Nutrition

What Human Food Can Cats Eat?

What human food can cats eat? Many cat owners want to know, and it is always safer to be informed. Learn all about some common human foods and see if they are safe or not for cats to eat.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: August 5, 2022 | 31 min read

Funny Bengal cat in the kitchen dressed as a cook

Cat owners commonly report that their sweet fur baby stares at them when they eat, sniff around, or even try to swipe a bite or two. It can be hard to turn down those big eyes and cute nuzzles, and many owners may think just a bite or two cannot hurt. In some cases, that may be true, but in others, it is not. Felines do not have the same digestive system or process as humans or canines. It is a long-asked question of cat owners about what human food can cats eat? What foods are safe, and what food is not? It can be complicated and not as simple as one might think.

Owners have lots of questions about what human foods felines can and cannot eat. Is there any harm in sharing human foods with cats? Humans cook many tasty meals, and the aromas of chicken, beef, bacon, and even veggies sautéing can bring a kitty running to the kitchen. As an owner, it is hard to know if one is giving their sweet furball a special treat or feeding them something that could be harmful.

Even everyday foods for humans can be unhealthy or even toxic to felines. Uneducated but well-meaning owners can make a big mistake, and both kitty and owner will feel awful. The wrong foods can cause them to have nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, digestive discomfort, diarrhea, or severe, sometimes even fatal, reactions. Owners want peace of mind, and we are here to help. We get into what foods cats can eat, should eat, and what foods are toxic or extremely bad for them.

Fruits

Cats need meat and fresh animal proteins and do not necessarily need to add fruit to their diets. Fruits are tricky when it comes to felines. Some can be particularly good for their health but have seeds that can be fatal choking hazards. Others are toxic or poisonous to felines and can cause a range of mild to severe reactions after eating. Here is what we know about kitties and some common fruits found in the kitchen and fridge.

Pineapple

Pineapples are a delicious treat that humans often love to bring home. Fresh pineapples are safe for kitties in small doses. Canned pineapple soaked in heavy syrup and juices is definitely not a good idea to feed your cat. Dried varieties can also have added sugars. Pineapple is already extremely sweet and high in sugar, felines cannot taste sweetness, so this fruit is best eaten in small doses.

The main concern with pineapple is the elevated level of sugar. Too much sugar can be a problem for feline digestion and can lead to serious health concerns like obesity and diabetes. Pineapple does have some benefits for felines, and it is high in elements like manganese and vitamin C, copper, vitamin B6, fiber, and folate. However, many are already found in high-quality, well-balanced cat foods.

Feeding a kitty pineapple regularly will not have a much-added health benefit. They do not need extra amounts of these elements. However, as an occasional treat, pineapple is safe to feed to a kitty, although they will not enjoy the sweetness as they cannot taste it. Always start with minimal doses, especially if the pineapple is a new fruit to your cat.

Tomatoes

Eating tomatoes is not a good idea for cats. Tomatoes have the compound solanine, which is toxic to felines and other animals like dogs and horses. Even things like leaves and stems can cause severe distress, including a slow heart rate, severe stomach pain, weakness, lethargy, hypersalivation, and depression.

The unripe tomato fruit is especially harmful. Ripe fruit may be okay. However, it is best to avoid tomatoes for cats (and dogs and horses!) They should also not eat tomato sauce. Even though it is cooked and made with ripe tomatoes, it has far too much salt for a kitty. It is also likely to cause stomach upset and has no nutritional benefit for felines. Too much salt can cause severe issues for felines, including sodium ion poisoning and seizures, as well as dehydration and urinary tract issues. Any tomato or tomato-based product should be ruled out.

Grapes

Cats should never eat grapes. Along with being a potential choking hazard, grapes are highly toxic to felines. This fruit is so toxic to felines that it can cause kidney failure. (Dogs too!) Veterinarians cannot explain precisely what compounds in grapes are so harmful. However, many believe that felines cannot digest or break down tannins and other compounds in this fruit. These stay and build up in the kidneys, eventually having a toxic, severe, and sometimes fatal reaction. Felines should avoid grapes, raisins, currants, and other fruits in this family.

