Yes. Cats are obligate carnivores – meaning they need to eat meat to survive. They don’t have to eat meat exclusively, though. Cats can eat foods that provide protein and carbohydrates like blueberries, vegetables and grains.
This may seem odd since cats are carnivores. “Cats are capable of digesting carbohydrates in fruit,” says Purina Nutritionist Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS, “Although it’s less efficient than digesting protein from meat. Blueberries are an acceptable treat for cats.”
Are Blueberries Good for Cats?
While blueberries are an antioxidant-rich “superfood” for humans, the same is not true for cats. Blueberries are not a natural part of a cat’s diet. Since cats primarily eat a carnivorous diet, their digestive systems are more equipped to digest animal proteins. They’re less effective at digesting fruits and berries.
That said, blueberries might have some health benefits for cats. Antioxidants in blueberries may promote a few of the same health effects for cats as in humans. For example, they may help a cat’s body neutralize free radicals, boost immune health and joint health.
Are Blueberries Bad for Cats?
In small quantities, no. Blueberries are safe to eat as a treat. But it’s important to note that 90 percent of a cat’s diet should consist of a complete and balanced cat food. Ensure blueberries and any other cat treats you feed consist of no more than 10 percent of their diet. Two to three blueberries are an appropriate amount.
Another thing to keep in mind is sugar content. As a sweet-tasting berry, blueberries contain sugar and can cause a cat’s blood sugar level to spike. Too much sugar in a cat’s diet can lead to digestive issues and more serious complications like cat diabetes.
Will My Cat Try Blueberries?
Maybe. All cats are different, and some may decide blueberries are not for them. That’s okay. Some cats may eat blueberries out of curiosity or for the novelty of it. Others may genuinely enjoy the fruit.
Curiously, as meat-eaters, cats cannot taste sweets. As such, flavor may not be a factor in their decision to eat blueberries. That’s because, like lions and tigers, they lack a specific gene that allows them to identify whether something is sweet or not.
Can Cats Eat Blueberry Extract?
They can. Some pet owners may notice many cat foods contain blueberry extract. Given the high sugar content in blueberries, it’s reasonable to think blueberry extract has a lot of sugars. The good news is blueberry extract does not affect the blood sugar levels in cats, so it’s safe to eat in small quantities.
How to Introduce Cats to Blueberries
Whenever a cat owner decides to give their cats some blueberries for the first time, there are a few steps to take first:
- Always wash to remove any dirt or pesticides
- Cut open the blueberry for your cat to smell
- Mash to create a paste or pâté
- Place on top of wet or dry food
- Feed one or two whole as a treat
Remember, cats have unique tastes and preferences. “Not all cats will enjoy blueberries. They should be tried a few times before deciding if blueberries are right for your cat,” Carbo-Johnson advises.