Most experienced pet owners are likely already somewhat familiar with the foods cats can eat and the foods they can’t. But, for new cat owners, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the dietary restrictions for your new pet as soon as possible.
Like humans, cats have a specific nutrient requirement to remain healthy throughout their lifetimes. Cat food manufacturers don’t market their products specifically for cats for no reason—professional pet nutritionists design the food to give cats all the nutrients and vitamins they’ll need to get through the day.
It’s natural for owners to let their cats eat a few scraps from their plate as a treat and, while this isn’t too harmful if done in moderation, you need to do so carefully. Feeding your cat something unpalatable can either have adverse effects on their weight, make them very sick, or worse.
Cats can react to human food in various ways, so it’s good to arm yourself with as much dietary knowledge about the foods cats can’t eat to avoid any unfortunate accidents.
Should You Feed a Cat Human Food?
Generally, pet owners should avoid giving their cats any extra food beyond the cat food put in their bowls every day. As mentioned above, the vitamins and nutrients in most cat food brands have been balanced to give your cat all they’ll need throughout the day. Giving them any more food than they need could have several adverse effects on your cat’s health, especially if it’s toxic for them to digest.
However, as long as you avoid toxic human foods, it’s okay to let them have a few treats that aren’t a part of their regular diet, as long as it’s in moderation. A good rule of thumb is to only allow 10% of their daily calorie intake to consist of human foods; any more than that can be detrimental to their long-term health.
If you’d like to give them human food, start with small portions of something safe to eat and see how they react to it, then gradually increase the amount as you observe tolerance for the snack.
Whenever you plan on adding something to your cat’s diet, remember to check if it can pass safely through their digestive system by consulting with a veterinarian first.
What Human Foods Can Cats Eat?
So, now that we’ve covered the potential dangers of your cat eating human food and the precautions you should take as a pet owner, it’s time to find out what foods cats can eat. Most of the foodstuffs listed below are high in the vitamins and minerals necessary for cats’ continued health. Therefore, they are generally safe to add to their food in appropriate amounts or occasional treats.
Can Cats Eat Meat?
Your feline is a natural carnivore, so it should come as no surprise that their digestive systems can handle meat, seafood, and other sources of protein. However, there is a certain way to prepare meat for your cat to have the easiest time eating it.
You must cook meat all the way through to eliminate dangerous bacteria they tend to collect while raw. However, try to avoid cooking methods that use a lot of oil as that adds a lot of unhealthy fats to the meal. Generally, the best way to cook most meats safely for your cat is to boil them plain without adding spices or sauce.
After the owner finishes cooking the meat, they can cut it up into 1 - 2 inch cubes and serve it as a meal, mix some of it into their food, or simply give them a small piece as a snack.
Can Cats Eat Vegetables?
It’s riskier to feed your cat vegetables because they lack the enzymes to digest their proteins properly. There are still certain veggie products that are more palatable for your cat than others, but you should offer them moderation to promote the healthiest outcomes.
Overweight cats, in particular, can benefit from the occasional vegetable meal due to their low-calorie and high water content.
Produce like carrots, lettuce, and celery make for the perfect light snacks for your cat. Before serving, be sure to wash them thoroughly to avoid any dangerous bacteria getting into your pet’s system. It’s best to peel carrots before serving them as well to prevent their rough skin from damaging your cat’s digestive system.
Like with meat, you can add these to your cat’s daily meals or serve them as a light treat. Remember to cut them up before serving as well, so your feline friend doesn’t have any trouble chewing and swallowing.
What Can’t Cats Eat?
Knowing the foods cats can’t eat is one of the most important things you can learn about caring for your pet. It’s not as severe as needing to keep these foods out of your home but remain vigilant so that your cat doesn’t end up nibbling on something dangerous.
While there are specific preparations an owner needs to do to make things like fish (remove the bones) and carrots (remove the skin) safe for cats, the following are several human foods that a cat’s digestive system can’t handle, regardless of preparation methods.
Can Cats Eat Cheese and Other Dairy Products?
While kittens can digest dairy so that they can drink from their mother, once they’ve made a switch to solid foods, they rapidly lose the ability to process lactose. Essentially, nearly all adult cats are lactose intolerant and can suffer from various health problems if allowed to ingest any dairy such as milk or cheese.
Can Cats Eat Onions?
No. Food such as onions, chives, and garlic contains a chemical called thiosulphate which is highly toxic to cats no matter the form it comes in. When ingested, it triggers a reaction within the cat’s body that destroys their red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anemia, a life-threatening condition that occurs when blood cells disappear faster than the body can replace them.
What Should You Do if Your Cat Eats Something Toxic?
If your cat eats something toxic, or even if you suspect that they got into something dangerous for them, call a veterinarian or an animal poison specialist at the Animal Poison Control Center ASAP! An animal professional can help you identify your cat’s symptoms to find out precisely what they ate and inform you of the next steps you should take to treat them.
Pet owners should strive to keep many human foods far away from their feline pals, and having a working knowledge of foods cats can’t eat is the first step! However, as long as you are diligent in controlling what goes into your pet’s mouth and prepare their meals carefully, these foods don’t present too much of a risk.