Nutrition

Can Cats Eat Watermelon?

There's truly nothing better on a hot day than enjoying a large slice of watermelon. And, lucky for your furry friend, this summertime staple is also safe for cats.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: November 21, 2023 | 4 min read

Cat sniffing a slice of watermelon.

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When thinking of a refreshing snack, few foods can beat watermelon. This hydrating fruit tastes excellent on its own and can be added to smoothies and salads for a burst of flavor. Watermelon contains heart-healthy nutrients, cancer-fighting antioxidants, and skin-boosting vitamins. But is it safe for cats? Can cats eat watermelon?

The short answer is yes, cats can eat watermelon. While it’s not recommended for daily consumption, watermelon is not poisonous to our furry friends and can be enjoyed occasionally.

But just because a food isn’t toxic doesn’t mean it’s healthy either (hello, Cheez-Its). We share the pros and cons of feeding this fruit to our furry friends.

Is Watermelon Safe For Cats?

Did your kitty nab your watermelon slice? The good news is that watermelon is safe for felines. Watermelon is 92 percent water, which helps boost hydration and is beneficial during high heat. It’s also low in calories and offers several antioxidants that your furry friend may not get elsewhere in their diet.

The bad news? You really shouldn’t let them eat this fruit all the time. As with any special snack or treat, watermelon should always be at most 10 percent of your cat’s diet. Too much melon, especially when it’s a new treat, could lead to gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomach.

Is Watermelon Good For Cats?

In humans, melon aids in hydration, supports immunity, and improves heart health—among other benefits. While many argue that fruits and veggies are an unnecessary part of a cat’s diet, thanks to their meat-eater status, felines benefit from the antioxidants found in plants. Research shows that antioxidants play a role in reducing oxidative stress in cats, thus supporting immune function and protecting against chronic diseases.

While there aren’t yet any studies looking at the benefits of watermelon for felines specifically, research has shown that watermelon reduces inflammation and increases antioxidant capacity in some animals. 

Here are six other potential health benefits of feeding your feline melon.

6 Health Benefits Of Watermelon For Cats

  1. Lycopene, the antioxidant and carotenoid that gives watermelon its red color, has been shown in animal studies to support vision and help prevent cancer-related deaths.
  2. Two other antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, are carotenoids that protect the eyes and support eye function. Research also shows that lutein also acts as an immunomodulator in felines to help their bodies better respond to disease or illness.
  3. Melon contains the electrolytes potassium and magnesium, two minerals that are important for muscle recovery and pain relief.
  4. The vitamin C in watermelon is an antioxidant, immunity booster, and natural antihistamine. Unlike humans, felines synthesize their own vitamin C and do not require it from their diet. Still, the Cornell CatWatch says that additional vitamin C can help protect your cat’s cells as they age, defending them against illness and stress.
  5. Melon is a source of beta-carotene. While cats cannot convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, one study shows that felines can absorb beta-carotene in their diet and it may still function as an antioxidant and immune modulator in our furry friends independent of vitamin A.
  6. The water in melon prevents dehydration, helps regulate body temperature, lubricates the joints, and helps move waste out of the body. Felines may experience decreased water intake due to weakness, decreased appetite, pain, or lack of access to their water bowl. Dehydration can cause numerous health problems, including neurological dysfunction, cardiac arrhythmia, and multi-organ dysfunction.

Can Watermelon Be Bad For Cats?

A fun part of being a pet parent is allowing our fur babies to try human foods. But like with any “people food,” the best thing you can do before giving your pet a new treat is to check with your veterinarian. While food might be okay for one feline, it could be a no-no for another, depending on age, health conditions, diet, and more. For example, you should not feed kitties on a prescription diet anything outside their regularly scheduled meals.

All felines are obligate carnivores, and melon does not provide the protein, amino acids, and other essential nutrients that felines need to live. While this flavorful fruit is chock full of nutrients, not all are readily available to our feline companions, as their digestive systems cannot extract nutrients from fruits and carbohydrate-rich foods effectively. While you can feed your kitty melon as an occasional treat, you should never use it as a replacement for a complete and balanced food recipe.

Avoid feeding your furry friend watermelon if they’re overweight or have diabetes, as the naturally occurring sugars in melon could exacerbate their health issues.

In general, healthy felines and kittens can eat a small amount of watermelon (stick to a single 1-inch square) with the rind removed. Pets shouldn’t eat melon rinds, as this tough outer skin is difficult to digest and could lead to choking or gastrointestinal obstruction if they swallow a chunk whole.

The rind also poses a risk because this area is exposed to pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group, watermelon is among the “Clean 15” produce items that have the lowest amount of pesticide residues; however, 20+ pesticide residues have been found on watermelon, including one known carcinogen, 11 suspected hormone disruptors, and six neurotoxins. To limit exposure, never let your pet gnaw on rinds, and buy organic if possible.

Lastly, remove the seeds before feeding your cat watermelon. The black seeds in melon act as insoluble fiber and may upset your pet’s digestive system if they consume too many. Melon seeds could also be a choking hazard.

How Much Watermelon Can I Give My Cat?

Watermelon is low in calories and high in hydration, but you should still feed this food to your pet in moderation. Offer your kitty a single 1-inch piece of watermelon without the rind. Remember that not all felines can effectively process carbs and sugars, so if your pet has an adverse reaction, take this food off the snack list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions we frequently get asked by our readers regarding feeding fruit to felines. Don’t see yours? Ask us in the comments.

Do Cats Like Watermelon?

Does your cat like watermelon? There’s only one way to find out! Cats don’t have the same sugar receptors as humans required to enjoy sweets. Still, your cat may take an interest in melon thanks to its texture and moisture content.

Can Kittens Eat Watermelon?

Yes, watermelon is considered generally safe for cats and kittens. Be sure to prepare the melon before presenting it to your kitten. Stick to a bite-sized piece free of rind and seeds.

What Fruits Can Cats Eat?

Are you interested in other feline-friendly fruits? The following options are safe for cats in moderation:

Feeding Your Cat Human Foods

Are you looking for other human foods that are safe for cats? Before feeding your feline “people food,” remember that it’s always best to check with your veterinarian. Your vet can take your cat’s age, health, and medical history into consideration when determining if a food is safe for your feline’s consumption. Second, consider purchasing pet insurance. Accidents happen—especially when it comes to cats eating things they shouldn’t—and the best way to protect yourself from a large medical bill is to purchase a quality pet insurance plan before a health emergency arises.

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