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What Can Cats Eat & What Can They Not Eat? Here’s The Full Guide

It is very important to know what can cats eat and not eat. You might not think much about what you are feeding your feline friends, but you really should. A cat’s digestive system is not like humans or even other animals. You must be very careful when you feed them as some foods can be harmful and result in serious harm and even death.

When you are eating and your cat lingers around, it’s sometimes automatic to toss them a bite. At times you may share your popcorn, a piece of an apple, or even a lick of your favorite ice cream cone without hesitation. Is this alright or not is what you should be asking yourself?

Everything that your cat consumes is critical to its overall health. The nutrients or lack in certain food items can help or harm cats. Although most people don’t realize the importance of what can cats eat and not eat, it is vital to know the good foods for your cats versus the bad foods.

There are certain food items that will cause serious health issues. If you are unsure about a particular food item, you should avoid it until you know for sure if it is potentially harmful to cats.

A very vital piece of information when it comes to cats is that they have to have a high content of meat in their diet. A protein-rich diet daily is essential for all cats to receive the maximum nutrients required specifically for their system. The lists of what can cat eat and not eat are extensive, but important nonetheless.

We will review each food item, its benefits, and potential harm to cats as this is a concern for all cats.

Cat eating Salmon Fish
Cat eating Salmon Fish

Foods That Can Feed To Your Cats

Cats can share some human food items that are actually really good and nutritious for them. They are carnivorous animals, therefore meat is a very essential part of their diet.


Fish

Fish is good for cats, especially cooked salmon. The proteins in salmon include omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and B6, niacin, selenium, and potassium. These minerals and vitamins are needed and helpful to their cardiovascular system, joint function, and overall skin health.

Expert Tip: You should avoid canned salmon as it is rich in salt and that is not good for your cats. Salt can be poisonous to cats and the effects are very serious. It induces vomiting to say the least and can damage their kidneys and cause seizures.

A high-protein fish is a tuna and it is full of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which refines the health of the coat and skin in cats. Tuna is also low in carbohydrates and aids in the improvement of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.


Cooked Eggs

To add another nutritional source of protein and fat, you can feed your cats eggs. Cooked eggs have several healthy nutrients, such as vitamins A, B, D, E as well as other antioxidants for fur and skin health. Never allow your cats to consume raw eggs. They can have salmonella and this is very harmful to cats since it is a bacterial poison.

Cat eating cooked eggs
Cat eating cooked eggs

The protein avidin which is also found in raw eggs binds to vitamin B 12 and they are unable to absorb the vitamin as a result. Most people seldom wonder what can cats eat and not eat, although it is highly important.

Carrots

Some vegetables, like carrots, are good for your cats but they should be cooked not consumed raw. Carrots provide an excellent source of fiber, which in turn promotes a healthy digestive system.


Turkey And Chicken

Turkey and chicken are also packed with several vitamins and minerals, like zinc, vitamin B, niacin, and Omega-6, that all support the immune system, skin, muscles and increase energy.

Expert Tip: These meats are also rich in protein, a key nutrient for your cats, it helps the immune system function and promotes their hair growth.



Banana

Fiber, Potassium, and folate are all good vitamins that are found in bananas. Be careful not to feed your cats too many bananas as they are high in sugar and that is not good for cats. There are both short-term and long-term side effects of feeding your cats too much sugar.

Healthy banana for your cats
Healthy banana for your cats

The short-term effects range from mild discomfort to vomiting and diarrhea. Long-term effects are more severe and can include tooth problems, diabetes, and weight gain. Too many bananas should be avoided, however, there are good nutrients in bananas and those nutrients help their digestive system, kidneys, heart, and cells.

Potassium from bananas promotes the health of the muscles, nerves, and enzymes. The fiber is good for digestive health and folate or folic acid is good for the function and growth of healthy cells. Just as some vegetables do, most fruits provide a great source of nutrition as well.


Apple

Vitamin C for instance, this nutrient can be found in apples, another good food choice to feed your cats that will not harm them. Apples are a delicious fruit and the fiber is good for the gut health of cats. The excess water and stomach acid are absorbed by the dietary fiber in apples.

Be careful not to feed your cats the seeds from the apple, they contain a poisonous substance called cyanide and this is deadly. They are also unable to digest the seeds naturally. The apple may taste good to the cat but that does not mean that it is good for them.


