As a cat owner, it’s natural to want to share your food with your feline friend.
However, not all human food is suitable for cats, and some can even be harmful.
The primary question to address is: what human food can cats eat?
Some cat owners may opt to feed their cats human food to supplement their regular diet with additional nutrients or variety or to offer occasional snacks or rewards.
Sharing food with furry companions is another reason cat owners give human food to their pets.
While certain human foods can provide health benefits for cats, such as antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, others may cause health problems like digestive upset, allergic reactions, toxicity, and obesity.
This article will explore various human foods that are safe for cats, those that should be given with caution, and which foods are toxic or harmful for cats to avoid.
- Learn about safe human foods that can provide benefits for your cat’s health
- Understand the risks of certain human foods that can cause health problems in cats
- Discover the toxic or harmful human foods to avoid giving to your feline friend
What Human Food Can Cats Eat?
Cats are curious creatures, and they might show interest in some of the human foods that you enjoy.
While it’s essential to feed your cat a balanced diet, there are a few human food items that can be shared in moderation.
Remember, moderation is key, and these treats should not replace your cat’s standard meal.
Fruits like blueberries, watermelon, strawberries, apples, and cantaloupe are safe options for cats. (1) Remove seeds and peels before serving small portions as occasional treats. Bananas and raspberries can also be an option but less preferred due to their higher sugar content.
Giving your feline friend some vegetables is another great idea. Cats can enjoy pumpkin, carrots, green beans, peas, and even broccoli – all in small amounts, of course.
However, avoid giving them corn, as it’s not easily digestible for cats. (2)
When it comes to animal proteins, cats are obligate carnivores, which means their diet should primarily consist of meat-based items. (3)
Offering small portions of raw or cooked meat is perfectly acceptable. Fish, beef, chicken, turkey, liver, or even lamb can be given in tiny quantities, as long as it is boneless and unseasoned. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish contribute to your kitty’s overall health as well.
Adding whole grains like oats and brown rice to your cat’s diet can also provide essential nutrients. These items can be shared occasionally in small, properly cooked portions.
In conclusion, it’s essential to note that while these human food options can be enjoyed by cats, they should not become the primary source of their diet. Always consult a veterinarian before introducing new foods to your cat’s diet, and make sure to monitor for any adverse reactions.
Cats can safely consume certain vegetables in moderation, as long as they are washed, peeled (if needed), cooked (if needed), and cut into small pieces. (4)
Vegetables can provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber for cats. However, they also contain carbohydrates that can be difficult for some cats to digest. (5)
It is crucial to monitor your cats’ reactions to vegetables and adjust the amount and frequency accordingly.
Below is a list of vegetables that are safe for cats to eat, with examples and explanations for each vegetable:
- Carrots: A slice of cooked carrot provides cats with vitamin A and beta-carotene, which can support their eye health and immune systems.
- Cucumbers: A slice of raw cucumber is low in calories and high in water content, which can help hydrate and fill up cats.
- Celery: A small piece of raw or cooked celery is rich in vitamin K and folate, which can assist with blood clotting and cell growth in cats.
- Green beans: A few cooked green beans without salt or spices are high in protein and fiber, which can aid in weight management and digestion for cats.
- Lettuce: A small piece of lettuce is low in calories and high in water content, which can help hydrate and fill up cats.
In addition to these, cats can also consume other vegetables like broccoli and corn in moderation.
However, some vegetables, such as onions and garlic, are toxic to cats and must be avoided.
When introducing vegetables to your cat’s diet, it is essential to do so gradually and in small amounts to avoid potential digestive issues.
Always consult your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your cat’s diet to ensure their overall health and well-being.
Fruits are generally safe for cats to eat in moderation, as long as they are washed, peeled, cored, seeded, and cut into small pieces. (6)
They can provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber for cats, but they also contain natural sugars that can be too much for some cats.
It is important for cat owners to monitor their cats’ reactions to fruits and adjust the amount and frequency accordingly.
Here are examples and explanations for each fruit:
- Apples: A slice of apple without seeds or stem can be a good choice for cats, as apples are rich in vitamin C and fiber, which can support the immune system and digestion.
