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Why Does My Cat Like Cantaloupe?

Why Does My Cat Like Cantaloupe?

Many of our Farmers’ Almanac readers and Facebook fans share stories and photos of their pets with us. And often times they share some of their pets’ quirky food habits. The single food item that seems to come up often in the “bizarre things cats eat” category is cantaloupe. But what a strange food for a cat to like!

Why Do Some Cats Like Cantaloupe?

Having a cat that wants to eat something unusual now and again isn’t all that strange. But the fact that cats are such carnivores, it would seem anything fruit or vegetable related would be unappealing to them. Yet we frequently hear about felines who are mad for melons, so we thought we’d do a little digging. Apparently, cantaloupe-eating cats are not that unusual.

So what’s going on? Is it the texture? The moisture? The smell?

Ah, the smell! What may hold the key to why many cats love cantaloupe comes from a research study done on what are known as “volatiles,” which vaporize to give foods their smell.

According to Feline-Nutrition.org, which cites a 2010 study from Journal of Experimental Botany, volatiles derived from amino acids are major contributors to a melon’s aroma.
 And amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Many of the same amino acids that are in meat are also present in melons, although in much smaller quantities, so to cats, the melon probably smells like meat.

“We don’t know exactly what meat smells like to a cat, but they are hard-wired to be attracted to it and it makes sense that they would be highly sensitive to all of the compounds in meat,” says Margaret Gates of Feline-Nutrition.org.

There are other theories about why cats enjoy cantaloupe. Because scientists have discovered that cats are the only mammal that lacks the ability to detect sweetness in food, it’s thought maybe this is a learned behavior. Since so much of the kibble on the market that we feed them is nothing more than carbohydrates coated in meat flavoring, perhaps cats are now developing a taste carbohydrate-laden foods.

The good news is that giving your cat a bit of cantaloupe once in a while will not harm them. But remember, just like everything, moderation is key. And it’s best to keep melon seeds away from them as they could cause obstructions.

Don’t share these 7 foods with Fluffy!

What about your cat? Does he/she enjoy cantaloupe or any other unusual foods? Share with us in the comments below!

Photo courtesy of Dr. Mark E. Peterson

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  • Alef says:

    My eldest loves all types of melon, peaches, apples and bananas – we can’t leave fruit on the counter or he’ll eat it. He also loves shrimp and soyghurt. Hates fish and meat. Only eats dry kibble, doesn’t even touch his wet food.

  • Leslie Sayre says:

    I had one who loved watermelon. One of mine now steals greens from salads. The other one is the weird one, you can’t drink iced coffee around her. She literally stands up to you and pulls it away while you try to drink. But her absolute favorite treat is pickled baby corn.

  • Cindy says:

    My cat loves spinach leaves. He also likes to like tomato and cucumber scraps. He likes to eat the seeds and inside of pumpkin and squash. I didn’t know not to feed him the seeds, but I know now. Thank you.

  • Chris Brady says:

    My cat Phoebe will practically pull the fork out of your hand if you have cottage cheese. I also haven been able to enjoy cheese of any kind without sharing with her. But the weirdest thing she likes to eat is banana peels. If there is a banana in the house it has to be out of her site. I also had a cat that would know when we brought Chinese food home he knew it was shrimp fried rice and that was his favorite.

  • Tanya says:

    My cat Simba loves banana yogurt!!!! He also likes potato chips, popcorn, fried chicken, bacon,cheese of any kind and melon, who would have thought!!!!!!

  • Cheryl W says:

    I had 3cats that all begged for cotton candy!

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Fascinating! We always heard cats can’t taste ‘sweet’ but that may be a myth!

  • Lorraine Boehm says:

    My kitty Faust loves cantaloupe! And steamed shrimp, cherries, avocado, scrambled eggs, blended strawberries, olives, creamed chicken a la king, popcorn, potato chips, boiled sweet potato, cooked string beans, sushi, cottage cheese, whipped cream… On and on! Of course he only gets tiny portions of these people foods but if it was up to him…. Forget it! He also plays fetch but only with RED pens! And enjoys swatting snow balls so they “explode” I love my little sassy guy!! He’s got such personality!! ❤️

  • Rebekah says:

    I have a 1 yr old ginger Manx, Ollie(-flower) & just today discovered he has a major thing for tomato sauce, lol. Who knew that & cantaloupe were feline favs! Course he’ll lick my dish clean pretty much every time regardless what was on it, lol, but isn’t very fond of seafood, surprisingly but he’s a strange one. They def can take after their humans. The meat smell theory makes sense though, very interesting creatures, cats

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Rebekah, agree! I have a cat who won’t touch human food other than mayo. Not the roast beef, just the mayo! Strange!