Pumpkins And Spinach

Other quality sources of nutrients for your cats include pumpkins and spinach. It is very common for cats to lick themselves, for many reasons but mainly to groom their coat. The result of this is the cat’s ingestion of hair, thereby creating hairballs. Pumpkins alone have beta-carotene, vitamin A, C, and E which help break down and reduce hairballs.

Spinach a great choice of food for cats
Spinach is a great choice of food for cats

Spinach, a green leafy vegetable has a lot of good vitamins too, like magnesium, potassium and calcium, vitamins A, C, E, B6, and B2. For the best absorption of these vitamins, cook the spinach before the cats eat it It also helps improve their eyesight regulates blood pressure and prevents cancer in cats.

Expert Tip: Spinach has so many health benefits that it is a great choice of food for cats to eat.


We have explored a great number of healthy food items that humans eat and are alright for cats to eat. This is paramount to your cat’s health and should not be taken lightly.


Foods That Cats Can’t Eat

Now that we have a better understanding of some of the good foods for cats, it is time to learn the foods that cats can’t eat. This list, although it is an exhaustive one, is very important for the health and well-being of your cats. Some of these items can literally be a choice between life and death, so they should be taken very seriously.

Foods That Cats Can't Eat
Foods That Cats Can’t Eat

In order to grow, be healthy and thrive cats need a proper diet and certain foods could inhibit or affect their development and overall well-being. Therefore, what can cat eat and not eat is always critical to their health.


Lactose And Sugar

When you are caring for your cats, it’s customary to place milk in the bowl. The cat will happily drink the milk, but this is not a good choice, not even for baby kittens. Lactose and sugar, the ingredients in cow’s milk, are not easily digested by cats. In fact, it upsets their stomach, causes cramps and diarrhea.

Lactose is sugar or the composition of glucose and galactose and a cat’s digestive system can not break down this composition. They lack enough of the key enzyme lactase to break it down.

Expert Tip: You should not give your cats other dairy products such as ice cream, cheese, and yogurt, as they have the same effects as cow’s milk, which makes them sick. Canned milk is also just as harmful to cats and kittens.



Raw Foods

If you are adamant about giving your newborn kitten milk opt for a kitten milk replacer instead, this is made especially for kittens and will not cause them any discomfort. In addition to certain fruits, vegetables, and other food items, there are a variety of raw foods that are not nutritious or good for cats, such as raw eggs, meat, and fish.

Raw meat can lead to food poisoning the cat from the bacteria in it
Raw meat can lead to food poisoning the cat from the bacteria in it

It is not safe for your cats to consume raw eggs, because of the potential for the bacteria E, Coli, or salmonella to cause food poison E. Coli will cause stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting in cats. Salmonella infections also are symptomatic of stomach cramps as well as a fever, chills, and diarrhea.

Consuming raw meats, like chicken and beef or raw fish, such as sushi can lead to food poisoning from the bacteria in it. A bad enzyme, thiaminase that is in raw fish destroys natural thiamine, and not having enough thiamine can lead to neurological problems, chiefly convulsions and even a coma.

When you cook the meat or fish, it destroys the bad enzyme making the meat safe for the cats to eat. Even though some fruits and vegetables have several key vitamins and minerals, a great majority of them are harmful to cats.

For example, there are various types of onions, in raw form, dehydrated, powdered, or even cooked that can lead to anemia. This is attributed to a breakdown in the red blood cells, which can decrease their energy level and be life-threatening. Anemia can also be marked by blood in the cat’s stool, urine, vomit, or a nose bleed.


Chives And Garlic

Chives and garlic, along with onions are alliums. An allium is a natural muscle relaxant that causes circulatory problems, the blood vessels dilate and lowers the cats’ blood pressure.


Grapes And Raisins

While some people are known to give their cats treats like grapes and raisins, this is detrimental to cats. Kidney failure and excessive vomiting are some of the side effects of eating grapes and raisins, so keep them away from the cats.

Cherries are good for humans but bad for cats
Cherries are good for humans but bad for cats

Plums And Cherries

Plums and cherries are good for humans but bad for cats. They cause breathing problems, contain the deadly chemical cyanide, and can be fatal if consumed.


Fruits That Contain Citric Acid

Other fruits that contain citric acid affect the central nervous system and lead to stomach irritations. Citric acid is mainly found in oranges, lemons, and limes. Essential oils and Psoralens are in every single citrus fruit and these ingredients are toxic to cats.

These fruits are just too acidic for cats to digest and cause many stomach irritations and discomfort.


