I am Dana, a Veterinary Doctor who studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida. For years, I have got common questions from friends and family about their pets. So, I decided to open up this website and answer all those frequently asked questions. Alongside, here I share my expert knowledge about pet care, pet health and the animal environment. Click Here to read more about me. Thanks for visiting aplaceforanimals.com

Toxic Food for Cats: Can They Eat Human Foods?

toxic food for cats

Cats are obligate Carnivores. This means they cannot survive without eating animal protein. They might like you to share your food with them when you are eating. Doesn’t matter whether it is meat or even vegan food. But you should be careful to check the ingredients of your meal before giving any to your cat. Cats have a more sensitive gastrointestinal tract than dogs, which makes them more prone to gastrointestinal issues. 

In this article, we will thoroughly discuss toxic food for cats, what human foods they can eat, and what symptoms to look for in case of toxicity. 

What Can Cats Eat?

Which foods are toxic for cats and what you can feed them. What symptoms they will show if they have toxic foods. Let’s find out.

1. Can Cats Eat Garlic and Onions?

The answer is of course not! Vegetables that belong to the allium family such as onions, garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks are very harmful to cats. They cause severe hemolytic anemia (destruction of red blood cells) and the formation of Heinz bodies. 

The allium family is more toxic to cats than dogs because the red blood cells of the cats are more prone to Oxidative damage and Hemolysis. If your cat ingested onions or any allium vegetable; be ready to rush it to the vet, in case any of these symptoms appeared:

  • A pale mucus membrane (anemia)
  • Lethargy
  • Tachypnea (increased respiratory rate)
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling

Be careful! Most human meals contain garlic and onions either cooked, raw or powdered. An easy way to tell if your cat ingested some garlic, onions, chives, or leeks is by checking its breath.

2. Can Cats Eat Raisins and Grapes?

No, raisins and grapes are very toxic to cats especially if they have pre-existing renal disease. There’s no information yet about the toxic dose, but the ingestion of fresh or dried grape or grape pomace has shown renal lesions and gastrointestinal signs in both dogs and cats and even a reversible brain injury. 

If you are suspecting that your cat has eaten some grapes, watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Polydipsia (increased water consumption)
  • Polyuria (increased urination)

The symptoms might be seen after 24 hours of consumption, and the full recovery might take up to 3 weeks with the proper treatment.

3. Can Cats Eat Bones?

The answer is ‘preferably not”. Commonly, people are very used to giving their cats leftover bones from their chicken meals. But there’s a high chance that they will cause your feline an issue. 

little girl feeding meat to a cat
Image credit: Fabian Garcia, Shutterstock

When it comes to feeding bones, the list of the incidence that might happen is long! Feeding your cat bones can:

  • break their teeth
  • cause Constipation
  • choking
  • internal bleeding
  • obstruction in the Esophagus, Trachea, or Intestine
  • bacterial infection 
  • have a risk of Pancreatitis (inflammation of the Pancreas)

If your cat ever had any complications while eating bones, you probably saw at least one of these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Gagging
  • Polydipsia (increased water consumption)
  • Broken teeth
  • Ulcers in the mouth

Sometimes your cat might not go through any of the listed complications after eating bones, but it is not worth the risk, to keep your cat safe.

4. Can Cats Eat Chocolate?

Chocolate is another food poisonous to cats, it contains methylxanthine, a substance that a cat’s body cannot break down and excrete, therefore it will cause toxicity.

Dark chocolate is considered more harmful than any other type because it contains more methylxanthine. Make sure to keep chocolate away from your cat whether it is in a drink, cake, or straight from the chocolate bar because even 100 mg of methylxanthine can cause serious health issues such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Chocolate might have some positive effect on a human’s mood and we can easily digest it and excrete it but it will bring your cat nothing but harm.

5. Can Cats Drink Lemonade?

The answer is No! all citrus fruits such as lemon and oranges are not recommended for cats, they can cause serious gastrointestinal issues and abdominal pain, these fruits contain 3 essential oils that cats are sensitive to limonene, linalool, and psoralens. If your cat consumed a small amount they will probably be fine, the symptoms usually occur when cats consume a large amount:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Skin irritation, in case the skin was exposed to citrus fruits
  • Mouth irritation and drooling

Cats usually hate the smell of citrus fruits, most of them avoid it and it is not very common for cats to actually enjoy eating an orange.

6. Can Cats Eat Fried Chicken?

The answer is only in very small amounts and for sure without the bones. Fried chicken is very high in fat which will cause an upset stomach and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). 

