Some brands of cat food contain tomatoes, which may leave you scratching your head. Also, you might know that some people say cats shouldn’t eat tomatoes because they’re poisonous.
Then why do some cat food formulas call for tomato paste? Is it safe for cats to eat tomatoes?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. How acidic the tomatoes are and how much your pet can handle the acidity are just two of the variables.
Have no fear, though; I’ll go into greater depth about everything you need to know below.
Can Cats Eat Tomatoes?
The quick answer is “No, that’s not a good idea.” The ASPCA warns that cats, horses, and dogs can all be poisoned by the solanine found in tomatoes. A person can get sick from eating the plant’s stems and leaves, among other symptoms.
However, ripe fruit is safe, as the ASPCA notes. Tomato paste is included in some commercial pet food brands, but since it is typically made from ripe tomatoes and in a small quantity, it poses no health risk to pets.
But are tomatoes safe for cats to eat?
Tomatoes can be either completely safe or completely toxic for cats to eat depending on the variety.
The following considerations are crucial in determining whether or not tomatoes are safe for your cat. However, remember that you can’t just apply them to any old furball.
- The constituent parts of a plant (roots, leaves, and fruit).
- Tomato variety (fresh or cooked, ripe or unripe, mild or spicy)
- How acidic and fibrous foods affect your cat
- Existing medical issues
There is no easy yes or no answer, as I’ve already mentioned. Your cat might have stomach trouble digesting tomatoes in any form. The popular fruit (yes, the tomato is a fruit) may or may not be harmful to your furball.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
Tomatoes are technically a fruit, but their savory flavor makes them more suitable for use in savory dishes. When a tomato has so many beneficial nutrients and tastes so good, we don’t care what it is.
Tomatoes are a good source of many nutrients, including vitamins C, K, folate, and K1. About 28% of your daily vitamin C requirement can be met by eating just one medium-sized tomato. Vitamin C is an essential component of our bodies. It aids in development, collagen production, eye health, and even the prevention of wrinkles in the skin.
Lycopene is a pigment that can be found in fruits that range in color from pink to red, such as tomatoes and grapefruit. People who took 40 grams of lycopene-rich tomato paste daily for 10 weeks showed a 40% reduction in sunburns, according to a fascinating study. The nutrient appears to offer some interior defense against sun damage.
The antioxidant properties of lycopene have been linked for a long time to a reduced risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease. Love and a healthy heart are symbolized by the color red.
What’s the deal with tomatoes in cat foods?
There are cat foods that use a small number of ingredients and those that use dozens. The latter ones might contain tomatoes.
There is a lot of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber in tomatoes.
All cats, no matter their age or breed, need all of these things. Tomatoes aren’t the only food that can provide these micronutrients, but there are healthier options.
When it comes to fiber, vitamins, and minerals, other vegetables are much better for cats.
I can’t stand it when cat food has tomatoes in it. They’re overly sour, and the tomatoes seem more like filler than a source of nutrition.
Cats have unique dietary needs that differ from those of humans. For this reason, animals aren’t as well served by tomatoes as humans are.
Here’s what I suggest. Choose high-quality cat food that contains meat as the main ingredient and gets its fiber from dark green vegetables or antioxidant-rich fruits.
When are tomatoes toxic to cats?
Tomato plants, like potato plants, can be dangerous to the health of cats and other animals. Toxicity from tomato plant toxins can manifest in a variety of unpleasant ways.
You must act quickly to prevent your pet from eating the leaves and stems of your tomato plant. The same is true of unripe tomato fruit.
In general, cats have no interest in tomato plants or their unripe fruits.
Kittens, alas, are naturally inquisitive and erratic. Some health problems could arise if they ingest any of the toxins. Depending on how toxic it is, you may experience symptoms like diarrhea, dilated pupils, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Dogs are not immune to the effects of toxicity. There is a brief write-up on the topic at the Pet Poison Helpline. If your cat has been near a tomato plant, I would do as they say and contact a vet immediately.
Tomatoes can be harmful to cats in more ways than one, including but not limited to the following:
- Sauces made with tomatoes
- Ready-to-drink tomato juice
- Tomato-based sauces sold in stores
Never, ever give your cat any of the aforementioned!
Tomato sauces like ketchup go through extensive processing and are preserved with numerous chemicals. Also, many common seasonings can cause allergic or toxic reactions.
Just as bad are the store-bought tomato juices. Despite what the label claims, they contain no natural ingredients.
Finally, even homemade tomato soup is not good for cats. Sure, you’ve added some seasonings, but admit it: you used herbs and spices. In addition, there is no way that tomato soup can provide enough nutrition for your pet.
When are tomatoes safe for cats?
Under the following circumstances, it is safe for cats to consume the fruit of ripe, red tomatoes:
- A fair amount
- Pure, unadulterated fruit
- There are currently no medical issues
Tomatoes are not worth the risk if your pet has an illness or a weak stomach. If the cat is otherwise healthy, eating one or two slices won’t hurt it.
Tomatoes may be good for you, but there are many other fruits and vegetables (like spinach, pumpkin, blueberries, peas, green beans, etc.) that provide just as much, if not more, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and other benefits. They’re better for your pet and won’t cause any stomach problems. And, hey, they’ll taste better than a raw tomato slice!
Can Cats Eat Tomato Sauce?
No, that’s still not the case. Tomato sauce contains a lot of salt despite being made with ripe tomatoes. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that too much salt in a cat’s diet can lead to dehydration, frequent urination, seizures, and even sodium ion poisoning. The same holds true for other tomato-based condiments and soups.
Can Cats Eat Fruit?
Small portions of most fruits are healthy, but they shouldn’t be substituted for meals. Fruits are safe for cats to eat, but most cats won’t eat them, according to Dr. Gary Richter, owner and medical director of Oakland’s Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care, who told Rover: “Fruits are not problematic for cats. Since they are unlikely to consume large quantities of fruit, the high sugar content is of little concern.
However, while ripe tomatoes are not toxic to cats, there are some fruits they should never eat:
- Citrus (the citric acid found in all citrus fruits can cause problems with the central nervous system when consumed in large enough quantities; when consumed in smaller amounts, it can cause stomach upset, as stated by the ASPCA)
- Grapes, raisins, and currants (all of which are toxic to cats, per the American SPCA)
- The ASPCA warns against giving cats coconut or coconut oil (technically a seed, but we’ll include it here) because it can upset their stomachs.
Can Cats Eat Vegetables?
However, because vegetables contain less sugar than fruit, they have a bit more leeway. Richter elaborates, “Pet owners can always try to give vegetables to cats in food or treats. A lot of people won’t even touch them. When included in a well-rounded meal, vegetables provide beneficial nutrients.
The ASPCA reports that the following vegetables are safe for cats to eat, so you can try them out.
- Celery (the crunchy is what they crave!)
- Sweet green peppers
- Vitamins A, C, and K abound in spinach.
- Peas (a nutrient-rich ingredient common in many commercially prepared cat and dog foods)
- Pumpkin (Pumpkin is commonly fed to cats to increase their fiber intake)
You should gradually increase your cat’s exposure to treats.
As long as it’s healthy for humans, there’s no reason cats can’t eat it, too. However, as Dr. Richter points out, “cats tend to be very specific about what they will eat, and they like consistency.” Few people are eager to alter their eating habits.
In the end, it’s important to keep in mind that your cat is a carnivore and requires a meat-based diet.
Dr. Richter recommends a healthy, well-balanced diet for your cat. Treats aren’t healthy and shouldn’t make up a big part of their diet, the author argues.