Human Foods Cats Should Not Eat
It’s easy to do.
You’re eating. Kitty is on the floor next to you. She seems interested in what you’re eating. You think, “Why not give her a little taste.”
She will smell what you offer. Usually, she will turn and walk away.
Sometimes she will try some of what you’re having. She might like it. She might not.
Either way, the odds are whatever she ate isn’t going to kill her. But, there are items you should never let your cat eat. They could make her sick. Or even worse.
Why You Shouldn’t Give Human Food to Cats
In most cases, it isn’t that the food we eat is dangerous to cats. Yes, there are some things that are bad for cats, but most items we eat aren’t going to kill your kitty.
However, if you give your cat human food, he may become dissatisfied with his regular cat food, which is designed to give him the nutrients he needs.
And if you give her too much, it may take away her appetite and she won’t eat enough of her special food. So she won’t get the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals she should be getting.
Felines are finicky eaters and you don’t want to upset their routine. You do not want to give them a reason to not eat what they should eat.
If you have found a daily diet routine they are happy with, stick with it. Don’t confuse them by replacing their regular meal with something else.
Human Foods Are Not Meant for Cats
If you do want to give your cat a human food “treat” once in a while, do it at times other than mealtime.
And maybe give it to them in a place that isn’t where they are normally fed their meals.
Think about what you are giving them. Make sure it is not a prohibited item.
If you can’t remember what is good or bad for felines, then maybe just don’t give it.
Human Foods Unsafe for Cats
To start with, don’t give your cat anything you wouldn’t eat.
This includes raw foods that you wouldn’t think to eat raw.
This includes spoiled foods you wouldn’t eat.
This also includes peels from fruits.
Grains and pasta should be cooked to increase digestibility.
And while you and I can eat raw vegetables, felines have a hard time digesting them, so if your kitty likes vegetables, cook them first.
Here is a list of items you should not give your feline because they can pose a health risk.
Human Foods Not to Give to Your Cat
Chocolate is toxic to cats.
Any kind of chocolate is bad, but dark and unsweetened chocolate is the worst.
There are three substances in chocolate that cause problems — theobromine (which is a bitter-tasting stimulant), methylxanthines (which can also be in beverages) and caffeine.
Fortunately, the vast majority of cats aren’t attracted to chocolate, but you should still never offer it to them or leave some lying around.
Symptoms of ingestion include diarrhea, vomiting, rapid breathing or trouble breathing, rapid heart rate or palpitations, muscle tremors, overall weakness, or seizures.
Grapes and Raisins and Currants
The ASPCA doesn’t have conclusive medical proof of the toxicity of grapes and raisins to cats, but there is enough anecdotal evidence (and we know they are hazardous to dogs) that they recommend you keep them away from your cat.
Although they don’t affect every cat, there is no reason to risk your kitty’s health by giving either raisins or grapes, or related fruits to them.
They can lead to kidney failure in dogs, and there are instances of this happening to cats too.
Symptoms include vomiting, hyperactivity, diarrhea, abdominal pain, decreased urination, reduced appetite, lethargy, and even kidney failure.
Onions, Garlic, Chives & Related Root Vegetables
All members of the onion family are toxic for cats in large doses.
This includes onions, garlic, chives, leeks, shallots, and scallions.
These foods can be harmful when eaten in big quantities or a smaller amount of a concentrated form such as garlic powder or onion soup mix.
And it doesn’t matter if these root vegetables are raw, cooked, dehydrated or powdered.
If you have a sauce or a chicken broth that includes a small amount of garlic or onion, it may or may not cause problems for your cat. It will depend.
A small amount of an onion or a clove of garlic may result in some minor stomach upset.
But eaten in a larger quantity or on a regular basis can damage a feline’s red blood cells, lead to anemia, weight loss, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or darker urine.
Alcohol is toxic to our cats.
Cats absorb alcohol very quickly. If your kitty takes one sample lick, it isn’t going to hurt her.
But even a small amount, such as a teaspoon or a tablespoon can lead to problems. Multiple teaspoons of hard liquor can be fatal.
You don’t want to leave alcoholic beverages open or leave any spills left on floors, counters or tables.
