Pomegranates are considered a superfood for humans. The ruby red seeds offer a tart, sweet flavor and are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and a bounty of antioxidant compounds. It’s no wonder pomegranate products have become popular additions to everything from salads to smoothies to supplements.
As a cat owner, you may be curious if your feline companion can also enjoy pomegranates safely and share in their potential benefits. Here is a comprehensive guide to cats and pomegranates, from risks and rewards to serving suggestions.
Are Pomegranates Safe For Cats to Eat?
The seeds of pomegranates are safe for cats to eat. In theory, cats have the ability to consume pomegranate seeds. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should eat them freely or frequently.
The seeds and juicy arils have a tart, tangy flavor and fibrous texture that are very different from traditional cat foods. Eating more than a few at once could cause stomach upset, digestive issues, or diarrhea for some cats. It is also messy to properly separate the seeds from the peel and pith, which are not digestible or safe.
So it’s best to only feed your cat very small servings of pomegranate seeds infrequently, such as a few seeds 2-3 times per week at most. Monitor your cat after eating them, and discontinue pomegranate immediately if any irritation occurs.
Do Cats Like the Taste of Pomegranates?
Every cat’s preferences will be a bit different. Some cats seem to enjoy the unique, tart, juicy crunch of pomegranate seeds. But other felines may dislike or avoid them entirely due to the unfamiliar flavors.
Cats have a much stronger and more sensitive sense of taste than humans. Their taste buds can easily detect bitter or sour flavors. So the tart notes in pomegranates may translate as unpleasant or overwhelming for some cats.
The best way to find out if your cat likes pomegranate is to offer them a small amount mixed into their regular food. Gauge your individual cat’s reaction, and let that guide whether pomegranate should remain an occasional snack or something better left just for the humans in your home. Never force your cat to eat any food they avoid or show distaste towards.
Nutritional Benefits of Pomegranate for Cats
Pomegranate seeds are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and powerful antioxidant compounds like punicalagins and anthocyanins. The juicy red seeds also contain trace amounts of nutrients like copper, fluoride, zinc, and iron.
Research shows that pomegranate’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects offer numerous health benefits for humans. When cats eat small amounts, some of the same rewards may translate, including:
- Bolstering immune system function
- Reducing systemic inflammation
- Improving digestion
- Potentially minimizing hairballs (anecdotally)
However, the fiber and sugars in pomegranate seeds mean it’s best reserved for occasional snacking rather than a daily part of your cat’s diet. Most cats will only want a tiny quantity anyway. Consult your vet before significantly increasing your pomegranate intake.
Are Any Parts of a Pomegranate Dangerous for Cats?
Pomegranate seeds are the only part of the fruit safe for cats to eat. All other portions, including the peel, inner membranes, and pith, are hazardous and should be completely avoided.
Consuming the rind or peel could cause a lethal intestinal blockage or obstruction. Unlike the soft seeds, this tough fiber cannot be properly digested. Even small amounts have the potential to cause significant damage and require emergency veterinary care.
So it is absolutely critical to fully separate the seeds from all peel, pith, and inner fruit membranes before offering pomegranate to cats. The juicy red seeds should be the only portion they ever consume.
Tips For Safely Serving Pomegranate Treats to Cats
If given properly in limited amounts, most healthy adult cats can enjoy pomegranate seeds sparingly without issue. Here are some tips for safe preparation and serving:
- Cut open fruits safely out of your cat’s reach. Discard all non-seed portions immediately.
- Place seeds in a small dish rather than scattering loosely where they could be stepped on.
- Mix just 1/4–1 teaspoon portions of seeds into your cat’s regular food.
- Only serve seeds 2-3 times weekly at most. Look for signs of GI upset.
- Never leave excess seeds or peel unattended – cats are skilled at getting into things!
- Consider pomegranate extract products made specifically for pets if you want convenience.
Check with your veterinarian before introducing any new food to your cat’s diet, especially unique fruits like pomegranate with strong flavors and fibrous textures. Every cat is different, but used judiciously, most can enjoy a few tart and tangy pomegranate seeds.
FAQs About Cats and Pomegranates
Can kittens eat pomegranate?
Kittens under 12 weeks old should not eat pomegranate. Their digestive systems are even more sensitive. Wait until at least 4-6 months old before offering tiny seed amounts.
What happens if a cat eats pomegranate peel?
Consuming any portion beyond the seeds, especially the tough outer rind, can cause a blockage requiring emergency surgery. Vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, and abdominal pain are common early signs.
Why do some websites say pomegranates are toxic for cats?
Some resources list pomegranates incorrectly as toxic due to risks of peel consumption. The seeds themselves are not poisonous or harmful, but choking hazards warrant caution.
Are pomegranate supplements safe for cats?
Some pomegranate seed oils or extracts made specifically for pets can offer antioxidant benefits in appropriate doses. Check with your vet before using. Avoid supplements with added sugar.
Can diabetic cats have pomegranate?
The natural sugar content means pomegranate is not recommended for most diabetic cats, similar to fruit restrictions for human diabetes patients. Monitor blood sugar closely if trying.
Do pomegranate seeds clean cat’s teeth?
No evidence suggests pomegranate specifically promotes dental health for cats. But chewing the seeds provides minimal abrasive action to clear some plaque just like other crunchy treats.
While safe in strict moderation, pomegranate’s benefits for cats are limited. Check with your vet about any diet changes. Monitor all reactions closely and don’t force it if your cat shows disinterest. Safety first!
Pomegranate seeds are not toxic to cats and may offer some nutritional value. But the peel is dangerous and seeds should only be fed in very small, infrequent amounts. Check with your vet before introducing any new treats like pomegranate to your cat’s diet.