Are strawberries related to catnip?!?
April 17, 2011 8:47 AM   Subscribe

One of our cats gets off on strawberries. Is this OK?

Ginny is a stray we found roaming, skinny, and quite friendly (and sans chip). She is very food-motivated, and smart enough to understand the concept of "no".

A couple weeks ago, my wife bought a quart of strawberries to put on salad, and Ginny dug the quart out of the shopping bag as we were putting groceries away, and drag the quart to the ground, whereupon it busted open. She proceeded to take one of the strawberries from the container and roll in it, rub it all over herself, and lick it.

Today, same story, if a little less frantic. We gave her a strawberry and she started rolling rubbing it over her head, and generally acting like it was better than sex (she's spayed). I swear when we finally took it away, she went out to the porch for a cigarette.

So, what gives? Is this a sign of a problem, or just a weird little thing that this weird little cat happens to do?
posted by notsnot to Pets & Animals (28 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Weird little thing. One of my cats goes crazy over smelly shoes and gingersnaps.
posted by beagle at 8:48 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this a sign of a problem, or just a weird little thing that this weird little cat happens to do?

She's a cat. Nuff said.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:49 AM on April 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


My cat goes gonzo for green olives. Black olives? No, thank you. Green? Oh yes, moar plz. Cats is cats. :)
posted by fireoyster at 8:51 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


We had a cat who just couldn't keep her paws off of baby food peas. They are alien creatures. Use it to your advantage - assuming strawberries are not bad for cats (I have no idea) indulge her little fetish.
posted by brownrd at 8:53 AM on April 17, 2011


She's a cat. Cats are weird as hell. One of my three is completely obsessed with carrots. We bring the grocery bags home, they sit on the floor while I unpack them, and she paws through the bags until she finds the one with the carrots and sits there sniffing them. If I let her have a bag of carrots, she rolls around on the floor with it, exactly as you're describing. (obligatory picture of my cat getting high on carrots.)

Sometimes I buy carrots when I don't actually need them, just because she cracks me up.

In conclusion, I repeat: Cats are weird as hell. I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by Stacey at 8:55 AM on April 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


I wonder if it has something to do with the leaves? We had a cat who behaved similarly over the leafy part of celery (rubbing, rolling, generally acting like it was catnip). Strawberries and carrots have similar leafy bits, so maybe there's something in common?
posted by parkerjackson at 8:59 AM on April 17, 2011


Cats are carnivores. Cats eat meat. Their digestive system is not capable of handling fruit and vegetables. That said, as long as you're giving the small quantities, they won't die.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:00 AM on April 17, 2011


My cat loved beer even more than me.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:02 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


My cat LOOOOOOOOVES strawberries ... but mostly only their smell. He won't eat them, just occasionally lick them and mostly sniff them in total ecstasy while rolling around with them.

We give him the tops when we hull strawberries, leaving a little extra berry on the cut bit. He's perfectly happy with that.

He's been at this 8 years with no ill effects. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:14 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of our cats treats smoked paprika like catnip! She'll ferret out the little plastic bag holding it, then rub all over it and drool.
posted by telophase at 9:15 AM on April 17, 2011


Just rattle the plastic wrapping of a slice of american cheese and our cat goes into fits of nirvana and want. Toss him any other cheese, though, and he'll simply sniff and walk away. But a piece of an american single? NomNomNomNom!!!
posted by Thorzdad at 9:21 AM on April 17, 2011


For questions like this, my go-to source is always the ASPCA Poison Control Center. Happily, strawberries are not on their list of people foods to avoid feeding your pets. Note that this list is not exhaustive-- but if you need to know about a particular plant, you can search for it specifically. I went ahead and did that for strawberries, and this entry for wild strawberry was the only hit. The wild strawberry plant is listed as non-toxic to dogs, horses, and cats, so I think you're more than safe.

Let the berry bacchanal commence!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dumsnill: "Cats are carnivores. Cats eat meat. Their digestive system is not capable of handling fruit and vegetables."

Cats' tummies are capable of processing a lot of greenery. I know this because my dear departed Zoe (sorry, no digital pics) would beg, cry, meow and plead for raw spinach. She'd eat romaine and broccoli too, but it was spinach that sent her into paroxysms of ecstasy. I checked with my vet; he shrugged and said that as long as it wasn't upsetting her stomach I could feed her as much as she liked. The same cat ate houseplants - murdered every last plant I had.

Another kitty, Einstein, had a passion for flour tortillas. With cats, there's no telling what'll blow their figurative skirts up.
posted by workerant at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cats can eat small amounts of plant matter, but they must eat meat. They know this.