Grape toxicity in a feline is profoundly severe. Signs will show up within 12 to 24 hours of a cat eating a grape. These include rapid breathing, weakness, lethargy, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and dehydration. A kitty experiencing grape toxicity can show signs of kidney failure within 36 to 48 hours. Kidney failure requires immediate veterinary attention. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst or urination, lack of urination, loss of consciousness, vomiting, and breath that smells like ammonia. Some will even go into a coma during severe kidney failure. We cannot stress this enough, never feed your cat grapes, and if they do eat one, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Bananas

The short answer is yes. They are not toxic to felines and are safe to be consumed. However, they should not eat a lot of bananas. Bananas contain a very high amount of sugar, which can cause digestive issues and stomach pain. Starchy sugars like those found in bananas are not a natural part of a feline’s diet. Felines are obligate carnivores and get the nutrition they need from meat.

Though they may enjoy an occasional banana treat, it should not be a regular addition to their diet. Feline taste buds are not very strong when detecting sweetness, so bananas will have much less appeal for a kitty than humans. They can be a nice experiment but should not be a daily food. Bananas should be served unpeeled, raw, and cut up into bite-sized pieces.

Blueberries

Blueberries are safe for kitties and may have some health benefits. Blueberries contain no toxic compounds and are low in fat and calories. They are an excellent natural source of vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, manganese, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and K. They are also high in fiber and can aid in digestion.

While felines can eat blueberries, they should not be fed to them in large quantities. Two or three whole blueberries at a time are more than enough. Your kitty will enjoy both eating them and batting them around the floor.

Blueberries can be high in sugar, which is not something a kitty needs a lot of, so they should only be this in moderation. Raw blueberries, without any other added ingredients, are best. Blueberries are not part of a feline’s natural diet, and they do not need anything in them to stay healthy. Owners should always be mindful when giving their kitty extra treats and things like blueberries. Though they are safe to eat, they should not be part of their daily diet. Stay away from frozen blueberries. They can cause dental damage and are a significant choking hazard. Also, many frozen varieties may have added sugars, which will cause gastrointestinal distress and can put them at risk for diabetes.

Watermelon

Cats can safely eat watermelon but should stick to the fleshy part and avoid the rind. A small portion once in a while is okay but should not be a daily food. Seedless watermelon is best, cut into small, bite-sized pieces. If kitties get a small amount of fleshy rind, that is also okay, but try to avoid consuming too much of it. Hard rinds and seeds are choking hazards and need to be removed.

Too much watermelon can cause diarrhea and stomach upset. Melon is high in vitamins like C and A and can be a nice refreshing treat. It Is not a necessary addition to the feline diet, and they cannot taste the sweet flavor. However, some cats have quite a liking for watermelon.

Apples

Apples are not as straightforward as some foods when it comes to being safe for felines. The fleshy part is safe. However, stems, seeds, and leaves can be toxic and are choking hazards. They also contain cyanide. Peels are okay. Apples should be sliced into small pieces free of seeds and stems. Apples have elevated levels of vitamins like K and C, calcium, and pectin. Cats can eat fresh slices or apple puree as a treat about once a week. However, apples are high in calories and should not be given on a daily basis.

Strawberries

Strawberries are safe for a kitty to consume in small, occasional amounts. They are not toxic but are not safe in large quantities. People adore strawberries for their sweet flavor. However, these felines cannot taste sweet. For humans and some other mammals like dogs, strawberries are not only a tasty treat, but they also have multiple health benefits. For a fur baby, this is not the same. They can only use fiber found in strawberries because they do not produce the enzymes needed to break down and digest any beneficial nutrients, minerals, and vitamins strawberries offer.

Cats should only be fed the meat of the berry, not the stems and leaves. Always wash berries and other fruits to remove dirt, fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. Cut berries into pieces about the size of a small kibble. Do not feed a kitty artificial strawberries or those in processed foods like jelly, Pop-Tarts, and yogurt. Too many strawberries can be a problem and cause a cat to be excessively thirsty, have a poor appetite, be unable to jump, have stoma pain, vomiting, or allergy symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and vomiting.

Kitten eating ripe avocado in bowl

Avocados

Some parts of avocados are safe for felines. Others are not. Like many fruits, the flesh is safe and relatively healthy. However, peels, pits, leaves, and stems are toxic. They all contain Persin, a chemical that can make felines sick if they have too much.

Avocado has some fantastic health benefits for kitties and tastes excellent. Avocados are high in healthy nutrients and vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, vitamin A, K, C, E, and copper, folate, iron, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. Avocados have an elevated level of amino acids and protein, which felines need. They provide healthy fats and oleic acid. Antioxidants and free radicals are also in avocados and help fight things like inflammation and have cancer-fighting properties.

