10 Things You Should Never Feed a Cat
It is often tempting to slip your cat some food from your dinner plate, especially if they are looking up at you with those bright, beautiful eyes and meowing expectantly. However, several human foods are dangerous to feed your cat.
Some foods can lead to toxicity, poisoning and can be lethal so this is extremely important information for all cat owners to know. Below are 10 things you should never feed a cat (including dairy!) and what to do if your cat eats something toxic:
Grapes and Raisins
While they may appear to be a healthy cat-sized snack, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in cats. Even a small amount can make a cat unwell and cause symptoms including vomiting and hyperactivity. For this reason, grapes and raisins are best avoided.
While it may sound obvious that chocolate is not healthy for cats, it can be surprising to hear that eating chocolate can be lethal to cats.
Chocolate toxicity can cause tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythm and death. This is because chocolate contains theobromine which is toxic to cats. This is found in all types of chocolate so be sure not to leave chocolate laying around.
Onions, Chives and Garlic
Onions, chives and garlic in any form are dangerous to offer to cats. These foods can break down red blood cells leading to anemia, weight loss and lethargy. They can cause poisoning and can result in potentially life-threatening health problems.
Raw eggs can cause food poisoning from E. coli or salmonella bacteria. If your cat eats raw egg you may notice symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting which can indicate salmonella poisoning. Another potential issue with eggs that is not as common but is still important to be aware of is the impact it has on biotin absorption. The protein in raw egg whites can interfere with your cat’s ability to absorb biotin which can then go on to cause coat and skin problems.
Many of us believe cats are dairy lovers that enjoy nothing more than lapping up a saucer of milk, this is mostly thanks to how cats are portrayed in film, TV and cartoons. However, the truth is that most cats are lactose-intolerant and their digestive systems cannot digest dairy properly. Feeding your cat dairy products often results in digestive upset including diarrhoea.
Raw Bread Dough
Bread dough that is uncooked rises, if your cat eats raw dough it will continue to swell inside your cat’s stomach. This can cause severe pain as the dough can stretch your cat’s abdomen and can even cause ruptures. The fermented yeast can also produce alcohol so alcohol poisoning is another concern when it comes to raw bread dough.
In large quantities, caffeine can lead to caffeine poisoning. Signs for this can include rapid breathing, muscle tremors, heart palpitations and restlessness. Caffeine can be found in tea, coffee, cocoa, cola, chocolate and energy drinks as well as some medicines and painkillers.
Fat Trimmings and Bones
Offering your cat table scraps is a bad idea. You may think that because they are carnivores they can handle fat trimmings and bones but these foods can cause vomiting and diarrhea. In addition to intestinal upset, there is also a risk of choking as well as the bones splintering causing obstructions and damaging your cat’s digestive system.
Raw Meat and Fish
Although cats naturally eat meat, offering them raw meat and fish can cause food poisoning as a result of bacteria. Raw fish also contains an enzyme that destroys thiamine which over a prolonged period can lead to neurological problems. It is safer to cook meat and fish before offering it to your cat.
Xylitol can be found in a range of products including baked foods, sweets, diet foods and even toothpaste. This ingredient can cause liver failure in cats, it will increase your cat’s insulin levels and can lead to lethargy, a loss of coordination and vomiting. This can worsen to seizures and liver failure.
Signs Your Cat Has Eaten Something Toxic
It’s best to avoid offering your cat human food but sometimes they get their paws on things they shouldn’t. If you are worried your cat has eaten something that may be toxic, take them to the vet immediately. Try to determine what they have eaten and how much they ingested as this will help the vet find the most appropriate and effective solution.
Keep an eye on your cat for the following symptoms that can indicate they have eaten something toxic:
- Excessive thirst
- Difficulty breathing
- Blood in stools, saliva or vomit
- Pale gums
If your cat has eaten something toxic or poisonous the sooner they can receive treatment from a veterinarian, the better.
Storing Toxic Food Items at Home
When it comes to toxic food, prevention is always better than cure. We know that cats can be clever and sneaky which is why it is important to store toxic foods in airtight containers in a cupboard or fridge. If you are preparing or eating toxic foods, make sure your cat isn’t around to steal any and always wipe down the kitchen tops after use to reduce any risks. It can also be worth getting a sealed bin so your cat cannot forage for food scraps.
Storing foods on high shelves might seem safe but cats have no problem with heights so it’s better to opt for airtight containers to be on the safe side. To help your cat enjoy their regular meals and the food that they are allowed to eat, make sure you properly store their food too as this will keep it fresh and tasty for their meal times.
What Treats You Can Offer Your Cat
If you are ever unsure of whether or not something is okay for your cat to eat, don’t offer it to them. While there are a wide range of foods you can give to your cat as occasional treats, the below are simple foods that you may already have in your house:
- Cooked eggs
- Cooked salmon or chicken
- Cooked rice
- Commercial cat treats
These are simple treats that your cat will enjoy. It is very important to cook the eggs, fish, meat or rice beforehand and to never season the food. You can even offer biscuits from their regular cat food but whatever treats you choose, remember that moderation is very important for their health and wellbeing too.