Why Do Cats Love Cantaloupe?
Why do so many cats like to eat cantaloupe? The answer may surprise you!
Many Farmers’ Almanac readers like to share stories and photos of their adorable pets with us on Facebook. Often times, they include funny activities and quirky food habits! The single food item that comes up most 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. Cats actually lack “sweet” tastebuds. They are also lactose intolerant. So 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.
Join The Discussion!
What about your cat? Does he/she enjoy cantaloupe or any other unusual foods?
Share your experience with our community in the comments below!
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I had a cat, Pickles, who was very picky who thought I tried to poison her the time I gave her some tunabut could be sound asleep upstairs and if I opened the refrigerator door came flying down and expecting to have her parmesean cheese snack…
Have four cats. Only one loves cantaloupe. She will stand in the kitchen and whine until I give her some. I love them all. Very spoiled.
It is fun and easy to spoil our pets. Thanks for being a great cat “mom.”
I’ve got a Two Year Old Gorgeous Orange Tabby Rescue that is KOOKOO for Tomatoes ? WHAT!?!???
Maybe similar to the Melon thing ???
Interesting …. although some say they’re not good for cats, but we recommend you check with your vet.
I have 3 indoor cats I adopted from the local SPCA when they were 2 mth old kittens about 4 yrs ago, 2 males and 1 slightly older female (the males are from the same litter) and they only get fed dry cat food – about 1/2 cup 3x daily on small plates, with a single can of wet food given only as an occasional treat and divided for all 3 to share as they drink tons of water like a dog does so it’s not needed. That said, I do give my cats tastes of people food now and again, but it’s never more than a pea size amount or the very tip of my finger dipped if it’s a liquid…not only because people food in general isn’t good for them, but also because everything I cook usually has some form of both onion or garlic in it – which is dangerous to cats in larger quantities.
Of the three Lynx is the biggest cat by far (despite being just as active and never getting extra food) and is easily 15-20lbs, yet when it comes to people food, he’s the pickiest and is the slowest to try anything I offer him unless it’s meat or seafood. However his brother Saber, who is more than half his size, will try/eat most everything I’ll share but will pass on fruit or super strong smelling things. Then there’s Athena, the smallest of the 3, who will happily taste/eat anything I’m willing to give her. She’s never once turned her nose up at anything I’ve offered and absolutely loves any and all fruits, especially if it’s a banana or cucumber. She will literally come running from anywhere in the house the second I crack open a banana or cut up cucumbers. I’ve had cats all my life and have never seen a cat so crazy about fruit! The closest all three come to begging for people food is when they sit right beside me in the living room on my big round chair. In fact, after I sit down with my meal/snack, if they get too close about seeing what’s on my plate before I’m willing to give them a taste, like when I’m eating a particularly fragrant meat dish, I only have to tell them they’re being rude and they immediately back up, sit down and both silently and patiently wait to see if I will share. If I do decide to share, I give them a taste or two then say “that’s all” or “that’s enough” and they don’t ask again even if they stay sitting beside me.
The funny thing is despite enjoying their tastes of people food, I once ran out of cat food and had to give them a bit of light people food that they’ve previously eaten and liked (rice, peas, scrambled eggs – I tried all three) and they wouldn’t eat any of them except a tiny bit of the eggs and a few of the peas if I tossed them one by one like a cat treat. So it seems they only actually want to eat people food if I’M eating it and they can share it with me. That said, I still make sure to leave nothing out if I’m not around (especially any type of bread) and I NEVER store anything in a bottom cupboard unless it’s canned because Lynx is strong enough and will open cupboard doors with one paw, and then Saber crawls into it and brings any food that can be opened out for them to all share…lol.
Hi Keri, great story! My female cat doesn’t like people food, but her brother won’t leave me alone when I’m having dinner. Such unique personalities!
Had a cat that loved olives. Was having about 20 or so people over and I turn around and see Mikey on the table with the buffet food rolling…literally rolling….around in the serving dish of olives. Fortunately, it was right before guests came so I could get the cat and the now hairy olives off the table!
Hi Karen, they love the salt and fat in olives. Mine loves them, too!
Also,i forgot to mention,many of my kitties would absolutely Freak about Chinese food!They loved something about it.They just couldn’t get enough.One last thing i remembered that my babies really dig is garbonzo beans smothered in Ranch dressing fresh out of my salad !
I have had MANY cats during my lifetime and a lot of them have had very unusual habits.I had one female that would carry one of three items to me(batteries,lighters and my daughters insulin bottles)in her mouth while meowing in an almost desperate or pleading manner.She would bring me these items on a regular basis,especially while i was bathing.
Another one of my babies,a male,would wrap himself around my head when i got into bed and he would (comb) my hair very thoroughly throughout the night,especially if i had used hairspray that day.
More recently,i had a sweet little orange male tabby.He LOVED peas!Everytime i would open a can for dinner,there he was expectantly awaiting for me to dish him up a delicious bowl of his own sweet peas!
My female Momma cat that is currently the Queen of my roost,is a Fruit freak!Lol.She loves yogurt,which is an obvious given(most cats do),but what she really loves is the fruit that my husband adds in.Strawberries,blueberries and especially raspberries and blackberries are among her faves…Oddly,yesterday she brought me a rock in from outside…Part of what i love so much about Cats is their mysterious ways in which they show their love to their humans!
My cat just goes nuts over cucumber. I take the skin off of it and take the seeds out from the middle so they don’t get caught in his lining. Cucumber is one of his favorites along with cantaloupe and strawberries. Fruits are in very moderation. The cucumber is mostly water so that is fine the vet said.
My cat likes olives! Both the green ones and the black ones, and especially if they have been on pizza. I think it’s the fat and the salt he’s attracted to, but not sure. Normally he’s quite picky, so I was shocked when he ate olives!
My kitten had a little taste of cantelope the other night…..she seemed to like it. I just gave her a tad.
My cat loves beans (kidney, cannellini, black, lentils and garbanzo). Comes running as soon as he hears the can pop. I give him 2 or 3 and he’s so happy! 🙂
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.
Alef, how interesting! Every cat is so unique.
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.
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.
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.
If I stopped for Chinese food on the way my Goldie would meet me at the door.
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!!!!!!
I had 3cats that all begged for cotton candy!
Fascinating! We always heard cats can’t taste ‘sweet’ but that may be a myth!
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!! ❤️
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
Rebekah, agree! I have a cat who won’t touch human food other than mayo. Not the roast beef, just the mayo! Strange!
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.
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!
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.
Fancy loves pasta…any kind of noodle. Of course her favorite is macaroni and cheese.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
That part about “killing” every single piece of cheese is hilarious!
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!
Every cat I’ve owned has loved cantaloupe! So crazy! Lol
KittyButt loves melon, Friskies,chicken breast,and spiders! Have had a zero spider problem since sheriff Butt came to town.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you kt for your message – that made me laugh out loud! They’re pretty funny creatures, aren’t they!
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….
Kitty loves cooked potato skins, cantaloupe, cooked green peas, and popcorn. I thought this was strange until now, thanks for the info!
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?
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!
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.
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!
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!