can cats eat apples

Can Cats Eat Apples?

Fruit is healthy, and healthy foods are the best choices—right? So, would apples be good for cats? If so, why, and if not, why not?

Should cats eat apples? Apples aren’t poisonous to cats, and they won’t cause poor health if only fed as snacks. But there are far more suitable snacks for cats that you should consider instead. Contrary to popular belief, cats can eat and digest fruit. But apples contain far less protein and fat than cats ideally need, as well as too much sugar. Dried apples and candied apples are even worse, while apple sauce likely has added sugar too. If you are going to feed your cat apples anyway, limit portion sizes to one spoonful and feeding frequency to once a week at most.

The guide below addresses why cats shouldn’t eat apples by looking specifically at their nutritional content, and comparing it to a cat’s requirements. It finishes by making recommendations on serving sizes and alternative snacks you should consider feeding instead.

Can Cats Eat Apples?

Cats can eat apples, but they don’t make a good snack choice. That’s because they are nutritionally unfit, as we’ll see later, with specific reference both to the nutritional content of apples and the requirements of cats. They won’t cause your cat any harm fed as a rare snack, but shouldn’t be fed regularly, and certainly shouldn’t form a core part of your cat’s diet.

Do Cats Like Apples?

It’s not unheard of for a cat to eat fruit. Some cats are picky, so will only eat one kind of food, and that’s that; others eat the most random snacks like potatoes, fruits like apple and banana, cooked foods and raw foods—you name it, they’ll eat it. Your cat may very well be one of the ones that likes trying different foods, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you still feed your cat a balanced diet.

That being said, cats are like people in that they don’t always make the best decisions. Just because your cat likes to eat something, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you to feed it that. It’s similar to how a person might decide to eat fast food every day instead of making a healthier choice. But in this case, there are cat snacks that cats enjoy which are much better for them than apples, whether because they’re more nutritionally complete, lower in sugar, or offer vitamins, minerals and amino acids that your cat needs to round out its diet.

Why Shouldn’t Cats Eat Apples?

can cats eat applesIt’s one thing to say ‘cats are obligate carnivores, so shouldn’t eat apples!’ and another thing to actually prove the point. The diet of the domestic cat is misunderstood in lots of ways, so let’s dig deeper and see exactly why apples make a bad choice for cats.

Can Cats Eat Fruit?

Cats can eat fruit. They don’t do so in the wild, at least as a habit. But fruits as a category of food aren’t off limit to your pet. They aren’t the best, but they also aren’t the worst choice either.

Nutrients in Apples

The table below uses data from two sources. The first is, a website that lists the nutritional contents of common foods. The other source is the AAFCO‘s official guidelines for substantiating the nutritional adequacy of cat foods. This is where the statistics on a cat’s nutritional requirements come from, which are used for the sake of comparison.

NutrientsAmount per 100gCat RDA* per 100g
Carbohydrate14g (10g sugar)Variable**
Protein0.3g26-30g dry matter
Fat0.2g9g dry matter
*Recommended daily allowance. **Varies based on wet food vs. dry food.

As should be clear from the table above, apples are far from suitable for your cat.

Carbohydrates & Fiber in Apples

Cats have evolved to best digest animal-based foods as opposed to plant-based foods. Their digestive systems are comparatively short, and so specialize in breaking down calorifically-dense meat as opposed to plant foods. That’s why cats don’t need high levels of carbohydrates or fiber in their diets. That doesn’t mean cats can’t digest carbohydrates, just that they’re not as efficient at it. It’s a myth that cats can’t digest carbohydrates (which is why, if you’ve been paying attention, kibble is mostly made of plant-based sources and contains lots of carbs). Rather, cats simply aren’t as good at digesting plant-based foods as they are at digesting meat. Plant-based foods take a little longer to break down in to their constituent parts so that your cat can absorb their nutrients. As such, some of the nutrients in a plant-based food will be excreted without being absorbed; somewhere between 0-60% (the science isn’t exactly clear).

Apples don’t contain unusual amounts of carbohydrate or fiber for a cat. The amounts they contain fall within acceptable ranges for cat food, so this won’t pose a problem for your cat’s diet. What is slightly more concerning is the high level of pure sugar, in the form of fructose, that apples contain.

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of sugar: complex sugar and simple sugar. Complex sugars are made up of lots of simple sugars chained together. This means they have to be broken down before they can be absorbed by the body. Simple sugars, by contrast, can be absorbed very quickly. A carb-rich diet, especially a simple sugar-rich diet, can cause or worsen diabetes in cats so is best avoided. This won’t be a problem if you only give your cat a tiny amount of apple, but if you offer apple as a regular snack, it could be.

Protein & Fat in Apples

It’s when it comes to protein and fat that apples pose a nutritional problem. Protein and fat are the two most important macronutrients in your cat’s diet: carbs and fiber aren’t strictly necessary, and your cat can get its water from drinking rather than eating. As such, protein and fat should always be the first things you look for in a cat food.

Protein is especially important. Cats need lots of it because while they look sleek and svelte on the outside, cats have the bodies of predators, meaning lots of muscle. There’s also the fact that cats need certain amino acids—the building blocks of protein—that they can’t make in their own bodies, while we can. These are arachidonic acid and taurine, and your cat needs to get these in its diet or it could experience health issues like blindness. Apples contain next-to-no protein at just 0.3g per 100g of apple, while cats need 26-30g of dry matter protein per 100g of food. Apples therefore fall well short of providing your cat with what it needs.

Cats also need quite a bit of fat in their diets. Fat provides energy that’s easy to digest, so forms a cornerstone of a wild cat’s diet. While pet cats can and do eat lots of carbs, fat still forms an important part of their diets. Again, apples have nowhere near enough, at just 0.2g per 100g (with 9g or so being ideal).