Small amounts of avocado fruit are not toxic and can benefit felines a little. However, as with most fruits, this should only be an occasional treat. Do not feed avocado to kittens, and do not feed cats guacamole. Guacamole and other dishes with added ingredients like onion, garlic, and lemon juice can cause significant discomfort to the feline stomach. Only plain avocado cut into small pieces should be fed to kitties.

White cat munching on plate of sliced cucumberson the floor

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are perfectly safe for cats to eat. They are not toxic and do not contain any substances that are harmful to felines. Cucumbers have some health benefits, including being high in vitamin K, low in fat, and contains vitamins B and C. One added benefit felines may get from cucumbers is their very high water content. Felines tend to get dehydrated, and it is hard to control how much they drink. Cucumbers can offer them a tasty treat that adds a little extra moisture, which many kitties need.

Felines do not need added fruits and vegetables to their diets. They are carnivores and need to eat meat. While cucumbers are not toxic to felines and can occasionally be a fun treat, they should not be regularly added to a feline diet. They do not contain enough nutrients, fibers, proteins, or other benefits for kitties and are not naturally part of their diet. However, generally speaking, cats can eat cucumbers safely.

Too much cucumber can cause cats digestive issues, including diarrhea and stomach pain. Cucumbers should only occasionally be fed to them and should be done so in small portions. They should be peeled and cut into small bite-size pieces. A kitty should never be fed anything other than plain cucumbers, pickled cucumbers, or those with added ingredients like vinegar, cheese, onion, or other spices that may cause a kitty to get sick and can even be toxic. Cucumbers should never be used as a substitute for regular kitty food. Cats are very fussy when it comes to their food, so many may not even like or have an interest in cucumber. However, some will enjoy it as an occasional treat.

Oranges

Cats should NEVER eat oranges or any other kind of citrus fruit, for that matter. Oranges, and all other citrus fruits, are toxic to felines. The smells of citrus fruits are often repellents for cats. A common trick to discourage them from spraying inside or as they are learning to house train is to spray citrus-scented liquids in areas owners want to discourage them from peeing. For humans, oranges have many health benefits. However, for a kitty, that is not the case. Oranges are very high in vitamin C, which humans cannot synthesize naturally. Cats, however, cannot and do not need added vitamin C in their diets. Oranges are also very high in sugar, which they do not need in their diets.

Oranges contain essential oils that are toxic to felines. The skin has more than the flesh; both are bad news if felines ingest them. They also contain psoralens, another compound highly toxic to felines. Eating oranges can cause depression, lethargy, severe stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and even allergic skin reactions. The fruit is less toxic to cats than the skin, seeds, stems, and leaves. However, even the fruit can cause significant problems if eaten by felines.

Generally, a kitty should never eat oranges, lemons, limes, or other citrus fruit. If you think your cat has eaten a large amount of citrus fruit, it is best to contact your vet immediately for the next steps. Dogs and horses should also not be fed citrus, as it has the same toxic properties.

Plums

Plums are a fruit that cats should steer clear of. They have no added nutritional benefit to felines and can be quite dangerous. Plum pits, in particular, are especially hazardous because they have cyanide levels that are toxic to cats. Plum pits are choking hazards and potential bowel obstructions if ingested and can even cause internal injuries. Dried fruit dropped on the ground is especially dangerous, as a kitty may eat it and then choke on the pits.

While plums do have some nutritional benefits, kitties should avoid any plums in their diets. This also goes for apricots, peaches, and cherries, as these fruits contain pits and have prominent levels of cyanide. Cyanide poisoning can cause difficulty breathing, heavy panting, dilated pupils, bright red gums, severe shock, and death. If you suspect your cat has eaten a plum, or other toxic fruit pit or seed, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Coconut

When served by itself, coconut is not toxic for a feline and can be a nice treat. It has a risk of diarrhea, so it should not be fed to them very often. Coconut has a remarkably high-fat content and medium-chain triglycerides, which pets can have trouble digesting. Overeating coconut can lead to a severe condition called hepatic lipidosis. This is a disease in which a cat’s liver holds too much fat and can be life-threatening.

Coconut milk may be easier for a kitty to digest. However, it can often cause similar digestive issues to the coconut fruit. Coconut milk is very high in potassium, making it a healthy option for humans. However, this can be a problem for cats. Too much potassium can cause hyperkalemia, which will acidify a cat’s blood and affect heart function. Felines with sensitive stomachs, kidney or liver disease, or diabetes should not eat coconut or coconut milk.

