When you’re a pet parent, it’s natural to want to give your cat a bit of variety in their diet. As humans, it’s not uncommon for us to treat ourselves with the odd bar of chocolate, packet of crisps or handful of sweets. And it’s tempting to want to treat our cats too, either because we worry that they might be bored of eating the same food every day, or just because we love them! If you decide to give your cat human food as a treat, it’s important to know which foods cats can and can’t eat. So, what are the foods that cats can’t eat?
Which foods can’t cats eat?
Cats are naturally lactose intolerant, so any dairy products can cause vomiting or Diarrhoea.
Chocolate contains Theobromine and Caffeine, which are both toxic to cats. It’s important to never, ever offer your cat chocolate as a treat as it can be fatal.
Most people don’t realize that cat food and dog food are not interchangeable. Cats have different nutrient requirements, namely Taurine, which is an essential amino acid for cats but not for dogs. Feeding dog food to your cat in the long term could lead to a Taurine deficiency, which can cause Heart Disease.
Fat (from meat)
Any trimmings of fat from meat can cause vomiting or Diarrhoea. In some cases, fat can cause Pancreatitis, a painful condition caused by inflammation of the pancreas gland.
Garlic and other members of the allium family can cause Anaemia in cats. This is worth remembering because, although you’re unlikely to offer your pet a clove of garlic as a treat, you might offer prepared food that contains garlic, like Bolognese, curry, or various cooking sauces.
Grapes and raisins
Grapes and raisins are toxic to cats as well as dogs. There is no toxic dose, which means even a small amount of a grape could lead to fatal kidney failure in some cats, whereas other cats could eat more grapes and show no signs of being unwell.
As previously mentioned, cats are lactose intolerant. There is a common, somewhat old-fashioned misconception that cats enjoy drinking milk. However, although they might enjoy it, it can upset their guts, causing vomiting and Diarrhoea. Is your cat already suffering from Diarrhoea? Learn what you can and can’t feed them here.
Another member of the allium family and just like garlic, onions are often added to recipes and can cause Anaemia in your cat.
Since cats are often good hunters, and some will eat what they kill, it is a common misconception that they are well-equipped to safely eat raw food. Raw eggs, meat, or fish can carry E. Coli, Salmonella, and other germs that can cause your cat to become unwell.
Although small amounts of tuna are safe for your cat as long as it’s fresh or tinned with spring water rather than brine or oil, large amounts could cause mercury poisoning.
Xylitol is commonly used as a sweetener and is found in things like chewing gum and peanut butter. If your cat eats food containing xylitol it can cause their blood sugar levels to drop rapidly, leading to seizures, a coma, or even death.
Which human foods are safe for cats to eat?
The safest food for cats to eat is, of course, nutritionally complete cat food. However, if you want to pamper your puss by giving them the odd treat, there are some safe options. The best thing is to stick to lean, cooked meat or fish, with no seasoning or sauces. Always offer small amounts, in case your cat doesn’t enjoy it, or it makes them unwell. Remember, cats need a complete diet, and this is best provided by commercially formulated cat food. Any additional treats you offer will mean offering less of their cat food so that they don’t gain any extra weight.
Cats can eat small amounts of cooked egg, with no added cooking fats or seasoning.
Cats can eat small amounts of banana if they enjoy it. However, it does not offer much nutritional benefit to them so there are better options.
While bread that has been baked is not toxic to cats, it doesn’t provide them with any nutritional benefit. They can have a little if they enjoy it but there are other, better options. However, bread dough, before it is baked, can cause issues if eaten by cats. This is due to the yeast causing the dough to rise within the stomach or intestine, which may cause damage or a blockage.
It’s normal to want to spoil your feline friend sometimes—after all, they’re a much-loved part of the family. Make sure you choose safe foods and offer a small amount at first, to make sure they like it and it doesn’t make them unwell. As long as you follow the above guidelines, your cat will be able to enjoy the occasional treat safely, just like they deserve!