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Can Cats Eat Lingonberries? Find Out if Lingonberry Plants are Safe for Cats and 4 Alternatives

Lingonberries are wild berries that are common in the forests of Scandinavia. Its distinct sour and tart flavors distinguish it and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. They are used for diverse Scandinavian dishes like jam, ice cream, and pie.

I am a fruit and nature lover, which means I enjoy growing fruits, trees, flowers, and herbs in my garden. Having two cats and a dog, I have learned over the years what to plant around my pets, what they can eat, and what they shouldn’t be eating.

Lingonberries, also known as cowberry, can be safely eaten by cats and don’t pose any threat if given in moderate amounts.

Table of Contents

Can cats eat lingonberries?

Yes, lingonberries, regarded as a superfruit because of the great benefits that can be derived from them, can be safely eaten by cats in small quantities, but when fed in large quantities, they could lead to toxicity.

Just like bitter gourd, your cat may find lingonberry very bitter, but it may be made more palatable when cooked. Lingonberries are rich in polyphenols, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Lingonberries are small, red berries often found in Northern Europe and North America. While humans commonly consume them, especially in Nordic countries, the safety for cats is a different concern. Generally, lingonberries are not toxic to cats. However, it’s important to remember that cats have different digestive systems than humans, and even non-toxic foods can sometimes cause digestive upset. If a cat consumes a small amount of lingonberries, it’s unlikely to cause harm. However, it’s always best to introduce any new food in moderation and monitor your cat for any adverse reactions. If uncertain, consult with a veterinarian before offering your cat any new food items.

Benefits of Lingonberries for Cats

Lingonberries can be beneficial to your cat in many ways, as listed below:


Lingonberries contain a larger amount of antioxidants when compared to other berries. Antioxidants are very important to your cat as they protect them against oxidative cell damage, which could cause the following conditions:

  • Inflammation and inflammatory diseases
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer

Plant compounds and antioxidants that can be found in lingonberries include:

  • Manganese: This mineral is a component of superoxide dismutase, a major antioxidant. Cats that are susceptible to intestinal difficulties that result from hairballs can benefit from manganese, as it can help reverse constipation, urine crystals, struvite, and urinary disorders in cats.
  • Quercetin: Studies have shown that quercetin supports urinary tract health in cats as well as the body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C boosts the immune system, aids in tissue growth and maintenance, and ameliorates oxidative stress in cats.
  • Anthocyanins: The rich red color of lingonberries comes from anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Gut health

Just like in humans, bacteria reside in cats guts, and what your cat eats directly affects their gut microbiota. Lingonberries can modify the gut microbiota of your cat in a beneficial way and prevent inflammation in your cat’s liver and fat tissue.

If your cat develops chronic inflammation, it will lead to heart disease, feline cancer, pancreatitis, and feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Oral Health

It can be a daunting task to get cats accustomed to brushing their teeth. Lingonberries can help treat oral yeast infections and also prevent bacteria from forming in the mouth.


Feline obesity is a very common disease in cats, and it affects over 63% of felines in developed countries. Obesity could lead to a weakened immune system in cats, metabolic and endocrine disorders in cats, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases.

A 2014 study conducted with mice that were fed with lingonberries showed both a successful reduction in weight and maintained weight, as well as fewer bacteria in the gut, which is usually caused by higher body weight.

Lingonberries can also be effective in reducing or promoting safe sugar levels in cats, reducing urinary tract infections, and preventing the possible loss of function of the kidney.

Can cats eat lingonberry leaves?

The leaves of lingonberries provide just as many benefits as the fruits. They support the immune system, contain anti-inflammatory properties, promote oral health, and prevent UTIs. Their high potassium level can also help regulate blood pressure.

A cat can safely eat lingonberry leaves, as they are not listed as toxic by the ASPCA. But this doesn’t mean it should replace your cat’s regular-quality kibble and wet food. It could be given as an occasional treat to act as a supplement and ensure it is free from pesticide residue.

My cat doesn’t like eating it, and I think many other cats won’t like it either, but if your cat does, it can serve as a great supplement.

Are lingonberry plants toxic to cats?

No, lingonberry plants are not toxic to cats. The lingonberry plant (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) is a small creeping plant of the heath family (Ericaceae), and it is related to the cranberry and blueberry. It bears fruits that could be safely eaten by your cat.

Although lingonberry plants are free from harmful toxins, do not allow your cat to eat the stem, as it could lead to GI upset. In a case where your cat nibbles on a small part of the plant, nothing is going to happen; symptoms may not occur except if the plant has pesticide residue on it.

How to keep cats away from lingonberry plants

You need to ensure your cat is kept away from plants that are pesticide-treated in order to preserve their health. Below are helpful ways to prevent your cat from accessing your lingonberry plants:

  • Consider using chicken wire or fencing to form a perimeter around your lingonberry plants.
  • You can also consider planting rue around the plants, as their bitter taste and repelling scent will deter your cat from accessing areas where they are planted.
  • Pine cones and prickly yard trimmings are also effective in creating a protective barrier around the plants.

How to feed your cat lingonberries

Your vet or cat’s health history should be the first place to consult before adding treats or food to your cat’s diet.

Lingonberries are bitter but not as bitter as cranberries, so they are best fed to cats cooked, as they may find the raw form too bitter.

Are Lingonberry plants Safe For Cats?

Can cats eat lingonberry seeds?

As lingonberries ripen, tiny seeds are formed inside, and these seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help to retain hydration in your cat’s skin.

The seed is also a rich source of antioxidants and can safely be eaten by your cats. Since they are small and tiny, they would not pose choking threats.

Can cats eat lingonberry jam?

Lingon jam is a forbidden treat that should not be given to your cat because of the added sugar, possible artificial sweeteners, and other additives that may be present.

But if you intend to make the jam yourself, then it could be safe for your cat in very small quantities. Ensure not to add sugar or any other ingredient that may be toxic to cats.

Other berries and berry plants that are safe for cats

Final thoughts

Lingonberries, their plants, leaves, and seeds can be safe for cats to eat, provided they are free from pesticides. Your cat could eat the berries as well as the tiny seeds, but you will need to consider cooking this berry as it may be quite bitter for your cat.

Joshua Kaynard

I am Joshua kaynard, an avid cat lover. Our pets provide an excellent way of connecting with nature; I am committed to helping you understand all the aspects of your feline friend's life. Enjoy!

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