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Can Cats Eat Tomatoes or Are They Poisonous?

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can cats eat tomatoes

If you’re a cat lover who’s grown a crop of plump red tomatoes, you may find yourself wondering can cats eat tomatoes?

In short, no. Cats shouldn’t eat tomatoes because cats and tomatoes don’t quite mix.

But is it true that all things tomato really bad for cats? And if so, why are tomatoes in some cat food!?

In this juicy article, we’ll be covering:

  • Are all tomatoes bad for cats?
  • Can cats eat tomatoes?
  • Can cats be allergic to tomatoes?
  • What tomato products are harmful to cats
  • Can cats eat vegetables?
  • When are tomatoes toxic to cats?
  • Treatment for tomato poisoning in cats

And more!

Can cats eat tomatoes?

While cats can eat ripe tomatoes, the short answer is, no. Ripe tomato fruits aren’t toxic to cats. However, there are certain compounds in tomato plants that can cause serious health complications. This includes the tomato vines, stems, tomato leaves, and roots.

Can cats be allergic to tomatoes?

Yes, cats can be allergic to tomatoes. But, it’s more likely that they’ll be sensitive to the tomato fruit rather than have a full allergic, or toxic reaction to it.

This is because ripe tomatoes are acidic. This can be hard on your kitty’s digestive system and can lead to an upset stomach and gastrointestinal complications. Even an unripe tomato or green tomato has enough acidity to upset a cat’s stomach!

It’s hard to say definitively if all cats will have difficulty digesting tomatoes. Many factors come into play, including your cat’s age, breed, and if they have any pre-existing or chronic health conditions.

can cats eat tomato sauce

Can cats eat raw tomatoes?

Cats can eat ripe, raw tomatoes because they’re technically non-toxic to cats.

But, it’s best to avoid giving your cats any kind of tomato.

Because of their high acidity, raw tomatoes can cause tummy troubles in some cats, even if they don’t experience stomach upset with other foods.

Can cats eat tomato sauce?

No, cats can’t eat tomato sauce. As tempting as it may be to share a plate of pasta slathered in your Nonna’s spaghetti sauce, your family recipe may spell sudden death (eek!) for your kitty companion. Here’s why.

Pasta sauce has ingredients toxic to cats

Pasta sauce is often made with salt, onion, garlic, and Italian herbs like oregano and marjoram. These ingredients are poisonous to cats. They can cause symptoms ranging from mild vomiting and diarrhea to a life-threatening high heart rate, red blood cell destruction, and lethargy.

Tomato sauce can cause sodium ion poisoning

Cats need very little sodium, which makes the high salt content in tomato sauce deadly to cats.

A mere 2 grams of salt is powerful enough to cause sodium ion poisoning.

Symptoms of sodium ion poisoning usually show up within three hours of ingestion. They include seizures, body tremors, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and disorientation. Without immediate treatment, sodium ion poisoning is fatal.

What tomato products are harmful to cats?

Along with avoiding tomato sauces and marinara sauces, you’ll also want to skip these human foods and drinks:

  • Ketchup
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetable juice
  • Tomato soup

Many of these food products contain cat food ingredients you’ll want to avoid like garlic, salt, onion powder, sugars, and herbs, which could seriously harm your kitty.

Can cats eat vegetables?

Cats can eat some vegetables, but they’re not essential for your cat’s health.

Here’s why. From the mighty maned lions prowling around the African savanna to the domesticated tabbies in our living rooms, all cats have one thing in common: they’re obligate carnivores.

Obligate carnivores don’t have the enzymes to break down nutrients from vegetables. They rely on meat and animal protein in their diet to get the nutrients they need like arginine, taurine, and vitamin A.

Even though cats can eat veggies they don’t need them. For a list of quality meat-based cat foods, check out “High Protein Cat Food.”

Are tomatoes in cat food?

Sometimes there are tomatoes in cat food, but not how you’d expect.

If you’ve ever browsed the list of ingredients on holistic cat foods, especially crunchy kibble and dry cat food, chances are you’ve come across something called tomato pomace. (Not to be confused with tomato paste).

Commercial cat food manufacturers often include this tomato-derived ingredient in their recipes. But why? And what does it do?

What is tomato pomace?

Tomato pomace is a natural byproduct of tomatoes. Usually from tomatoes that are used to make ketchup, soup, and juice.

This ingredient is highly processed and added to cat food in tiny amounts making it different (and safer) than feeding your cat raw tomatoes.

Tomato pomace is a ground mixture of tomato skin and seeds. This humble ingredient is full of fiber, vitamin A and antioxidants.

Added dietary fiber can reduce constipation and can increase feelings of fullness, especially in cats who are overweight and on weight loss plans that include low-carb cat foods.

can cats have tomatoes

When are tomatoes toxic to cats?

Tomatoes are most toxic to cats when they’re unripe and part of a whole tomato plant.

According to the ASPCA, the entire tomato plant, including the leaves, stems, and roots, can make your cat sick. Tomato plants contain the natural chemicals tomatine, solanine, and alpha-tomatine which can cause poisoning and even death in cats.

Only the ripe tomato fruit (not the unripe green tomatoes) is safe for cats.

Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family. This includes other plants that are toxic to cats such as garlic, onions, and eggplant.

Treatment for tomato poisoning in cats

If you suspect your cat shows signs of tomato poisoning, the best treatment is to seek help from your vet immediately.

Symptoms of tomato poisoning in cats

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Diarrhea and stomach issues
  • Slow heart rate

You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Helpline at 888-426-4435 or go to an emergency veterinarian clinic like a VCA Hospital if your vet is unavailable. Try to call ahead if you can, so the vets will be prepared to best help your kitty!

Once you’ve reached the hospital or clinic, the veterinarian may induce vomiting to purge the toxic tomato plant from your kitty’s system.

Depending on how severe the poisoning is, your cat could need additional treatment and to stay overnight for observation.

Key points on can cats eat tomatoes

As tempting as it may be to share a bowl of cherry tomatoes with your kitty, there are too many risks that can come from cats eating this fruit.

The high acidity of tomatoes can irritate your cat’s stomach and digestive system, and the entire tomato plant as a whole is toxic and even deadly to cats.

If you want to share a homegrown treat that your kitty will love to eat and will get health benefits from, forget tomatoes. Grow a big pot of catnip or cat grass instead! For instructions, read our “Cat Grass” article.

Victoria Tomis
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