- Bananas: A small piece of banana without peel can benefit cats, as bananas are high in potassium and magnesium, which can help regulate blood pressure and muscle function.
- Pears: A chunk of pear without seeds or stem is low in calories and high in water content, which can help hydrate and fill up cats.
- Blueberries: A few blueberries can be a treat for cats, as they are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Strawberries: A small strawberry can provide cats with vitamin C and folic acid, which can boost the immune system and red blood cell production.
- Raspberries: A few raspberries can benefit cats’ overall health, as they contain antioxidants, fiber, and anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Cranberries: A spoonful of unsweetened cranberry juice or sauce can help prevent urinary tract infections and bladder stones in cats by lowering the pH of urine.
- Watermelon: A cube of watermelon without seeds or rind is mostly water, which can help hydrate cats and prevent dehydration.
- Pineapple: A small piece of pineapple without peel or core contains bromelain, an enzyme that can help digest proteins and reduce inflammation in cats.
- Pumpkin: A spoonful of cooked or canned pumpkin without spices or additives is high in fiber and beta-carotene, which can improve digestion and vision in cats.
When offering fruits to your cat, remember to keep the servings small and avoid any potential choking hazards.
If you notice any negative reactions or changes in your cat’s health after introducing fruits, consult your veterinarian for guidance.
Meat & Fish
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they rely on meat and fish as their main sources of protein, fat, and essential amino acids. (7)
These animal-based foods provide various health benefits for cats, such as building and maintaining muscle mass and strength, supporting the growth and development of kittens, promoting healthy skin and coat, and enhancing the immune system and wound healing.
It is important that cat owners feed their feline friends fresh, lean, cooked, and deboned meat and fish.
Processed, seasoned, or spoiled meat and fish should be avoided.
Let’s look at some examples of safe meat and fish options for cats to consume, along with explanations of their nutritional benefits.
|Meat & Fish||Example||Explanation|
|Meat||A bite-sized piece of cooked chicken, turkey, beef, or lamb||Meat is high in protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, which are essential for cats’ health.|
|Fish||A bite-sized piece of cooked salmon, tuna, sardine, or mackerel||Fish is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, and selenium, which can benefit cats’ heart, brain, thyroid, and skin health.|
|Shrimp||A cooked shrimp without shell or tail||Shrimp is high in protein, vitamin B12, niacin, and phosphorus, which can support cats’ nervous system, metabolism, and bone health.|
|Bacon & Ham||A small piece of cooked bacon or ham without salt or spices||While not the healthiest option, bacon and ham are high in protein and fat, which can provide energy and calories for cats if given in small quantities.|
|Eggs||A scrambled egg without salt or spices||Eggs are high in protein, biotin, riboflavin, and selenium, which can help with cats’ skin, coat, and muscle health.|
Overall, meat and fish constitute essential elements in a cat’s diet. By offering a variety of safe and nutritious options, cat owners can enrich their pets’ diets and contribute to their overall well-being.
Remember to always feed meats and fish in moderation and ensure proper preparation to avoid any potential hazards.
Cereals & Grains
Cereals and grains are not necessary for cats’ nutrition, as they are not natural sources of food for them.
Although they can provide some carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins for cats, these foods also have the potential to cause problems, such as allergic reactions or intolerances, digestive issues or diarrhea, weight gain or obesity, and dental problems or tartar buildup.
It’s best for cat owners to limit or avoid feeding their cats cereals and grains, especially those that contain gluten or additives.
However, there are a few cereals and grains that are safe for cats to eat in small amounts. The following table provides examples and explanations for each cereal or grain:
|Cereal & Grain||Example||Explanation|
|Oatmeal||A spoonful of cooked oatmeal without sugar or milk||Oatmeal is high in fiber and antioxidants, which can help with cats’ digestion and immunity.|
|Rice||A spoonful of cooked rice without salt or spices||Rice is high in carbohydrates and easy to digest, which can help with cats’ energy levels.|
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Human Foods That Should Be Given with Caution
Some human foods are not toxic or harmful for cats per se, but they can cause adverse effects if given too much or too often.
