Blueberries have long been praised as a superfood as they’re one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Sour or sweet, this deep purple, juicy fruit is always craved by health enthusiasts around the world.
Blueberries are delicious, thrown on top of yoghurt or in blueberry pancakes, and provide substantial health benefits to humans. But do they benefit your cats in the same way? Earlier on we covered ‘Can Cats Eat Strawberries?’ Now, can cats eat blueberries, to begin with? Let’s find out.
Are Blueberries Safe For Cats?
The short answer is yes. Cats can have blueberries as they don’t contain anything toxic to them. They have high water content as well as other nutrients that potentially benefit your cats. Some commercial cat foods even contain blueberry powder in them.
But it’s always best to take precautions and only allow your cats to eat blueberries as an occasional treat. Too much can bring more harm than good. For more details, go on and discover the pros and cons of blueberries to your furry friends.
Are Blueberries OK for Cats? The Health Benefits
1. Thirst Quencher
Did you know that blueberries hold 85% water? Evolving from animals that used to live in the desert, your domestic cats usually don’t drink water as much as they should. So, blueberries are perfect for encouraging their fluid intake, especially if your cats show signs of constipation or dehydration. This way, chronic health problems, such as kidney disease and urinary tract infection, can be prevented down the road.
2. Tummy Aid
Fibres are essential for your cats and should be incorporated into their diet. However, some commercial cat foods don’t really have enough content of this nutrient. Your cats are at risk of frequent constipation if they don’t consume sufficient fibre. Blueberries, being high in dietary fibre, are also an excellent remedy to keep their digestive tract on the move.
Additionally, you can give your cats some blueberries dipped in plain yoghurt for an extra digestive boost. Plain yoghurt contains probiotics that are good for your cats’ intestines. These good bacteria help restore the gut flora and increase the level of immune cells in the intestinal mucous membranes. Simultaneously, the dietary fibres in blueberries serve as a prebiotic that fertilize those gut-friendly bacterias.
3. Immune Booster
Aside from water and dietary fibre, blueberries are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. Vitamin C can protect your cats against cancer and viral infections. This excellent antioxidant cleanses toxins from their blood and tissues, thus helping your cats combat harmful bacteria and deadly viruses. This vitamin can also slow down your cats’ ageing process.
Vitamin K is fat-soluble and contributes to healthy blood functions. It’s responsible for the activity of some blood proteins, thus affecting inflammatory and immunity responses mainly mediated by T cells or lymphocytes.
Lack of Vitamin K? What are the consequences?
Also, without vitamin K, the blood cannot clot, and your cats can suffer from bleeding into the skin, in the digestive tract and nasal passages as well as cerebral haemorrhage. These issues can ultimately lead to anaemia.
Next, manganese ensures quality bone and cartilage for your cats. It also facilitates the mitochondria function in which the nutrients from the cell are broken down and turned into energy.
Another powerful antioxidant contained in blueberries is a flavonoid called anthocyanin. Aside from making the blueberries deep purple, these natural compounds act as natural anti-inflammatory agents for your hyperactive as well as senior cats. Besides that, anthocyanin can also promote good urinary tract health and memory function and ensure healthy ageing.
But that’s not all! This flavonoid has one more crucial benefit to your cats. And what is that?
Cancer Growth Inhibitor
Cancer prevention! Anthocyanin lowers the possibility that your cats will develop cancer. It has been shown to suppress the formation of new blood vessels, scientifically known as angiogenesis. While it’s a normal part of growth and healing, angiogenesis also plays a crucial role in cancer development.
Like other body cells, a tumour needs oxygen and nutrients to fuel its growth and spread. Obviously, these ingredients are in the blood. So, it sends chemical signals to stimulate blood vessel growth. And these blood vessels eventually bring blood to the malignant tumour. So, anthocyanin technically blocks the oxygen and nutrients from a tumour and starves it.
Vitamin K in blueberries kills cancer
The anti-cancer property of blueberries is also associated with their vitamin K content. Unlike healthy cells, the cancer cells don’t usually die after cell division. Thankfully, Vitamin K promotes apoptosis, which means that it can induce cancer cell death.
Can blueberries kill cats? The Dangers
1. Pesticide Residues
Pesticides are commonly used in agricultural farms to kill unwanted living things, especially pests and weeds. Their residues, however, may cling to the crops, including blueberries. Many of the dangers related to pesticides found on this fruit are only temporary. But some are associated with cancer, neurological disorders, developmental ailments and other permanent adverse health effects. Therefore, be sure to rinse the blueberries thoroughly before consuming or feeding them to your cats.
2. Choking Hazard
Fresh or frozen, blueberries are the perfect snack for your cats. But you might want to mash them with a fork beforehand. This way, it will not only keep your cats from rolling them around all over the floor but also prevent choking. Although it’s a rare occurrence in cats, you should still watch your cats for symptoms such as pawing at the mouth, drooling, coughing, gagging or laboured breathing.
Final Thoughts: Can cats eat blueberries?
Blueberries are a superfood for humans and cats. They contain a lot of water and fibres, which are good for the gut. Blueberries also have superior immune-boosting properties, thanks to all the powerful antioxidants they provide. Vitamin C, especially, helps protect against viral infections which can be fatal to your cats. They’re also rich in anthocyanin and vitamin K, making them one of the notable anti-cancer fruits.
All in all, it’s okay if your cats occasionally enjoy snacking on blueberries. But you might want to wash the fruit thoroughly to remove all the pesticide residues and squish them down beforehand to prevent your cats from choking.