Symptoms of ingestion may include intoxication, disorientation, digestive upset, tremors, and vomiting.
Alcohol poisoning can cause liver damage or brain damage or even lead to death if the amount consumed is large.
Raw Green Tomatoes and Green Potatoes
Green tomatoes and green potatoes are members of the Solanaceae plant family. They can contain Glycoalkaloid Solanine which is toxic and can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
The stems and leaves of these unripe tomatoes and potatoes are particularly potent.
Ripe tomatoes and potatoes are fine. The amount of GS in them is very small.
Milk and Cheese and Dairy Products
Kittens drink mother’s milk for a few weeks after they are born. But many of them become lactose intolerant as they get older.
Cats often are attracted to milk and dairy products, but those products may not be good for them. They may lead to indigestion, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Their digestive systems are often not built to handle dairy products from cows, goats, or sheep.
These dairy products include milk, cream, cottage cheese, and cheese.
Certain items, such as lactose-free milk, or low-lactose cottage cheese may be fine for some cats. If your cat can tolerate some dairy and really likes it, maybe the occasional small amount will be okay.
Xylitol and Sugar and Sweeteners
Your cat doesn’t need sugar. And she doesn’t need any artificial sweetener either.
Xylitol is a sweetener used in plenty of sugar-free foods including chewing gum, candy, baked goods, and diet foods.
Consuming Xylitol can increase your kitty’s insulin levels too high, and thus cause a dramatic drop in blood sugar.
Don’t let cats eat gum or foods that contain this sweetener.
The symptoms can include vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, and seizures.
Eating raw eggs can be hazardous. Consumption of raw eggs can lead to Salmonella or E. coli poisoning.
Raw eggs also have an enzyme — Avidin — that can lead to skin condition problems and coat problems by blocking the absorption of biotin.
Eggs should be cooked. Cooking takes care of both the Salmonella and Avidin issues.
The symptoms of salmonella poisoning usually are diarrhea and vomiting.
Raw Meat and Fat Trimmings
Like eggs, eating raw meat can lead to Salmonella or E. coli poisoning.
Even though a wild, feral cat may eat raw meat on a regular basis, it doesn’t mean that it is a safe practice or a good thing to do.
Meat that is uncooked may contain Salmonella and E. coli and parasites.
Cooking meat minimizes the risk of food poisoning or parasitic infection.
Raw meat consumption can lead to vomiting, diarrhea or Salmonella or E. coli.
Should a cat eat raw fish?
A cat may like fish, but raw fish isn’t safe.
This includes sardines, anchovies, tuna, herring, clams, and mussels.
Properly cooking kills the bacteria the raw fish carries such as Salmonella. Just cook it.
Almost every cat really likes tuna. And enjoying this tuna once in a while is fine.
Tuna is not an everyday food, however. It doesn’t fulfill the dietary needs of a house cat.
It also can contain too much mercury for an animal or human to eat too often.
Just make sure tuna is cooked, not raw.
Liver is like tuna. Cats usually like it, but they shouldn’t have it too often.
It’s a good source of protein and other nutrients. But it doesn’t provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
And eating it too much can lead to an imbalance of vitamin A.
There isn’t any reason to give a cat a bone.
A cat can damage his teeth or swallow a piece of bone that can get stuck in his throat or injure the digestive tract.
Even if a bone is too big to swallow, your cat can break off a piece small enough to swallow and create a problem.
Raw Bread Dough or Yeast Dough
Uncooked bread dough or pizza dough isn’t good for any pet.
If a pet eats dough, it will expand in its stomach and can cause pain and a serious digestive issue.
Besides the expansion, raw dough containing yeast will ferment in the stomach and release alcohol. And alcohol isn’t good for felines.
Cooked bread is okay, but it contains no nutritional value.
Dog food and cat food are different products.
Cats need different nutrients than dogs do. And they won’t get it from dog food. Dog food is formulated just for a dog’s needs.
Cats will normally taste dog food (if you also have a dog) once in a while. It’s okay. It won’t hurt them.
But a steady diet of dog food will lead to malnutrition. It’s not what you want.
If you notice your kitty nibbling from Fido’s bowl too often, you may have to come up with a solution.