Coconut oil, however, can be a safer choice for owners who want to give their cats a change of flavor in their diet. A few drops of coconut oil can be added to wet food or baked into kitty treats. Discuss any coconut oil additions to your cat’s diet with your vet. Coconut oil can help with coat health and can be used safely topically to loosen tangles and keep their coats smooth and soft. The high levels of fats and vitamin E found in coconut oil can be very soothing for cats with sore or irritated skin.

Vegetables

We take a look at some common vegetables cats might try to eat. Some are safe. Some are not. Cats do not need vegetables. However, some may like them, and they can add great variety to a kitty’s diet.

White cat on wooden table with head of Broccoli

Broccoli

Cats can safely eat broccoli. It is not toxic or poisonous to them and can have some added health benefits. Broccoli is one of the safer vegetables that a kitty can eat. Keep in mind cats are carnivores and do not need the addition of broccoli to their diet. However, some may enjoy it. Broccoli florets can be a nice treat and give cats something to chew on other than your house plants.

In small quantities, broccoli is safe for cats. It should only be served boiled, steamed, or raw and cut into small pieces. Do not feed them broccoli with additional ingredients like butter, salt, garlic, onion, or cheese. Only plain broccoli is safe for cats.

Broccoli is very high in fiber and a source of roughage and can help with digestion. Fiber aids in feline bowel movements. Broccoli can also help lower the cholesterol level in felines. Broccoli has anti-carcinogenic properties. It is very high in antioxidants which help fight cancer and boost the body’s immune system. Adding a little bit of broccoli to your feline’s food occasionally can be a significant health boost for them. Broccoli can act similarly to cat-friendly grasses. However, remember that meat must be the central part of a cat’s diet. A kitty cannot fully get what they need to support their bodies from vegetables, so broccoli should never replace meat or their regular food.

Carrots

Carrots are healthy root vegetables high in vitamins and minerals like vitamin B6, K1, fiber, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as high levels of beta carotene. Carrots are safe for felines to eat. However, they are not a part of their natural diet. Part of the carrot appeal for humans is their delicious, sweet taste. Cats may not be able to notice the same level of flavor as humans do.

Carrots are perfectly safe for cats to eat but should be cooked. They should always be washed and peeled first. Never add seasonings to carrots or cook them with anything else when preparing them for your kitty. Make sure to cut carrots up into bite-sized portions to prevent a choking hazard. Stick to only cooked carrots, do not try to give your cat carrot juice. It serves no benefit health-wise for felines and can have added sugars.

While the occasional small taste of carrots will likely not hurt a kitten, it is best to steer clear of giving them any additives to their diets. Stick with a well-formulated kitten formula until they can handle more adventurous diets. Even adult kitties should not be given carrots every day. However, they can make a lovely treat or addition to their food once in a while.

Spinach

In general, spinach is safe for cats to eat in tiny amounts. It does not contain any toxic or poisonous compounds to them. However, it is not part of their natural diet. Spinach is high in oxalates, increasing the risk of kidney malfunction when taken in high amounts. Cooking spinach decreases these compounds, so this may be a better choice if you give your cat spinach. They can eat raw spinach in tiny pieces. Pets with a history of kidney malfunction or urinary tract issues should not eat raw spinach.

Spinach is loaded with healthy elements like vitamins A, B6, K, magnesium, fiber, manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, folic acid, and more. These nutrients support feline and human bodies in different ways. Spinach can be a very healthy treat and an occasional addition to a cat’s diet. However, as with all human foods introduced to pets, it must be done in moderation. Spinach is very low in calories, so there is not too much to worry about if cats overindulge. However, do not make overeating spinach a regular occurrence. Avoid giving kittens spinach. High-quality, well-balanced kitten food is best for them.

Potatoes

Potatoes can be safe for cats. However, they must never, ever be fed raw potatoes. Peeled, roasted potatoes can be safe without adding seasonings or other ingredients. Raw potatoes are toxic because they contain solanine, which is poisonous to felines. Raw potatoes are tough to digest and also present a choking hazard. This also goes for the potato peels. Solanine intoxication can be a profoundly serious condition, and signs include upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and lethargy.

Boiled potatoes pose the same risk to kitties as raw potatoes and should not be fed to them. Only peeled and roasted potatoes should ever be fed to a kitty. This should be done in moderation, and they should be cut up into bite-sized pieces. Potatoes offer no nutritional or health value for cats and should only be added as an occasional treat. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates, affecting a cat’s weight, so they should never eat potato chips, snacks, or fries.

