Your cat is a carnivore and needs a carefully balanced, protein-based diet to ensure they get all the nutrients they need. But with kits an important part of our families, it can be often tempting to ‘treat’ them with a human food titbit.
While some human food is safe for felines, it doesn’t mean they necessarily need them or get any nutritional value. And a lot of everyday food you have in the refrigerator or kitchen cupboard can actually be harmful to your precious pet.
To help you navigate meal or snack times when your kit is taking more than a passing interest in what is on your plate, we give you the definite answer to the question – what can cats eat?
Can Cats Eat Chocolate?
Chocolate is a definite no. This delicious human treat can actually be toxic for both cats and dogs and should be kept well out of the way of your pets. The reason is the cacao used to make chocolate. Cacao contains a substance call theobromine, which can be found in all chocolate, including white chocolate although it’s found in the most dangerous quantities in dark chocolate and baking chocolate. As your cat’s body simply cannot break down theobromine, it will build up in their body, leading to abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures and potentially fatal liver damage. And if that’s not enough to keep your choc stash locked out of the way, chocolate also contains dairy which most cats have trouble tolerating. Then there’s all that sugar, fat and even the sugar substitute xylitol, which are all harmful to your cat’s health. The positive is that cats don’t experience sweetness in the way that we do, and so chocolate is a less pleasurable taste and unlikely to become your feline’s favorite.
Can Cats Eat Eggs?
While eggs are safe for your cat, it should only ever be as an occasional treat, and they should never be served raw. Raw eggs can put your pet at risk of contracting E.coli and salmonella, two types of food poisoning you really don’t want your kit to have. The symptoms of food poisoning are unpleasant – diarrhea, vomiting, fever, listlessness and can even be severe enough to be life-threatening. Raw eggs also contain a protein called avidin, which can interfere with the way your cat absorbs the essential vitamin, biotin, which is needed for their skin and coat. If you do want to treat your cat with a few slices of egg, boil it first and ensure all the shell has been removed. Cooked eggs are a good source of protein and essential amino acids. However, they also contain cholesterol and are high in calories. Some cats may also have an egg allergy and if your kit has kidney issues, eggs should be avoided altogether.
Can Cats Eat Cheese?
The short answer is yes, in small amounts but only if they are not lactose intolerant. Although a good source of protein, cheese is dairy and fat-rich and should not be used as a regular food source for your cat. First up, the milk in cheese can cause allergic reactions in many cats who struggle to process the lactose, the natural sugars that are found in milk. But if your cat it able to tolerate dairy, then an occasional small chunk of cheese should be ok. But it can only certain types of cheese – the hard, plain varieties, such as cheddar. Soft or blue-veined cheeses should be avoided as they can be too rich for your cat’s tum. And cheeses with added ingredients such as garlic, dried fruit, onion, chili, chives or spices are strictly off the menu. It’s important that you only give small amounts of cheese too, as the high salt and fat levels can cause health issues if your cat eats too much, too often.
Can Cats Eat Bananas?
Bananas are one of the limited number of fruits considered safe for your cat as there is nothing toxic that can harm your pet. But as your cat is a carnivore, there is no real nutritional need for them to eat banana if they are fed the most appropriate diet. However, if you cat has a taste for a banana, you can give them the occasional small slice as a treat. Bananas are actually a good source of heart and kidney-boosting potassium as well as fiber and can give your kit a little energy kick. However, as a carbohydrate they are full of sugar, which can cause obesity and even diabetes in your cat if they eat bananas to excess. And the banana peel should always be removed as it is tough and fibrous and can cause digestive upsets if eaten by your cat.
Can Cats Eat Bread?
There’s no real nutritional value in bread for your cat so if he shows no interest in the loaf on your kitchen worktop then there’s no need to tempt them with a bready treat. Carbohydrates in your cat’s diet needs to be limited and should actually be obtained through their cat food diet. However, some cats do like a little carb and bread is easy for them to eat, although too much can lead to bloating. While it will give them fiber, bread is also full of calories so always carefully manage any additional carb treats to prevent their weight becoming an issue. A small corner of a slice of bread once in a while is ok, but keep it plain, with no butter, spreads or jams. And one final word of warning – if you make your own bread, always keep any raw dough away from your cat. The rising yeast in the dough will be producing ethanol which can lead to alcohol poisoning in your cat if eaten.
Can Cats Eat Strawberries?
Strawberries are not toxic for cats and are safe for them to eat in very small quantities. These sunshine berries are packed with goodness, including antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C which can all benefit your cat. However, strawberries also have a high amount of sugar which your pet could do without. Sugar is not a natural part of your kit’s diet and too much can lead to a range of health problems, including obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. Sugar is also difficult for your cat to digest and can lead to bloating as well as stomach upset. And the tough stem and even the leaves can irritate your cat’s gut and even cause an obstruction if eaten. Cats don’t really need fruit in their diet but if your pet has a likening for these berries, then the occasional slice or very small strawberry as a treat shouldn’t do any harm.
