Fruits form an integral part of the human diet, providing essential nutrients and vitamins. It is not uncommon to find many pet owners sharing human food with their beloved pets. This is especially the case with most cat owners.
Apples are considered by most nutritionists and dieticians to be a rich source of essential nutrients but the question however is, can cats eat apples?
An apple a day may keep the doctor away but is that the case when it comes to your furry friend? This article is aimed at bringing into greater focus whether or not you may feed your cat apples, the nutritional specifics and risks associated with apple consumption in cats.
Cats and apples
Before delving straight into whether it is appropriate or not to feed cats apples, it is important to first and foremost understand the feline biology. Cats are primarily obligate carnivores meaning that they rely on animal proteins for their nutritional needs.
There has been no observable change in the anatomy of cats since domestication thousands of years ago. A common mistake cat owners make is imposing their vegan practice on their cats.
Simply put, cats aren’t equipped to thrive off plant matter. While feeding your cat some apples would seem like a harmless gesture of love; it might cause your cat serious harm. At the same time, cats do pick up a nutrient or two from apples. Apples contain the following:
- Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Sodium, Potassium, and Manganese.
- Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and Bg, K, C and E.
- Fluoride, sugar, Proteins and Dietary fibers.
Cats need the minerals calcium, potassium, and phosphorus to support normal bone formation and transmission of nervous impulses. Most cat food brands contain added amounts of minerals that boost your cat’s health.
Most cat owners hardly observe a strict meat diet for their cats, veterinarians and animal nutritionists recommend alternative sources of nutrients.
Vitamins serve varied functions in a cat’s body as explained below;
- Vitamin A: Serves immunological functions, growth, and vision. Vitamin A also aids in fetal development in cats.
- B Vitamins are important in glucose-energy conversion and proper nerve cell function in cats.
- Vitamin K is a blood coagulation agent that prevents blood loss. Vitamin K1 in specific is found in apple plants.
- Vitamin C: Cats have the ability to synthesize vitamin C in their bodies. It is, however, advisable to feed apples to kittens as they have relatively lower Vitamin C levels.
- Vitamin E found in apples is speculated by scientists to be an antioxidant. Its deficiency is marked by dangerous conditions in cats such as the “Brown Bowel Syndrome” that is characterized by hemorrhages and ulceration.
Can cats eat apples?
Yes, cats can indeed eat apples. For the better part, cats have no problems with all eating apples. The problem comes in when apple seeds and unwashed apple skins are involved.
Apple seeds are known to contain the chemical amygdalin. Amygdalin is a cyanide-sugar compound that is degraded by the liver into the toxic compound Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN). The levels of Hydrogen Cyanide in apple seeds aren’t sufficient to elicit toxic reactions in humans.
However, the case is different in cats. The pharmacological explanation for this is the simple matter of body weight. Cats weigh considerably less than their human owners. This means smaller livers and smaller bodies upon which the cyanide may wreak havoc.
Toxicity levels of Hydrogen Cyanide are 1.7grams per kilo of body weight. This combined with the fact that cat livers don’t do a great job at detoxifying Cyanide compounds means that your cat would be at risk of poisoning if it ate apple seeds.
Apple skins contain dietary fiber alongside important phytonutrients. Feeding your cat an apple is one thing, feeding your cat a fresh apple is another.
In this age, apple production is a commercialized affair involving the use of pesticides and other chemicals. These compounds are deposited on the apple skins. Humans are better adapted to the detoxification of farming chemicals whereas cats are not.
Feeding your cat apples shouldn’t be such a scary experience. Following a simple set of guidelines will go a long way in seeing your feline friend benefits from apple consumption.
- As a rule, apples shouldn’t comprise more than 10% of your cat’s daily food. As mentioned earlier, cats are obligate carnivores hence will need extra nutrition.
- Always thoroughly clean apples before feeding your cat. This washes off any residual pesticides or other chemicals used. Where possible, stick to organic apples. This lowers the risk of chemical poisoning.
- Moderate a number of apples fed to your cat. Too many apples will cause stomach upsets and possibly diarrhea.
- Absolutely ensure that while feeding your furry friend you don’t come anywhere close to the apple core. This prevents the accidental ingestion of apple seeds and the consequent cyanide poisoning.
- When feeding your cat, be careful to look out for rotten parts. Spoilt apples may cause gastrointestinal distress when ingested by your cat.
Your cat, apple cores and apple skins
Apple cores contain apple seeds that are harmful to humans as they are to cats. Apple plants produce seed bearing fruits packed with wholesome goodness.
Apple seeds contain the chemical amygdalin as mentioned earlier. It is assumed that this is the result of evolutionary adaptation that deters the consumption of the seeds. Amygdalin is found in apple seeds, apricots, and peach amongst others.
Amygdalin found in apple seeds is a cyanogenic glycoside. The danger posed by the ingestion of apple seeds is life-threatening cyanide poisoning. Your cat’s digestive system breaks down amygdalin into the more potent form Hydrogen Cyanide. Gut bacteria apparently speed up this conversion.
