We Love Cats and Kittens is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

what-foods-can=cats-not-eat

​What Can Cats Not Eat? Protect Your Cat From Toxic Foods

What can cats not eat?  Many human foods are toxic to cats. Onions, garlic, chocolate, and caffeine products can all be problematic for your cat’s stomach. Various fruits, such as sultanas and grapes, and a host of nuts might present a serious issue for your kitty.

Our furry feline friends aren’t just pets, they’re part of the family and that’s why we need to know what cat’s can’t eat.

When Mr Fuzz is sitting on the arm of your chair, watching you eat your dinner with those big, beautiful eyes, it’s tempting to sneak him just a little of your food. 

Unfortunately, as much as we love to treat our cats to the occasional morsel, the food that human beings eat isn’t always suitable for cats. There are dozens of products out there that are perfectly fine for us to eat but could easily result in a trip to the vet for your kitty. 

So, what can cats eat and not eat?

Well, that’s a big question, with a lot of answers. To help you protect your kitty from dangerous delicacies in their diet, we’ve put together this complete guide. 

Let’s get cooking. 

What Foods Can Cats Not Eat?

There are tons of foods out there that are excellent for your cat, including milk made just for their sensitive stomachs, crunchy kibble, and even vet-recommended meals. However, there are also plenty of foods that just don’t work with your cat’s digestive system. 

For instance, while cat food and dog food might seem very similar (especially in smell), they don’t have the same unique nutrients. Cats need 41 essential nutrients in their food, and dog food rarely contains the right proteins and fatty acids to keep your kitty healthy. While the occasional nibble from Bruno’s bowl won’t hurt, a regular helping could lead to serious malnourishment. 

Cats often beg and plead for food, the food that you’re eating – but just like children, they rarely know what’s best for them. The main reason to discourage your cats from eating “people” food, is that there are so many meals that are dangerous to cats.

In our infographic at the bottom of the page you can see some of the most problematic poison foods for your cats and what you can replace them with if you’re looking for an extra special treat.

What Human Foods Can Cats Not Eat?

Human foods come with different “danger levels” for your cat but you might well be asking ‘what can cats eat that is not cat food’ and some of those might be human foods.

As we mentioned above, the odd nibble of a bowl of dog food probably won’t send your cat to the emergency room, but it’s not suitable for delivering the nutrition your moggy needs.

On the other hand, there are certain foods that are deemed poisonous to cats. These are the products that you should never feed your four-legged friend, no matter how much they beg and plead. Here’s our checklist for the question: “What human food can cats not eat?”:

  • ​Chocolate: Chocolate might be your favorite guilty pleasure, but it’s no good for your cat. The toxins in chocolate (particularly darker bars), can cause everything from seizures and tremors in your kitty, to death. Avoid leaving chocolate around your cats at all costs!
  • Onions, Garlic and Chives: All of these ingredients add a fantastic extra kick to our meals. However, they’re incredibly dangerous for your cats. The allium present in these foods can damage the red blood cells in your cat’s body, causing issues like anemia.
  • Raw fish: Fish is probably one of the main ingredients in your cat’s favorite foods. However, raw fish is more problematic than you would think. The enzymes in some raw fish can destroy a substance called thiamine in your cat when consumed in large quantities. This can lead to comas, convulsions, and even neurological damage.
  • Raisins and Grapes: The natural substances in raisins and grapes can cause sudden problems with your cat’s kidneys. Eating a large number of these foods could cause liver failure within 48 hours or less. While researchers are uncertain of why these foods are so problematic, it’s important to keep them away from your cats!
  • Cow’s milk: A saucer of milk is one of the most common treats that people assume that they can give their cats. However, cow’s milk is terrible for your cat’s stomach. Our feline friends are often naturally lactose intolerant, and their digestive system can’t cope with dairy foods. The result is often stomach upset and diarrhea.
  • Alcohol: Just because you’re enjoying a quick drink after work doesn’t mean your kitty should do the same. Alcohol has the same impact on a cat’s liver and brain as it does on a human’s, but the results are much worse. Just 2 teaspoons of whisky can cause a coma in a small cat. One more teaspoon could lead to death.
  • ​​Caffeine: Caffeine isn’t great for humans in large quantities, as much as we rely on it. However, in large quantities, your daily cup of coffee or energy drink could be fatal to Mr. Snowball. Caffeine poisoning leads to muscle tremors, heart palpitations, heavy breathing, and more in your kitty.
  • Bones: Your pooch might like chewing on a bone to clean his teeth, but your cat should stay away. Fat trimmings and bones can be dangerous for cats, causing intestinal upset and vomiting. Cats can also very easily choke on a bone, so keep these away from your kitty. 

