Over the holiday season, you may find yourself topping your turkey with delicious cranberry sauce and wondering, “If I can eat cranberries, can my cat safely eat them too?” Well, you are in luck because these berries may have some SWEET benefits for your pet.
Cranberries are a great source of the antioxidant vitamins C and E, dietary fiber, vitamin K, and manganese. They also provide a natural source of polyphenols and proanthocyanins, which play a role in supporting urinary tract health.
Supporting Urinary Tract Health
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria manage to sneak their way in and travel up the urethra and sometimes all the way into the bladder.
Once bacteria establish themselves in the urinary tract they grow and reproduce until the urine is no longer sterile, causing the UTI. This can lead to bladder stones, which will make your pet more susceptible to additional health issues.
So, where do cranberries come in? The high level of antioxidant proanthocyanins in this small, red, round fruit contributes to its role in helping prevent urinary tract infections. Proanthocyanins discourage bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls, allowing bacteria to be flushed out during urination and preventing infection.1
Cranberries cannot be used to cure a urinary tract infection that is already present in your dog or cat. However, using cranberries regularly may help to support urinary tract health and prevent future infections or reinfections. This ultimately ensures that your pet stays happy and healthy.
Remember, if your cat is actively experiencing a urinary tract infection or other issues, it is important to seek veterinary attention.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules that combat pesky free radicals in the body. Free radicals are natural compounds that are formed by normal body processes. However, they can cause harm if their levels become too high promoting inflammation and cell damage. Due to these negative effects, they can also contribute to many chronic health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.2
Antioxidants that are found in cranberries can help fight inflammation and oxidative stress, increasing your pet’s overall immune system function and keeping them safe from various diseases.
Cranberries are also a great source of polyphenols. Polyphenols are beneficial compounds only found in plants. Along with antioxidants, polyphenols can protect the body’s tissues against oxidative stress and associated pathologies such as inflammation, heart disease, and cancers.3
An Added Benefit: Fiber!
The skin of the cranberry is a great source of fiber – this fiber can provide bulk to move food through the digestive tract, promoting digestive health. Fiber can also contribute to satiety, making your pet feel fuller and has been studied for its potential in preventing obesity and supporting weight management.4
How to safely give cranberries to cats
Can cats eat raw cranberries? Technically, yes – however, your furry friend may not
love the texture of this uncommon treat. You may want to say way from juices, as, without the berry skin, your cat won’t receive the same number of benefits from the polyphenols, vitamins, and fiber. Juices often have added sugars which are not beneficial.
One of the easiest ways to give your pet cranberries? Pick a complete and balanced diet that includes cranberries as an ingredient to help complement their overall nutrition!
For example, our GO! SOLUTIONS CARNIVORE Grain-Free Minced Lamb + Wild Boar wet food recipe for cats is a complete and balanced diet that includes cranberries and all their benefits.
How much can cats eat per day?
No set limit has currently been established for safe daily consumption for pets. A general rule of thumb is that cranberries should be considered a treat. This means that you should not give your pet cranberries at more than 10% of their daily intake. If you are considering cranberries as a functional supplement for a health concern in your pet, you should consult your veterinarian.
Hisano, M., Bruschini, H., Nicodemo, A., & Srougi, M. (2012). Cranberries and Lower Urinary Tract Infection Prevention. Clinics, 67(6), 661-667. doi:10.6061/clinics/2012(06)18
Phaniendra, A., Jestadi, D. B., & Periyasamy, L. (2014). Free radicals: Properties, sources, targets, and their implication in various diseases. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry,30(1), 11-26. doi:10.1007/s12291-014-0446-0
Hussain, T., Tan, B., Yin, Y., Blachier, F., Tossou, M. C., & Rahu, N. (2016). Oxidative stress and inflammation: What polyphenols can do for us? Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2016, 1-9. doi:10.1155/2016/7432797
Slavin, J. L. (2005). Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition, 21(3), 411-418. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2004.08.018