Mushrooms

Store-bought mushrooms can be safe for cats to consume in minimal quantities. However, many wild mushrooms are fatal to felines. Avoid any mushrooms you find outside, and contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your cat has eaten one. This is a medical emergency.

While an occasional, store-bought, raw or cooked mushroom will not cause harm to a cat, they do not offer much nutritional value. It is best to stay away from feeding cats mushrooms. Some cats may crave them as they are a high source of protein. It is better to discuss adding protein to your cat’s diet with your veterinarian than to allow them to eat too many mushrooms. Again, mushrooms are not an ingredient natural to feline diets, and they will be better served with animal protein than protein found in mushrooms.

Meats

Cats are obligate carnivores meaning they need to eat meat to be healthy and require animal proteins to survive. Because felines need meat and are natural carnivores, it can be easy to soon that all meats are safe for them to consume. The issue is not that simple, and precautions should always be taken when feeding felines meat meant for human consumption.

Steak

Cats can eat steak. However, it should be saved for a special treat. Felines can only eat steak that has been properly cooked, without bones, with low-fat content. Red meat is an incredibly safe choice; cow meat does not have any toxins or poisons known to felines. It is also relatively easy for them to digest and does not have many of the heavy metal contaminants found in some fish.

Cooked, lean steak can offer several healthy nutrients and vitamins for cats, including vitamin B12, iron, protein, niacin, selenium, and zinc. B12 is essential for feline health as it supports their immune, digestive, and nervous systems. Felines do not produce B12 naturally. They only get this from their food, and red meat is an excellent source.

Cats can be fed lean cooked steak along with their regular food. Owners need to ensure there are no bones or excess fat and that meat is cut into small bite-size pieces. Steak should not be fed every day. While it is healthy, overeating can give a kitty too many calories and fat. Most cats need about 300 calories a day. A 3-ounce serving of steak can have up to 180 or so calories. Too much steak can lead to serious health problems, including obesity, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.

Raw Chicken

Cats can eat raw chicken. However, a little more goes into it than simply tossing them a chicken breast or raw drumstick. Raw chicken should not be fed to a feline daily unless it is part of a carefully monitored, raw food diet. Commercial raw food diets consider many factors, including using different preservatives and additives to reduce the risk of bacterial infection from raw meats.

Chicken is full of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that felines need. However, raw chicken is not as good for cats as high-quality, well-balanced kitty food. There is also a significant risk of salmonella, which can cause them to develop food poisoning.

Cats are carnivores and natural predators who, in the wild, will catch their food and consume it raw. They can eat and digest fresh raw chicken. This can be a delicious treat and an excellent protein additive to a feline’s diet. However, it should only be done sparingly. Lean, fresh raw chicken will not contain filler ingredients or chemical preservatives and additives like cat foods. Raw chicken is high in amino acids and low in carbs, so it can help in digestion and be a lovely low-fat treat. Raw chicken contains more moisture than dried cat food, so it can be an incredibly effective way to improve hydration.

As an occasional treat, done the right way, fresh, washed, cut-up raw chicken can be an excellent addition to a kitty’s diet. However, it should not replace their regular cat food and should only be fed daily as part of a closely monitored, veterinarian-guided raw food diet.

Shrimp

Shrimp is a tasty treat for humans and felines alike. It is a high protein, low-calorie food with lots of nutrients and antioxidants as well as vitamins like B12 and D, zinc, copper, omega 3, and iodine, among other things. Shrimp can be an excellent, tasty snack to share with a cat. However, it should not be used as a meal or food replacement.

Shrimp is very high in salt and cholesterol, so it should only be fed in small amounts. Felines should not eat shrimp that has been cooked with any kinds of oils, spices, salt, or ingredients that can be toxic to them. It should also not be breaded. Plain shrimp that has been boiled or steamed is best for cats. It should always be washed, deveined, with the shells, tails, and heads removed.

Ham

Cats can safely eat small amounts of ham but should not be fed commercially packaged deli meats. These meats are often extremely high in added salt, additives, and preservatives and can be unhealthy for felines. Too much sodium can cause digestive issues, dehydration, and other issues. Cats do best with lean protein, so fresh ham cooked without any extra seasonings or ingredients should be safe.

Ham can be fed to felines as an occasional treat and should be cut up into small pieces for them to eat. Ham does not provide as much benefit as red meat or lean proteins like chicken, so it should not be a regular part of any cat’s diet. However, fresh ham, not from the deli, is safe for cats to eat as an occasional treat.