What Can Cats Not Eat: Problem Foods for Cats

Some cats beg and plead for a taste of human food – particularly when they see you enjoying your meal. I have two cats in my household who watch me like a hawk every time I sit down for a meal. However, giving your cat scraps from your table is a dangerous practice that you should always avoid. 

Remember, your cats are already getting the nutrients that they need from their premium cat food. Any extras that your kitty consumes could mean that they don’t have an appetite for the meals they really need. This means that feeding your cat any human food can be problematic in its own way. Some other foods to avoid include:

  • Raw dough: Raw dough from cookies and breads can expand in your cat’s stomach, creating discomfort. Certain doughs can also ferment, leading to alcohol poisoning. If you think your cat has ingested any raw dough, you may need to take him to the vet.
  • Raw eggs: Just like in humans, the consumption of raw eggs can lead to poisoning in cats, creating illnesses like E-Coli and Salmonella. Symptoms often include diarrhea, lethargy, and vomiting. Cooked eggs, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as dangerous. 
  • Liver: While small amounts of raw liver won’t be too problematic for your cat, eating too much can cause something called Vitamin A toxicity. This condition impacts your cat’s bones and leads to problems with things like osteoporosis.
  • Gum: Chewing gums contain a sweetener called Xylitol, which can be toxic to both cats and dogs. It’s best to avoid letting your cat swallow any gum, just in case. Remember, this substance can also stick in your cat’s digestive tract and lead to gastro problems.
  • Potatoes and tomatoes: Potatoes and green tomatoes include a dangerous alkaloid called Glycoalkaloid Solanine. When consumed by a cat, this substance is very toxic, leading to severe gastrointestinal problems.
  • Avocado: Your cat isn’t an Instagram star, so don’t give it smashed avocado on toast. Avocados contain a toxin called persin, which can be very dangerous in large amounts. If you think your kitty has been snacking on your brunch, call a vet. 

Other Household Items that Are Dangerous for Cats

Keep in mind that many of the foods commonly found in your pantry, from nuts and corncobs, to mushrooms, can be dangerous for your cat. Your kitchen cupboards should remain a cat-free place at all times. However, if you’re working on making your home a poison-free zone, there are some other products that you should be locking away too.

For instance, medicines might be crucial for you and your family, but they’re very problematic for your cat. Painkillers, cold and flu medication, diet pills, and even vitamins can make your kitty seriously unwell. 

The only time you should give your cat any medicine is when it’s under the instruction of a vet. The medicines that we give to cats are very different than the ones that you’ll get from a human doctor. They’re designed specifically to suit the internal workings of your kitty’s stomach. If you think that your cat needs any kind of medical treatment, take him to a vet first. 

It’s also worth noting that you should always get a vet’s advice before giving your cat any over-the-counter medications for things like fleas and worms. Speaking to a vet will help you to determine which medicines you should avoid. Flea and worm products for dogs also aren’t safe for your cats. Canine systems work very differently to your feline’s body!

Aside from medicines, it’s also important to lock household cleaners away too. Many common household items are poisonous to kitties, even if they look safe on the surface, for instance:

  • ​Cigarettes
  • ​Hand warmers
  • ​Batteries
  • ​Dish detergents
  • ​Fabric softener
  • ​Oils and candle
  • ​Mothballs
  • ​Pennies

​It probably goes without saying but if you have any household cleaners around the house, like bleaches, pesticides, and varnishes, these should always be locked away out of your cats reach. Even the slightest amount of these substances can cause serious problems for your cats.

Tips to Prevent Your Cat from Eating Dangerous Foods

So, if you’re having problems keeping your cats away from the foods that could harm them, what can you do? After all, knowing what cats can can  not eat is only the first step. Once you’ve got your list, you also need to avoid breaking down under your cat’s pleading gaze. 