Several Snack Foods

When you give your cats a treat, it is perfectly fine as long as that particular treat is helpful and not harmful to your cat’s health. You have to be very careful with your choices because there are several snack foods that are toxic to cats. Popcorn, potato chips, and chocolate are edible but can choke the cat.

There are several snack foods that are toxic to cats
There are several snack foods that are toxic to cats

Contain too much salt and cause seizures, abnormal heart rate, and tremors. Popcorn is not only a choking hazard for cats, it’s also not easily digested as cats are obligate carnivores, they depend on meat for survival. The added butter and salt in popcorn is a precursor for other health issues.

Expert Tip: Salt in any form can cause dehydration in cats and it is not recommended for them either.


Potato chips and tortilla chips are just as unhealthy for cats as they are for humans. Each of these tempting snacks has very high amounts of sodium or salt as we call it. Too much salt is dangerous for your cats.


Chocolate

Chocolate, another favorite of humans, is not for cats either. The majority of cats will not voluntarily eat chocolate unless they are encouraged to. Theobromine, a toxic substance found in chocolate, is not your cat’s friend.

A toxic substance found in chocolate, is not your cat's friend..jpg
A toxic substance found in chocolate, is not your cat’s friend..jpg

Mild effects such as tremors and abnormal heart rhythm to more serious effects like seizures and death are linked to theobromine consumption in cats as well.


Potatoes And Green Tomatoes

Some fruits and vegetables like potatoes and green tomatoes contain toxins. The raw or uncooked green potato peel is most harmful, this is the part of the potato that has the solanine in it.

This is a very toxic substance that can slow the heart rate down, cause lethargy and some stomach problems. It’s not beneficial for cats to consume them at all.

Green tomatoes also contain the toxic substance solanine and have the exact same harmful effects as green potato peel. Neither of these foods is helpful to cats in any form not cooked or raw.

Even if your cat will eat certain foods, this does not mean that it is ok for them to have that particular food. The dangers of these foods must take precedence over the desire to give them to them.


Cats can experience mushroom toxicity after eating wild mushrooms
Cats can experience mushroom toxicity after eating wild mushrooms

Wild Mushrooms

Another example is the scent of wild mushrooms which attracts cats, but this is not a good attraction for them. Within minutes or hours after eating wild mushrooms, cats can experience mushroom toxicity. This toxicity can lead to cell damage in the gastrointestinal tract.

Expert Tip: Wild mushrooms, when eaten by cats can also cause the skin and eyes to turn yellow, mild to severe vomiting, sensitivity to sound and light severe drooling, and unsteady balance.


On the contrary, several varieties of mushrooms bought in stores are indeed safe for cats to eat. When in doubt, simply do not let your cats eat the food.


Legumes And Nuts

Another category of food items that you should avoid letting cats eat is legumes and nuts. Beans, peas, walnuts, almonds, and pecans are each harmful to a cat’s digestive system. These foods will induce vomiting and cause diarrhea. Excessive diarrhea can lead to more serious problems for cats like dehydration.

They are protein and nutrient-rich foods for humans, not cats. The form of protein they have is not the right type for cats their digestive system is affected and can’t process them. There are also enzyme inhibitors in certain legumes that may cause taurine or amino acid deficiency.


Alcohol

The final category that we will review will be alcohol. No, it is never alright to give cat alcohol, not even a small amount such as a tablespoon. Alcohol can be dangerous for humans and twice as dangerous for cats. Ethanol, the primary ingredient in alcohol, is toxic.

Alcohol can depress the central nervous system in cats
Alcohol can depress the central nervous system in cats

The cat will experience incoordination, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. Alcohol can depress the central nervous system in cats. It is also toxic and may cause drowsiness, respiratory failure, and possibly death. Wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages are detrimental to a cat’s cognition and health.

Expert Tip: If the cat accidentally drinks alcohol in any form, seek advice from a veterinarian immediately to be on the safe side.


Conclusion

What a can cat eat and not eat is a very important question to ask yourself, before you feed your cat. Fruits and vegetables like carrots and bananas are very helpful to a cat but remember cats are carnivorous. They depend on a diet that is protein-rich and protein is found in meats, like chicken, fish, and turkey.

Keep your cats away from snacks, like popcorn and chocolate as well as dairy products like milk and ice cream. These food items are not intended for cats and should be avoided at all costs. After this lengthy review of what can cat eat and not eat. Do you still have lingering questions?

About Rencel Leyran