Can cats eat dates? The answer is yes, but subject to qualifications. On the one hand, we cannot say they are toxic or poisonous to cats. On another, there may be some health risks associated with the consumption of dates. Cats can eat dates, but it should never be part of their main diet.
Dates, like most fruits, contain quite a high level of sugar content, which is not a good thing for your cats. Besides, they might also have some other constituents like calories that may not be the best for your cat.
Health Effects of Dates on Cats
1. Purgative/Laxative Qualities
Some foods may naturally accelerate the rate of bowel movements when consumed, and dates are an example. Cats’ digestive system is not wired to handle such situations. Dates may be a bit rougher on your kitty, and the effects may be more prolonged and profound.
Should you notice the cat passing loose stool or vomiting after nibbling some dates, the laxative properties are at play. Other severe symptoms to look out for include terrible diarrhea, and digestion complications. At the extreme end, they may even end up being sick. Would it be worth the risk? Our guess is as good as yours.
2. High Sugar Content
Most of the fruits we consume always have a considerably high sugar level. This can potentially escalate overweight issues. If a cat packs too much of these, it will be converted into glycogen and stored in its body tissues. Eventually, you will begin noticing weight changes.
Excess sugars can also cause a spike in the bloodstream, leading to conditions like hypertension. If you must give your cats dates, do not exceed two.
3. Dental Concerns
Another effect that has a close nexus to the high sugar contents found in dates is dental decay. Remember, cats do not brush their teeth, and yet dates do not stop being sticky just because it is a cat that is eating them. That means they will always accumulate around their teeth as they continue eating more and more.
Eventually, holes will form, and tooth decay will follow.
4. Choking Hazard
Since dates are quite sticky, cats can easily choke on them. Dates may stick to your cat’s throat as they try to swallow them. Performing first aid on a cat is no easy fit.
Also, dates contain some hard stony substance in the middle that can neither be chewed nor swallowed. Cats do not have that kind of intelligence. They may end up choking.
5. Calorie Count
Did you know that a cat only needs 200 calories daily? They should not go beyond 250. A high-calorie count does not have any nutritional value to the body. You will be shocked to know how many calories they will have packed by just consuming five dates. Each piece contains approximately 67 k/cal, so it will be way over what is recommended.
If you must, ration the amount you give them.
Do Cats Like Dates?
It would be absurd to assume that they did. Normally, a cat’s tongue will not have receptors that can pick up sweet tastes and distinguish them from others. Even if they eat dates, they will not tell the difference. In fact, they cannot taste dry dates at all.
Therefore, we can presume that cats cannot crave dates out of their own volition. If you were thinking of giving it as a snack, you should forget about it all together because your furry friend cannot taste sweet things.
The first thing would be to note that kittens have a more fragile digestive system than grown-up cats. What older cats may tolerate, kittens may not. Up to this point, we have already seen that dates are not recommended for older cats because of the health risks they pose. It follows that kittens cannot eat dates.
For older cats, the answer was a qualified yes. For kittens, the answer is an absolute no. It is advisable to use healthy cat food that can be digested with ease to help kittens transition from feeding on their mom’s milk instead of introducing them to dates.
What if Your Cat/Kitten Already Consumed Dates?
Such a case does not necessarily call for a panic mode. We have seen that each cat will react differently to certain foods. Maybe, yours will not show any side effects at the end of the day.
Closely monitor the cat and see any red flag that their health is in jeopardy. For instance, closely observe the type of stool that it is passing out. If it rings any bells, you want to visit a vet immediately.
Also, be keen to see if it is vomiting or displays stomach discomfort. If everything is fine, you can rest.
If you are dying to introduce your cat to some fruits, at least go for those that may be compatible with their bodies and those that will pose no serious health issues. The best alternatives would be things like some celery. Also, some occasional asparagus won’t be harmful to your beloved pet.
The key takeaway would be that dates are non-toxic. However, that comes with a caveat to the effect that the number of dates they take should be regulated. The reasons for taking such measures have been comprehensively discussed above, and they include health risks that may result from high-calorie counts, high sugar levels, and even the possible risk of choking.
You can always go for better fruit alternatives if you want your cat to have some. Otherwise, always keep the number of dates below two. Giving them dates will present problems in three area; teeth, stomach, and weight. Now you will be having a real problem.