Caffeine – Coffee and Tea and Energy Drinks
Foods or drinks that contain caffeine are bad for cats. They shouldn’t consume them.
One little sip isn’t a problem, but slurping more than that is not.
Things to avoid are brewed coffee, tea, coffee grounds, tea bags, energy drinks, sodas, chocolate, or even some medicines.
Caffeine can result in restlessness, rapid breathing, muscle tremors, heart palpitations, hyperactivity, high heart rate, or seizures.
Nuts are great for humans. They possess plenty of protein and healthy fats.
But nuts aren’t designed for cats. Cats don’t have the teeth to break them up well.
And Macadamia nuts are actually bad for cats. Never let them eat Macadamia nuts.
Too many nuts or too much nut butter can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.
It can be difficult to tell which mushrooms are edible and which are not.
If you know that your mushrooms are edible, your cat can have a small amount.
But if there are wild mushrooms in your yard, they may contain harmful toxins and you should stop your kitty from eating any.
Turmeric is a plant extract that cats can’t eat. It upsets their stomachs. It leads to vomiting.
Turmeric is in a variety of foods and supplements these days.
For some cats, the fruit of an avocado is generally okay.
But the fruit can be mildly toxic to some.
However, the peel, pit, and seeds need to be kept away.
If your kitty wants to get into your guacamole, you can either let him and see what happens, or you can simply keep it away from him.
If your cat can’t stomach avocados, it may end up with diarrhea or vomiting.
Other Items to Keep From Your Feline
Here are five other items you should not let your kitty near.
- Baby food
- Human or other pet vitamins
- Rhubarb leaves
How To Stop My Cat From Eating Human Food That is Bad for Them
How do you stop your feline from eating stuff that is bad for her?
First, you make sure that she likes her current food routine. If she is happy with her foods, she is less likely to stray.
Second, you prevent her from noticing and getting to foods that are poisonous or bad for her health.
Preventing Cats from Eating Dangerous Foods
Cats are curious — don’t give them hazardous things to investigate.
Don’t leave hazardous things on a counter.
Keep all hazardous foods well out of reach so they can’t get to it.
Keep an eye on all your ingredients while you are preparing meals or cooking.
Don’t leave cooked food uncovered on a counter while you eat.
If your kitty is active, make sure food isn’t left in the sink either.
Make sure that poisons are in cabinets your kitty can not get into.
Don’t start feeding your pet table scraps without thinking about what you are feeding them.
Make sure that house guests know they shouldn’t offer table scraps either.
What To Do If Your Cat Eats Something Bad
If you think your cat has eaten something either poisonous or bad for her health, you need to watch her carefully.
It’s important to know what she ate and how much of it she ate.
A small taste of something will usually not require a veterinarian visit, but if you don’t know how much she ate, you will have to monitor her symptoms.
Even if you don’t see any symptoms yet, it’s good to call your vet and get their input on what to watch for. You’ll also find out if they are open and where to go if you need to make an emergency trip.
Many foods in small amounts will give your feline some temporary discomfort, but she will not have to go in.
If you notice serious problems, take her to your veterinarian or animal hospital immediately.
Serious symptoms include sustained vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, increased thirst, trouble breathing, seizures, or disorientation.
So it’s important that you don’t hesitate to contact a veterinarian if you suspect your cat has been poisoned by something you have given her or she has found herself.
Human Foods Poisonous for Cats
Your cat has instincts, but she is mostly dependent on you to provide for her and to keep her safe.
You are responsible for providing a safe environment.
You want to make sure she is provided with a balanced diet that will lead to a healthy life.
If your kitty loves some of these risky foods, maybe you can give her a little taste once in a while.
If a food isn’t poisonous, such as dairy, you can let her have a small sample and monitor how she does. Just be careful.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to be medical or healthcare advice. Do not consider this article to be professional or veterinarian advice. The authors of this article are not doctors. They are not veterinarians. The previous article is to be read as mere general knowledge only. The only pet health advice you should put your trust in is the advice and guidance you receive from your own veterinarians, doctors, and staff you have contacted and who have seen your pet. Please contact a local veterinarian or an animal hospital professional if you need assistance with your pet.