Skip to main content

Is watermelon good for cats? What to consider before snacktime

Refreshing and tasty, there’s nothing better than a slice of watermelon as a snack or even as part of a meal. You may naturally want to share this snack with your cat, but should you? Cats have quite different digestive systems and nutritional needs than humans do, so the foods that are relatively healthy for us to eat aren’t always the best choice for them. Before you give your cat a treat of watermelon or any other food that’s intended for humans, it’s important to understand how the food might affect your cat and whether it’s a safe choice for him.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Can cats have watermelon?

Watermelon is high in carbohydrates and sugar. Cats don’t need carbohydrates, and watermelon doesn’t provide any nutritional value to your cat. As long as your cat is eating a nutritionally balanced diet, watermelon is completely unnecessary.

That’s not to say your cat can’t have watermelon. Healthy cats can digest small amounts of watermelon without harm. But watermelon shouldn’t be a regular go-to snack.

Because watermelon is high in sugar, you shouldn’t ever feed it to a cat with metabolic issues or diabetes. Watermelon adds extra calories to your cat’s diet, so if he’s overweight, it won’t help with his diet.

Even if your cat is healthy, the extra sugar in the watermelon may cause digestive upset if your cat eats too much. If you do feed your cat watermelon, give him just a little bit as an occasional treat.

White cat eating a treat off of the floor
Dusica Paripovic/Alamy

Other foods that are better choices for cats

Instead of watermelon, there are plenty of alternatives that are healthier for your cat:

  • Canned pumpkin: Just the pumpkin — not the pumpkin pie filling — is high in fiber and can help relieve both constipation and diarrhea. It’s also tasty and makes an appetizing, nutritious food topper.
  • Chicken: You can never go wrong with cooked chicken, as long as your cat doesn’t have a chicken allergy. Cooked chicken offers nutrition and protein, and cats love the smell, too. Just make sure that you offer chicken without the skin and don’t cook it in any oils, butter, or spices.
  • Salmon: Your cat may also enjoy a piece of cooked salmon. Again, cook it without butter, oils, or spices before giving it to your cat. Salmon is another protein-rich food that’s a more natural addition to your cat’s diet.
  • Peas: Peas make another great choice. They’re high in fiber but low in calories, so they’re a winning option for a snack. Peas also include lots of vitamins like K and C, and you can feed sugar snap peas, garden peas, and snow peas fresh or frozen.
  • Carrots: Cats can also safely munch on carrots. Carrots have lots of fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals that can contribute to your cat’s health. Avoid feeding raw carrots, which can pose a choking hazard. Instead, feed only cooked or baked carrots prepared without oils or spices, and cut them up into safe bite-sized pieces.
A cat eating out of a food dish

How to help your cat snack healthily

It’s always fun to feed your cat treats, but it’s also important to feed treats in a healthy way.

  • Too many treats can lead to extra calories, and if your cat fills up on treats, he might not eat his regular food and lose out on important nutrition. Over the long term, this could lead to nutritional deficiencies that could negatively affect your cat’s health.
  • To feed treats safely, dispense them only occasionally and introduce them gradually so you don’t upset your cat’s stomach.
  • Watch your cat for signs that the treats may be irritating his digestive system, like diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Excessive itching, grooming, and hair loss could also indicate that your cat is allergic to a treat or to his food.

Choose treats that offer nutritional value to your cat and be highly selective with treat feeding if your cat needs to lose weight. If your cat is on a restricted-ingredient diet, then you need to be extra careful in choosing treats that will adhere to the diet’s restrictions. It’s also a good idea to discuss any treats and dietary choices with your vet, particularly if your cat has any health issues or is being treated with medications.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
How to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon mix (and why you should care)
Should you consider a Maine Coon mix? Here's what you need to know
Closeup of a Maine Coon's face

There are plenty of big and fluffy cats out there, but one of the best-known breeds fitting this description is the Maine Coon. These cats are not only impressive in size, but they also tend to have fantastic personalities that make them beloved family pets. While purebred Maine Coons are a little more uncommon in rescues and shelters, it's possible to adopt a Maine Coon mix that still has some of the breed's distinctive characteristics.

While telling exactly which breeds your cat is can be a little tricky, it's worth doing some investigative work to better understand your feline's background and what that might mean for the care he needs during his life.
Where do Maine Coon cats come from?
You may have heard that the Maine Coon Cate originated from a fantastical cross between a feline and a raccoon. Of course, this didn't really happen, but it could be where they get the name. (Another option, from a ship's captain who brought the first of these kitties ashore.)

Read more
There’s a totally normal reason cats throw up after eating grass – here’s why
Learn about this cat behavior and if there's cause for concern
Calico cat lying on its back in a grassy yard

If your cat throws up after eating grass, there's probably no reason to be concerned. Eating grass is a natural behavior for most cats, and throwing up after eating that grass also is pretty common. There are physical reasons for why your cat throws up grass, and aside from dealing with the inconvenience of having to clean up cat vomit in the house, this behavior usually isn't a problem.

But excessive vomiting and unusual grass consumption can be a cause for concern. If your cat likes to munch grass, then it's best to familiarize yourself with what's normal and what might be a reason to worry.

Read more
When do kittens start eating food? Know the facts for your fur baby’s health
Consider this your guide to weaning kittens from milk or formula to solids
a white kitten with blue eyes in a cat tree

By the time you usually bring home a brand-new kitten at eight to nine weeks old, they’ve already gone through a significant transition: being weaned from milk to solid foods. However, you may find yourself in the trenches of new kitten parenthood at an even earlier stage. If you are fostering a kitten or have found a newborn, you have likely been bottle-feeding them milk or watching their mother nurse.
In these cases, you may wonder, “When do kittens start eating food?” Weaning is usually a natural process, particularly if the Mom is involved. If you’re bottle-feeding, the process may be a bit trickier, and you may have to help lead it. Regardless of your situation, understanding what to expect can help you know when to have kibble and water on hand as a kitten gets ready to wean. Consider this your guide.

When do kittens start eating food and drinking water?
The weaning process involves going from the mother’s milk to kibble and water, which is what a kitten will eat and drink in some form for the rest of their life. If the mother cat is around, she’ll know when the time is right to start weaning, and it’s best not to interfere.
Generally, kittens will start to be ready to take small tastes of solid foods and water at around three to four weeks. The food and water are complimentary at this young age, so don’t worry too much if they play with it more than they eat it. They’re still getting most of their nutrition from Mom or a formula in a bottle.

Read more