My best advice is that if you feel the urge to give your cat a sample of your own food, then consider looking for treats that are safe for them to eat. Although most human foods just aren’t designed for cats, there are a few things you can feed your moggy that won’t cause too many problems. For instance:

  • ​​Canned fish: Canned fish is usually already cooked, so you’re less likely to face the same risks as with raw fish. Additionally, these foods come with a good portion of fatty acids and vital proteins to help with your cat’s development.
  • Wet meats: By wet meats, we mean raw foods. A little bit of raw beef or lamb might not be appetizing to us, but it’s a dream come true for Mr. Snuggles. Mix things up with a dose of lamb to promote a healthy urinary tract.
  • Watermelon: If your cat often tries to chew on the plants and greenery around your home, then you could overcome this problem by giving them melon to enjoy instead. Melon is great for delivering fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium!
  • Lean meats: Deli meats like turkey and ham are okay in small doses. Just remember that these treats do contain nitrate, so it’s best not to give your cat too much. Avoid anything with harmful preservatives too!
  • Scrambled or cooked eggs: Eggs that have been appropriately cooked are an excellent way to give your feline friend an extra portion of protein. Just avoid cooking spray or butter when you’re prepping your meal.
  • ​​​Vegetables: Small amounts of baked vegetables are fine for cats too. Steamed asparagus or green beans are a good choice, as are chopped carrots. 

Obviously, the best food to give your kitty when he’s begging for treats is his own! You spent all that time searching for the most nutritious cat food on the market for a reason, after all. 

You can also top your kitty’s regular meals up with some bonus treats too. For instance, cat grass is an excellent alternative to actual grass and other plants from around your home that could be toxic to kitties. Alternatively, there are tons of delicious extra treats out there – Temptations are a big favorite of my cats, but you can do your own research to track down some alternatives.

Protecting your Cats from Dangerous Foods

You’re not just the person who owns your cat, you’re their protector. Just like a child, a cat looks to you for guidance and help to stay fit and healthy. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your kitty is getting the right food for his or her needs. 

Aside from switching potentially dangerous treats to healthier ones, there are some other steps that you can take to defend your cat from poisonous snacks. For instance:

  • Store foods out of the way: Make sure that you keep any dangerous foods or substances out of the way of your kitty. My cats have a knack for opening cupboard doors, so I’ve started adding child locks to the cabinets that I know have toxic items in. You can take the same approach to kitty-proof your kitchen or pantry.
  • Shut cats out when you’re eating: You don’t have to keep your cats out of the house for every meal. However, you could consider shutting them out of the room when you’re eating, so that you can dine in peace. This will make you less tempted to feed your cat scraps from the table.
  • Make the counter a cat-free zone: The kitchen counter should be a cat-free zone for a number of reasons – starting with hygiene! Keep your kitties out of the kitchen whenever you’re cooking or preparing foods. 
  • Set some rules: Everyone inside and outside of your family should follow the same rules when it comes to your cat’s diet. Don’t let visitors feed your cats table scraps when you don’t, and make sure that your kids follow the rules too
  • If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t let your cat: If you wouldn’t eat food, then it’s probably not a good idea to give it to your cat either. For instance, you wouldn’t eat the stone from your plum or the bones of a fish, right?

​Be extra careful around holiday periods and when people come to visit. When the home is hectic, it’s easy for bits of food to fall on the floor and be picked up by your cats. The best thing you can do is tidy up immediately after any spills.

What to Do If Your Cat Eats Toxic Food

With a little luck, the tips above will help you to avoid any horrible dietary events with your kitty. However, mistakes can happen. If you ever suspect that your cat might have eaten a food that’s bad for them, then you need to ensure that you know what to do. 

Start by calling your vet for some specific advice. In some cases, your vet will tell you to keep a close eye on your furry friend and bring them in if they exhibit any symptoms. In other situations, you might need to take your cat straight to the surgery. 

If your vet isn’t able to handle the situation, search for the nearest Pet Poison helpline online. This is often very useful if your cat is displaying symptoms like muscle tremors. If the poisoning is particularly bad, your kitty might need intravenous fluids, hospitalization, and monitoring for a few days.

Remember to give them plenty of love when they get home!

​Good Luck!

Knowledge is power, particularly when it comes to knowing what cats CAN eat and understanding what cats can not eat.. The list above should give you an insight into which items you need to avoid so that you can protect your furry friend from danger. 

Remember, keep human food away from your cat, and call your vet if you’re uncertain.

what-human-foods-can-cats-not-eat