Since cats can be very picky and finicky eaters, we sometimes assume that if our cat likes and eats something, then it must be safe for them. They would turn up their noses otherwise, right? But there are some very dangerous human foods for cats that should be avoided at all costs.
With the growing trend of homemade diets for cats, more pet owners are turning to human foods to improve their cat’s diet. And there are some really healthy superfoods for cats that could improve their health. However, some other foods are toxic to cats (1).
You try to be a responsible pet owner when choosing the best cat food and treats with quality ingredients. The same rule applies when giving your cat human food. Some of those are not only unhealthy to cats, but can be fatal, studies show. Cat owners need to become informed and develop a knowledge base for the well-being of their feline friends.
In this article, I will take a look at 25 most dangerous foods for cats, why they are bad for your cat to eat and what could be the possible side effects. We will also briefly go over what to do if your cat eats any of these bad human foods for cats and how to avoid it.
Are all human foods bad for cats?
No – there are plenty of human foods that are extremely beneficial to cats. Studies have pointed out what foods are toxic to most pets, both cats and dogs, and which ones are safe (2).
Cats are carnivores and they need the protein that meat offers their bodies. In the wild, cats survive by hunting and eating raw, fresh meat.
Tasty, cooked fish and meats like fresh salmon, thoroughly-cooked chicken, turkey or beef are safe on an occasional basis. The same applies to some fruits, vegetables and berries.
Brown rice and things like blueberries and bananas, apples, pumpkin and cantaloupe, minus the seeds, are all safe and healthy treats for a cat that you can feed them from time to time. They offer proteins, omega-3s and a variety of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to a cat’s overall health.
Which human foods are off-limits to cats?
Many foods and drinks that humans consume can be dangerous to your cat, for one reason or another. Some human foods dangerous to cats are simply not biologically appropriate, or not species-appropriate. Several contain elements that are very toxic to felines.
For example, onions contain elements (3) that can destroy your cat’s red blood cells and cause anemia. It’s called onion toxicosis in cats, and it’s one of the dangerous foods.
Anemia in cats reduces the amount of oxygen that is delivered to body tissues. As a result, your feline can become weak, dizzy, lethargic and potentially die, experts say.
For this reason, keep this list of 25 most dangerous human foods for cats somewhere close by so that you know what to feed your cat and what to avoid, as well as what to do in case your cat has accidentally ingested any of these foods when you weren’t looking.
25 Most Dangerous Human Foods for Cats
Onions contain elements that can destroy your cat’s red blood cells and cause anemia, according to research.
As I mentioned above, anemia reduces the amount of oxygen that is delivered to body tissues. It’s a very dangerous condition for your cat to fall into.
Similar to onions, garlic also contains related elements that can potentially cause anemia in cats, although in a lower concentration.
While garlic is safer for cats than onions, it’s still a very dangerous human food for cats to eat. Felines should never eat garlic, whether raw, cooked or in powdered form.
3. Canned Tuna.
A diet of canned tuna alone will not provide all of the nutrients your cats need.
Not only that but in large quantities, giving canned tuna to cats can cause mercury poisoning in your kitty, resulting in possible convulsions and blindness.
Grapes are tempting to a cat because of their fun, round shape and sweet taste. We know how much cats love playing with their food, but grapes are not to be messed around with.
Grapes contain an unknown toxin that can cause vomiting and eventually kidney failure in cats. Scientists are yet to understand grape toxicosis in pets, but it’s best to avoid it.
Dried raisins contain the exact same toxin that can damage your cat’s kidneys, and even cause fatalities in felines as observed in studies. It is best to keep them out of reach.
Who has never seen a kitty lap up a saucer of milk? We’ve all did and we assume that milk is safe for cats to drink. However, the facts are quite different.
Surprisingly, most cats are lactose-intolerant and consuming dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt can cause diarrhea and really upset their sensitive stomachs.
While milk will not kill your cat, it will cause discomfort and therefore it’s best to avoid it.
Candy of all kinds contains large amounts of sugar which is not beneficial to your cat’s waistline at the very least. Furthermore, sugar is associated with many inflammatory diseases and it is detrimental to your cat’s teeth; it can also cause feline diabetes.
Every dog owner knows the dangers of chocolate because canines for whatever reason love the taste of it. Cats, on the other hand, may not be as big of fans of chocolate.
Nevertheless, keep this stuff away from your cat’s reach. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is very toxic to cats, and can be lethal even in small amounts. Studies show that feeding chocolate to cats, especially dark chocolate, causes seizures and death in cats.
9. Fat Trimmings.
Not only are fat trimmings high in cholesterol, but they can cause intestinal upset and inflammation of your cat’s pancreas. The problem is that felines love this because it comes from their favorite food source – animals, yet you must keep this away from your cat.
Keep all the bones for your dog if you have one. There’s no reason for cats to eat bones.
The main problem with bones is that they can break into smaller pieces when chewed by your cats, and can get lodged in their throats, causing damage to the esophagus, intestines and/or stomach. Bones are also a potential choking hazard for cats.
11. Raw Eggs.
Raw eggs, on the other hand, are one of the most dangerous human foods for cats because due to the risk of salmonella bacteria, which can cause salmonella poisoning, a serious condition.
Dogs can deal better with salmonella than cats can, so they are safer than cats are.
