Cats are notoriously skilled hunters, and the natural diet of the felines still existing in the wild is comprised of various small animals and insects. Although cats are carnivores, their natural diet contains more than just muscle meat. When they consume their prey, they ingest bone, hair, and all other parts of what they caught.
A cat’s health depends on a diet with the proper proteins, vitamins, and minerals, and there’s room for variety. One cat may turn up his nose at almost every meal presented to him, while another cat may be willing to try anything. Often, commercially prepared foods include a range of ingredients that one would not find in the natural feline diet to meet all a cat’s dietary requirements.
Modern cat food formulas may include fruits, grains, and berries, although we don’t usually consider feeding these to our cats as fresh ingredients because we may not be sure what is safe to offer fresh or in what quantities they are safe. Some fruits, and some fruit seeds, are toxic to cats. Luckily, both kiwi fruit and kiwi seeds are perfectly safe for cats in small amounts.
Can Cats Eat Kiwi?
Your cat may not appreciate kiwi as much as a treat of salmon or chicken, but if you offer him a slice, rest assured kiwi is safe for cats to eat. While kiwi is not a standard ingredient in commercially prepared foods, it has similar properties to many fruits. In commercially prepared pet foods, blueberries, cranberries, and pumpkins are common ingredients for dogs and cats. Fruits have been added to pet diets for nutritional components such as polyphenols which have powerful antioxidant properties.
Fruits contain sugars, and one drawback of adding fruit to your cat’s diet is the potential for weight gain or diabetes. Obesity is one of the leading causes of poor pet health today. Kiwis are relatively low in sugar, with six grams of sugar per one hundred grams of fruit, compared to blueberries, which have ten. Balance your cat’s diet with plenty of exercise to keep him at a healthy weight. If he develops a taste for kiwi, offer it as a treat in small amounts alongside an animal protein-based complete diet. Monitor his body condition to be sure he does not begin to pack on excess weight.
Is Kiwi Good For Cats?
Kiwis are high in both dietary fibers and in antioxidants called polyphenols. Cats need fiber in their diets for healthy digestive function. Adding fiber to the commercial kibble can assist with both constipation and diarrhea by regulating the water in the gut and helping stabilize the consistency of the cat’s stool. When soluble fibers dissolve in the stomach, they can turn into a gel that makes stools easier to pass. Insoluble fibers regulate food transport through the system and may help with stool consistency.
Kiwi fruit has 3-4 grams of soluble fiber per serving, equal parts soluble and insoluble fiber. Feeding beneficial fiber to promote a healthy microbiome can help restore the balance of bacteria after some illnesses. For diabetic cats, adding fiber may help the sugars from starches to be absorbed more slowly, helping stabilize blood sugar levels. Overweight cats may feel fuller after eating a meal high in fiber and be satisfied with fewer calories. Kiwis also contain an enzyme called actinidin, which helps break down proteins in the digestive system.
A kiwi has vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and more vitamin C per serving than an orange. High levels of vitamin C have well-studied health benefits in humans, but cats don’t need a vitamin C supplement in the same way humans might. Humans need to supplement vitamin C because they don’t naturally produce it. Cats’ bodies do. If we give cats vitamin C supplements, we risk giving too much. Sharing some kiwi with your cat is a safe way to ensure his body has a complete array of antioxidants in safe amounts to keep him healthy.
What’s The Best Way To Share Kiwi With Your Cat?
If your feline best friend has an adventurous palate, you can offer some peeled kiwi, chopped in bite-size pieces, added to his regular food. If you want to add some variety and enrichment, provide a dish of kiwi cut into small pieces. In the summer, kiwi fruit chilled in the refrigerator provides a refreshing, healthy snack for your cat. Much of the work with kiwi polyphenols has focused on kiwifruit peel extract. Cats are unlikely to eat kiwi peel in doses high enough to get those benefits. The kiwi fruit flesh itself has antioxidant properties.
There are multiple varieties of kiwi, but the two most common are the green fleshed standard variety, and a gold fleshed variety, SunGold, that is sweeter with smooth skin. Depending on your cat’s preference, you could offer either. As with many fruits, the peel contains high concentrations of beneficial nutrients, so your cat can chew slices with the peeling attached. The peel of the standard green variety is more fibrous and may satisfy his need to chew, while the peel on the golden is smoother and palatable.
Although the seeds and pits of some fruit have toxic properties, kiwi seeds are safe for humans and cats to eat in typical doses. Kiwi seeds are small and difficult to consume in high quantities, but they contain Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and vitamin E. The fact that they often move through the cat’s system undigested means they can help the gut push things through, potentially reducing the instance of hairballs.
Because we love our cats, we want them to be as healthy as possible, but we also want to ensure they have plenty to keep them mentally stimulated daily. Offering your cat some safe foods with exciting textures is one more way to alleviate boredom and provide a varied and healthy diet above and beyond the animal-based proteins they need as carnivores. Try offering your feline friend a bit of kiwi as a treat from time to time. You’ll add variety to his diet while providing healthy fiber and antioxidants.