Bacon should be treated the same as ham. It should always be cooked thoroughly and given quite sparingly as it is remarkably high in salt.

Dairy

We have all seen the historical pictures of cats drinking bog bowls of milk, so it is a common assumption that all forms of dairy products are okay for felines. Let’s take a look and see how true that old adage is.

Milk

Despite the widespread idea that kitties can drink milk, most are lactose intolerant. Cats do not produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose. Milk, including cow milk, can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and pain. Cow’s milk is also extremely high in fat which can cause them to gain a lot of weight. One small bowl of milk for a cat is equivalent to one person eating an entire cheese pizza alone. They love the taste of milk, partly because it is so rich in flavor and full of fat. However, it is just not extremely healthy for them.

Many felines are also allergic to dairy, so along with being unable to digest it correctly, they will also have allergic reactions, which can include itchy red skin, hair loss, painful gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and other unusual behavior. Most cheese has a very high sodium content, which can cause extreme digestive issues and dehydration.

There are some products on the market that are milk substitutes or treated milk specially made for cats. These products are safe for felines to eat because they do not contain lactose. However, most are very high in fat. Milk is not a natural part of a cat diet, other than when they are nursing as kittens. Beyond that, felines do not need milk. They get enough calcium from their kibble and wet food.

All cats need to drink is water. They need regular access to multiple sources of clean, fresh water. Putting more than one bowl in different places throughout the house will encourage them to drink. These kiddos do not like to drink from dirty water bowls, and some do not like their water bowls near their food. If you are concerned a feline is not getting enough water, adding milk to your diet is not the solution. You can add extra water to their regular meal, introduce foods with high water content, and discuss with your veterinarian what to do.

Cheese

Felines should not eat cheese. Though it is very high in protein, cheese is not healthy for cats. It can be challenging for them to digest because they do not have the right enzymes to break down lactose. Cats can get quite sick from eating cheese. The high-fat content in cheese makes it taste good, but they should not eat it. Along with being unable to digest it properly, cheese can lead to obesity and other health problems in a kitty.

Some cats may like cheese and be able to tolerate a tiny portion. However, cheese is not something that they should eat often. Not every cat is lactose intolerant, although most are, and cheese will not be worth the trouble. Some kitties also have dairy allergies, so even a tiny bite of cheese can negatively impact their digestive system. Vomiting, stomach pain, inflammation, constipation, diarrhea, lethargy, and more can happen to kitties who overeat dairy. For cats, sometimes, even just one tiny bite is too much dairy.

Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the big exceptions to the rule that kitties should not eat dairy. Felines can usually safely eat yogurt as long as it is plain and unsweetened. Though yogurt does contain lactose, the kind in yogurt is much easier for them to digest and break down. This is due to the live bacteria contained in most yogurts. Cats should not eat flavored yogurt or yogurts with added fruits and sugars.

Yogurt can have some health benefits for felines. For starters, it is high in calcium vitamins B2 and B12, magnesium, and potassium. Yogurt also has high protein content, and cats need high protein diets. Another significant benefit of yogurt is that it contains gut-friendly bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial to the digestive system. There are special feline probiotic supplements, so if you are concerned about your cat and think they need probiotics, it is best to discuss this with your veterinarian before adding yogurt to their regular diet. Products made for cats will work much better than yogurt made for human consumption.

A kitty can eat plain unsweetened yogurt, and this includes Greek yogurt. Avoid low-calorie yogurts as these often contain sugar substitutes. Sugar substitutes contain xylitol, which is incredibly poisonous to felines. This ingredient is found in many human products, which is one of the reasons it is imperative not to make it a habit to feed your cat human food. Felines can occasionally have a spoonful of plain yogurt as a treat, but it should not be added to their regular diet, nor should it be substituted for cat food.

Ice Cream

Cats can definitely not eat ice cream. This is partly due to their lactose intolerance and the fact that ice cream has no nutritional value. Ice cream is very high in fat and sugar, two things that are bad for felines to eat. Ice cream also contains many chemicals and preservatives that are poisonous and harmful to felines. One of these is propylene glycol. Felines are incredibly sensitive to propylene glycol, which has been banned from being used in kitty foods. Too much of this ingredient can poison a feline. For felines ingesting too much propylene glycol can also cause a condition called Heinz body hemolytic anemia. This condition destroys red blood cells and causes sudden weakness, fever, loss of appetite, pale mucous membranes, skin discoloration, reddish-brown urine, and other very serious symptoms. This condition will require immediate help from a veterinarian.