Can Cats Eat Apples?
Juicy and crunchy, apples can be an enjoyable for your cat and the good news is they are safe for kits, as long as you follow a few simple rules. Only ever feed your cat the peeled apple flesh, and always remove the pips, stalk and core. The pips of an apple can actually be toxic for pets, as they contain cyanide which can be poisonous if eaten in sufficient quantities. And the stalk, core and skin are tough and fibrous, and can cause obstructions or gastric irritation if ingested by your cat. Apple flesh does have some nutritional benefits for your cat, including high levels of vitamin C as well as fiber (pectin in particular, which is good for their gut health). However, apples have high sugar levels too, which are not so good for your cat. If you kit likes a little sweet, crunchy apple, then slice it in small pieces so they are not a choke hazard and only give one or two as a treat.
Can Cats Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries are one of the few fruits considered safe for your cat, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he needs to eat them. Sugar is not an essential part of a cat’s diet, which should be rich in lean protein, and cat-appropriate nutrients. However, the odd blueberry is not going to do your cat any harm and contain some good stuff they can benefit from. Blueberries are considered a superfood in the human world, thanks to the nutrients they pack, including antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C as well as phytochemicals which give the skin such a deep blue color. However, the sugar levels in blueberries mean you should only give your feline a couple of blueberries as an occasional treat. Only ever feed blueberries to your cat fresh (you can give them part-frozen if the weather is hot) and always under supervision as the size and shape of blueberries do make them a potential choke hazard, especially with smaller cats.
Can Cats Eat Grapes?
Just as they are potentially toxic for dogs, then grapes should be kept away from your cat. Depending on your pet, even a small number of grapes can make them ill, and without veterinary care can even lead to kidney failure if not treated in time. The problem is, that there is no set amount of grapes that causes the same effect in all cats and so, for this reason, it is wise to keep your kit away from the fruit altogether. And this also includes products derived from grapes, including raisins and fruit cakes. Symptoms of grape poisoning in cats can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, decreased urination and loss of appetite and will typically show up within 12-24 hours of ingestion. If you suspect your cat has chomped grapes, get them checked out by your vet as soon as possible, just to be sure.
Can Cats Eat Watermelon?
With its high-water content (typically around 90%), watermelon is a refreshing treat on a very hot day and is a fruit that can be safely enjoyed in moderation by your cat. As well as all that hydrating water, watermelons also contain plenty of nutritional goodness, including vitamin A and C as well as dietary fiber and lycopene, which is good for feline heart health. There’s nothing toxic in the flesh of watermelon either, although there are a few precautions you need to take. And that starts with removing the rind and pips. Just like other fruit seeds, the watermelon pip contains cyanide, which can be toxic for cats if eaten in quantity. The pips can also irritate their intestinal tract, as can the tough rind, which can also pose a choke or obstruction hazard. Then there’s the sugar level, which can cause health issues in cats if eaten regularly. This means little and not very often if you want to give a watermelon, flesh-only treat to your cat.
Can Cats Eat Avocado?
Fresh-smelling and delicious, we humans love the avocado and now consider it a superfood. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is super for your cat. Nutritionally, avos pack a punch, with high levels of antioxidants, fiver and oleic fatty acid, which helps to reduce inflammation and boost heart health. But they are also high in fat which is not good for your cat. The real danger of avocados lies in their stone and peel as they contain persin, which can be toxic for pets. Persin can cause an unpleasant reaction in cats and can even prove fatal, even in small amounts. Aside from the persin danger, avo stones are a substantial size and can cause an obstruction in your cat’s throat or gut. For these reasons, we recommend keeping avocados off your cat’s treat menu – and this includes the avo dip, guacamole – and give them something more cat-appropriate instead.
Can Cats Eat Rice?
While it has no nutritional value for your cat, some felines can find boiled rice soothing on their digestion, especially if they are prone to a sensitive stomach. And the fiber rice contains, especially brown rice, can help ‘unblock’ a sluggish digestive system. Rice is often used as a filler in some cat food, so that shows it is safe to eat. But too much and rice can cause problems as your kit’s carnivore-set digestion can find it too much to process. Rice is, however, non-toxic for pets and the veterinary experts agree that small amounts of grains such as rice are safe, as part of your cat’s feline-appropriate diet and can actually be used to help diarrhea or constipation. The caveat is that it should be kept to small amounts only, must always be cooked and served plain, with no added salt, seasoning or flavoring.
You may also like our articles on Cat Food for Constipation and Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs.
Can Cats Eat Popcorn?
