Unless you’re a fan of cooking shows or love learning about unusual foods, you might not be familiar with durian, an unusual tropical fruit. If you have heard of it, you’re most likely aware that this food is famous for having a terrible odor! Cat owners, who are curious to smell or eat durian, might wonder if it is also safe for their cats to sample this rare delicacy.
Technically, durian fruit isn’t toxic to cats, but it’s not healthy for them and could upset their stomach if they eat too much. Some parts of the fruit are considered toxic, however, and we’ll talk about those later in this article. We’ll also discuss why durian isn’t healthy for cats and suggest some human foods that make better treat options.
What Is Durian?
Nicknamed “the king of fruits,” durian is a large, tropical fruit that grows primarily in Southeast Asia. It can grow as long as a foot in length and has a spiky outer shell. Inside, the fruit contains large seeds and edible flesh. Durian is used for cooking, juicing, making desserts, and in traditional medicines. The medicinal properties of this fruit are currently the subject of studies to determine its effectiveness.
The unique scent of the durian fruit is a mixture of both sweet and unpleasant scents, including honey, rotten eggs, onions, and sewage. A study found that the fruit actually contains 44 distinct odors.
Why Durian Isn’t Healthy for Cats
Like their wild counterparts, domestic cats are true carnivores. This means their bodies are developed to process nutrients from animal sources, rather than a plant. Though durian is known to be a nutritious fruit, cats aren’t able to take advantage of that nutrition effectively because it comes from a plant.
Durian also has a high sugar content, despite its decidedly unsweet smell! Too much sugar is unhealthy for cats just as it is for humans. Cats with diabetes should not eat durian because of all the sugar.
Because cats aren’t able to process sugar or plant products very well, eating fruit, including durian, could cause stomach trouble for your cat, especially in larger quantities. If this happens, you may notice symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Do Cats Like Durian?
Unlike dogs, most of whom function as living garbage disposals, many cats are pickier about their food. Their owners may have a hard time finding cat food they like, never mind a human one. Thanks to its off-putting odor, durian probably won’t instantly appeal to most cats.
Your cat’s sense of smell is about 14 times more sensitive than your own, making the effects of durian odor even more intense for them. If your cat does get over the smell long enough to sample the durian, however, they have a better chance of tasting it than they do other fruit.
Durian has a complex flavor, including sweet, salty, and bitter notes. Researchers have learned that cats are unable to taste sweet flavors, making most fruit fairly tasteless to them. However, they can taste salty, sour, and bitter foods, which means they may find some appeal in the flavor of durian.
If your cat does seem to like the taste of durian, use caution when it comes to the seeds. Technically, durian seeds are considered edible, but they are only safe to eat when they are cooked first. Raw durian seeds contain several chemicals that are known to be toxic and may even cause cancer in humans.
Durian seeds are fairly large and may be difficult for cats to eat even if they are cooked. Cats don’t have teeth meant for chewing and could choke on the seeds. Play it safe and avoid giving durian seeds to your cat.
How Much Durian Can My Cat Eat?
Generally, any treats or snacks your cat eats should make up no more than 10% of their daily calorie consumption. The majority of their daily food intake should be nutritionally balanced cat food. Any fruit you feed your cat, including durian, should take up no more than 2% of daily calories.
Safe and Unsafe Fruits for Cats
While cats aren’t usually the most enthusiastic fruit and vegetable fans, sometimes these foods are the recommended treats for kitties who need to shed a few pounds. Commercial cat treats are often high in fat and calories and must be avoided when your kitty is on a diet. For cats who don’t care for durian, here are some other safe fruits (and a few vegetables!) they may prefer:
- Green beans
Be sure to remove the pits, skins, or rinds of any fruit before offering it to your cat.
There are a few fruits and vegetables you should never feed your cat because they are toxic or irritating. These foods include:
- Grapes and raisins
- Citrus fruits
Durian is an unusual fruit with an unforgettable odor and unique flavor profile. If your cat can ignore the smell long enough to grab a bite, you can feel safe knowing that the fruit is not toxic to our feline friends, although the raw seeds could be. Help your kitty stay at a healthy weight by limiting the amount of human food they eat and feeding appropriate portions of a nutritionally balanced diet formulated for cats.