Who doesn’t like avocados? A healthy fruit with good fats, avocados are tasty and an excellent addition to a person’s diet.
Avocados are found in so many forms and many varying dishes. Some people snack on sliced avocados, while others throw them into salads or use them to top their toast.
And who can forget how delicious avocados are in guacamole?
Avocados can also be used in places you wouldn’t usually think about. You truly never know where you may encounter an avocado! These fruits may be used as an alternative to many creamy or fatty foods in many dishes.
As a practicing veterinarian, I am asked all the time about which foods are safe for my patients to eat. Due to their popularity, avocados are frequently asked about.
So, can cats eat avocados?
The answer is yes and no. Small amounts of only the flesh of the fruit are likely safe. However, avocados contain a chemical compound called persin that is toxic.
This chemical is found in higher concentrations in the skin and pit, so these parts should never be fed to a cat.
All About Avocados
Avocados are a fleshy, yellow to green colored fruit that is super popular amongst humans. Avocados are said to contain healthy fats and many other vital nutrients.
With such an impressive health profile, people often wonder if these fruits are safe to feed their cats. Cats are carnivores and do not require fruits. However, some cats have an affinity for sweet and non-sweet varieties.
It is always important to research a reputable source to determine if the human food you are considering feeding your cat is safe.
Some human foods are delicate and may benefit cats, whereas others can be toxic and life-threatening.
Benefits Of The Healthy Avocado
Avocados are fleshy, non-sweet fruits encased in a thick skin surrounding a single large pit. The fruit’s lumpy, bumpy green skin has earned it the nickname “alligator pear.”
Avocados are healthy for humans. These little fruits pack a powerful health kick! They contain many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, K, B5, B6, and E.
They are also high in potassium – higher than bananas. Other healthy substances found in avocados include folic acid and magnesium.
The high amount of potassium in avocados has been shown in scientific studies to aid in many health conditions. The so-called “good” fat in fruits can help to lower inflammation and protect human hearts.
Can Cats Eat Avocados?
As mentioned above, the answer to this question is yes and no. If an owner hopes to get the avocado’s health benefits for their cat, this will likely not happen.
This is because avocados contain a toxic compound called Persin. It is contained in all parts of avocado but is found in higher amounts in the skin and pit.
Persin is not the most dangerous toxin for cats in human foods, but large amounts can have serious health consequences.
If a cat consumes it, the effect may not be life-threatening but can cause health issues. Signs to look for if your cat has ingested persin, include:
- Gas and bloating
- Stomach pain
It is also important to note that avocado pits contain high levels of Persin and can be very dangerous as a choking hazard to pets. This risk of choking is another reason to ensure that avocados are kept out of the reach of your cats. Cats are curious, but this is one situation where they need to mind their own business!
Interestingly, avocados are even more dangerous for horses and birds. The persin compound found in the avocado can have fatal consequences such as heart failure or sudden death in these species.
Final Verdict On Cats And Avocados
In summary, cats can eat very small amounts of ONLY the flesh of avocados safely. The safe amount would be a tiny nibble or lick.
Cats should never be allowed to eat an entire avocado due to the compound persin found in these fruits.
The levels of persin in avocados are higher in both the skin and the pit, so these should never be fed to a cat. Pits may also pose a dangerous choking risk.
Dishes that contain avocado are also likely safe in small amounts. It is essential to remember that cats are carnivores and do not need to eat fruits or grains.
They also are not accustomed to human food, and any amount may lead to gastrointestinal upset.
Can Cats Eat Other Fruits?
As true carnivores, cats do not need to eat fruits. However, that does not mean many cats will not love eating them.
In general, most fruits are not a problem for cats to eat as long as their tummies don’t have a problem with them.
It is unlikely that cats will consume large amounts of fruits. If they were to, the amount of fiber and sugars in the fruits could be an issue.
If your cat enjoys fruits and tends to overeat, fruits should be offered only in moderation.
Other fruits that your cat may enjoy in minor amounts include:
- apples (no seeds)
- melons (cantaloupe and watermelon)
Though these fruits can make healthy and tasty snacks for a cat in moderation, many fruits should be avoided.
There are various reasons why these fruits are not a safe treat for your cat. These fruits to be avoided include:
- Citrus (Due to the citric acid level in these fruits. Too much citric acid can cause central nervous system issues in cats. Even in small amounts, citric acid can lead to stomach upset in cats.)
- Grapes/Raisins/Currants (These are toxic to cats as they contain tartaric acid.)
- Coconut or coconut oil (Though not technically a fruit, coconut has recently been touted as suitable for pets. However, coconut can cause gastrointestinal upset and even life-threatening pancreatitis if fed to cats.)
Because cats are true carnivores, 70% of their diet must come from meat sources. Being high in sugar and carbohydrates, fruits should make up no more than 10% of a cat’s diet.
Other Alternative Healthy Snacks For Cats
Cats are curious creatures, and many enjoy variety in their diet. There is no harm in adding some fun foods to their diet as long as they are safe and in small amounts.
Fruits and vegetables are a fun addition that can add variety to your cat’s meals. They are a healthy addition, in small amounts, that can keep your cat healthy and eating well.
Vegetables are another option to consider. Some safe vegetable (yes, some are technically fruits) snacks for cats include:
- Any color of bell peppers
When you allow your cat to try something new, introduce new foods to your kitty in small amounts. Cats are typically cautious when trying fresh foods and often will prefer to stick to routines.
Another important consideration when feeding your cat additional or less traditional foodstuffs is their overall diet composition. Human or alternative foods should be used as a snack or treat and never comprise a full meal.
If you allow an alternative fruit or vegetable to replace entire meals for your cat, you will likely be depriving them of adequate amounts of protein and other essential nutrients.
Cats need an appropriately balanced diet and a high amount of protein.
Other Frequently Asked Questions About Cats And Avocados
Can cats eat avocado ice cream?
Avocado ice creams are non-dairy and use avocado as an alternative to milk. Cats can eat small amounts of these ice creams as they do not contain any toxic artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol.
Can cats eat guacamole?
Though small amounts of the flesh of avocados are safe for cats, guacamole should never be fed to cats. Guacamole almost always contains garlic and onions, which are toxic to cats.
Guacamole is also too spicy for a cat’s more delicate digestive system.
Can Cats Eat Avocado Oil?
Cats can safely eat small amounts of avocado oil. Avocado oil, much like the flesh of avocados, contains many healthy nutrients. Luckily, avocado oil contains lower levels of persin.
However, avocado oil is very high in fat, so it should only be given to cats in small amounts.
Too much avocado oil may easily lead to stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly more severe health issues like pancreatitis. Left untreated, pancreatitis in cats can be fatal.
Dr. Jamie Whittenburg is a vet with 15 years of clinical experience. She graduated from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. Her area of expertise is small animal general practice, equine practice, surgery, and academia.
Dr. Whittenburg operates her own hospital in Lubbock, TX, named Kingsgate Animal Hospital. Medically, she’s most interested in practicing general surgery and feline medicine. When not at work, Dr. Whittenburg enjoys outdoor activities, reading, and spending time with her family.