Bananas are one of the most popular fruits for humans to eat and it is considered to be quite the powerhouse of nutrition. They contain fiber that can moderate blood sugar levels, improve digestive health, are full of potassium and other essential minerals and vitamins, and have water which is always a good thing.
Bananas are popular too because they mix well with other things, becoming a base for baked goods, smoothies, and pancakes, among other things. So, bananas make for happy humans! But do bananas make for happy cats?
Can cats, one of the most common companions for humans, eat bananas? Are bananas safe for cats? Can they be beneficial or are they straight up hazardous?
Do Cats Like Bananas?
I’ve owned (er, been owned by) about five cats in my life, plus the occasional fly-by that stays with us for a week or two at a time, plus a few neighborhood cats that consider my yard part of their territory.
I have never had a cat try to mooch a banana from anyone in my household. That being said, there are other people who have had their cats go after their bananas, at least for a few licks if not an outright bite of it. Much like humans, cats will like or dislike foods based on their preferences, nothing universal.
If your cat is mooching for bananas, it’s very unlikely that they care about the taste. Recall that cats cannot taste sweet foods. It’s more likely that it’s curious about the smell and many cats like to imitate their humans so they may simply want to see what you’re eating. You can give your cat a taste of it and it’s likely that your cat will simply spit it out and wander off.
Do Cats Hate Bananas?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a cat that liked bananas, but I wouldn’t say that any of them hated bananas. They simply were not interested. Since cats cannot taste sweet foods, there’s not much there for them to get excited about.
The texture may make some cats uncertain, but it’s dubious that most cats will loathe bananas to the point of say, smacking one with a paw or getting angry a human for offering a piece.
Can Bananas Kill Cats?
According to the ASCPCA, bananas are entirely non-toxic to cats. If your cat managed a bite of one, they will probably be fine, barring an allergic reaction.
That being said, non-toxic does not equate to healthy. Potato chips are non-toxic to humans, but you still don’t want to have a diet consisting entirely of them! Bananas are in the same boat for cats. They’re not poisonous and they won’t harm your cat, but you also shouldn’t feed them bananas very often.
There are a couple of things that can cause bananas to be put firmly in the treat’ category for cats:
- Bananas are high in natural sugars. (17g!) For humans, this just makes them a good alternative to candy. For cats that cannot handle sugar (or even taste it), it’s simply wasted calories that in high amounts can lead to feline diabetes.
- Bananas are high in carbohydrates. Again, for humans, this makes it a good alternative to bread. But for cats that should have a diet that is very low carb, it’s a waste. Too many carbohydrates can lead to obesity. (This is why, by the way, many vets recommend a wet cat food diet, particularly for older, obese, and/or diabetic cats).
- Bananas are high in fiber. While a bit of fiber is all right for a cat, too much fiber can make them too full to eat their usual food and you may end up with a lethargic cat for a couple of days. It can also lead your cat to be constipated and uncomfortable.
Another issue for many cats is the peel. Cats should never be fed the peel of a banana. It’s far too difficult to digest and contains far too much dense fiber. Again, it probably wouldn’t kill your cat, but your cat would be very uncomfortable, too full to eat their proper food, and may become constipated. On top of that, banana peels are a choking hazard for cats.
How Many Bananas Are Safe for Your Cat?
If you do have one of the rare felines that do love bananas, how much is safe to feed them?
Very little as it turns out. A cat can probably have one to two small slices as a serving and that’s it for the day (or even for a few days). Cats should not have bananas regularly as the high sugar and fiber content is not good for them. Even most of their treats should be meat-based, so bananas should make up a much smaller portion of their 10% calories coming from treats.
If you’re going to feed your cat a piece of banana, make sure to break the slice up into small, bite-sized chunks and only let your cat have one small piece at a time. Monitor your pet to ensure there is no allergic reaction and that they aren’t choking on it.
Allergic reactions to watch out for:
- Itchiness (excessive scratching)
- Hives or spots
- Eyes and nose streaming
- Hard time breathing
If you notice any of these symptoms, stop feeding your cat bananas and seek a veterinarian if they don’t improve or if you notice increased labor in breathing.
The Benefits of Bananas for Cats
As with any food, bananas do have some limited benefits for cats. It’s an extremely limited benefit since cats cannot digest most of what makes up a banana (the carbs and fiber) and the number of minerals and vitamins they can make use of will exist in only trace amounts in the small serving they will have.
Still, every little bit counts, and when used in conjunction with high-quality cat food, bananas can provide a small top-up in healthy minerals.
For cats, the benefits you can expect their bodies to reap include:
- Intake of potassium. For cats, potassium can help heart and kidney health. Occasional bits of banana can help to stave off hypokalemia which is a low blood potassium level. Keep in mind though that most of their potassium needs should come from their regular food.
- Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 improves the overall performance of organs, more specifically the kidneys.
- Manganese. Manganese is good for the skin. Cats only need a small number of minerals, and bananas can help supplement their regular food
These are some fantastic benefits; however, cats cannot rely on bananas for them since they’d have to eat far more bananas than is healthy. Instead, the small slice of banana can occasionally supplement the cat food your cat should already be eating.
It’s pretty unlikely that your cat will like bananas. They aren’t built to enjoy sweet foods and they don’t derive much nutritional benefit from them. It’s more likely that your cat is simply curious about what you’re eating and may want to copy you. You can offer your pet a small piece and see if he likes it; if not, don’t worry about it.
Bananas don’t do much of anything for feline health. If your pet does like it, then treat bananas like a treat and make sure that your cat doesn’t eat too much of it.
Does your cat go ape for bananas’? Let us know!