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Can Cats Eat Cherries? Risks & Precautions

Cherries are a perennial favorite for late summertime, and for good reasons. They’re tasty and come in both tart and sweet varieties. They can be eaten alone or used as an ingredient to bring out flavors in sweet and savory dishes. Due to their popularity, you may have wondered if it’s safe to share cherries with your cat. It’s definitely possible that at some point, a cherry will roll off the kitchen counter into the waiting paws of your cat. So, are cherries safe for cats? The short answer is no, find out the reason why below!

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Can Cats Eat Cherries?

Surprisingly, cherries have some very toxic properties that are dangerous to cats. The stems, leaves, and pits all contain cyanide, which can be deadly to your cat. Cherry pits also cause an intestinal obstruction, especially in large quantities. This not only increases the risk of cyanide poisoning but also is a medical emergency that often requires emergency surgery to correct.

Signs of cyanide poisoning in cats include dilated pupils, panting, difficulty breathing, and dark brick red mucous membranes. If left untreated, cyanide poisoning can lead to shock and death. If you think your cat may have consumed cherry pits, stems, or leaves, it is a medical emergency, and you should either contact a pet poison control hotline or your veterinarian.

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Can Cats Eat Pitted Cherries?

Yes, cats can eat pitted cherries, but you should exercise extreme caution to ensure your cat is only receiving fruit and not any pieces of pits, stems, or leaves. The meat of the fruit itself is not toxic to cats.

Fresh pitted cherries are safe for cats and contain lots of nutrients. They are low in calories and are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants. They also may be able to help keep blood sugar levels stable. They should be fed in moderation, though, due to their high fiber content, which is not necessary for the digestive health of most cats and can lead to stomach upset in large amounts and the risk of accidental ingestion of pieces of pits, leaves, and stems.

calico cat having treats
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

Can Cats Eat Pitted Jarred and Canned Cherries?

Jarred and canned cherries are not a good option for cats. They contain high levels of sugar and other additives that do not have any nutritional benefits for your cat. There is also a risk of small pieces of pits and stems being left behind since these cherries are typically processed by machines and are often not double-checked by humans to ensure the small pieces have all been removed. If you’ve ever found a piece of a pit in an olive from a jar, you know that sometimes these pieces do get missed and left behind.

Are Cherries Good for Cats?

While cherries do have some health benefits for your cat, they are not benefits that your cat cannot receive from safer foods. The risk of cyanide poisoning from the non-edible parts of the cherry is extremely high and can easily lead to the death of your pet. It is generally not advisable to give cherries to your cat due to the risk.

cherries in a bowl
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What Fruits are Safe for My Cat?

There are multiple fruits that are much safer for your cat and that are also dense in nutrients. Apples are a safe option for cats, although you should always remove the seeds before offering them to your cat due to the cyanogenic compound they contain, much like the pits, stems, and leaves of cherries. Bananas are safe but high in calories and sugar. Blueberries and strawberries are a great, safe option for your cat. Melon, like seeded watermelon, is also a great option due to its low calorie density and high water content.

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In Conclusion

While the meat of cherries is safe for cats, the stems, leaves, and pits can be extremely toxic and dangerous. For the sake of your cat’s health and safety, it’s best to avoid giving cherries to your cat at all. It’s possible for you to miss a small piece of pit, stem, or leaf when offering cherries to your cat, which can inadvertently lead to a medical emergency for your cat.

If you do choose to give cherries to your cat, you should only offer fully pitted, fresh cherries. Make sure to double-check to ensure you have removed all parts of the cherry that may be dangerous to your cat. The fruit itself does have some health benefits due to its nutrient density, but your cat can also receive these vitamins and minerals from their normal diet and healthy treats with a much lower risk of danger to your cat.

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