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…
What you need to know about crating a cat at night
Tips to make introducing your cat to a crate easier for you both
Kitten in a crate

In most cases, your cat probably roams around the house at night. They might visit you in bed, hunt for any bugs that have gotten into your home, or try to start a game of tag with your dog or other cat. But sometimes it's necessary to restrict your cat's movement.
Crating a cat at night can help with injury recovery, can aid in litter box training, and might even be necessary to help keep your cat safe. If you're considering crating your cat, you'll need to be prepared with the right type of crate and introduce it carefully to help your cat learn to accept it. Crating a cat isn't always easy, but these tips can better your chances of success.

Reasons for crating a cat
There are a number of situations where it can be helpful to crate your cat. Some are temporary, while others may be long-term solutions, such as when your cat disrupts your sleep.

Read more
This video of a confused kitty discovering a cat water fountain is adorable
Your feline might actually prefer a cat water fountain if you can teach her how to use it
A tiny gray kitten drinks from a ceramic plate

Humans see water fountains just about every day, but that doesn't mean our pets understand them. In the wild, most animals probably drink running water but are unlikely to approach a waterfall for their liquid needs (and let's not forget, many of our pets' undomesticated counterparts get most of their hydration needs from food). But what happens when a kitten does discover a cat water fountain and wants to take a sip? This baby cat shows us in a video entitled "She can play for a day."

It opens with a tiny gray kitten putting her little paws up to an equally tiny water fountain. She spends some seconds examining it before diving in to attempt a drink only to be surprised by the splashiness. So kitten takes a different approach: standing up on the edges of the fountain to get at the water from the top. Kitty gets in a few licks until her paw winds up in the water — needless to say, the little fuzzball does not like that. The video ends with the gray cat shaking off her now slightly damp paws and giving up (we suspect she has a real water dish somewhere else).

Read more
Why doesn’t my cat meow? Here are 5 reasons why your feline friend is silent
Physical and mental reasons why a cat suddenly stops meowing
Bengal cat lying down, looking at the camera

It's not exactly news that cats communicate with humans by meowing, In fact, you may have already learned to recognize what each of your cat's meows means. If your cat stops meowing, though, you might have a problem.
Some causes of this odd change are normal and harmless -- and some will even resolve quickly -- but there are also potential causes that can be much more serious. This is why it's important to get your vet involved early on. If you're wondering "why doesn't my cat meow?" you'll want to get to the bottom of the issue to determine whether your cat needs additional help.

Why doesn't my cat meow? Emotional upset could be the cause
If you think that "my cat doesn't meow," it might be because they're stressed or upset. If your cat is experiencing significant change, like having just moved into a new home, they may be staying quiet out of fear. The same is true if you've recently brought a new pet home. Your cat may be trying to avoid the new pet and any resulting fights that could occur if they meow and make noise. Alternatively, something like the loss of a companion or a recent illness could cause a kitty to feel shut down and quiet.

Read more