We had a cat who adored mushrooms. Here is a picture of him with his head in a bag of mushrooms. (We did not stick the bag on his head. He did that his own self.)
posted by rtha at 10:10 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My cat loves mint. If anyone in my family has a pack of gum, we have to hide it from, or he'll dig it out, and try to eat it. It's just the thing you have to try to live with.
posted by catwash at 10:15 AM on April 17, 2011


It is going to be a huge problem, assuming you like to eat strawberries yourself and/or ever intend on serving them to guests without warning them they need to cover their plates in order to prevent theft.

It won't, however, hurt the cat.
posted by jeather at 10:15 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cats are carnivores. Cats eat meat. Their digestive system is not capable of handling fruit and vegetables."

Cats' tummies are capable of processing a lot of greenery.


Actually, they are not. They lack the enzymes to process most plant matter. Cats eat grass in order to help regurgitate things they can't digest- in a wild cat, this would be things like beaks and bones and feathers. In domestic cats, their diet is often full of too much weird stuff like grains and fillers. So they still crave vegetable fiber because there's lots of stuff they can't digest properly in their diets. When cats can't get access to grass, they eat houseplants and vegetables and other random stuff because they have a natural craving that is not being satisfied. So it's not really fair to say that because they eat a thing, they can process it to the extent of getting nutrition from it- passing it would be more correct.

As far as the strawberries go: well, domestic cats learn to like weird things when trying to respond to natural urges. Some get positive reinforcement from humans for doing so. It doesn't seem like strawberries are harmful, but you might want to make sure she has access to kitty grass as well.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:22 AM on April 17, 2011


This kitty steals strawberries but doesn't eat them—he'll roll around with a strawberry for a while, lick it until it is slimy and mushy, then bat it around the kitchen, leaving a trail of strawberry pulp in his wake, until someone takes it away and cleans up after him. Cats are very strange.
posted by bewilderbeast at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is very odd because cats cannot detect sweetness.
see this
posted by oonh at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2011


Any time I come in from the garden after pruning or otherwise handling the rosemary bush, Bella and Penelope act as though I've been rolling in catnip.
posted by Lexica at 11:06 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


oonh: "This is very odd because cats cannot detect sweetness.
see this"


There's much more to strawberries than just sweetness. My cat desperately loves the flavor of human elbows. Having licked other people's elbows, and detecting little, if no flavor, I'm convinced that cat flavor detection spectrum is well skewed from that of humans.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:11 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


(notsnot's wife) Ginny will not eat the strawberries, either. Just love on them and lick them, and roll around in any of their juice. After the first time she did it--the other cat came up and sniffed the strawberry carefully for a few seconds, then looked up at me, confused, and walked off. I guess I'll just have to lock her in the family room if I ever serve strawberry shortcake to company!
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 11:24 AM on April 17, 2011


Make sure to wash off the pesticides and Toxoplasmosis cysts before the cat gets the strawberries.
posted by orthogonality at 11:44 AM on April 17, 2011


My sister and I stopped for drive through cafe mochas once on the way to a craft fair. I managed to spill some of mine on my pants, but just let it dry there rather than going all the way home to change. When we got back to sis's apartment, one of her cats sniffed out the dried mocha spot of my pants and went NUTS over it, rubbing his face and then his whole body on it, drooling, etc.

So, yeah, cats is cats.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:35 PM on April 17, 2011


I remember going to a zoo, maybe the Houston Zoo, and in front of the tigers there was a list of scents the keepers put on the tiger toys to make the toys smell attractive. Strawberry was one of the scents the tigers liked.
posted by lunalaguna at 4:17 PM on April 17, 2011


My cat will eat a strawberry by licking away at it while it's being held for her, mostly because someone needs to hold it still so she can lick it. I always imagined it was because she was surrounded by strawberries as a kitten and it was something about how they smell. Now I just gotta wonder.
posted by provoliminal at 4:23 PM on April 17, 2011


My dearly departed Winston loved strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon. But mostly strawberries. He was a big guy, and he could stand on his hind legs and tap the kitchen counter with his paw. Which he did, whenever there were strawberries being cleaned.

My vet told me that it was unusual, but that so long as he didn't end up with really bad diarrhea, fruit was totally fine for him.

He lived to be 16, and strawberry yogurt was the only food he would even consider eating during the last few days of his life.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:30 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My cat just ate a pepperoni off of the slice of pizza I was holding, sooo... who knows.

He also goes crazy for ice cream.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 8:51 PM on April 17, 2011


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