of extra nutrients.
The Risks Of Eating Tomatoes For Cats
Of course, one of the main risks of eating tomatoes for cats is if they eat parts of the tomato plant or green, unripe tomatoes. If your cat does get solanine poisoning, they might go off their food and develop severe vomiting and diarrhea, dribbling, weakness, and a slow heart rate.
If you notice any of these signs or suspect that your cat may have nibbled on your tomato plant, you should contact a veterinarian right away.
Other risks from feeding your cat tomatoes are not related to the tomatoes themselves. Firstly, dishes that contain tomatoes often also include onions or garlic, which are severely toxic to cats.
Cooking fats and oils used to cook tomatoes could irritate your cat’s guts or cause them a painful bout of pancreatitis. You should also avoid using salt, pepper, chili, or other seasonings that could give your cat an upset tummy.
Do Cats Like The Taste Of Tomatoes?
As a general rule, cats don’t seem to like tomatoes much. But there are always exceptions to the rule! So, if your cat is a bit of an oddball and enjoys tomatoes, it’s best to remove any accessible tomato plants from your home, greenhouse, or garden.
When it comes to feeding your cat a tasty and nutritious treat, it’s best not to reach for the tomatoes. Although ripe tomatoes are safe for your cat to eat in small amounts, there are better options out there.
If your feline friend enjoys the taste of tomatoes, keep them safe by making sure they don’t have access to tomato plants. Finally, if you suspect your cat might have eaten part of a tomato plant, you should speak to your veterinarian for urgent advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if a cat eats a tomato?
If your cat eats some raw, ripe tomato with no stalk or extra ingredients, there should be no toxic effects. However, be mindful that underripe tomatoes or tomatoes cooked with seasonings or other ingredients pose a real risk to your cat and should be avoided.
Why do cats eat tomatoes?
Some cats enjoy the taste of tomatoes, as strange as that might be! Be careful if they get a taste for it, though, as they might decide to eat your tomato plants. Tomato plants and unripe tomatoes contain the compound solanine, which is toxic to cats.
Will tomato sauce hurt cats?
Tomato sauce doesn’t contain any solanine, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for your cat to eat. Tomato sauce, also known as tomato ketchup, includes lots of sugar and salt. Both of these ingredients are bad for your cat.
Are cherry tomatoes poisonous to cats?
Cherry tomatoes are just a type of small tomato. Any underripe tomato contains solanine, so you shouldn’t feed green cherry tomatoes to your cat. Ripe cherry tomatoes don’t have solanine, but you might feel more comfortable avoiding them in favor of safer, more nutritious options.