Any pet parent will inevitably want to feed their furry friend a nibble from their dinner plate at one point or another, but not all foods are suitable for animals — especially cats. Cat’s diets need to be specific, as they have finicky digestive systems and can develop diabetes if fed foods high in sugar, such as bananas and apples.
That being said, there are several human foods that are safe for your cat to eat as an occasional treat. In this article, we’ll cover which human foods are safe to feed your cat (in moderation) and which human foods can be toxic.
1) Cooked Lean Meats
Because cats are obligate carnivores, they love meat and will likely eat any kind you give them. Be sure to stick to lean, cooked meat to avoid potential foodborne illnesses from raw meat, such as salmonella, e. coli, or listeria. Beef, in particular, is rich in essential amino acids, which are great for your cat's health. However, be sure that any cooked lean meat you plan to give your cat is free of added spices and sauces, as these can cause upset to your cat’s digestive system.
2) Cooked Fish
Fish is another favorite for many cats. This is a great human food to offer your cat because of its natural amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and fish oil — which help their bones and joints as they age. But similar to meat, you’ll want to make sure the fish you’re sharing with your cat is cooked and free of additives like salt and spices. Fish is also not ideal for everyday feeding: Experts recommend keeping your cat’s fish intake to 10% or less of their overall diet.
3) Scrambled or Hard-Boiled Eggs
If you’re eating eggs for breakfast and your feline friend seems interested, you can certainly share some with them as they are safe for cats. Eggs are packed with nutrients and are highly digestible. They can be the perfect occasional treat for a cat. Just make sure you’re not feeding your cat raw eggs, which can contain foodborne bacteria.
Many cats are not fans of fruits and veggies, but if you happen to see that your furry friend is begging for some of your cucumber snacks, it's safe to share a little with them. Cucumbers can be a great source of vitamins for your cat, and can also be a source of hydration and digestive aid. Just be sure to peel the cucumber before giving some to your cat, because the skin may contain pesticides that can cause stomach upset.
5) Steamed Broccoli
Another vegetable that is completely cat-safe for felines of all ages, in moderation, is steamed broccoli. Broccoli is packed with antioxidants, which can help reduce free radicals in your cat’s body. Additionally, like cucumber, broccoli can assist your cat with regular bowel movements.
Peas are starchy and contain a large amount of fiber, so they can be another great vegetable to share with your cat if they have occasional constipation. This is why many commercial cat foods contain peas as an ingredient. But keep in mind: If you feed your cat garden or snow peas, remove them from the pod first, as pea pods are not always easy to digest.
Carrots are another popular ingredient in many cat foods that contains beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A. But if you are sharing carrots with your cat, be sure they are cooked — raw carrots may be a choking hazard.
As a fruit that is full of healthy carbs, fiber, and nutrients, bananas seem like an appealing snack for your cat. In small amounts, this is true — just be sure not to feed your cat too much banana as it can cause digestive issues and has a high sugar content.
Blueberries can be a fun, healthy treat for your cats — some cats may even see them as a play toy they can bat around on the floor. Blueberries contain antioxidants, which are essential in a cat’s balanced diet. Though, like with all foods, moderation is important when feeding blueberries to cats. Stick to two or three blueberries per serving.
Watermelon is a popular fruit among cats. It can be especially appealing to cats during the warmer months as the texture is interesting to them, and it keeps them hydrated. However, be cautious of the amount of watermelon you feed your cat: Watermelon is high in natural sugars, which can lead to digestive upset and diabetes.
Apples are a safe snack for cats as long as they are peeled. Similar to cucumbers, apple skin can carry pesticides that may be bad for your cat. The crunchy snack is full of fiber and nutrients; just be sure to follow the less than 10% calorie allowance rule when sharing this treat.
Some types of rice can be a great way to aid in digestion and provide balanced nutrition. For example, white rice doesn’t contain as much nutritional content, so if you’re seeking a healthy rice alternative, stick to brown rice, which has more vitamins and minerals.
