Can Cats Have Tomatoes?
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Cats can have tomatoes, but only in the right circumstances. There are ways you can give tomato to cats that will do them harm, so we cannot give them to cats indiscriminately. The tomato is a fruit from the Solanaceae family. Although its cultivation began in Peru, the tomato is now one of the most widely distributed foodstuffs in the world. It is difficult to find any cultural cuisine that does not incorporate it to some extent.
At AnimalWised, we ask can cats have tomato? We explain how to give tomato to cats and whether we should do it in the first place.
Are tomatoes bad for cats?
The tomato plant is a plant of the Solanaceae family. Like the rest of the species in this family, it is a toxic plant. The stems and leaves contain toxic compounds such as solanine, tomatine and certain glycoproteins. These compounds cause intoxication in cats characterized by the symptoms including:
- Loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Mydriasis (dilated pupils)
- Bradycardia (decreased heart rate)
With these toxic compounds, you may wonder whether anyone can tomatoes at all. These toxins are in a sufficiently low amount that they do not cause harm to humans in small amounts. The organism of a cat is more susceptible and can be harmed. In fact, unripe green tomatoes also contain enough of these compounds to cause harm to a cat.
Once the green tomatoes mature and become red, these compounds disappear sufficiently to not cause the cat any harm. For this reason, cats can eat tomatoes if they are ripe and red. They cannot eat the leaves, stems or when they are in their green state. In this way, they are a type of fruit and vegetable cats can eat, as long as this caveat is respected.
Can cats have fried tomato?
If a cat eats a piece of fried tomato, they will not likely come to any significant harm. However, this does not mean cats should eat fried tomato. Frying tomato requires oil or some other type of fat. When we cook tomato in this way, it adds fat which can cause the cat harm, especially if eaten regularly. Many people will also add salt or other flavorings to fried tomato. These are other foods that will cause the cat harm.
Benefits of tomato for cats
Now we know cats can have tomato in some circumstances, we should know if there are any benefits tomatoes can provide to cats. Generally speaking, tomatoes provide the following benefits:
- Low-calorie food: it only provides 22 kcal per 100 grams of product. This makes it possible to include tomatoes in the diet of cats without implying a significant increase in the energy value of their daily food ration. This can be helpful to cats that are overweight.
- High water content: water is the most abundant component of tomato (93%). Its consumption helps keep the body hydrated, which is especially beneficial in cats since they are animals that tend to drink little water. If this is the case with your cat, we explain how to get a cat drink to water in our related article.
- Source of vitamins and minerals: contains vitamin A (mainly in the form of provitamin A carotenoids) and vitamin C. Among the minerals which tomatoes contain, iron and selenium stand out.
- Lycopene: believed to have antioxidant properties which can benefit in disease prevention. It also inhibits the activity of an essential enzyme involved in cholesterol synthesis, meaning it can help overweight cats in this way also.
It is important to note that cats are obligate carnivores. They derive the nutrients they need for survival from animal protein and can happily survive on formulated feed. However, using tomatoes as a treat can give them something which they may find tasty and which helps to keep the hydrated without causing harm. Not all cats may want to eat tomato, but many find them delicious.
How to give tomato to my cat
Now that you know that red tomatoes can be good for cats, you may decide you want to feed them to your cat. If this is the case, you need to know there are two main ways of doing this:
- In the event that your cat regularly consumes either dry or wet commercial feed, you can introduce the tomato as a reward or treat. This is as long as your cat likes its flavor and texture.
- In the event that your cat is fed a homemade diet, you can include tomatoes as an ingredient in their daily food ration. You can only do so without added salt, spices or any additional foods which are forbidden for cats. You will also need to ensure you feed your cat a diet that meets their nutritional needs.
Regardless of whether you use the tomato as a reward or in your cat's daily food ration, you must take into account a series of considerations before giving tomato to cats:
- Only tomatoes that are very ripe should be selected, since we have already mentioned that green tomatoes are toxic to cats.
- The stem and petiole (tomato tail) must be removed as they also contain substances that are toxic to cats.
- Before preparing them, tomatoes should be washed with plenty of water to remove any dirt, contaminants or pesticides that may be attached to their skin.
- Once washed, they can be offered raw or cooked. Both preparations are suitable for cats. It is advisable to cut them into small cubes, so that they are easier to consume.
In terms of cooking tomatoes for cats, you need to ensure you do not add anything which can harm them. We recommend cooking them boiled, steamed, grilled, microwaved or baked, always without spices or salt.
How much tomato to give to a cat
If you have decided to include tomatoes in your cat's diet as a reward or treat, you can offer 4-5 cubes once or twice a week. This will be in addition to their normal food.
To use tomatoes in their daily food ration, you will need to calculate the amount of tomato to add based on your cat's nutritional needs. These will vary depending on their weight, age, physiological state and level of activity. If you usually feed your cat a homemade diet, we recommend that you ask for advice from a professional specialized in animal nutrition. This way you can ensure the cat has a balanced diet.
Learn more about feeding fruit to cats with our article on whether cats can be vegan.
Contraindications of tomato for cats
Aas we have seen, cats can eat red tomatoes. However, there are certain situations in which their contribution can be counterproductive:
- In cats with food allergies or intolerances to tomato.
- In cats with gastrointestinal problems (e.g. acute gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), digestive lymphoma, etc.).
- In cats with a digestive system that is especially sensitive to dietary changes.
Side effects of tomato for cats
As we have mentioned, the stems and leaves of ripe tomatoes and green tomatoes contain a series of toxic substances (solanine, tomatine and some glycoproteins). These can cause poisoning in cats. Symptoms associated with this poisoning include:
- Loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Mydriasis (dilated pupils).
- Bradycardia (decreased heart rate)
For this reason, it is important to keep green tomatoes and tomato plants out of the reach of cats. If your cat has eaten green tomatoes or their toxic parts and shows symptoms associated with poisoning, go to the veterinarian immediately.
Learn more with our guide on toxic plants for cats.
If you want to read similar articles to Can Cats Have Tomatoes?, we recommend you visit our Homemade diets category.
1. Blum, A., Monir, M., Wirsansky, I., & Ben-Arzi, S. (2005). The beneficial effects of tomatoes. European journal of internal medicine, 16(6), 402–404.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (n.d.). Tomato Plant. Lycopersicon spp. Retrieved from: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/tomato-plant
- Spanish Federation of Nutrition. (n.d.). Tomato. Lycopersicom esculentum mill. Retrieved from: fen.org.es/MercadoAlimentosFEN/pdfs/tomate.pdf