Feeding

Can Cats Eat Cranberries

cranberries in a wooden bowl

Superfood is super-popular these days. While I don’t by the idea that superfood will turn me into  Superman, these foods are healthy for sure. However, many people wonder if cats can eat cranberries, ginger, avocado, and other superfoods? Unfortunately, the answer to this question can’t be simple. Cat’s nutritional needs are very different from ours, so we must take one fruit or vegetable at a time.

Some cats are always hungry and they will eat what you serve them. More of them are finicky and eat what they want and when they want it. Whatever our cat’s eating habits are, we try to provide healthy and nutritious food for them. But, what is healthy food? A zillion of commercials tells us every day about newly discovered benefits of some exotic or ancient superfood. Those are usually some fruits and veggies. Today, I will focus on cranberries. Numerous articles state that cranberries improve your heart, brain and gut health, or even fight some cancers. The question of the day is: can cats eat cranberries and are they any good for your Fluffy?

Facts About Cranberries

I loved almost all berries since I was a little child. Discovering that most of them have magical properties was great to learn. Unfortunately, they didn’t turn me into a superhero. Modern advertising methods can be ridiculous, but the truth is that most of the berries are very healthy.

Cranberries are sometimes called a superfood. People use all kinds of fancy words like phytonutrients to convince you that they are selling you a magical potion. But, let’s forget about stupid advertising and see real and understandable facts.

Cranberries are a good source of vitamins. They are rich in vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. Vitamin A and vitamins from B-group can also be found in cranberries, but in insignificant amounts. Furthermore, cranberries are rich in manganese and to a smaller extent in iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Cranberries are low in calories and contain a moderate amount of dietary fibers. And that is it when we talk about undisputable beneficial ingredients.

However, they are a good source of polyphenols as well. And that is a potentially magical part. In theory, polyphenols can greatly benefit the heart and brain, and they should have strong antioxidant properties. Numerous lab experiments outside the living organism show great results. But, the metabolism of polyphenols seems to be too complicated. Results on humans didn’t confirm previous assumptions. So, it is not proven that polyphenols are very helpful or beneficial. At least not yet.

What Cats Need

When it comes to cats fruit is not something that they need. Their digestive system is designed to extract all necessary nutrients from the pray they catch. It means that the meat must be the basic ingredient in cat diet. However, it is somewhat different for house cats, because they don’t hunt and eat prey. Wild and feral cats eat the content of their pray stomach, too. This way they ingest very small amounts of plants that the pray ate. Moreover, they eat bones and cartilage of the pray. These act as fibers in cat’s intestines. Finally, they ingest some vitamins that prey animals have already converted into a form that cats can use. So, the small addition of fruit or veggies or synthetic supplements is good for your cat. But, remember, we are talking about very small quantities. Meat protein is the most essential for the cats.

How About Cranberries

This can apply to cranberries. They are not bad for your cat in any way as long as it is served as a small addition to your cat’s meal. It is very rare for cats to develop vitamin deficiency. Vitamin content of the meat is usually quite enough for them. Cranberries contain a lot of vitamin C, but cats don’t need it at all. Because they can produce it on their own. And too much of vitamin C can cause bladder crystals and stones to form easier.

Vitamin A is very important for cats, but they can’t use the form that is found in plant products. They need another animal to convert provitamin into the vitamin form. As crazy as it sounds, cats can’t get vitamin A from cranberries or carrots or any plant for that matter. Instead, they need mice or other small animals to eat those carrots and then through mice cats get their vitamin quota. At the end of the day, cats don’t need cranberries or other fruits. All they can get is some manganese, vitamin E and fibers from cranberries. But, they will be good without it as well.

Conclusion

As much as I would like my cats to enjoy greens and fruit, they can’t thrive on it. They need high protein, moderate fat content in their diet. Plant protein and fat is not useful for them at all. And this is essential for any good cat diet. Yes, it is possible to substitute meat with synthetic supplements. But, no one sane would advise it. Imagine that you decide to quit eating fruit and veggies completely and to compensate it with pills.

As for cranberries, it is okay to give them to your fluffy, but only as a side dish. Cranberries and most of the fruits and veggies can cause discomfort or even digestive problems if your cat eats a lot of it. Aristotle’s rule of moderation will never become obsolete. As long as you stick to the golden mean you and your cat won’t get into trouble.