  • Amber says:

    My cat Huffel Puff will choose fruit and veggies over meat every chance he gets! His favorite snacks are fresh nectarines, Peaches, cantaloupe, pears, corn, carrots, and as of tonight asparagus was added! I love my baby boy, he is so odd! He might get a few small bites every couple days. I can’t even try to eat fruit without him being all over me pawing for it! His sister is more picky. I have had them since they were 1 week old (mother passed away) and now they are 1yr.

  • Amy says:

    My Clara loves cantaloupe, raw lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, and if you aren’t paying attention she will steal a french fry! If I allowed it, she would be a vegetarian I’m sure. But she must eat her meat! Ha ha. She is such a joy to our family!

  • Alice Black says:

    My cat, Addie, loves yogurt.!! She waits for it every morning. I give her a half teaspoon of nonfat plain yogurt. “We” call it her probiotic. The vet said it is healthy for her.

  • Wendy Ricke says:

    Fancy loves pasta…any kind of noodle. Of course her favorite is macaroni and cheese.

  • Evelyn Wake says:

    When my daughter’s rescue cat Nevada failed to adjust to a move to another city in a home shared with a boyfriend, I took Nevada in,having newly retired and thinking about getting a cat for company. I was told Nevada did not like any people food, so I never offered any. But on a return from a trip to Alaska, I brought back some smoked salmon. Nevada jumped on my lap and demanded a taste, which she greatly enjoyed. Later, she also decided she like a naturally smoked summer sausage from a local Mennonite market. Then, gradually, she became adventuresome and trying any food I was eating.

  • Pam Green says:

    I had a Siamese who was indifferent to most people food, but would climb in my lap and knock the spoon out of my hand, if I brought home tomato/vegetable soup from the local organic food co-op.

  • Marcia says:

    I had a cat that would drag corn cobs out of the trash to eat the kernels not eaten. I then left them on a plate so he could clean up after me! He really liked that corn.

  • LAM says:

    I can’t leave my peppermint tea unattended or Mickey Two Socks fishes out the tea bag and takes off with it. He thinks it’s catnip.

    I’ve had cats in the past. One loved fortune cookies, the other would steal sips of my sweet tea when I wasn’t looking with his paw.

  • Joanne says:

    My cat must be weird, Frankie won’t eat people food or wet cat food..the only treats he will eat and beg for are catnip kibble treats

  • LAM says:

    Mine are all siblings, but they each have their own food fetishes. Micky Two Socks likes green olives, shrimp, and any plant I bring in the house. Navarre likes pop corn. He sits on the arm of the chair and snacks with me while we watch a movie. I have to be very careful with styrofoam peanuts or packing material, because he thinks they are popcorn too. Lestat likes blueberry yogurt and blueberry muffins. She goes crazy when she hears a plastic clam shell open. She also likes cheese, but she has to “kill it” first by throwing it up in the air and pouncing on it repeatedly. Every.Single.Piece. Maggie will not touch any “people” food. Not steak, shrimp, bacon or rotisserie chicken. If it doesn’t come out of a can and have gravy on it, she’s not interested. She will however, eat any plant material, living or dead and dried out.

  • J. Panko says:

    My cat (who passed) used to love chasing big moths in my apartment building stairwells. She’d catch the moths then crunch down on them and eat them. I guess there is some protein in moths, plus it was like the thrill of the chase for her!

  • Jena says:

    Every cat I’ve owned has loved cantaloupe! So crazy! Lol

  • r dre says:

    KittyButt loves melon, Friskies,chicken breast,and spiders! Have had a zero spider problem since sheriff Butt came to town.

  • Nicole Haduch says:

    My Sadie Loves cantaloupe, watermelon, blueberries, and even sunflower seeds. I’m believing the meat theory because for the past week we’ve been giving her cantaloupe everyday and today I noticed she has stopped eating her regular food, wet and dry. She just begs for the cantaloupe. She must believe that’s meat and now won’t touch what she should eat. So now I’m not feeding her any in hopes that she gets hungry enough to go back to her kibble.

  • Jenn says:

    Ralph loves melons, cucumbers, lettuce, apples, cooked green beans, cooked potato skins, raw broccoli, popcorn, granola, fried cornbread & sometimes grits. Ralph will strong arm you for apple! He used to beg for butterbeans while they were cooking on the stove top, but suddenly stopped caring for them. Our tomatoe sauce lover passed a few years ago. You really had to watch hot soup!

  • Aurora says:

    My cat, Panther, loves to eat cantaloupe and honeydew melon, which is okay. But what I think is weird is he eats the rind, too! If our family eats cantaloupe and throws the rind away, Panther will dig through the trash and eat it completely. We have to put them in the outside bin so he doesn’t!

  • NinaG says:

    I have 2 cats who have a thing for tomatoes. If I leave any tomatoes out loose I’m sure to find them 1/2 eaten somewhere in the house. They go for them regardless of size. I can’t figure out how a 6 lb. cat can carry full size large tomato from the kitchen counter through the house back to the bedroom.This fetish seems to have NO negative effect on them. As a side note they have no interest in any other table food (milk, cheese, tuna etc.) It’s only tomatoes.