Corn is often used in cat food so as long as your kit is not intolerant, then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t eat popcorn. But the question you need to ask is – do they need it? And the answer is no. Your cat should be able to get all the nutrients they need from their cat food diet without needing to eat corn or popcorn. And, while corn is a source of protein as well as riboflavin and thiamin, it’s also high in carbohydrates and sugars which are not good for your cat in the long run. However, many owners report that their cats like the texture of popped corn and if this is the case with your pet, then the odd couple of popcorn pieces should be ok. But it needs to be plain and totally popped so no hard corn kernel is left. And all those popcorn flavorings – extra butter, salt, sugar, syrup or caramel – should be left in the cupboard.
Can Cats Eat Carrots?
Carrots are on the safe list for cats and can actually benefit their health, as well as their teeth. Fed in bite-sized chunks, the crunchy texture of raw carrot can help keep their teeth clean, although if fed the correct diet, the vegetable shouldn’t be needed. Nutritionally, carrots do offer a lot of goodness to your cat, and this means they often find themselves on the ingredient list of cat food. You get many of the essential vitamins and minerals your kit needs, including vitamin A as well as fiber for good digestive health. However, as a carb, carrots do contain sugar which means raw or unseasoned cooked carrot should only be given as an occasional treat. Just make sure they are peeled and washed, to remove any possible pesticides and cut into chunks, appropriately sized for your own cat. Too large, and you could have a choke hazard on your hands.
Can Cats Eat Tuna?
Tuna would seem a natural treat for your fish-loving kit, with all that delicious flavor as well as health-boosting natural protein and omega oils to benefit your cat. So, it may surprise you that when looking at tuna for your cat, you should approach with caution and even find an alternative treat. The reason is the high level of mercury that tuna, as a large, deep-sea fish can contain as well as the food processing it needs to go through, to find its way into a tin. Mercury can be poisonous if eaten in enough quantities, leading to vomiting, tremors and potential kidney damage. While tinned tuna is often full of salt and oil, as well as additives that are no good for your cat. If you do want to give tuna to your cat, make it a special treat and only give small amounts of fresh cooked tuna or tinned tuna that has been canned in spring water and not oil or brine.
Can Cats Eat Corn?
While cats can safely eat corn as there is nothing toxic in the vegetable that can harm them, it should not be a regular part of their diet. The reason is that cats are predominately carnivores and carbohydrates should figure low down on their menu. However, corn is often used as a filler in some cat foods, but it is not used for any nutritional value but to actually bulk the meal out. And too much can actually cause digestive issues in more sensitive cats. Should your cat develop a taste for corn, then you must be very careful how it is given to them. It should always be plain and cooked, so no butter, salt, or seasonings. Plain, unflavored popcorn (that’s been fully popped, with no hard corn kernels) is also ok as an occasional treat but should only ever be given in small amounts. And corn-based products, such as tortilla chips are a definite no.
Can Cats Eat Ham?
Moderation is key when it comes to treating your cat with a little ham as although your kit is a carnivore, processed meat such as ham can cause digestive problems. And ham can also be packed with salt, which is not a healthy thing for your cat to have too much of. Your cat will thrive on the best protein so if you do want to give a little ham to your cat, make sure it is a good quality but as plain and as lean as it can be – so no added flavors, seasonings, spices or fats, as too much fat can lead to pancreatitis in cats as well as obesity. And check the meat level actually contained in the ham and that it is as free as possible of artificial additives and flavors as well as onion or garlic, as both of these are potentially toxic to cats.
Can Cats Eat Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are not recommended for cats as they contain a compound called solanine which is toxic for cats, as well as dogs. While solanine is only found in the tomato’s stalk and leaves, if eaten by your cat, it can have nasty side-effects, including diarrhea and stomach issues as well as lethargy and can also potentially slow down their heart rate. However, should your cat eat some tomato flesh, there shouldn’t be a problem, although some cats can struggle to tolerate the acidic levels found in the red fruit. As a raw, ripe fruit, tomatoes do contain nutrients that could be beneficial to your kit, including vitamin C, potassium and fiber, but your cat should be obtaining these as part of a more cat-appropriate diet. And processed tomato, such as pasta sauces and ketchup, which can be packed with salt and sugar, should never be given to your pet.
Can Cats Eat Yogurt?
Once cats grow beyond their kitten stage, the majority will find it difficult to digest milk and dairy products, due to the levels of lactose (a natural sugar) they contain. But yoghurt bucks this trend a little, due to live bacteria it contains. Streptococcus thermophiles and Lactobacillus bulgaricus work to break down the lactose, making yoghurt kinder on your cat’s tum and easier to digest. Yoghurt is also full of good stuff for your cat, including calcium for bone health and magnesium. However, yoghurt is not a natural food for cats so should not be part of their regular diet. But if your cat has developed a taste for the cool, creamy stuff, then a small amount every now and again shouldn’t do any harm. But it should only ever be plain, unsweetened and unflavored without fruit or any extra ingredients. And it’s worth monitoring your cat the first few times they have a taste of yoghurt, just to make sure their tum is happy to tolerate it.