In the wild, cats hunt small prey like mice and birds. These animals contain a small amount of fat compared to chickens. Other than the dangers of high-fat meat and skin, the bones of fried chicken are extremely harmful. They can chatter and cause lesions and internal bleeding and carry a lot of bacteria as well. 

What happens to cats if they eat a lot of fried chicken?

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperthermia (high body temperature)
  • Anorexia
  • Broken teeth are caused by the bones

On the other hand, boiled chicken without any spices and oils makes a great snack. While serving this rich protein food to your cat, make sure to avoid the bones and skin. This is applicable for both cooked and raw.

7. Can Cats Drink Milk?

Cats CAN NOT drink dairy milk! Their body does not digest the lactose found in dairy products and it will cause them serious gastrointestinal problems.

One of the most popular myths is that cats can drink dairy milk. Never give kittens milk containing lactose. There is special Kitten Formula Milk that is safe and healthy and will ensure good growth.

cat looking at a glass of milk
Image credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

What happens to cats if they drink lactose milk?

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Anorexia
  • Abdominal pain

Lactose-free milk is okay in small quantities but cat formula milk is safer. If you have a kitten who is less than 3 weeks old, lactose-free milk will not ensure healthy growth. Besides, dairy milk with lactose can be lethal.

8. Can Cats Eat Avocados?

The answer is No! Avocado leaves, seeds, and bark contain an oil-soluble toxin called Persin. it is not harmful to humans but can cause serious health issues for cats. 

Other than the Persin, avocados are rich in fat which can cause Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). If your cat licks your avocado, it won’t be that harmful. 

Having said that, if it eats a good portion of it, you should be ready to rush your pet to the vet, given that any of these symptoms begin to show:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Stool obstruction
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)

Instead of avocados, you can give your cat other fruits like Watermelon (without the seeds), Bananas and Cucumbers.

9. Can Cats Eat Nuts?

It is not recommended to feed your cats nuts. They contain high levels of fat and can cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and it can cause choking as well. 

The most harmful nut of them all is the macadamia nuts, it is very rich in oil and fat, and the chance of your cat choking on them is higher because of their shape and size.

Signs of Toxicity:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  • CNS depression
  • Coughing
  • Choking

10. Can Cats Eat Raw Meat?

Scientists and veterinarians have determined that raw food is harmful to cats. People think that cats are predators and they compare them to lions. In reality, cat owners have no idea about the dangers they are putting their pets through when they feed them a raw diet. By feeding them this type of diet, you are exposing your cat to parasites and bacterial infections such as Salmonellosis, E. coli, Listeria, etc. 

Other than the diseases that come with raw meat, it is proven that this diet is not balanced and does not give your pet all nutrients needed. If you are feeding your cat a raw diet and see one of the following symptoms, contact your vet immediately and let them know about the type of diet your cat is on. Because some vets prefer to isolate animals on a raw diet.

Symptoms:

  • Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Instead of feeding your pet raw meat, try boiling them without any additives like spices and oils. However, you should know that it will not make a well-balanced meal. It could be used only as a snack, though. 

11. Can Cats Eat Candy?

Of course not! Most candies contain Xylitol and artificial sweeteners that are extremely toxic for cats even in small amounts. Even if candies were xylitol free, they will contain sugar instead. Although sugar isn’t immediately harmful, it will cause serious health issues in the long term. 

The most dangerous ingredient in candies is xylitol. It is usually found in gums, drinks, and other sweets. It can cause liver damage to cats and even death. 

If your cat consumes any Xylitol, the following signs will appear:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe hypoglycemia (decreased blood sugar)
  • Seizures
  • Liver failure

Fun fact, cats cannot taste sweetness due to the lack of sweetness receptors.

12. Can Cats Eat Raw Bread Dough?

You should never allow your cat to eat raw dough. The flour itself is not dangerous and cats can safely consume it. 

On the other hand, yeast can be very toxic. It ferments in the stomach, expands, and produces alcohol. Your cat will go through a lot of abdominal pain and many other symptoms like:

  • Vomiting
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Tachypnea (increased respiratory rate)
  • Polydipsia (increased water consumption)
  • Collapse
  • Diarrhea

Thankfully, cats are not a huge fan of raw bread dough. It is not very common for them to consume it.

To Conclude

You can cook your cat a special meal every once in a while using safe ingredients such as boiled chicken breast, boiled beef, boiled eggs, etc. But remember just like humans, cats can be allergic to safe food as well. We would recommend avoiding the toxic foods we listed above. In case, any symptoms appeared in your cat even after eating safe foods, you should contact your vet immediately.

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