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Can Cats Eat Prunes? Is It Healthy for Them?

For humans, the health benefits of these anti-oxidant-packed little dried plums can’t be understated. They’re commonly eaten to ease constipation and nausea. For that reason, you may be wondering if you can give prunes to your cat with constipation or stomach issues. Unlike humans, cats cannot eat plums or prunes—prunes are toxic and sometimes fatal to cats.

For this reason, you should keep prunes and plums away from your cats at all costs. There are plenty of safe snacks and treatments for constipation you can offer instead.

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Why Are Prunes Toxic to Cats?

The stem, leaves, and seeds of plums contain cyanide. Cyanide is poisonous to cats and other animals, including dogs and horses. If consumed, your cat may experience symptoms such as breathing difficulties, panting, dilated pupils, vomiting, and red mucous membranes. They could also go into shock. What’s more, prunes and plums can present a serious choking hazard if your cat swallows the seeds.

Rosales - Dried Prunus domestica d
Rosales – Dried Prunus domestica d (Image Credit: Emőke Dénes, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)

Plum Poisoning: Diagnosis and Treatment

If you think your cat has eaten plums or prunes, get them to a vet immediately. The quicker you do this, the better your cat’s chance of a full recovery. Your vet will take steps to diagnose and treat the toxic effects. If your cat has vomited, collect a sample if you can—this may be of use in confirming plum poisoning as your vet will be able to check for plant matter.

Vets diagnose plum poisoning by extracting fluid from a cat’s stomach in a procedure called trocarization. If the plum poisoning diagnosis is confirmed, vets have to act quickly to treat it. Sodium Nitrate is administered via an IV, followed by sodium thiosulfate—an antidote for cyanide poisoning.

Following treatment, vets will monitor your cat for several hours and may repeat the process if they’re still showing symptoms. Depending on the severity, your vet may need to keep your cat in for a while to properly monitor their recovery.

veterinarian checks teeth of the maine coon cat
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Do Cats Like The Taste of Prunes?

Cats can’t taste sweet things—they don’t have sweetness taste receptors on their tongues. Because of that, many cats won’t show any interest in fruit at all. It’s still possible for especially curious or adventurous cats to give pieces of fruit a try, though, so it’s best to be vigilant.

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Which Fruits Are Toxic to Cats?

Along with plums and prunes, there are other fruits you shouldn’t let your cat near for various reasons.

  • Green tomatoes – These contain the alkaloid solanine, which can cause cats to get sick.
  • Cherries – Like plums and prunes, cherry pits contain cyanide.
  • Citrus fruits (lemons, limes, grapefruit, persimmons) – These can cause gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Grapes and raisins – Consuming these can cause gastrointestinal issues and even kidney failure in some cases.

Which Fruits Can Cats Eat?

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they need to consume a meat-based diet. They cannot eat large amounts of plant matter because they can’t digest it, though small amounts of the right fruits are okay.

Though many cats are disinterested in fruit as a rule, here are some safe fruits that cats can eat in small quantities if yours has taken a fancy to them.

For cats, these fruits are best served cut into small, bite-sized pieces.
  • Apples
  • Seedless watermelon
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
Image Credit: t_watanabe, Pixabay

What Can I Give My Cat for Constipation?

If you were considering giving prunes to your cat to ease constipation, there are safe alternatives. If constipation is a consistent issue for your cat, the first step is getting a vet to check out what’s going on. Otherwise, there are some home remedies you can try for the occasional bout of constipation.

Firstly, it’s important to provide plenty of water for your cat to drink to help keep things moving. You may also want to consider changing to a wet food diet instead of dry food or changing the protein source (lamb, chicken, etc.) of your cat’s diet if your vet agrees that it’s a good idea.

Some cat parents add fiber or probiotics to their cat’s food, like wheat bran or Psyllium husks, whereas some opt for over-the-counter laxatives like Miralax and Colace. Always check with your vet before giving any over-the-counter medications to your cat to make sure it’s the best option.

It’s also really important to keep your cat’s litter box clean and fresh as this encourages them to use it. Cats can’t stand a dirty, smelly litter box and will avoid using one, which in turn can cause constipation and stress.

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Final Thoughts

It’s unanimous—prunes and plums should not be given to your cat for any reason. They don’t benefit your cat health-wise in any way and can cause some serious health issues if your cat is allowed to consume them. If your cat has taken a liking to fruit, stick with small amounts of safe fruits like apples, seedless watermelon, and bananas.

If your cat is having stomach upsets or constipation, consider safe home remedies and speak to your vet to make sure there’s nothing sinister going on.

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Featured Image Credit: Krasula, Shutterstock