Can Cats Eat Tomatoes? Are They Safe?

Have you ever made a salad or sauce from chopped tomatoes and found your cat curious to try them? Before giving into them you should know if, can cats eat tomatoes?

Ripe tomatoes are listed as non-toxic, and your cat could even benefit from them. How you might ask?

Well, Let’s find out below!

Can Cats Eat Tomatoes? 

The short answer is yes, ripe tomatoes, whether raw or cooked are listed as non-toxic to cats by the ASPCA. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find traces of tomato in many commercial cat foods.  

If you do decide to let your kitty eat a slice of tomato make sure it’s washed well and ripe. Unripe tomatoes can pose a real threat to our cats. 

Can Tomatoes Be Toxic For Cats?

Yes, unripe tomatoes contain a toxic glycoalkaloid poison called solanine. The glycoalkaloid solanine can be found in species of the nightshade family, such as potato plants (Solanum tuberosum), tomato (Solanum Lycopersicum), and eggplant (Solanum melongena). 

These toxins can be found in any part of the plant, including leaves, fruits, and tubers. 

Toxins like alpha-tomatine are also present in green tomatoes as well as solanine.

You should not let your cat eat the stems and leaves of tomato plants.

Tomato plants pose significant health risks to cats and can very well lead to gastrointestinal complications, among other issues. 

If your cat tries to eat the leaves or tops of a tomato plant, you should intervene immediately.

The good news is that tomato plant poisoning doesn’t usually result in death however, your cat will likely experience some uncomfortable symptoms.

Here are some common symptoms you may notice if your cat has eaten your tomato plants.

  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow heart rate 
  • Salivating excessively
  • Major gastrointestinal issues

What Happens If Cats Eat Tomatoes? 

If your cat eats only a small amount of ripe tomato, they should be fine. Due to the presence of lycopene, tomatoes are rich in antioxidants that promote good health, and can also help maintain a healthy weight.

Since tomatoes are 90% water, they could help your cat stay hydrated even if they are not a complete water replacement. 

However, if your cat ingests an unripe tomato or any part of the plant it’s a different story. 

You can expect your cat to suffer visible signs of illness if they ingest leaves or stems of tomatoes. The most common ones being stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Other symptoms may include excessive salivation, a slow heart rate, drowsiness, lack of appetite, physical weakness, enlarged (dilated) pupils, and of course, behavioral changes.

If you notice your cat has eaten either the leaves or stems of a tomato plant, you should get them to the vet right away, even if they haven’t yet displayed any negative symptoms. 

Whenever possible, it helps to bring a sample from the plant along with you to get an accurate diagnosis.

Are Cooked Tomatoes Safer?

Contrary to popular belief, no. The alkaloids found in tomatoes, like solanidine, are not destroyed by high temperatures or cooking. 

What cooking does is destroy the enzymes that empower alkaloids to increase in number, but not destroy the actual poison.

That isn’t to say that your cat shouldn’t eat cooked tomatoes, though. To cause any horrific consequences, such as death, a large amount of these poisons is needed. Rather than being metabolized, most of it is excreted in urine and feces.

So, unless your cat has a tomato allergy, it can eat cooked tomatoes as long as the tomatoes you used in the cooking were ripe red ones and not green.

Cats May Be Allergic to Tomatoes

As humans may be allergic to tomatoes, cats may be as well. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all food for cats, it is advised to keep an eye out for any red flags of an allergy to tomatoes and to keep tomatoes out of reach.

Some of the most visible signs of an allergic reaction are irritability, runny eyes, itchy skin with scratching, tremors, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and nausea. 

As a pet owner, you should avoid tomatoes if your cat displays any of these signs. It’s not unusual for the reactions to escalate over time, causing more discomfort for your little friend. 

Can Cats Eat Tomato Sauce?

Commercial tomato sauces contain ripe tomatoes in addition to other basic ingredients that cats can consume, but they are also likely to contain a great deal of salt. 

That large amount can potentially cause sodium ion poisoning in your furry friend, along with excessive thirst and urination. 

It’s also worth mentioning that the same concept applies to ketchup, because, in addition to the salt, it also contains onions and garlic.

Onions and garlic are poisonous to cats (with garlic being around 5 times more toxic than onions), leading to anemia, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and more.

So, unless you’ve made the tomato sauce yourself and know exactly what you put it in, you should avoid tomato sauce or ketchup.

Are Tomato Plants Toxic For Cats?

If it wasn’t already obvious, yes, tomato plants are toxic to cats. 

If you know your cat loves chewing on grass and plants and if you intend to grow a tomato plant in your backyard, you must make sure it’s securely fenced. 

Symptoms of Tomato Plant Poisoning in Cats

Symptoms of tomato plant poisoning in cats are as follows: 

  • Lack of appetite 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypersalivation
  • Confusion
  • Digestive issues
  • Central nervous system depression
  • Behavioral changes
  • Physical weakness,
  • slowed heart rate
  • Dilated pupils

Treatment of Tomato Plant Poisoning in Cats

Treating tomato plant poisoning in cats all depends on the visible symptoms. To make a proper diagnosis, the vet will examine your furry friend’s mouth and lips for signs of irritation. 

They will then take a blood sample to run a blood count and chemistry panel and collect a urine sample to test the kidney functions.

In some cases, if you know that your cat ingested a large quantity of your tomato plant, the vet may run ECG tests, along with fecal and vomitus samples. Once they have the results, the treatment can begin.

To neutralize the effect of any toxic content, they’ll use activated charcoal. Since large tomato ingestions may cause convulsions for your cat, it’s not abnormal for your vet to prescribe diazepam.

If your cat’s breathing is affected, supplemental oxygen may be vital to restoring your cat back to normal. Similarly, if they’re experiencing any cardiac symptoms, a vasopressor may be used to resolve the issue.

Since most cats also become dehydrated because of tomato poisoning, the vet will also offer electrolyte and fluid replacements with intravenous injections.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pasta Sauce Toxic to Cats? 

Tomato pasta sauce is too acidic for cats. It usually contains high quantities of garlic, onion, or salt, which are all toxic to cats. It can cause anemia, damage red blood cells, induce vomiting, and cause diarrhea. 

Therefore, it isn’t a good idea to share your spaghetti with your furry friend unless it’s in its raw form with only flour, water, and eggs.

Can Cats Eat Cherry Tomatoes? 

Not at all. Cherry tomatoes, like unripe tomatoes, cause a severe gastrointestinal upset, making them toxic for cats. 

There are even many references to a statement that goes, “even one cherry tomato can be toxic”, so it’s best to steer clear of cherry tomatoes, even if they seem too tiny to lead to poisoning – because they’re capable of it!

Can Cats Eat Tomato Soup? 

Tomato soup should be fine for cats however, it’s recommended only on occasion and in small amounts. It can cause gastrointestinal issues if consumed in large quantities.