It is crucial to be cautious when feeding your cats these foods, and ensure they’re given in small amounts as an occasional treat to avoid potential issues.
For instance, avocado contains persin, a toxin that can cause vomiting or diarrhea in cats.
Similarly, peaches contain cyanide in their pits, which can be fatal for cats if ingested.
Potatoes contain solanine in their skins and sprouts, which can cause gastrointestinal distress in cats.
Spinach contains oxalates, which can interfere with calcium absorption and cause kidney stones in cats.
Broccoli contains isothiocyanates, which can cause gas or bloating in cats.
Tomatoes contain tomatine in their stems and leaves, which can cause gastrointestinal upset in cats.
Corn contains carbohydrates that can be hard to digest for some cats.
In addition to the mentioned foods, the following human foods should also be given with caution:
- Tuna fish: A can of tuna in water without salt or oil might seem like a tasty treat for your cat. However, tuna fish contains mercury that can accumulate in cats’ bodies and cause neurological problems or kidney damage. It’s best to limit their consumption of tuna and opt for other types of fish with lower mercury levels.
- Bread: Although a small piece of bread without yeast or raisins might not cause any harm to your cat, bread contains carbohydrates that can be hard to digest for some cats and lead to weight gain or diabetes. Opt for treats specifically designed for cats as a safer alternative.
- Peanut butter: A little lick of peanut butter without xylitol or salt can provide energy and calories for cats. Nonetheless, it can also pose a choking hazard or cause allergies in some cats. Be cautious with the amount of peanut butter given and always monitor your cat while they’re enjoying this treat.
It is essential to be mindful when offering these human foods to your feline friend, as they might lead to health issues if consumed excessively.
Always prioritize a balanced cat diet, and consult with a veterinarian before introducing new foods to your cat’s meal plan.
What Can Cats Not Eat?
When it comes to the safety of our feline friends, it’s important to know which human foods they should avoid.
Some common household items may actually be harmful or even toxic to cats. Let’s take a look at some of these potentially dangerous foods.
Chocolate is a well-known no-no for cats, as it contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, and even heart failure in cats.
Similarly, coffee and tea should be kept away from cats due to their content of caffeine.
Another lesser-known toxin for cats is xylitol, a sugar substitute often used in sugar-free products, such as gum and some baked goods. Ingestion of xylitol can lead to rapid insulin release, causing low blood sugar, seizures, and even liver failure in cats.
It is also important to keep grapes and avocados out of your cat’s reach, as they can cause kidney failure and vomiting, respectively.
While it’s tempting to give your kitty a taste of these fruits, it’s better to stick to cat-approved treats.
On the topic of vegetable family, leeks should be off-limits for your feline friend. Leeks, along with onions and garlic, can cause damage to the red blood cells, leading to anemia in cats.
Make sure to keep these potent veggies in a safe place and out of your cat’s reach.
Certain types of seeds and nuts may also pose a risk to your cat’s health.
For example, walnuts might contain a toxin called juglone, which can be harmful to cats when ingested in large amounts. Keep these nuts and any products containing them away from your curious feline.
Lastly, it’s important to be cautious with alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol can be toxic to cats, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing.
Always ensure that your cat does not have access to alcoholic beverages or products containing alcohol.
In conclusion, being aware of the potential dangers of certain human foods is crucial to keeping your cat safe and healthy. When in doubt, it’s always best to stick to cat-specific foods and treats, and consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
Common Misconceptions About Cat Food
One common misconception about cat food is that feeding cats dog food is acceptable.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cats are obligate carnivores and require a diet high in animal protein, whereas dog food contains lower protein levels and higher carbohydrate content.
This means that dog food cannot provide the essential nutrients a cat needs to thrive.
Another myth is that cats can be fed any human food. While some cat owners may be tempted to share their meals with their furry friends, certain human foods can be harmful or even toxic for cats.
For example, tomatoes contain solanine which is dangerous for cats.
Similarly, persin, a compound found in avocados, can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats.
It’s essential to research the safety of any human food before offering it to your feline companion. (8)
A common question cat owners ask is whether it’s safe to feed their cats eggs. While eggs are a great source of protein, there are some potential risks to be aware of.