Again, this isn’t a major issue if you’re only feeding your cat a tiny amount of apple. But if you want your cat to be in its best health, as all owners should, then you should feed it more nutritionally suitable snacks instead.

Water in Apples

Apples contain lots and lots of water: around 85g per 100g of apple is water. That’s a little more than cats are used to in their food, because most meats are around 60-65% water. This won’t cause your cat digestive problems unless you feed it lots and lots of apple in one go, which might make your cat’s stool softer than normal. That would be because of the stool’s higher water content. This isn’t an issue if you feed your cat a tiny sliver of apple one time, though.

Calories in Apples

The calories that apples contain aren’t a major issue for your cat. That’s because of the apple’s high water content. The water dilutes the food, giving it more mass, which means that it’s less calorically dense. Plus, even if apples were calorie dense, that wouldn’t be a problem. That’s because cats are adapted to eating meat, which is very calorie dense. This means that feeding your cat apples won’t make it gain weight. Theoretically, they could, if your cat ate enough calories in its food to maintain its weight and then added the calories of the apple on top; but in reality, your cat would eat slightly less food in its regular meals to make room. So, in short, this isn’t a problem.

As should be clear, feeding your cat a small amount of apple won’t hurt it, poison it or quickly make it overweight. But there are far, far better snacks out there that you can feed to your cat—any kind of unprocessed meat would be a better choice. These snacks meet your cat’s nutritional needs in ways that apples don’t, and cats love them, so there’s no reason to feed your pet any kind of fruit.

Vitamins & Minerals in Apples

Apples are known for their vitamin and mineral content. That’s probably the main reason why people think they’re a healthy snack. Here’s another table, again with data from, detailing the vitamins and minerals apples contain large amounts of:

Vitamin/MineralAmount per 100g
Vitamin B60.041mg
Vitamin C4.6mg
Vitamin K2.2mcg (micrograms)

Probably the standout micronutrient in that table is vitamin C: easily the most famous vitamin! It’s well known that vitamin C is vital to the human diet, and that without it, you’ll experience the ill-effects of scurvy. But as it happens, cats don’t need vitamin C in the same way that we do.

Cats can synthesize vitamin C in their bodies. That means they can make their own without having to get it from their diets. In fact, primates and guinea pigs are the only animals that can’t synthesize their own vitamin C. Putting vitamin C in your cat’s diet won’t hurt it, of course, but it also isn’t necessary.

This doesn’t apply to all vitamins and minerals. Cats can’t create their own calcium, for example! But as for other micronutrients, your cat should be getting these from its regular diet anyway. A complete cat food contains everything your cat needs in one can or one box. It’s possible to find complete cat foods that are raw, wet, dried, organic or even plant-based, so there really is no excuse for not feeding your cat one; and if you do, supplementing your cat with certain vitamins in its snacks is unnecessary. If you think your cat is deficient in something, talk to your vet and ask them about complete foods and supplements.

Are Apples Poisonous to Cats?

can cats eat applesApples are not poisonous to cats. What you do have to watch out for, though, are that the stalks, leaves and seeds of an apple contain cyanide. The seeds contain the most, which is why it’s advised for you not to eat them. In truth, you would have to grind them down and eat quite a few to cause yourself real harm, but it’s best not to play with poisons!

The problem is that cats are much smaller than we are. As such, it takes far less of a particular poison to harm a cat than to harm a person. You should therefore be careful if you are going to feed your cat apple not to feed it any stalks, leaves or seeds too.

Can Cats Eat Apple Sauce?

Apple sauce wouldn’t be a good choice for your pet. That’s because it often has added sugars that make the overall nutritional composition of the food even more imbalanced. Considering that apples already have a little too much simple sugar for your cat, adding more in wouldn’t be a good idea.

Can Cats Eat Dried Apple or Candied Apple?

Dried apple would be a worse choice than regular apple. That’s because the water content dilutes the sugar content of an apple. If the water is taken away, almost all that’s left are fiber that your cat can’t digest and simple sugars that your cat doesn’t need. This means that your cat would only need to eat a small amount of dried apple to get lots of sugar in its system. You shouldn’t feed your cat foods that are high in sugar because they a) make your cat gain weight, and b) can encourage the development of, or worsen the progress of, diabetes.

Candied apple would be the worst choice of them all. Candied fruit is made by cooking fruit in syrup. This evaporates the moisture from within the fruit and replaces it with sugar. So, if dried apple is too high in sugar, imagine how bad candied apple would be!

How Much Apple Can Cats Eat?

Ideally, you shouldn’t feed your cat any apple for the reasons described above. In short, apple isn’t nutritionally appropriate for cats. It contains too much sugar and not enough protein or fat. And since there are snacks which are nutritionally suitable, and which your cat will enjoy just as much if not more, you should feed these instead.

If your cat goes crazy for apples despite all that, and you’re intent on feeding your cat apples despite the facts above, they won’t hurt in small doses. A spoonful of apple in small pieces will be safe for your cat to eat.

How Often Can Cats Eat Apples?

Again, you should ideally limit the amount of apple you’re going to feed your cat. Another way of doing that is by only feeding it very infrequently. This will stop the high sugar content of the apple from having much effect on your cat’s weight and health. Once a week would be fine, and still in the limited portion sizes described above.

Should Cats Eat Apples?

Overall: no. There are better snack choices out there than fruit that your cat will love. Any snack made from meat would be a good choice, and the less processed the meat, the better. While your cat should get all the nutrients it needs from its regular diet, providing snacks that also provide these nutrients is a good idea. That’s because cats can eat so many snacks that they end up neglecting their food. If you were feeding apples as a snack, this could gradually cause nutritional insufficiency, while nutritionally suitable snacks wouldn’t do that.