Olives are amazing fruits with incredible health benefits. They are the basis of the world famous Mediterranean cuisine and definitely one of the healthiest oils for people. Whenever I open a jar of olives, my cats Tzatziki and Ouzo take the scent start running wherever I am. Well, as the names suggest, they are Mediterranean and it is only appropriate that they like olives but is it safe for them? Can cats eat olives?
The short answer to the question “can cats eat olives” is yes, they can. Neither black olives nor green olives are toxic to cats but there are some very important issues to consider before giving olives to your cat. Not toxic does not mean they don’t have health hazards.
Are Olives Safe For Cats?
As mentioned earlier, olives are not toxic to cats but that also depends on how olives are prepared. Both green olives and black olives (which are actually the same fruit harvested on different ripeness times) are cured after the harvest to remove the bitterness and bring their aroma forward.
This curing is generally made with salt and water and can takes weeks or in most cases months. The olives staying in salty water for so long absorb the salt and become salty. Do you see where I am going with this? Yes, salt is bad for cats and can cause serious health issues such as kidney disease or even death due to untreated salt poisoning.
Another issue with this curing process is the usage of herbs and spices some of which can be toxic to cats. In order to add flavors especially to green olives, producers use herbs and spices in the curing process. Although the herbs and spices don’t seem to be there, the toxic substances inside those herbs and spices have already been absorbed by the olives and are waiting inside.
In addition to the potential hazards in the curing process, as one of the most favorite type of olives, stuffed green olives have other ingredients in them which can be troublesome for your feline friend. Some of the ingredients that are stuffed to olives can be unhealthy or even toxic for cats.
All these being said, there is also the preservatives some companies add to olives in order to extend the self life of their products which are needless to say chemical and unhealthy for feline consumption.
Unfortunately, none of the above can be removed by washing olives on the contrary to the general belief. The issue with salt and other additives are that the olives absorb them. By washing you can only remove the additives that are outside.
In addition, the olives with pits can be a choking hazard for cats.
However, depending on the salt content of the olive, half a small olive or quarter bigger olive are OK to give to your cat as long as it doesn’t have any other health condition that may be triggered by olive consumption.
Are Olives Healthy For Cats?
As we all know there are numerous health benefits of olives to humans but cats have very different digestive systems than our digestive systems. As humans we are omnivores which means that our digestive system is evolved to process both plants and meat. Cats, on the other hand are carnivores so they get most of their nutrition from meat. As a result, the amount of nutrition they get from olives are little to none.
Such a negligible amount of nutrition can easily be gained from other sources of food so there is actually no point giving olives to your cat healthwise.
Why Do Cats Go Crazy For Olives?
Olives include chemical compounds called isoprenoid and pimentos which are similar in structure to the chemical compound in catnip (nepetalactone) which causes the silly behaviors that cats show after consuming catnip. Although they don’t act as strange as they act when they consume catnip, olives excite them especially with their scent.
Not all cats are attracted to olives though and their behavior after consuming olives may differ depending on the cat.
Can Cats Eat Olive Oil?
The exact same answers we gave to the question “can cats eat olives” are valid for olive oil, too. An addition here would be olive oil, being basically fat, can cause diarrhea and vomiting if consumed in high amounts but a very small piece of food cooked using olive oil should not alarm you.
Conclusion on Can Cats Eat Olives
Although I wish it was otherwise because I see how my cats get excited when they get the scent of olives, there is no reason to give them any.
This being said, half an olive can be given from time to time as a treat or snack. When you give olives as a treat just make sure that you don’t give them too much and the olives are unsalted and without any herbs, spices or fillings. Please don’t forget to remove the pit, too.
There is nothing toxic in the olives themselves but salt and other additives can be problematic. Please act accordingly.
Therefore my answer to the question “can cats eat olives” is yes but they don’t really need it and you need to be careful with the amount they consume.