Cats have been known to eat a wide range of foods, including some strange things. In the wild, they eat an all-meat diet. But our house cats seem to enjoy trying a variety of foods, even ones that would never naturally be found in their food regimen.
One food that cats commonly seem to gravitate towards is cantaloupe. Cats all over seem to really like this sweet fruit for some reason, so many pet owners feed it to their cats as a treat. But is it safe to do so? Moreover, could there possibly be a health benefit to feeding a cat cantaloupe? The answer is that yes it’s safe, but they don’t receive the same nutritional benefits as humans do!
Is Cantaloupe Safe to Feed to Cats? Yes!
According to the American Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ACPCA), cantaloupe is completely non-toxic for cats. This means that it’s perfectly to safely to feed some to your cat, as long as you do so in moderation.
Keep in mind, your cat’s body isn’t built do digest plant foods. This means that it’s much more difficult for them to process a cantaloupe than it is for you. Make sure you don’t overwhelm their body by feeding them too much at once.
Is There a Health Benefit to Feeding a Cat Cantaloupe?
As humans, we generally think of cantaloupes as a healthy fruit. It’s full of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamin A, iron, and vitamin C.
The problem is, these vitamins and minerals are healthy for us. They don’t have the same effect on our felines.
Cats are what’s known as obligate carnivores. This means that they get all of their nutrition from meat sources. They don’t eat any carbohydrates, plants, grains, legumes, or anything except meat in the wild.
Because meat makes up their entire diet, cats have systems that are excellent at processing raw meats and providing them with all of the nutrients that they need. While we may get a lot of healthy nutrients from a cantaloupe, your cat will not.
Cats need vitamin A since their bodies don’t make it. We get it by converting beta-carotene from different fruits and vegetables we eat. Cantaloupe is packed with beta-carotene, so it’s a great source of vitamin A for humans.
The problem is, cats can’t convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. They need to get vitamin A in its already converted form, which they get from eating animals who have already converted it inside of their bodies.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for humans. We don’t make any in our bodies, so we rely on foods to provide all the vitamin C we need. Cantaloupe is very high in vitamin C, so it’s great for us.
But cats don’t need to intake vitamin C the way that we do. Their bodies actually make all the vitamin C they need, so they will get no benefit from cantaloupe in this regard.
Why Do Cats Seem to Like Cantaloupe?
If they’re not getting any health benefit from eating it, then why do cats seem to like cantaloupe so much?
We already know that cats are obligate carnivores that don’t naturally have any carbohydrates in their diet. They also don’t have a sweet tooth the way we do, so it’s not the sweet flavor of the cantaloupe that’s attracting the cats. So, what is it?
The answer may surprise you. According to feline-nutrition.org, the hidden reason for cats’ desire for cantaloupe may be found in this study published in the Oxford Academic Journal of Experimental Botany.
According to the study, melons produce volatile compounds that create strong aromas. Since some of them are amino-acid based, the thought is that to cats, the smell is similar to that of meat. We can never really know what something smells like to a cat!
Cat owners all over the world have seen cats’ liking for cantaloupe. Felines seem to love feeding on this sweet fruit, even though they’re obligate carnivores with no sweet tooth. As a cat owner, you may be wondering if it’s safe to feed this fruit to your cat, or if it’s a toxic mistake that will cause your cat harm.
Luckily, cantaloupe poses no threat to your cat’s health. They can eat it in moderation with no health risks, though they won’t receive any health benefits from it either. The vitamins and minerals in cantaloupe may be healthy for us humans, but they’ll have little to no positive effect on your feline.