Can Cats Eat Figs? 11 Things To Consider

No longer do people eat simply to stay alive. These days, at least in developed nations, food is consumed more for its pleasure and flavor than its nutritional value. As a result, we frequently consider food to be a reward or treat, as evidenced by the prevalence of treats used in celebration dinners and for pet training.

If the treats are safe for pets, there’s no harm in giving them out. It’s natural for us pet owners to want to treat our animals to whatever tasty thing we’re eating, thinking we’re doing them a favor.

While that may be true, many of the foods we eat shouldn’t be given to our pets for the same reasons.

Generally speaking, figs have a good reputation as a nutritious snack option. However, a cat shouldn’t eat a lot of fruits, including figs. In fact, figs are toxic to cats and should be avoided at all costs.

Can Cats Eat Figs?

Not true; figs are toxic to cats. You shouldn’t feed your cat or keep the fig plant within reach because it is toxic and irritating to cats.

What are Figs?

The fig is not a true fruit. They’re actually inverted flowers made through a unique technique. The fig tree has other uses besides for its fruit.

Instead, a female fig wasp will crawl into a male fig, get stuck, and die, leaving behind the male’s offspring.

A fig wasp still gets stuck when it crawls into a female fig, but this time the fig decomposes it with an enzyme called ficin. Because of this, it can transform a wasp into the delicious fig that we eat.

fig leaves

What’s in a Fig?

Figs are primarily composed of water, fiber, and sugar, but they also have a good amount of other beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, calcium, magnesium, and more.

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The fig’s ability to digest a fig wasp is due to an enzyme called ficin. Figs also have a chemical called psoralen.

Are Figs Safe for Cats?

If your cat consumes even a small amount of figs or fig plant material, it could become ill with fig toxicity. Toxic effects of figs typically manifest as:

  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin redness and irritation
  • Rashes
  • Lack of hunger
white kitten licks lips

Are Fig Trees & Fig Leaves Toxic to Cats?

While we humans enjoy eating figs, most of our pets, including cats, do not. You should also keep your pets away from figs because they are toxic to horses and dogs.

Figs contain the toxic compounds ficin and psoralen, which are dangerous for our pets. These can lead to itching and redness when applied to the skin. When ingested, they can cause severe illness or even death in your pet.

fig fruit sliced

Fig Toxicity in Cats

The fruit, leaves, and sap of the fig plant (also called the weeping fig or Indian rubber plant) are toxic to your cat.2Though the toxicity is low, it is best to keep your cat away from figs to avoid any potential health problems.

When kept inside, the fig plant retains its long, glossy green leaves throughout the year. Despite its aesthetic value, this plant should not be kept in a home with cats.

The proteolytic enzyme is found in figs because3combined use of ficin and psoralen,4causes DNA damage in a cat. The sap contains the majority of these chemicals, but their concentrations vary depending on where in the plant you look.

Cats are naturally inquisitive animals, so it’s possible that they’ll eat some fig fruit or nibble on some fig leaves.

Why Are Figs Toxic to Cats?

The actual fig fruit itself may not be harmful to your cat after all. Instead, the toxic effects come primarily from the plant’s sap. Your cat is likely to become ill if it comes into contact with the fig plant or eats any part of it.

Ficine is found in both the fig’s skin and its pulp. While unripe figs can contain much higher dosages of ficin and psoralen, fully ripe figs will have lower amounts.

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fig fruit

Symptoms of Fig Poisoning in Cats

Cats that consume fig fruit or plant parts may experience mild irritation and digestive problems.

Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Ailments of the skin

What to Do If Your Cat Ingests Fig

Get in touch with your vet right away if you think your cat has eaten figs or fig leaves. In addition to looking for wounds and listening to the heart and lungs, your vet will conduct a full set of diagnostic tests.

Take some of the plant with you to show the vet if at all possible. It could help your vet determine what’s wrong with your cat more quickly.

Your cat may need to be stabilized with medication or admitted to the hospital for observation and intravenous medication if it has been poisoned.

Depending on the severity of the toxicity, your veterinarian may recommend inducing vomiting in the cat. Avoid inducing vomiting unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian, as doing so can lead to potentially fatal complications.

To help your cat get rid of the fig’s toxins, your vet may also use activated charcoal, an adsorbent. Similar procedures are followed in hospitals when treating poisoning in humans.

Your cat may make a full recovery from eating a fig plant, as fig toxicity in cats is typically mild or moderate.

A bland diet, such as boiled chicken and rice, or prescription food and medication may be necessary for your cat if digestive issues persist for days after ingestion.

veterinarian checks mouth of the maine coon cat

What Other Plants are Toxic for Cats?

Beautiful as they may be, some houseplants can actually be harmful to cats by irritating their skin, mouth, or stomach. Some, however, can cause severe damage to the kidneys or the heart.

The following are examples of typical plants that are harmful to cats:

  • Amaryllis
  • Fall crocus
  • Azaleas
  • Bean, Castor
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Daisy
  • Rhododendrons
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils
  • Hedera helix
  • Hyacinth
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Marijuana
  • Idyllic lilies of the valley
  • Day lily
  • Kalanchoe
  • Oleander
  • Pothos
  • Sago palm
  • Thyme from Spain
  • Tulip
  • Yew
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All parts of these plants are poisonous to cats, and while the toxicity of individual parts may vary depending on the plant, it is safest to treat them all as potentially dangerous.

Here are some general symptoms to look out for, though they will vary depending on the plant, the concentration of toxins, and the amount the cat ingests:

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  • Breathing problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Itchy or irritated skin
  • Extreme dry mouth and urination
  • Drooling
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Discouraging listlessness

Take your cat to the vet immediately if you think it may have eaten a poisonous plant. If you can, bring a small piece of the plant with you.

Even with safety precautions in place, cats will inevitably get into mischief. If you don’t want your cat to get sick, the best thing you can do is to keep poisonous plants out of your house and garden.

What About Fig Newtons?

Most people enjoy eating figs in the form of Fig Newtons. Obviously, these are more akin to cookies than they are to fruit.

While they do contain fig paste, the figs used in their production are fully ripe and don’t have a significant amount of ficin or psoralen.

While this may be true, Fig Newtons are still bad for your cat. Because of their obligate carnivorous diet, cats have trouble processing carbohydrates.

The wheat flour, baking soda, and artificial flavoring in Fig Newtons are just a few of the many reasons why you shouldn’t feed them to your pet.

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Conclusion

Usually, it’s the plant or fruit skin, not the ripe fruit itself, that’s harmful to cats.

Figs are a good example of this. Even though ripe figs aren’t toxic to cats, you shouldn’t give them to your pet anyway. Instead, it is the fig plant—and particularly the sap—that is dangerous to cats.

Your cat may develop skin irritation and rashes if it comes into contact with a fig plant. However, if your cat eats this plant, it can cause stomach upset, vomiting, drooling, and more.

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