A hungry ginger cat peeks into a bowl of cream for a cake. Whipped cream

Whipped Cream

As a general rule, felines should not eat whipped cream. Some might do fine with a tiny taste here and there, but it is best not to allow them to eat whip cream. Whipped cream is not toxic or poisonous to them, but it is made up of ingredients that are not suitable for kitty consumption. Felines are commonly lactose intolerant. Whipped cream is made from lactose which can cause significant digestive discomfort. Whipped cream is also very high in fat and sugar, two things that felines do not need in their diet.

Additionally, whipped cream often contains vanilla extract made with ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is poisonous for felines and can cause alcohol poisoning if they ingest too much.

Even whipped cream varieties that are made from milk substitutes and do not contain lactose are still not safe for cat consumption. They have elevated levels of hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, and fat and other high sugar ingredients. This also applies to whipped cream treats made for canine consumption. Though they may seem like they have similar digestive needs, cats and dogs are entirely different regarding digestion.

Grains

There is a lot of information that promotes grain-free diets for felines. While this can be a good choice for some felines, overall, grains provide many nutritional benefits.

Rice

Rice is safe for kitties to eat. It is not toxic and not poisonous to them. Nor does it contain anything that they cannot digest. Rice is high in fiber, so it can aid in feline digestion, but too much can be a problem. Rice is also high in protein and has vitamins like thiamine, niacin, and elements like magnesium and iron. Brown rice is better as it is not as processed as white rice and still contains many essential and helpful nutrients.

Cooked, plain, white rice with no other ingredients can be safe to feed your cat occasionally. In some cases, for pets experiencing different digestive issues, veterinarians may even suggest adding rice to their diet. Rice alone will not provide enough nutritional value, so it should not be given as a regular meal or as a substitute for well-balanced cat food. A small amount of rice will not be a problem, too much rice can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea as they may have trouble digesting all carbohydrates.

Bread

Cats can eat bread, and some may even be very attracted to the smell of fresh-baked bread. However, adding bread to a feline diet is not usually recommended. There are no benefits for felines from eating bread, and because it is so high in fiber and carbohydrates as well as sugars, it can cause serious digestive issues.
While bread is not toxic to cats, it should not be something they regularly or even occasionally consume. While every kitty is different, and a small bite will not cause a tremendous amount of harm to a feline, as a general rule, do not feed a feline bread.

Cereal

There is no doubt that cereal is delicious, but that does not mean it is good for a sweet kitty. While cereal is not toxic and generally not poisonous to cats, it is not a good idea to feed it to them. Cereal contains high levels of sugars, carbohydrates, and processed grains and can even contain some compounds like artificial sweeteners that can be poisonous to them.

Some cats may find cereal tasty, but owners should not allow them to eat it. A few pieces of cereal here and there probably will not have any major effects, but they also will not have any nutritional value. Cereal is mainly empty calories, and feline digestive systems are not made to process those foods. Kitties need meat-based foods, not grain-based foods high in carbohydrates. Overeating cereal can cause stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, or even more severe reactions. In summary, yes, felines can eat cereal, it is not usually poisonous or toxic, but they should not eat cereal.

Other Foods

There are some other common foods that a kitty can easily get into, or owners might want to share. These include sweets, snacks, and other more unusual substances. Many of these are not suitable for kitty consumption.

Chocolate

Under no circumstance can cats eat chocolate. It contains ingredients that are incredibly bad for them. One of them is the sugar substitute xylitol. Chocolate also contains theobromine, a compound that occurs naturally in the cacao plant. Theobromine is incredibly toxic to cats, as well as most other animals. Chocolate also contains caffeine and other harmful substances for felines. Theobromine and caffeine are stimulants and can cause unpleasant symptoms when absorbed into a feline’s bloodstream. These include high levels of thirst, increased heart rate, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, restlessness, fever, excessive urination, nausea, rapid breathing, twitching and muscle tremors, seizures, low blood pressure, and even coma.

No kind of chocolate is safe for a kitty to consume under any circumstance. Should your cat consume even a tiny amount of chocolate, it is best to contact your veterinarian immediately for instructions on what to do next. Felines do not need any ingredients in chocolate, and owners should be responsible and always keep chocolate and chocolate products away from their feline friends.

Cats should never be fed any kind of chocolate or other candy. Along with having many toxic and unhealthy ingredients, it is also a choking, intestinal, and bowel obstruction hazard. Keep kitties away from all kinds of chocolate and candy.

