Can cats eat Tomatoes?

Posted by Jun 22, 2016 | Nutrition

cats and tomatoes
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Author Amira

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I’m Amira, founder and editor at Cattention.

This website is dedicated to share useful but entertaining information and help You understand Your cat’s actions, behavior and needs.

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People often wonder if they can feed their furry little friend from their plate, especially when they see those big cute eyes begging for some food. But just because we can eat particular foods, it does not mean our lovely pet can consume it as well.

For example, let’s take tomatoes. Do you know whether a tomato is safe for your cat to consume or it can be harmful and poisonous? This article will answer these questions.

Can cats eat tomatoes? – No, not at all

The short answer is no; cats should not eat tomatoes. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), a highly reputable organization, has classified it as toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses.

However, some people speculate that some parts and forms are safe for them to consume, but only in a very little quantity. You also may come across videos on Youtube of cats eating tomatoes.

Despite this speculation, I would recommend you to stay on the safe side and avoid any tomato product – be it ketchup, soup or sauce, or even the plant itself – as after a more detailed research, I found that the main reason tomatoes are classified as toxic to cats is because of solanine and tomatine.

About tomatoes, solanine, and tomatine

The tomato plant belongs to the Nightshade family, also known as Solanaceae.

Some of the members of this family contain alkaloids like solanine and tomatine that are highly toxic and can cause violent lower gastrointestinal symptoms. This applies to the tomato plant as well. But which part of the plant is the most dangerous to our little friend?

Tomato plant – stems and leaves

If you have a quite curious feline buddy, you might have noticed your cat smelling, pawing and the worst: nibbling on the tomato plant’s stems and leaves – either grown indoors or outdoor in your garden. But, be careful!

These parts of the tomato are the most toxic to the little pets. These green parts of the plant contain most of the dangerous, poisonous solanine and tomatine, and when consumed, can cause violent gastrointestinal disorders.

If you have tomato plant around your house, please be exceptionally careful and keep your pets away from the tomato plant.

Green tomatoes

Cats do not typically eat or like the raw, green tomatoes because of its taste and texture.

However, the level of tomatine and solanine is generally too small to be poisonous or dangerous in the green, unripe fruit, even if a little is eaten by a cat, it can easily cause critical gastrointestinal discomfort, including weakness, lethargy or even diarrhea or vomiting.

Ripe tomatoes

As it is mentioned earlier, tomato stems, leaves and green tomatoes contain solanine and tomatine that are dangerous to cats. These alkaloids’ levels decrease as the tomato ripens.

However, this does not mean that your cat would not get some mild stomach upset from a ripe, uncooked tomato. In the end, it is the quantity that matters. Even as little as a cherry tomato can cause a gastrointestinal upset, so it is best to avoid giving it to your cat at all.

Cooked tomatoes

Even though many websites claim that the toxic alkaloids can be destroyed by cooking the tomatoes, research shows that these alkaloids cannot be eliminated by high temperature. Therefore, I suggest you do not to feed your cat even cooked tomatoes.

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Tomato in cat food

Have you ever read the ingredient list of a cat food can?

You may find tomato listed as one. But don’t be worried.

The tiny amount of treated tomato found in the cat food should cause no concern to your cat’s health because it appears in a relatively small amount which is generally too small to be dangerous.

Possible reactions

Most cats are finicky eaters and are careful about what they consume. However, inquisitive kittens and cats might want to try out everything whatever they find. As we already know, tomato is not safe for cats.

So what if you catch your curious cat licking or even eating some parts of it? Pay attention, as cats can have several adverse reactions to tomato ingestion and this is what we will discuss in this chapter.

Skin irritation

Many plants that are poisonous when eaten can easily cause skin irritation when in contact with their leaves or stems. Tomato plant is no exception to this statement.

Contact with the green parts of the tomato plant, like leaves or stems can cause swellings, rashes or even blistering.

If you notice your cat is constantly sneezing, scratching, or licking her skin, especially around her neck and head, then it is highly possible that she has skin irritation. In this case, try to keep this plant away from your beloved furry friend.

