Can Cats Eat Tomatoes?
Yes, cats can eat a small number of ripe tomatoes, but there are a few things a cat owner needs to understand first. After reviewing the following information, you need to ask yourself if it's worth the risk.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states that tomato plants are toxic to cats, so it's not recommended to offer your pet the stems or leaves; at least keep them away from your garden. However, the ASPCA also says that ripe tomato fruit is non-toxic.
The problem is that the tomato fruit itself also contains harmful solanine. Fresh from the garden, vine-ripened tomatoes are the safest for low solanine content. However, the tomatoes often sold in grocery stores will contain higher levels of solanine because the tomatoes were harvested while the fruit was still green.
A small number of ripe tomatoes will probably be ok for your cat; however, it's good to avoid that to stay safe. There are many other, safer options for finding a snack for your pet, so tomatoes aren't the ideal option and are something you should think about.
Tomatoes are a fruit; they are not a vegetable. Water is around 95% of the entire tomato, and you do have fiber and carbs. They are also a great source of vitamins K1 and C and vitamin B. So, in theory, they should be great for cats. The fact that they include solanine is a no-go since it's pretty toxic for pets.
Symptoms of Solanine Poisoning in Cats
Reaction to solanine poisoning in cats can be as quickly as 15 minutes after consumption. The time frame and severity will depend on the levels your cat eats. Cats will show all kinds of side effects from solanine, such as:
If you offer tomatoes to your cat, how many would be ok?
Studies showed that small amounts of ripe tomatoes are unlikely to cause harm. Half a cherry tomato is usually fine for a cat. I have personally given tomatoes from my garden to one of my cats with no ill effects, while my other cats have no interest.
It's best to give a small bite and monitor your cat over time. Then increase it to two bits, etc.
Do cats enjoy the taste of tomatoes?
Some cats enjoy the taste, and some want to eat everything they see their owner eating. In a few cases, you might even end up with your cat obsessed with tomatoes, even if that sounds strange. But it can happen; it's not the most uncommon thing out there.
Overall, tomatoes can be pretty problematic for some cats, so keeping your cat away from them can be a good idea. Sure, ripe tomatoes are fine in minimal amounts, but even then, there are a variety of alternatives you can use to improve your pet's diet.
We recommend avoiding any rush and taking your time as you find better ways to improve your cat's diet. It might take a bit of a trial and error, but in the end, it's certainly something to keep in mind.
It would help if you considered varying your cat's diet; however, talking with the veterinarian and figuring out a better dietary option is ideal. You should avoid feeding tomatoes to your cat unless your vet greenlights that!