Foods You Should Never Feed Cats

Picture of a hairy cat

As cat owners, we love our cats and want to please them in any way we can. Sometimes that involves wanting to give them a little bit of what we’re eating – if it tastes good to us, it should be good for them, too, right? Wrong. Most vets recommend not feeding any “people foods” to cats, but especially not any of the following foods, which can sicken and/or kill your cat:

  • Tuna. What, you might ask? Isn’t tuna the perfect food for cats? No—at least, not tuna that’s meant for humans. It doesn’t have the nutrients your kitty needs, like cat food tuna does. Too much human-intended tuna might also cause mercury poisoning in cats. Bottom line– don’t leave an open can of tuna on the counter or you’re just asking for trouble!
  • Chocolate. Just as chocolate is not safe for dogs, neither is it safe for cats. It contains the stimulant theobromine as well as caffeine, both of which can cause seizures, muscle tremors heart problems and even death in felines. After you indulge, wipe up any chocolate crumbs from tables or floors so kitty doesn’t lick them and get sick.
  • Dairy products. That saucer of milk could be dangerous for kitty. Many cats have lactose intolerance and, while milk may look appealing to them (and to you), it can cause them to have diarrhea and vomiting. Best bet– forego the milk and keep a fresh bowl of water out for kitty at all times instead.
  • Alcohol. This should go without saying, but if you spill your wine, clean it up before your cat has a chance to lap it up. Never let your cat drink even a little alcohol, as it can cause brain and liver damage. Remember, even two teaspoons of whiskey can cause a coma in a five-pound cat.
  • Xylitol. This sweetener found in sugar-free foods has been known to cause severe blood sugar drops and even liver failure in dogs, so it’s best to keep sugar free candies, gums and other foods containing xylitol away from cats just to be on the safe side.
  • Tea, coffee and energy drinks. Anything containing caffeine can cause problems for kitty. Think about it – if caffeine can cause restlessness in humans, of course we can expect it to cause similar problems in cats – and it does, with possible side effects including muscle tremors, heart palpitations, restlessness, rapid breathing and even death. A jittery kitty is not a healthy kitty.
  • Raw meat and raw fish. Raw foods such as these can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis in cats. There is a risk of E. coli or Salmonella associated with eating raw foods, which can cause food poisoning. Raw fish also contains an enzyme that destroys thiamine, which is a B vitamin your cat needs. Cats who lack thiamine can have neurological problems including seizures and coma. While it might seem like a treat to give your cat raw meat, it’s the exact opposite.
  • Fat trimmings. That extra fat you trimmed off the roast you made for dinner? Don’t put it in your cat’s food dish – throw it away. Excessive fat can cause pancreatitis, diarrhea and vomiting in cats. Maybe the rhyme should go, “Jack’s cat could eat no fat…” to help us cat owners to remember this.
  • Bones. This should also go without saying, but bones can cause cats to choke. They can also splinter and cut the inside of a cat’s digestive system or cause an obstruction. There should be no bones about this.
  • Liver. If a cat eats too much liver, she can consume too much Vitamin A. Vitamin A toxicity can cause bones to become deformed, growths on the spine and elbows, osteoporosis, and can also lead to death. Never give her liver.
  • Raw eggs. Again, cats can get food poisoning from raw eggs, particularly if they carry the bacteria E. coli or Salmonella. A protein contained in raw egg whites called avidin can also cause a problem in cats by blocking the absorption of the B vitamin biotin. Lack of biotin can cause kitty to have fur and skin problems.
  • Garlic, chives and onions. Eating these foods from the onion family can cause nausea and diarrhea in cats. Consuming onions can also lead to anemia in cats. Same goes for onion powder. (Not to mention what it will do to a cat’s breath).
  • Raisins and grapes. These fruits might seem like the perfect bite-sized kitty snack. However, they can cause kidney failure, vomiting and hyperactivity in cats. Keep them away from kitties before they become edible toys.
  • Dog food. Dog food cannot be substituted for cat food, as it does not contain the nutrients cats need. Cats require more protein and higher quantities of some fatty acids and vitamins than dogs. If your cat regularly eats dog food, she can quickly become severely malnourished. Might have to keep your dog’s food bowl away from the cat if you have a nosey cat like mine who thinks the dog’s food is more appetizing than her own.
  • Bread (yeast) dough. Yeast dough can rise in your cat’s stomach just as it would do sitting on your kitchen counter. As it rises in her stomach, it will cause your cat’s stomach to stretch and give her unbearable pain. As yeast ferments the dough to make it rise, it produces alcohol, which can also lead to alcohol poisoning. Not a good situation at all.
  • Human medicine. Keep your medications locked up and away from kitty’s curious tongue. You should never give a cat human medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, unless your vet tells you to. These can be fatal to cats.
  • An overabundance of cat treats. Just as humans shouldn’t overindulge in sweets, cats should never be given too many treats. They can become obese and diabetic quickly if they overindulge in treats.

Responsible, loving cat owners must remember to keep all these foods away from their fur babies. Doing so will help to keep your cat healthy and happy.



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