Can Cats Eat Bacon?
For your cat’s health as well as their waistline, bacon shouldn’t be on their treat list. Yes, it is a meat and as a carnivore your pet relies on protein to survive and thrive, but as a processed meat, there is too much in bacon that is ultimately bad for your cat. First up, there are the fat levels. Bacon is saturated in fat which can not only lead your kit to pile on the pounds, but all that grease can really upset their digestive system and even lead to the painful condition, pancreatitis. Then there is the salt – just one rasher of bacon can contain 10 times the recommended daily amount of sodium your cat needs. Too much salt can have a serious impact on your feline’s health, including dehydration, raised blood pressure, heart disease and even poisoning if too much is ingested at once. So, while bacon smells and tastes delicious, we recommend you keep it away from your pet.
Can Cats Eat Broccoli?
Although vegetables and carbs should not be a significant element of your feline’s diet, there are a few veggies that have some benefits, including broccoli. Given in small amounts to your cat, there should be no negative effects of them eating broccoli, but it must always be cooked. Raw broccoli contains compounds which can upset your pet’s stomach and even lead to potential kidney issues if eaten in large enough quantities as your cat doesn’t have the right enzymes to break these chemicals down. But, by cooking the broccoli florets, you can neutralize these compounds, making the green veg not only gentler on their tum but also beneficial for their health. Broccoli is packed with antioxidants and fiber and can help with your kit’s heart and digestive health and even help to protect against cancer. Boiled is the best way to serve broccoli to your cat and only ever in small amounts.
Can Cats Eat Chicken?
Chicken is an excellent source of quality protein for your cat and as it is a lean meat is both tasty and healthy for your kit to eat. However, chicken should not replace your pet’s nutritionally balanced regular cat food, but only used in small or moderate portions as a special treat. As well as protein, chicken contains a host of cat-friendly vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6 for energy release and immune-boosting selenium. But the one essential thing to remember about a chicken treat for your cat – it should never be served raw. Raw chicken runs the risk of food poisoning, due to the bacteria, including salmonella, it can contain. Always fully cook the chicken ‘plain’, that is no added seasoning, ingredients such as garlic, or oils. Serve in small portions as a tasty cat treat and always remove the skin and bones.
Can Cats Eat Turkey?
Turkey is a safe food option for your cat, in fact it is an excellent source of lean protein so perfect for their high protein/low fat and carbs natural diet. But there are some important caveats you need to be aware of. Although in wild they would feed on raw meat, it is not recommended feeding your kit raw turkey, it should always be cooked. Raw turkey will typically come from a supermarket and can contain harmful bacteria including salmonella and listeria. Symptoms of food poisoning in cats include lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, so not a pleasant experience. When serving turkey to your cat, make sure it has been cooked plainly – so no spices, garlic, added oils or butter, seasoning or stuffing which can all be detrimental to your pet. And remove the skin and bones so the meat is plain and lean as too much fat can lead to weight issues; feed in small portions too as a treat and not as a replacement for their usual cat food.
Can Cats Eat Shrimp?
Packed full of lean protein as well as essential minerals and vitamin B12, shrimp is a delicious treat for your cat. The smell, taste and texture of shrimp are a natural draw for felines and make a super treat they will lap up. But to ensure your kit is safe, shrimp does need to be served to them properly and only in small amounts as they should be getting all their dietary requirements from their regular cat food. Shrimp is however pretty high is sodium and cholesterol. It is important that you never give your kit raw shrimp as you don’t want to run the risk of food poisoning. And be aware that some cats can actually be allergic to shellfish, although rare. To serve shrimp to your lucky at, always peel and de-vein before steaming, grilling or sautéing, without any seasoning or added oils. As a guide, one or two cooked shrimps is an ample treat for the average cat.
Can Cats Eat Onions?
When it comes to what you can safely feed your cat, onions are firmly at the top of the no list. Onions, in fact the whole onion family, so that’s garlic, chives and spring onions too, are toxic to cats and can make your kit pretty ill. If eaten in sufficient quantities, onion can even be life-threatening to cats. The reason is that onions contain N-propyl disulphide, which your kit’s body simply cannot break down. Too much of this compound in their body and it can seriously affect their red blood cells, leading to potentially fatal anemia. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and breathing difficulties which will need urgent veterinarian attention. And it is not just raw onion that is dangerous to your pet, powdered, cooked and dehydrated are all no-gos. And be careful what other human food you feed your cat, as things such as pasta sauces, stews and burgers will all contain onion as it is such a popular kitchen staple.