Allergy

Like some people, some cats also may have an allergy to tomatoes. Although such incidents are quite rare, it might happen that your cat is allergic to the tomato plant or the ripe tomato. On such an occasion you may experience the following signs in your little pet:

  • sneezing, coughing or wheezing,
  • itchy skin, continuous scratching,
  • runny eyes.

If your cat displays any of the above-mentioned symptoms around 15-30 minutes after consuming tomatoes, then she most probably suffers from tomato allergy. Please try to avoid any situations where she can have access to these kinds of plants.

Poisoning

Although it is an undeniable fact that tomatoes hold a lot of vitamins and minerals, they also contain poisonous alkaloids, such as tomatine and solanine.

For humans, it takes a very large amount to cause any problems, but remember, your cat’s body is much smaller than yours. Therefore, eating even a little portion of tomato can cause severe health problems to your feline friend.

If you notice your cat eating the leaves, stems or green tomatoes, watch out for these common signs of poisoning:

  • depression,
  • weakness,
  • shivering,
  • hypersalivation,
  • difficulty in breathing,
  • behavior change,
  • loss of appetite,
  • severe stomach upset,
  • dilated pupils,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea.

When poisoning is suspected, the first thing to do is to place your cat in a well-ventilated area. After stabilizing your cat, do not hesitate and contact the nearest veterinarian immediately.

Be prepared with as much information as you can about the poisoning, like what could cause it, how much amount is consumed, when was it eaten, what symptoms you noticed in your cat, etc.  An experienced vet will then give you further instructions according to the information you provide.

For your cat’s safety and health, do not attempt to self-medicate or make her vomit, unless it is instructed by the vet. Your best option in this situation is to be patient and follow the veterinarian’s instructions.

Recommended to read: Kitten feeding Guide

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Can tomatoes cause death to cats?

You should not be worried about this.

Although a particular quantity of tomatoes consumed by feline can surely cause serious harm to the cat’s health, solanine and tomatine are not poisonous enough to kill a cat. A comparatively large amount has to be ingested to result in severe poisoning.

Therefore, no need to worry! We, thoughtful cat owners, are responsible enough to catch our cute, curious friends before they overeat anything deadly.

Preventive actions

Many people like to keep plants in and around the house. Unfortunately, cats are curious animals, and they do like to nibble not only on grass but green plants as well.

This weird habit can be quite dangerous as many houses and garden plants – including tomatoes – are toxic to felines. The risk can be minimized by taking some preventive actions, like:

  • Keep your cat away from tomato plants.
  • Remove the most toxic plants from your house and garden.
  • Avoid purchasing plants that are known to be toxic to cats.
  • Ensure that the newly purchased plants are safe.
  • Do not keep plants on the floor or shelves with easy access. Instead, either keep them high enough or hang them from the ceiling. Another good solution is to place the plants in a separate room that your pet does not have access to.
  • Keep fence around the toxic plants that your cat cannot jump over.
  • Be aware of the neighbors’ gardens and make note of anything potentially harmful. Try to keep your cat away from these areas.
  • Cover the soil with rocks or marbles to prevent digging.

If discouraging your cat from toxic houseplants are not enough, you can also encourage her to chew on the grass you purchased for her or create a stimulating environment to prevent boredom. There are plenty of toys available which can keep her nose away from the dangerous houseplants.

Recommended to read: Is Chocolate bad for cats?

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Bottom line – Can cats have tomatoes?

Most of us grow plants in and around the house for either consumption or decoration. Tomato is one of the few plants that is grown for consumption because of its vitamins and minerals.

Even though people can consume it safely, it can cause harm to our cats. On the other hand, no animal really needs tomato as it contains 95% water, 4% carbohydrates and less than 1% protein and fat.

Keeping the above mentioned nutritional value and toxic facts in mind, there is no real reason to feed your cat tomatoes, and even though your cat may be keen on chewing on one, I suggest you don’t allow her to have any.

If your cat has consumed it already and shows some signs of allergy or poisoning, make sure to call your veterinarian immediately.

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