“What can cats eat?” is one of the most common questions pet lovers ask. Whether you want to give your feline friend a little extra treat, or are checking up after your cat got into something they shouldn’t, it’s always a good idea to check if human foods are safe for cats.
What should I feed my cat?
Healthy cats should always get the bulk of their nutrition from commercial cat foods which are specially formulated to provide nutritional benefits. This is because cats have very particular requirements from their diet, and are obligate carnivores. This means that your cat needs a diet of at least 70% meat in order to stay healthy. Protein deficiency, in particular, can cause severe problems in cats.
Certain human foods are fine to occasionally introduce to your cat’s diet, but they shouldn’t be regular additions.
Should I always feed my cat the same food?
Good pet care involves giving your pet a range of foods to prevent them from becoming nutrient deficient. Because different types of foods offer a variety of nutrients that other food groups don’t contain.
Cats can also get bored at mealtimes and most cats tend to like variety in their meals. While a healthy treat or the introduction of new foods now and then is great, there is a range of human foods that cats can and can’t eat. So, we have created a helpful guide for cat owners on human foods that are safe and suitable as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Can cats drink milk?
Cats are naturally lactose intolerant, which means that dairy upsets their digestive system. Cats should avoid drinking cows milk, as it contains lactose. Once kittens are weaned from drinking their mother’s milk, their ability to produce lactase, an enzyme that helps to digest lactose, is reduced.
If your cat has been fed milk, they may experience the following signs:
- Abdominal pain
On a daily basis, cats should be provided with fresh, clean water to drink. Although alternative milk products like soy do not contain lactose, soy contains anti-nutritional elements which can make it difficult for many cats to digest.
Can cats eat chocolate?
Cats cannot eat chocolate as it contains milk and theobromine, an ingredient which is found in cocoa. Theobromine is highly toxic to cats and can cause liver failure. If your cat has digested chocolate, they may show the following signs:
- Increased rate of breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Heightened temperature
- Muscle rigidity
Seek veterinary advice immediately and contact your vet if your pet is showing any of the above symptoms.
Can cats eat cheese?
You should avoid feeding your cat any dairy products or dairy human food items. In addition to containing milk, dairy foods like cheese are high in fat and salt, which is not nutritionally beneficial for a cat and if overfed it can cause obesity.
Can cats eat eggs?
As part of a balanced diet, cats can eat a small portion of cooked egg: scrambled or boiled. Eggs contain nutrient-rich amino acids and protein which can be fed to cats as part of a healthy, occasional treat. If cats eat raw eggs, similar to humans, they are also at risk of contracting bacteria like salmonella, which can make them unwell.
What meat can cats eat?
Cats can be fed fresh cooked meat as part of a balanced diet. Pet parents should make sure that any fresh meat you feed your cat is thoroughly cooked through. Also ensure that all bones are removed – bones big or small can be a choking hazard, and can cause an obstruction of the digestive system or even damage cat teeth.
Can cats eat raw chicken?
No, cats shouldn’t eat raw meats. With raw chicken – as with any raw meat (or raw fish or eggs), cats are at risk of contracting salmonella poisoning or e coli from eating something that is uncooked.
Can cats eat pork?
As an alternative to chicken, beef or lamb, cats can eat a small portion of pork or ham as long as it’s cooked through and any bones are removed. Some brands of cat food may use pork or other meat products.
Can cats eat raw fish?
Cats should always be provided with cooked fish to minimise the risk of salmonella poisoning. Cooked fish is safe for cats and is a great source of protein in a feline’s diet, as it contains a vital source of amino acids which helps to maintain a healthy coat.
Cats can also eat other variants of seafood, such as cooked prawns. As with all pets, your cat requires a balanced diet. Many cat foods include fish oil or fish products in their ingredients, which can help with a cat’s daily calorie intake as well as protein levels.
Can cats eat tuna?
Cats can eat tinned tuna in water as long as it’s fed as part of a balanced diet. You can feed your cat tuna if they’re feeling unwell, for example, if they have tongue ulcers. Tuna in sunflower oil helps to soothe the tongue and encourage your cat’s appetite, which can lower if they’re poorly.
Can cats eat fruit?
Cut into small, easily digestible pieces, cats can eat a range of fruit as an occasional addition to their diet or a healthy snack containing vitamin C. In the summer, chilling fruit in the fridge can help your cat cool down on a hot day.
Fruits that are safe for a cat’s diet include:
- Apples (peeled apples may be easier to digest)
- Seedless watermelon
Can cats eat grapes?
Cats should not be fed grapes or raisins as they can lead to kidney disease and organ failure. Citrus fruits (such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes) are also mildly toxic for cats and can cause a stomach upset.
Can cats eat onions?
Cats should not eat onions or any vegetables from the onion family, such as garlic, as they can lead to digestive problems. If eaten in large quantities, onions can damage your pet’s red blood cells, causing anaemia.
Can cats eat dog food?
Feeding cats dog food long term can be dangerous as it doesn’t contain the right balance of nutrients and proteins that cat food does. Therefore, pet lovers with multiple pets shouldn’t substitute your cat food for your dog’s kibble!
Cats can eat dog food in an emergency (if you run out of cat food), but this should be limited to just one or two days. Cats require more animal protein than dogs and essential nutrients like taurine and arginine are found only in meat. Feline consumption of dog food for one day won’t hurt, however over time this could result in a nutrient deficiency.