Raw or undercooked eggs might contain salmonella bacteria, which can lead to food poisoning in cats.
To avoid this, always cook eggs thoroughly before giving them to your cat, and make sure to only offer them in moderation, as too much of any single food could lead to an unbalanced diet.
Lastly, many cat owners may assume that their feline friends can be sustained on a ‘complete and balanced’ cat food purchased from the store, without any additional supplements. While this may be true for some commercial cat food options, it’s vital for cat owners to understand the specific nutritional needs of their individual pet and ensure that any cat food they provide meets those needs.
In summary, it is crucial for cat owners to be aware of the common misconceptions surrounding cat food. Feeding cats a diet tailored to their unique nutritional requirements will ensure they stay healthy and happy throughout their lives.
Why Cats Are Obligate Carnivores?
Cats are considered obligate carnivores because their bodies require certain nutrients that can only be derived from animal sources.
This distinction sets them apart from animals known as facultative carnivores, which have the ability to consume a more varied diet.
So, what exactly do our little furballs need to stay healthy?
Well, for starters, they require a diet high in protein.
Cats have a unique metabolic requirement for protein due to their carnivorous nature.
They depend on crucial amino acids found specifically in animal-based proteins to support their muscle growth and maintain overall bodily functions.
Some of these essential amino acids include taurine, arginine, and methionine, among others, which cannot be obtained from plant-based sources.
Besides high protein levels, cats also need specific fatty acids and vitamins that are often found in animal tissues.
For instance, cats require arachidonic acid, an essential fatty acid that is mostly found in animal fats, as well as the active form of vitamin A – retinol, which is predominantly found in meats.
While some animals can convert plant-based nutrients into the forms necessary for their bodies, cats cannot do this efficiently, making a meat-based diet essential.
To sum it up, cats are obligate carnivores because their physiological needs demand a diet largely composed of animal-based nutrients, such as proteins, amino acids, and certain vitamins. Feeding your cat a diet that meets these requirements ensures that they will stay healthy, active, and well-nourished, as nature intended.
Remember to consult with your vet, who can provide you with guidance on the best diet and food options tailored specifically for your cat’s needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can cats eat fruits and vegetables?
While cats are primarily carnivores, they can enjoy a few fruits and vegetables occasionally.
For example, cats can eat steamed asparagus, broccoli, carrots, green beans, and peas source.
However, it’s always important to remember that cats need a diet rich in animal protein, so fruits and vegetables should remain as occasional treats.
What dairy products are safe for cats?
Many people believe that cats love milk, but not all dairy products are safe for them. Some cats are lactose intolerant, which means they can’t digest lactose present in dairy products well, leading to digestive issues.
For cats that can tolerate lactose, small amounts of yogurt or cottage cheese can be safe options for occasional treats.
Is there any human meat cats can consume?
Yes, cats can consume some human meats as long as they are cooked and unseasoned.
Rich in animal protein, meats like chicken, turkey, and beef are an excellent addition to your cat’s diet because they provide essential nutrients.
Remember to remove any bones and ensure the meat is cooked without any harmful seasonings, spices, or sauces source.
Can cats eat any type of fish?
Cats can eat fish, but it should be given in moderation. Some fish, like tuna, can be high in mercury, which is harmful to cats when consumed frequently.
Cooked and unseasoned fish, such as salmon or whitefish, can be a healthier option for occasional treats.
It is crucial to remove any bones and avoid feeding raw fish to your cat, as raw fish may contain harmful bacteria.
Is it okay to share my eggs with my cat?
Yes, sharing cooked eggs with your cat is safe, as long as they are prepared without any seasonings, spices, or oils. Eggs can be a good source of protein for cats.
However, raw egg consumption should be avoided due to the risk of salmonella infection.
Can cats have any treats like peanut butter?
Peanut butter is not toxic to cats, but it is high in fat and not nutritionally beneficial for them.
Therefore, it’s not recommended as a treat for your feline friend. Instead, consider offering healthier and cat-friendly treats that cater to their dietary needs, such as cooked and unseasoned meats or cat-safe vegetables.