When it comes to giving cats treats you have to be a bit careful, because although some ‘human’ foods aren’t bad for him some are. And even the things that aren’t necessarily bad for him may cause him some problems in the long term.
Bananas are one such group of foods: although they are not poisonous and would not cause your cat any harm immediately, giving a cat too many bananas too often can cause him to put on weight and ultimately suffer with all of the life-limiting conditions associated with obesity.
What nutrients do cat’s need?
In order to know more about why bananas should not be given to cats let’s have a look at some of the foods a cat needs for healthy daily living:
- Carbohydrates and fibre for energy and a healthy gut.
- Essential fatty acids for health of his skin, fur and reproductive organs.
- Minerals such as calcium for his bones and teeth; other minerals include phosphorous and zinc.
- Protein for strength of muscles and health of fur and claws.
- Vitamins for growth and proper function of his organs.
What’s in a banana?
One medium size banana contains roughly:
- 0.5 grams of fat
- 1 gram of protein
- 110 calories
- 14 grams of sugar
- 27 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of fiber
- 10% biotin
- 10% copper
- 12% fibre
- 12% potassium
- 14% vitamin C
- 16% manganese
- 25% vitamin B6
- 8% magnesium
So what’s the problem?
On the face of it, the banana is the perfect food to give to a cat. It appears to have everything a cat needs to keep up a healthy existence. Except that cats cannot absorb the nutrients from the banana itself.
They can use the fibre and will absorb the sugars but everything else cannot get through to the cat’s blood stream.
That means that not only is it not nutritious for a cat but it is also likely to cause the cat to put on weight!
A cat gets everything it needs from a balanced regimen of cat food. Cat food is designed to provide the animal with a balanced hit of vitamins, minerals and macro-nutrients. Thus, a banana is not appreciated by the cat in any way shape or form.
So too are cats not able to taste the sugar of the banana, because cats don’t have sweet receptors on their tongues.
A cat’s body cannot use sugars in the same way as we can. A banana’s sugars ingested by the cat are far more likely to be converted to fat. In the long term this can lead your cat to obesity. Some of the following ailments are associated with animal obesity:
- Breathing difficulties
- Decreased immunity
- Diabetes mellitus
- Dystocia (difficult birth)
- Hepatic lipidosis
- Increased anaesthetic risk
- Skin diseases and inflammations
- Urinary tract diseases
In addition to the excessive sugars and the problems associated with a cat’s absorption of sugars, it is also not the easiest thing for a cat to digest. A cat’s digestive tract is not as robust as we might think and it is likely that eating a banana (especially a whole one) will cause him to suffer with diarrhoea or vomiting.
Cats and fruit
Incorporating healthy treat into the regimen of cat care is a good idea if done correctly and in a measured way. But it must be remembered that cats are not omnivores or herbivores; they are carnivores, and as such have bodies that respond best to meat.
Fruits of any kind will not supplement a cat’s diet nor will they benefit his health, but some are at least a safe way to treat him. Remember: a cat will receive all of the nutrients and minerals it needs from a balanced cat food.
A cat’s inability to perceive sweetness means that he does not share our love of fruits. He may be interested in what you are eating and may even want to try some of it but on the whole it is not their favourite food. That being said, cats are especially fond of melons such as cantaloupe.
A fat cat is a testimony to its owner’s lack of care and support. Responsible owners of dogs and cats will strive to provide their pets with a diet that is balanced, sensible and in keeping with the animal’s dietary requirements. If you're thinking of adding fruits and vegetables to your cat's diet, you should do so in moderation and be mindful that some (such as grapes and raisins) can make him very poorly.
Feed your cat a small amount of fruit to begin with and gauge how well he digests it. If all is well and he doesn’t show signs of being allergic to the food, and it has not brought on a bout of diarrhoea then you can feed him some more. But all the while keep at the back of your mind the fact that fruits are not the natural food of a cat and they all contain sugar.