Cantaloupe is a favorite summer melon for many humans; however, bizarrely enough, it’s also a favorite summer treat for cats.
Stories abound across the internet of cats sneaking bites of their owner’s slice of melon, leading many humans to worry that the bite may come back to haunt them later. Can cats eat cantaloupe? Why are many cats so obsessed with cantaloupe?
Short answer: in moderation, cats can usually enjoy cantaloupe with no ill effects. And the reason for their love of it? The smell!
Do Cats Like Cantaloupe?
It may sound pretty strange, considering the fact that cats are obligate carnivores and should have no interest in melons, but cantaloupe seems to have a magnetic attraction to many felines. What gives?
According to a study from the Journal of Experimental Botany in 2010, cantaloupe contains volatiles (odor in other words) that is derived from amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. Those amino acids are also found in meat! So, to a cat, that slice of cantaloupe may smell like delicious meat which of course, they are hardwired to go for.
Furthermore, cantaloupe does contain plenty of water and some cats may also like the texture. So, there are plenty of reasons why your cat, who may normally ignore whatever you are eating, goes a little crazy for cantaloupe.
Do Cats Hate Cantaloupe?
There probably are cats that dislike cantaloupe or will at least turn up their nose at it. I don’t think my oldest cat has ever bothered mooching for it no matter how it smells. Then again, it’s not something we have around the house much either since most of the humans here don’t really like it.
Can Cantaloupe Kill Cats?
As with any food that cats aren’t meant to eat (as in, anything other than meat), there is always a risk if a cat overdoes it. In the case of cantaloupe, there is quite a bit of fruit sugar in it. For us, that’s fine and we would have to eat far more than any normal human would ever eat to get sick from it (in fact, we’d get sick from it long before contracting something like diabetes).
But cats have a much lower tolerance for sugars and eating something like cantaloupe too regularly can lead to obesity and diabetes. These things can certainly kill a cat in the long run with diabetes, in particular, causing many health problems.
You also just don’t want to let a cat fill up on cantaloupe to the exclusion of their regular food or else they will not be getting all the proteins and fats they require to stay healthy.
How much Cantaloupe is Safe for Cats to Eat?
Cats really don’t need more than a small bite or two of cantaloupe. It should be treated as a treat. If we assume that 10% of a cat’s total calorie intake can be treats, this means that a cat should only be having about 15-20 calories come from treats (Depending on their daily intake of food).
A 5oz serving of cantaloupe has 50 calories, so figure that you only want your cat to have about 1oz as a treat. And it really shouldn’t be a daily occurrence given that they likely have other treats as well!
As a note, cats should never have cantaloupe seeds. They can cause an obstruction in the throat and lead to choking. The rind is even worse for this – it can easily cause choking hazards, get stuck in the digestive tract, or make your cat have an upset stomach.
Make sure that any cantaloupe chunks are seedless, rindless, and cut up small enough that the cat can easily eat them. Cats with a sensitive stomach or diabetes should not have cantaloupe at all.
If your cat has some cantaloupe and then starts vomiting, acting lethargic, or loses its appetite, you should contact your vet. Some cats are allergic to cantaloupe or cannot tolerate it and may need medical assistance.
A good way to feed a cat cantaloupe is to cut it up and then put it in little toys or ‘mazes’ for cats to work out. This provides some mental stimulation along with the treat which is really good for cats.
Health Benefits of Cantaloupe for Cats
Cantaloupe is not the ideal food for cats, but there are some health benefits to it. These include:
- Vitamin A
- High water content, which is particularly good as cats aren’t the best at drinking enough water on their own
- Fiber which promotes healthy digestion
- Vitamin B6
These things are all good for humans and cats alike, though keep in mind that since a cat can only have one ounce or so every so often, most of these things will be in trace amounts and cannot replace regular kibble or canned food.
Vitamin A is of particular use to cats. They don’t produce it on their own (unlike Vitamin C) and so have to get it from outside sources. While most of their Vitamin A would come from meat, cantaloupe can help give cats a tiny bit of a top-up.
Cantaloupe is an odd thing for cats to want to eat. It’s a fruit, which most cats would ignore, but the odor of it reminds cats of meat, making them instinctively go for it.
It obviously doesn’t have the nutritional value of meat, but it’s also safe enough for cats to eat in small doses. And it does make for a bit of extra hydration when it’s hot out or your cat isn’t interested in the water bowl. It can also be used to make puzzle toys more fun!
If you’ve never fed your cat cantaloupe before, start small and watch your pet for signs of allergies, choking, or intolerances. If anything serious occurs, talk to your vet; otherwise, add it to the roster of treats for your pet to enjoy, and don’t worry about it!
Cantaloupe has some health benefits, is largely safe, and many cats seem to really enjoy it, so share the summer melon!
Does your cat go after cantaloupe?