Updated - May 12th, 2022
Watermelon is rich in antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, vitamins C, B6, and A. It’s also packed with lycopene and high fiber. In fact, the USDA considers it a superfood. Watermelon is 92 percent water, making it a superb choice for hydration on a scorching day. The high nutritional value of watermelon makes it a safe snack choice for both you and your cat.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the health benefits of watermelon. Then we’ll look at whether there is any nutritional benefit in offering your cat watermelon.
Nutritional benefits of watermelon
This common summer favorite for us humans packs some powerful nutritional benefits.
- Moisture: A high water content (94%) helps with hydration, an important consideration on hot summer days when your cat may not drink enough water.
- Antioxidants: Repairs cells damaged from environmental stresses put on our bodies and that of our cats. Think of them as the oxidation soldiers seeking damaged cells and saving them from decay that breaks down our cat’s bodies as they age.
- Lycopene: It’s what contributes to the beautiful red color in watermelon and tomatoes. It’s also beneficial for cancer prevention and supporting vision.
- Potassium: Supports healthy kidney and heart function, promotes healthy bone density, regulates fluid levels, and helps muscle development.
- Vitamin C: Another powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation.
- Fiber: Keeps food moving through the intestinal tract to avoid hairballs, helps resolve diarrhea, and reduces the risk of intestinal blockages.
- Vitamin A: Supports proper function and quality of skin, coat, muscles, and nerves.
- Vitamin B6: A critical co-enzyme for brain and body functions regulating fluid balance, building proteins, regulating hormones, and supporting neurotransmitters in your cat’s body.
A cat’s dietary needs differ from ours
Although watermelon is safe for cats to consume, the question is will your cat eat it, and should your cat eat it?
Cats are obligate carnivores. A cat’s diet requires higher protein levels (fatty acids provided by animal meats) than most carnivores. They simply don’t share our human nutritional dietary requirements as their bodies can’t digest all the carbohydrates and sugars found in human foods.
Cats like mine who want the chance to taste food like watermelon, can eat a small piece of the sweet fruit. Most of the time, your cat will drop it unceremoniously on the floor and walk away. If your cat eats it, it won’t do any harm and may provide some small nutritional benefit. But mostly, your cat won’t benefit from the nutrients in the fruit and really doesn’t need them if you provide a balanced, appropriate cat food diet. Cat treats that provide the nutrients appropriate for cats may be a better choice.
Offering watermelon to your cat
Because of the high sugar content in watermelon, we should only offer it to our cats occasionally and in tiny quantities. Too much can cause gastrointestinal upsets like vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
Kittens have under-developed digestive and immune systems, so use extreme caution if you feed watermelon to them. It’s always best to speak to your veterinarian prior to offering any new food to your cat or kitten.
The flesh of the watermelon is the edible portion, not the watermelon rind or the seeds. The rind is too hard for your cat to digest and could cause a choking hazard or blockages (most cats don’t chew their food).
Watermelon seeds are very similar to apple seeds, meaning they contain cyanide. One or two seeds won’t do us humans any harm, but our cats have much smaller bodies, so can become quite ill from the seeds. Even seedless watermelons have seeds that your cat doesn’t need.
Frozen watermelon, minus the seeds and rind, is fine for your cat if offered in small amounts as well. A blended-up, frozen watermelon cube may be a great way to offer your kitty some extra hydration during the summer months.
Is watermelon safe for diabetic cats?
The short answer is watermelon is safe for a healthy cat, but not for diabetic cats. The natural sugars in watermelon can lead to obesity, weight gain, and diabetes. If your feline friend has diabetes, it is never a good idea to offer fruits with high sugar content to them. Lower sugar fruits like blueberries are a better choice when your cat wants fruit as a healthy treat.
Signs of feline diabetes are:
- Increased thirst and urination
- Lack of appetite
- Inability to jump
In conclusion, watermelon is safe to feed your cat, but only in small quantities because it has too many carbohydrates (which turn into sugar) for their digestive system. Most cats do very well on a regular feline diet designed to meet the dietary needs of an obligate carnivore.
However, if your cat is like mine and feels the need to be included at snack time, a small piece of watermelon won’t hurt, but your cat probably won’t eat it. And before you offer your purring friend a taste of human food, make sure you double-check with your vet to make sure it causes no hazards.