Learn more about weighing grain-free food for your cat.
Raw oatmeal is a very popular ingredient in many cat foods as it is a whole grain high in good protein, fat, and amino acids. It can help sustain your cat’s energy without a ton of bad carbohydrates. You can even feed your cat cooked oatmeal in moderation, just be sure to cook it with water rather than milk.
Spinach is a safe vegetable to feed your cat in moderation as it contains a ton of vitamins and antioxidants. However, be aware that you should not feed it to cats with a history of urinary tract stones or urinary concerns.
Human Foods You Should Avoid Feeding Your Cat
Just as there are human foods safe for cats, many are toxic to them and can lead to significant health concerns. Below are 12 foods to avoid giving your cat at all costs.
Onions and Garlic
Onions, garlic, and any other plants in the allium family (leeks, chives, etc.) are toxic to cats. All of these foods can break down a cat’s red blood cells and lead to anemia.
Most Dairy Products (Milk & Cheese)
Despite what cartoons depict, dairy products are not ideal for cats — most are lactose-intolerant. However, many cats like dairy and will absolutely lap up a bowl of milk or eat a piece of cheese if it's left lying around. So be cautious if you have a cheese platter sitting out in the presence of a sneaky cat. If a cat eats dairy products, they could experience digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation.
Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but did you know that the same goes for cats? According to Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are harmful to cats. In large amounts, chocolate can be fatal to cats, and in small amounts, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, lack of appetite, panting, tremors, seizures, and more. If your cat gets into some chocolate, call your vet immediately.
Another highly toxic food to cats is grapes. Even in small amounts, grapes and raisins can cause illness in cats — usually the rapid development of kidney failure. If your cat eats grapes, they will likely start vomiting within 12 hours. If this happens, take your cat to your nearest emergency vet.
Nuts should be avoided when feeding your cat due to their small pieces, which can be a choking hazard. Additionally, nuts are very high in fat and dense in calories, which is not ideal for cats.
Similar to nuts, seeds also are very high in fat, which can be bad for cats and can lead to your cat having an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Anything With Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant, which can cause high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias in cats — both of which can be dangerous and detrimental to your cat's health.
Anything With Xylitol
Even in small amounts, this toxic sweetener can cause a sudden release of insulin, causing hypoglycemia. Additionally, it's common for cats to experience liver failure after ingesting xylitol.
Raw Meats & Fish
Like humans, cats that ingest raw meat and raw fish risk exposing themselves to bacteria that cause food poisoning, which can result in serious illness or even death in some cases.
Cats should never eat raw, yeasted bread dough. According to the ASPCA, “raw, uncooked yeast ferments the carbohydrates in the dough, producing ethanol and carbon dioxide. This process can continue in the stomach, leading the cat to become disoriented, bloated, and ataxic.”
Be sure to avoid feeding your cat’s cooked animal bones. They can splinter upon chewing, blocking your cat's throat and causing internal damage to your cat's digestive tract.
Alcohol is a toxin for both humans and animals. Though humans can tolerate it to some degree, cats cannot and should never be given any. If a cat ingests alcohol, they can get ethanol poisoning, leading to depression of the central nervous system.
Feed Your Cat Human Quality Meals With The Honest Kitchen
It may seem like a fun idea to feed your cat home-cooked meals, but as this list shows, there are many specific ingredients that could cause more harm than good. Be mindful when sharing your food with your cat — some human foods make excellent treats, while others are extremely toxic.
Ensure your cat has a balanced diet and gets all the nutrients they need: Rely on the experts at The Honest Kitchen. The Honest Kitchen is the world's first human grade pet food producer, and our expansive line of cat foods has something for even the pickiest eaters. Learn more about The Honest Kitchen and our numerous healthy cat food items, including freeze-dried clusters, wet food, broth toppers, and more.