Nutrition

Can Cats Eat Cranberries?

Are cranberries safe for cate? Cranberries are a bite-sized fruit bursting with tart flavor, but should you be worried about your cat ingesting this fruit? Read on to lean about cranberries and their health benefits for cats.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: January 6, 2023 | 4 min read

Overhead of cat head next to cranberries on white table

If you’re living with a curious creature, it’s essential to always keep their safety in mind. Cats are well-known for their curiosity, and it may be tempting to share a specific food when your cat is cuddled up next to you.

We all know cats are primarily meat-eaters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the occasional non-meat snack.

During the holiday season, you may ask if it’s safe for your cat to consume cranberries. Are cranberries suitable for cats? Read on to find out.

What Are Cranberries?

Cranberries are a small, round fruit Native to North America. Known for their shiny, red skin and tart flavor, cranberries have many culinary and medicinal uses. In cooking, cranberries are featured in baked goods like bread, muffins, and pies. Cranberries are processed to make juice, cranberry sauce, and dried cranberries. They are a great addition to salads, salsas, stuffing, and drinks.

In the United States, cranberries are primarily grown in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, and Oregon. They are grown in wet and marshy fields that provide the moisture needed for this fruit to thrive. Cranberries are collected using dry and wet methods during harvest season, from mid-September through mid-November.

Wet harvesting is used for cranberries destined to be juiced, jellied, or dried. Farmers will flood their fields in preparation for harvest. Because cranberries contain air pockets, the fruit will float to the water’s surface, where the farmers collect it. In dry harvesting, cranberries are gathered from their vines before flooding the field. Dry harvesting is the method for fresh cranberries.

When buying fresh cranberries, look for shiny, plump berries with a deep red color. The color will signal high-antioxidant content. Fresh cranberries are firm to the touch and should bounce if you drop them. Avoid shriveled berries or those with brown spots. When purchasing cranberries in their off-season, look for frozen, dried, or canned options.

Are Cranberries Safe For Cats?

Closeup of cat face next to bowl of cranberries

Yes, it is safe for your cat to eat raw cranberries; however, you should take some precautions if planning to feed your cat this bite-sized berry. Whenever feeding your cat a new treat, give them a small amount first to ensure no adverse reactions, including upset stomach and diarrhea.

Prevent choking by cutting the cranberry into pieces. Share this treat in moderation. Cats are obligate carnivores that have digestive systems adapted to a meat-heavy diet. Too many carbohydrates may cause digestive upset.

Are Cranberries Good For Cats?

While cranberries are safe for cats to eat, they provide little nutritional value. Cats are carnivores, meaning they are meat-eaters. Their bodies are adapted to source energy from animal tissue. Cranberries are a high-carbohydrate food. While cats can utilize some carbohydrates, they thrive on high-protein diets.

To ensure your cat meets their nutritional requirements, feed your feline a well-balanced, high-quality cat food formulated for their stage of life. A multi-source, quality pet food will give your cat the essential nutrients they need. Talk to your veterinarian if you are worried your cat isn’t meeting their nutritional requirements. Your vet can recommend a cat food in line with your cat’s health needs. Ask about supplements your cat can take in addition to pet food for the best possible health.

Do Cranberries Have Health Benefits For Cats?

Cat walking up to mug with cranberries in it

If you like treating your feline to the occasional cranberry, it may please you to know cranberries have health benefits for your cat. This fruit may protect your cat against certain health conditions, especially urinary tract infections.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A UTI develops when bacteria enter the urinary tract, pass through the urethra, and enter the bladder. When the bladder is infected by bacteria, its interior walls become inflamed, leading to frequent urination. You may notice your cat displaying the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Straining to urinate
  • Scanty urine flow
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Excessive grooming
  • Blood in urine
  • Increased thirst
  • Lethargy

UTIs are common in cats and, if left untreated, can cause serious health concerns, including kidney failure.

Cranberries contain a type of sugar called D-mannose that prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. This fruit can be used to avoid UTIs but may also be used to treat an active infection thanks to its high acidity. Cranberry acidity can affect the pH of your cat’s urine and eliminate the infection.

Can Cats Eat Dried Cranberries?

There are a few caveats to feeding your cat dried cranberries. Just like fresh cranberries, dried cranberries are safe for your furry friend. Avoid dried cranberries that have added sweetening or flavor. While a small amount of added sugar will not harm your cat, too much sugar can cause health problems, including weight gain, diabetes, and dental issues.

Artificial sweeteners may cause stomach upset for your kitty. The sweetener xylitol should be avoided entirely. This sweetener is toxic to cats and can cause stomach upset, liver damage, seizures, and death.

Chocolate-covered cranberries are also a no-no. Chocolate is toxic to cats and, if ingested, causes stomach upset, heart rate abnormalities, tremors, seizures, and death.

Feed your cat plain, dried cranberries in moderation. Cats are carnivores and do not requires fruits and veggies as we do for proper health. If you want to feed your cat cranberries, do so one berry at a time. You can even cut the cranberry in half or quarters. Your cat won’t know the difference between a whole or half treat, and they will enjoy it just the same.

Can Cats Eat Cranberry Sauce?

While cranberries are safe for cats, you should avoid feeding your feline cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce contains lots of added sugar and few health benefits. You may think your cat craves the same sweets as you, but cats can’t taste sweetness the way we do.

Cats lack the taste receptors on their tongues to recognize sweetness. Further, a cat’s digestive tract is not designed to digest high quantities of carbohydrates. Too much sugar may cause digestive upset and other negative consequences for your feline.

How Should I Feed My Cat Cranberries?

A general rule of thumb is to treat cranberries as a treat for your cat. Cranberries are not part of a balanced diet for your cat and should be fed in moderation. If you are considering cranberries for medicinal purposes, consider supplementing cranberry. Look for a cranberry powder or treat specific to pets. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian for recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Give My Cat Cranberry Juice For A UTI?

Cranberry juice often contains added sugar that will fuel an active infection. Unsweetened cranberry juice may be suitable for your feline in small quantities, but this could also cause digestive upset. Consult your vet if you are looking for cranberry products to treat a UTI.

What Other Fruits Can I Feed My Cat?

There are plenty of other fruits you can occasionally feed your cat, including blueberries and strawberries. Familiarize yourself with what human foods are safe for cats to ensure your house is a safe space for your furry friend.

Final Thoughts

While it’s tempting to feed your cat handfuls of their favorite human treat, it’s always best to give your cat human food in moderation. It is safe to feed your cat cranberries but always look for a no-added-sugar variety. If you want to give your cat cranberry for health reasons, consider a pet-specific supplement that contains cranberry instead of whole fruit.

Cat looking at a plate of bacon trying to eat it

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