  • Steve says:

    I don’t think cats are developing a taste for carbohydrates because kibbles are carbohydrates coated in meat flavor as was suggested; as a kid on the farm our barn cats were given some warm milk but other than that were expected to “make a living” by eating mice and birds that they caught around the grain, hay and straw. They were frequently seen hunting and were highly successful. Some would proudly bring mice to show us. They would meow loudly with a mouse in their mouths, get petted and then promptly eat the mouse… and they loved cantaloupe.

  • Pam says:

    I had a cat that believe it or not, loved all fruits, but especially oranges, strawberries, peaches and grapefruit. I have heard that cat repellents contain orange oil, but it surely wouldn’t have worked for this cat.

  • Doree A says:

    My baby girl, Tink, is interested in, at least, sniffing anything I have to eat – just in case. But if you have anything with tomato sauce on in it, you’re in danger of losing your plate. She’s the third cat I’ve had with a tomato sauce fetish. The first two were housemates, so I just assumed the younger picked it up the habit from the older cat. But I got Tink after several cat-free years. She also loves, loves, loves cinnamon. But like many of the other cats on this feed – she has zero interest in fish. I have to buy beef catfood.

  • mike says:

    My cat is a freak when it comes to vanilla or peach activia yogurt he can be in the other room sleeping and he can hear me peel the rapper off in the other room with the door closed and he will claw at the door and whine almost to a scream till i open the door and share my yogurt and he loves cheese cake and banana pudding.

  • TL says:

    Had a cat who was crazy for zucchini. She would come running when she heard me chopping it. Our new kitten loves cantaloupe and gets a few nibbles every day.

  • Junior Barer says:

    Any organic compound containing an amino and a carboxyl group that serves as a building block for proteins. This sentence from a research study on melon volatiles may hold the key to why so many cats love cantaloupe.

  • kt says:

    I had a cat, Burton, who loved to eat cantaloupe.!! could never figure it out. He also would steal raw mushrooms and run around with it in his mouth growling like he caught some thing alive!! One smart cat though, he would open the refrigerator on his own.

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Thank you kt for your message – that made me laugh out loud! They’re pretty funny creatures, aren’t they!

  • patsy says:

    I have twin kitty’s, Bonnie and Clyde, my cat Clyde loves cantaloupe, I bought a little watermelon, he doesn’t like that, just cantaloupe and yogurt, Bonnie is more finicky, she like vegetables, but they have to be fresh….

  • Julie says:

    Kitty loves cooked potato skins, cantaloupe, cooked green peas, and popcorn. I thought this was strange until now, thanks for the info!

  • Marla says:

    Thanks everyone for all the comments/ “Advice”actually, as I am a first time cat lover. I thought I was doing wrong by giving any of these foods to my ‘Poody Tat’. She loves cantaloupe, bananas, tuna & chicken. But what do I do about fur balls?

  • Karen Angelico says:

    We have five indoor cats. Rascal especially enjoys cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, and avocado. Critter loves yogurt and milk (which he doesn’t get very often). Three of the five enjoy canned English (green) peas, and come running when they hear the electric can opener!

  • RB says:

    One cat of mine went crazy for olives, and she also went crazy for ice cream. She would go a little nuts with both (not together). Another cat loved cream in a ceramic bowl. This wasn’t some old-timey Victorian cat. This was a modern times cat. She would leave it all over her chin and walk around the house, dripping it. Cream drops all over the wood floor, every room. It was so funny. She passed a month ago.

  • Leslie M says:

    One of ny cats loves to get a lick of my coconut oil I use to take off makeup! My other cat likes black eyed peas! Go figure!

  • Judy Ashton says:

    My cat eats everything I eat. When he was a kitten, I left a Lean Cuisine on the coffee table and left the room for a minute. When I came back, he was sitting in the middle of it, eating around himself!

  • Jane Martin says:

    My Bichon Max can smell cucumber as soon as I walk in the house with one. He goes crazy for bites of them. The other dogs will eat them too, but Max is especially partial.

  • Jim Cooke says:

    I had a cat that loved asparagus and another that loved melon of any sort. It could hear a melon being sliced. The rescue cat I have now has no interest in people food. I can leave butter on the counter.

  • Sally Shank says:

    Our eldest, Loki, likes mustard, chicken, and pork, and ANY kind of dairy other than hard cheeses; Freckles likes pepper jack cheese, and any kind of meat or poultry; Punkin likes popcorn, but no other “people food”; Dweezil & Moon Unit (litter mates aka Double Trouble) don’t really like people food at ALL. The one thing that surprised me most…none of them like fish or seafood!

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