HCN binds to the oxygen transporting ferric ions in the cat’s blood hindering efficient oxygen distribution. The result is death by cytotoxic anoxia which is basically suffocation. Oxygen-dependent organs such as the brain and the heart suffer the most damage before death.
Prior symptoms of cyanide toxicity due to apple seeds consumption by cats include depression, difficulty in breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea, seizures or tremors, excessive salivation, gastric irritation and weakness which often accompanies unconsciousness.
Apple skins, on the other hand, are speculated to contain the highest concentration of phytonutrients. Cats and most pets, in general, have a daily dietary fiber requirement.
Apple skins pack 50% of the total fiber in an apple. Vitamins C and A are also in high concentrations in apple skins. Several other compounds exist in apple skins and are associated with improved lung function in cats and lowered cancer cases.
Concerning the question as to whether cats should eat apple cores; absolutely not. Apple skins are a healthy treat for your feline friend when fed in moderation.
Many cat owners often ask if applesauce is safe for their cats. The human food contains many artificial additives and preservatives. Cats lack efficient means of getting rid or detoxifying most chemicals found in human food.
As much as your cat will beg you to share your food, it is recommended to hold back at times. To most people, cats’ big soulful eyes are impossible to ignore. For your cat’s sake, it is advisable to occasionally get mean.
Commercial applesauce procured from the supermarket contains many additives and preservatives aimed at extending its shelf life and enhancing the taste. If fed to a cat, this type of applesauce will cause the gastric disturbance.
Homemade applesauce contains lesser amounts of additives no preservatives. It is tempting to make the assumption that homemade applesauce is safe for cat feeding. This is partly true. Sugar is a common feature in most homemade applesauce recipes.
Sugar as an additive potentially places your cat at risk of tooth damage and loss. On the same tip, conditions such as diabetes and obesity are common in this age and are attributed to excessive sugar consumption. Slow down Garfield. The cons on applesauce generally make it a no-no for your cat.
Apple allergies in cats
Most cats like the taste of apples. A few more experience allergies associated with consumption of apples.
As a cat owner, it is advisable to feed a small piece of apple to your cat and afterward observe him or her. If no adverse reactions are observed after a while, it is generally regarded as safe to feed your cat apples.
Overfeeding pets never ends well more so in felines. Apples may boast the title of healthiest fruit out there but to your cat a little too much may be bad.
Apples are loaded with fat soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the cat’s lipocytes or fat cells. Note that fat-soluble vitamins pose a risk to your cat if in excess amounts. The said vitamins include A, B complexes, K, C and E all present in apples.
Overfeeding your cat apples leads to the accumulation of excess fat-soluble vitamins which of course carries consequences.
- Vitamin A: An overdose in this vitamin takes a short while to elicit negative effects. This vitamin is toxic in excess amounts. Vitamin A is a Beta Carotene derivative obtained from apple skin pigments. An overdose leads to weight loss, loss of appetite, constipation, and a rough hair coat.
- Vitamin B complexes: These form a myriad of vitamins generally classified as B complexes. These serve proper growth and function of cells in a cat’s body. An overdose causes sensitivity to light and involuntary muscle movements.
- Vitamin K is important in blood clotting and stopping blood loss. In excess amounts, the effects are quite disastrous to cats. Internal hemorrhaging is observed. In excess amounts, the effects of this vitamin are similar to the effects of rat poison.
All the above vitamins are present in considerable amounts in apples. Take special caution of apples fed to your cat. In the event you suspect that your cat suffers any of the above symptoms associated with Apple overfeeding, take the following steps.
- Identify the symptoms observed. That is ascertaining whether the breathing rate is raised, whether there is gastric irritation and so on.
- Place your feline friend in a well-ventilated area. When unwell, cats hide. It is not advisable to ignore shy behavior in cats as this could be the red flag for an illness.
- Identify the cause of the symptoms. It could be that the cat ate apple seeds or bad apples.
- Having established the potential cause, rush your feline friend to the veterinarian immediately and describe the symptoms as observed and the suspected cause. It is ill advised to attempt self-medication. Cats don’t respond well to human medications.
Treatment of vitamin toxicity in cats is largely symptomatic. Intravenous fluids are administered, and in most cases, vomiting may be induced. In some cases, activated charcoal is administered to afflicted cats. This helps in absorbing the excess material. Depending on the extent of damage, further specialized treatment may be sought.
Apples are a healthy snacking option for your little furry friend. Most cats won’t mind eating apples. It is worth noting that while you may be able to taste the sugars in apples, cats don’t have sugar receptors.
So can cats eat apples? Indeed they can but in controlled amounts following a few safety precautions of course. Like every other food, moderation in feeding apples to your cat is of utmost importance.
See to it you thoroughly fresh apples and get rid of the apple core and seeds before feeding your cat. Lack of oversight at any point during apple feeding may result in negative effects for your cats. Apples are after all healthy and feeding your cat shouldn’t be such a grim affair.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it. Feel free to share your comments and thoughts in the comments section provided. Share with a fellow feline-loving friend and pass on the new knowledge. Help keep a cat safe.