Are Tomatoes Bad for Cats? What Do I Do If They Eat One?

Ideal for sauces, salads and sandwiches, the tomato is a versatile fruit packed with vitamins and minerals. Considering the number of dishes tomatoes can be used in and how often hungry cats beg for food, your feline best friend is likely to munch on a tomato at some point.

The tomatoes are both toxic and non-toxic, depending on what part of the fruit or plant your cat eats. The ripe berries you put in your salad are non-toxic and safe for your cat. However, the leaves and stem of the tomato plant, as well as unripe green tomatoes, are toxic to your cat and should be avoided.

Why is the tomato plant poisonous?

green tomatoes
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Pixabay

Being part of the nightshade family, tomatoes are considered toxic simply because they are related to several other poisonous plants like belladonna. Most members of the nightshade family, including potatoes and eggplants, contain solanine in the leaves, a natural substance that protects the plant.

Although tomatoes contain solanine, they primarily contain a milder form of the toxin called tomatine. Like solanine, tomatine is toxic to cats, dogs and horses. Ripe tomatoes contain only a tiny amount of tomatoes, but green tomatoesthe stem and leaves all have a much higher concentration of the toxin.

Although it’s not recommended to let your cat eat the plant, most cats will be fine if they only nibble on a leaf. The biggest problems arise when your cat ingests a large amount of tomatoes in one sitting.

What are the symptoms of tomato plant toxicity?

Recognizing the signs of poisoning can save your cat’s life. If they ingest a large amount of tomato plants or unripe tomatoes, they can suffer from a range of symptoms, from minor upset stomachs from eating a new food to severe stomach upset .

Symptoms of tomato plant toxicity are:

  • The Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Hypersalivation
  • Loss of appetite
  • slow heartbeat

What to do if your cat eats tomatoes

sick cat lying on his bed
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Shutterstock

Cats may not be known to eat everything in sight the same way dogs do, but they can and will take a bite out of things they’re not supposed to eat. Indoor plants and plants in your vegetable garden are some examples.

If your cat has access to tomatoes or plants, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of poisoning.

In the case of ripe tomatoes, there are not many risks for your cat. The ripe fruit contains a much lower concentration of toxins than the plant itself. A piece of ripe fruit won’t hurt them, although your cat doesn’t like to eat tomatoes at all. They can only ingest a tiny amount of the plant itself. In this case, watch him carefully for the next 24 hours to make sure he does not develop serious symptoms. Most minor gastrointestinal disturbances, such as vomiting or diarrhea, usually go away on their own.

However, if your cat has ingested a large amount of the tomato plant and is showing signs of more severe symptoms or is still sick after 24 hours, contact your veterinarian.

You can also limit your cat’s access to tomato plants by using deterrents or keeping the plants in a secure greenhouse if you have one. If you buy your tomatoes, be sure to discard the vine and leaves when you’re done with them.

Conclusion

If you catch your cat eating a ripe tomato he stole from your salad, there’s nothing to worry about. Ripe tomatoes are not toxic to pets because they do not contain as many toxins as the rest of the plant. If your cat ingests green tomatoes or the leaves or stem of the tomato plant, you should watch for symptoms of toxicity.

If they show signs of hypersalivation, slow heartbeat, or severe gastrointestinal distress, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

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