12. Raw Meat.
Raw feeding has been gaining traction and many pet owners have been feeding their pets, particularly dogs, raw meat and sometimes all types of other raw foods.
However, similar to raw eggs, raw meat can also contain the salmonella bacterium, as well as E. Coli. These 2 bacteria can wreak havoc on your cat’s digestive and intestinal systems, causing vomiting and diarrhea, and even more serious diseases.
13. Raw Fish.
Along with the risk of bacterial infection in cats, when feeding raw fish you’re risking the potential for decreased thiamine levels in your cat’s blood, caused by an enzyme in the raw fish. Low levels of thiamine can cause neurological damage and even coma.
Generally, liver is considered a very nutrient-dense food that’s rich in iron and other vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidants.
However, feeding large amounts of liver to cats can result in Vitamin A toxicity, resulting in bone deformations, painful growths and osteoporosis; in severe cases, death.
Eating raw liver can cause severe round worm infestation in the intestines of your cat.
15. Raw Dough.
It’s because the yeast contained in raw dough rises, which causes abdominal bloating, pain and discomfort for cats.
The alcohol produced during the yeast fermentation process can result in alcohol poisoning, which can be extremely severe and even fatal.
Contrary to popular belief, moderate consumption of caffeine for people is extremely beneficial and considered a health drink. Not so for pets, particularly cats.
Caffeine has a stimulating effect that can be fatal to your feline. Cats do not process caffeine well and it may results in a variety of cardiovascular related health problems.
Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, all types of chocolate, soda and energy drinks. You will want to keep these out of your cat’s reach.
Just a small amount of alcohol will poison your cat, potentially causing death, and even just a teaspoon can have extremely negative effects on your cat’s brain and liver.
18. Chewing Gum.
Gum is bad for cats due to its consistency and being a potential choking hazard.
Also, most types of chewing gum contain the sweetener, xylitol. Xylitol is very toxic to cats because it increases insulin concentration in your cat’s blood, leading to drops in sugar levels and hypertension. This can lead to seizures and liver failure, and eventually death.
19. Baby Food.
The problem is that some baby foods contain onion powder, and as mentioned above, onions can cause anemia. Cats who are fed too much baby food may also suffer from malnutrition, as these foods do not contain all of the nutrients that a cat requires.
20. Macadamia Nuts.
Some cats really love nuts, but none of them are advisable to feed to your feline. Certain nut varieties in particular can be extremely toxic and even fatal to cats.
Macadamia nuts are one of those that are dangerous to cats. Same as with grapes, an unknown toxin found in these nuts is very poisonous to cats, according to studies.
When ingested, your cat can suffer from vomiting, pain and lethargy at the least.
However, when feeding mushrooms to cats, they can cause feline’s gastrointestinal tract to become inflamed and irritated, causing discomfort and vomiting.
Special attention should be paid to cats who go outdoors, as their natural curiosity may entice to nibble on wild mushrooms, although that rarely happens.
22. Rhubarb Leaves.
Some leaves are toxic to cats, and one of those are the common rhubarb leaves.
The oxalates found in rhubarb exit the body through the urine, and too much of them can cause urinary tract problems in cats, and in particular form kidney stones. Consuming rhubarb and its leaves especially can also cause oral pain and vomiting in felines.
Electrolytes such as sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphate and magnesium play an important role in proper heart, brain, muscle and digestive functions in cats.
As a result of ingesting too much salt and this nutrient imbalance, your cat may become dehydrated, mostly due to prolonged bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
As mentioned above when discussing candy and all types of sweets, the same applies to processed sugar in particular (the foundation of all that’s bad in human diet).
Too much sugar, whether process or natural, from any source can cause obesity, dental problems and diabetes in cats. Feline diabetes is unfortunately a common illness.
Citrus oil can be extracted from the peels of citrus fruits for various purposes, from insect repellents, to air fresheners, to food additives, thus it’s common in most households.
Your cat should not consume any citrus oils, not even in small amounts, as this can be fatal. Less severe exposure results in drooling, falling, trembling and low blood pressure.
What to do if cat eats dangerous human foods?
First thing to keep in mind is that prevention is the best medicine – keep all the above mentioned dangerous human foods for cats out of their reach and feed your feline food that meets all of their nutritional needs.
Second, if your cat goes outdoors from time to time, make sure you do not have any wild mushrooms or rhubarb growing nearby your home. You may also want to fence in any gardens you may have to ensure they do not nibble on onions or other poisons.
What to do if a cat has eaten poisoned? Only one thing – call a professional.
Third, if you have seen, or you suspect, that your cat has ingested something poisonous, you may watch for signs of distress briefly. Sometimes, if a cat has not eaten enough of a product, the effects will be minimal and barely noticeable, if at all.
However, this depends on the type of food you suspect your cat has eaten. If it’s something that can be fatal to a cat even in small amounts, do not risk it and call your veterinarian or the pet poison line immediately. There is nothing to lose.
Acting quickly can mean the difference between life and death for your feline.
The Last Meow
Cats are naturally curious creatures. Despite their finicky appetites, they may be daring enough to risk eating foods that they know nothing about. They do not always know what is best for themselves. After all, curiosity killed the cat, didn’t it?
Our kitchens, pantries, refrigerators and backyards could potentially be filled with many dangerous human foods for cats and other harmful, toxic substances. Ensure that human food, drinks, and medicines are far out of the reach of your cat’s furry paws.