Cats are known for loving their meat. But did you know that your feline companion may benefit from consuming some fruits and veggies like cranberries, too? Cranberries can make a great treat addition to your cat’s diet thanks to the health benefits they have to offer.
Cranberries are easy to source and can be served to your cat in a variety of different ways. These tangy fruits aren’t just for holidays either. Why not enjoy cranberries with your cat all year long? Here’s what you need to know about serving cranberries to your cat.
Before changing your cat’s diet or introducing new ingredients or supplements that they haven’t eaten before, especially when it comes to human food, make sure to consult your veterinarian first. Every cat is different and requires an individual approach to nutrition, depending on their age, health, level of activity, and medical history. The guidelines offered in our article have been fact-checked and approved by a veterinarian but should be used as a mere guide on food safety, rather than an individual nutrition plan.
The Benefits of Feeding Cranberries to Cats
Like humans, cats need a wide array of nutrients to stay healthy and lead a high quality of life. Your cat needs a good dose of vitamin C every day, and unlike humans, cats are able to create their own vitamin C. They rarely need supplementation; only in cases of chronic illness, when your vet will recommend the best option.
Vitamin C strengthens the immune system so your cat can more easily fight off bacteria and viruses. Cranberries happen to be full of vitamin C.
Cranberries contain a host of other vitamins and many minerals, such as vitamin K and manganese, that support good health in cats. These small bright red fruits even contain compounds called proanthocyanidins that have mainly been investigated in people with certain strains of E.coli cystitis and have been found to reduce the ability of this bacteria strain to attach to the bladder wall. But even studies in humans have shown up with variable results, as the effects may differ the species and type of bacteria.1
Similar studies in cats are still mainly lacking, although there may be some positive reports altogether, but on small population of cats, meaning the results may not be very significant.2 However, if your cat is suffering from urinary issues, they will need appropriate investigations and treatment from your vet, as bacterial cystitis in cats is not that common and cranberries are less likely to help. Excess of cranberries, such as a concentrate or tablets, may also predispose cats to oxalate crystals as stones, so speak to your vet about your cat’s urinary issues before considering any over the counter supplements.
On a more positive note, the truth is that even though felines are carnivores by nature, cranberries can be just as beneficial to your cat’s diet as it is to yours.
The Various Serving Options
Fresh, raw cranberries are tart so your cat might not want to eat one in the first place. Luckily, there are a variety of other serving options to consider when it comes to feeding your cat cranberries. Of course, if they don’t want to eat it, don’t force them to.
- A Simple Supplement – Consult with your vet about giving your cat a supplement that includes cranberry extract for ongoing health support.
- A Fun Treat – Try giving your cat a fresh or dried cranberry or two in addition to or in place of their regular treats every so often.
- A Juicy Experience – Treat your cat to a refreshing sip of water infused with a tablespoon or less of freshly squeezed cranberries, but be very moderate about it. Do not offer any commercial cranberry juice, as it’s high in added sugar and may contain a potentially toxic compound called xylitol which can make your cat quite ill.
- A Homemade Meal Option – You can always bake some fresh cranberries with carrots chunks and some chicken pieces to feed your cat at mealtime. Add some flax oil to the mix to optimize intake of essential fatty acids, which are necessary for your cat’s good health.
Think outside of the box and surprise your cat with some cranberry treats occasionally if they enjoy the taste. If not, there are plenty of healthy and safe alternatives.
Final Health Considerations
No matter how much your cat likes them, there are some health concerns and warnings that may need to be considered when feeding your cat cranberries, depending on things like the type of cranberry product and possible additives, your cat’s age, health condition, and medical history. Cranberries, when offered fresh or dry and in moderation, can be a safe treat beneficial to your cat’s overall health and diet, but because felines are carnivores, they don’t necessarily require the addition of fruits and vegetables in their daily meals like humans do.
It’s no big deal if your cat enjoys a fresh raw cranberry or two every once in a while, but cranberries are best fed as treats or supplements depending on your cat’s health and your vet’s expert opinion. It’s a good idea to seek the advice of your veterinarian before you begin a cranberry feeding regimen of any kind.
Make a list of questions you have about feeding your cat cranberries before consulting with your veterinarian to ensure that you don’t overlook anything important. We’d love to hear about how your cat reacts to cranberries – feel free to leave a comment below!