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Want to know which human foods are safe for your cat? Or what food is harmful and should not be given to cats? Read our guide to learn more and keep your cat safe and healthy.

Which human foods can cats eat?

Generally, we do not recommend feeding your cat human food. Many foods and ingredients intended for human consumption can be harmful to cats and do not contain the nutritional value your cat needs. Cats need a balanced diet and have specific nutritional requirements to stay healthy. Find out more about feeding your cat.

Can cats eat vegetables?

Cats are meat eaters, making vegetarian and vegan diets unsuitable for them.

Your cat needs more protein than many other mammals and they need specific amino acids such as taurine to survive. This is why it is important to feed your cat food that is made just for them.

You may have noticed that your cat will eat grass from time to time. While it’s perfectly okay to make grass available for them, they rarely eat vegetables naturally, and there is no need for you to add them to their diet.

There are a few vegetables that you can feed your cat (if they’re keen). These include carrots, peas, corn, broccoli and spinach. Steer clear of garlic and onion as these can be difficult to digest and can make cats very ill.

Can cats eat cooked chicken?

One common question that many cat owners ask is whether it is okay to feed their cat chicken. Cats are carnivores, which means they are meat eaters and in the wild will eat raw meat in the form of their prey. 

For your pet cat, always ensure that any chicken you feed them is cooked, preferably boiled and does not contain any bones.

Remember to include chicken only as part of your cat's daily food allowance, as part of a balanced diet and as recommended by your vet.

Feeding only cooked chicken long-term can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Do not feed your cat raw meat meant for cooking for humans. Food meant for people from supermarkets and butchers is supposed to be cooked. It can contain higher levels of bacteria which will be killed off during cooking but be higher than in raw food meant for pets.

Can cats eat canned tuna?

If your cat eats a small amount of tuna, it may not cause harm. However, canned tuna made for humans should not be fed to cats regularly, due to the lack of essential nutrients that cats need for their optimal health. 

It can also be high in salt and mercury, which can be harmful to your cat if eaten in large amounts.

Eating too much tuna could also cause your cat to gain weight quickly and it’s best to stick to a balanced diet formulated for cats.

If you want to give some fish to your cat, make sure it is fed as part of a balanced diet, and has been recommended by your vet. It should be properly cooked and bones removed before giving it to them, but also only give a few pieces at a time.

Is chocolate poisonous to cats?

While most human treats should be avoided, chocolate is a complete no-no for cats. Just 2g of chocolate, not even as big as a square, is enough to do serious damage to your cat due to its levels of theobromine.

Theobromine acts as a stimulant, increasing the heart rate and acting as a diuretic to increase the loss of bodily fluids. As cats struggle to metabolise theobromine, the chemical stays in the bloodstream and quickly reaches dangerous levels.

Keep chocolate out of reach of your cat, and if you suspect they have eaten any chocolate, call your vet straight away.

Human foods that are toxic to cats

While it may be tempting to give your cat a human snack from time to time, some foods can pose serious health risks and the following should not be given to cats:

  • alcohol and alcohol-containing foods and substances. Just a tiny bit of alcohol can be extremely toxic to your cat including products that contain ethanol, methanol and isopropanol which can be found in household products
  • avocado. Avocadoes have a high fat content and contain a toxin called persin. If consumed in high amounts, it can cause health issues in cats
  • chocolate, coffee and foods containing caffeine. All of these products have high concentrations of substances called methylxanthines which if eaten by cats, can be extremely toxic
  • grapes, raisins and currants. Consuming this fruit can cause kidney failure in cats, those with chronic kidney disease may be at greater risk. Read more about kidney disease
  • onion and garlic. These and other members of the allium family of vegetables, whether fresh, cooked or dried, if eaten by cats can be extremely toxic potentially leading to anaemia
  • raw meat, fish and eggs. Uncooked meat and fish or raw eggs may contain harmful bacteria and parasites. Feeding raw bones should also be avoided as it increases the risk of choking or a blockage in their stomach
  • dairy. Most cats are lactose intolerant and consuming dairy products such as cheese can upset their stomach. It’s also best to avoid giving your cat lactose-free or plant-based cheese, as a lot of them may contain ingredients that could be toxic for cats.
  • nuts. Nuts such as macadamia, almonds and walnuts contain high amounts of oils and fats which if eaten can make your cat unwell
  • yeast dough. A raw dough contains some amount of alcohol and produces carbon dioxide which if eaten can expand within a cat’s stomach and cause obstruction 

If you notice or suspect your cat has eaten food that can be harmful to them, book an urgent appointment with your vet or contact them for advice.

Find out more about the signs of poisoning in cats

What to give your cat as a treat

It’s important not to overfeed your cat. If you want to offer your cat a treat, it’s best to offer some of their usual food without exceeding their normal food allowance for the day. Lots of cats enjoy being presented with their food in a puzzle feeder. Find out how to make a food puzzle for your cat.

How to prevent your cat from eating harmful food

Some cats may be attracted to the smell or taste of human food, whether it is left on the counter or while you are enjoying your meal, and they may suddenly come to you and want to try it. The best you can do is to store harmful foods out of your cat’s reach and cover or hide any leftovers.

  • Do not feed your cat table scraps and advise others not to do so, especially if you have guests around
  • If your cat is keen to be on the counter while cooking, gently move them away
  • For cats that insist on trying out human food while you eat, you can try feeding them just before your mealtimes or introduce them to a puzzle feeder
Learn more about cat behaviour
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