Can on a pile of peanuts

Peanut Butter

Cats can eat peanuts. They are not toxic for felines. However, peanuts have no nutritional value for felines. Their bodies are designed to work off animal proteins, and even high-protein foods like peanuts do not adequately support their health. Furthermore, they can cause gastrointestinal distress, including bloating, pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Peanuts are also extremely high in fat and can lead to diabetes, weight gain, and obesity.

While plain roasted peanuts may be tolerable for a fur baby to eat occasionally, peanut butter is another story. Just like peanuts, peanut butter has no nutritional value for a kitty. Many peanut butter varieties contain added ingredients like sugars or sugar substitutes. Sugar is bad for kitties, and artificial sweeteners can be toxic. They are considered nut and are very high in oil, among other things. Some contain remarkably high levels of added salt. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPC), nuts are foods owners should try to avoid feeding their pets.

Sometimes, felines may need to be fed peanut butter to take medication. If this is the case, owners should discuss this with their veterinarian and devise a plan. A small amount of all-natural peanut butter that contains only peanuts may be okay in very small portions. However, many feline-specific alternatives will be easier for your kitty to digest and will be 100% safe.

Coffee

Cats should never have coffee. They should not drink coffee or eat raw coffee beans or used grounds. Coffee contains caffeine, even decaffeinated, and is incredibly dangerous for a kitty. The chemicals that make up caffeine are stimulants. Humans often use it to keep us awake and alert or give ourselves a rush of energy.

In some cases, caffeine is used in medicinal form. For felines, caffeine’s effects are not positive. They are quite damaging and can even be fatal. Even incredibly low doses of caffeine can cause cats to have severe symptoms.
Should a kitty drink coffee, owners should contact the veterinarian immediately for advice on what to do.

Treatment will depend on the amount and kind of caffeine ingested. Caffeine can cause them to have stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, abnormal heart rhythm, heart tremors, shaking, seizures, hyperexcitability, lethargy, collapse, and even death. The exact symptoms will depend on the amount of caffeine ingested and the tolerance of the specific cat. Caffeine is also found in many teas, so these should also be kept away from cats.

Cooked Bones

Eating bones is not something that is recommended for felines. Raw bones can break their teeth, are choking and internal blockage hazards, carry bacteria that can cause sickness, and can cause major digestive issues, including severe constipation. Small bones that are raw and meaty can be safe to eat under close supervision. These can provide dental cleaning capabilities, mental stimulation, mouth exercise, and a nice treat for your feline.

Small but not tiny quail and chicken bones are best. Drumsticks, chicken feet, and raw chicken necks are soft and safe to feed to a kitty occasionally. Some owners may want to go the wild game route and feed their cat chicken bones.

Cooked bones should NEVER ever be fed to a feline. Cooked bones can splinter and cause fatal internal damage. All bones should only be fed as a very occasional treat and always under close supervision. Never feed an unsupervised cat a bone, and never feed a feline a cooked bone of any kind.

Olives

Olives are safe for cats in small quantities but should not be part of their regular diet. They have little nutritional value for kitties and are just empty calories. Some kitties may like the flavor of olives. However, olives are exceedingly high in salt, which can be dangerous when eaten in large quantities. They can eat olive oil, which is not considered poisonous for felines. However, olive oil can have far too much fat for a cat’s digestive system. This can cause stomach distress, vomiting, and diarrhea. While a small amount should not be a problem, large quantities or daily ingestion is not a good idea.

Cats should not be fed stuffed olives, as many come with tasty fillings like jalapenos, blue cheese, garlic, or sausage that a kitty should not eat. Kitties also need to avoid olives that still have pits, as these can be choking hazards or cause intestinal and bowel obstructions. Sodium toxicity is a substantial risk when feeding felines olives and olive oil. Olives are cured to remove their naturally bitter taste and can expose pets to harmful levels of sodium. Cats with sodium-related health concerns such as kidney disease or heart disease should steer clear of olives.

Marijuana

With the increase in the legalization of marijuana across the country and the wide availability of CBD products, it is a common question to ask if cats can eat marijuana. Catnip is a typical treat for kitties. It is often called feline marijuana and is considered to have the same effects on cats as THC on humans. This, however, is a misconception. Catnip and marijuana are not even in the same family of plants. While catnip is perfectly healthy for feline consumption, marijuana is different.

Cats cannot eat marijuana. It is not safe for them in any form. This includes eating edibles, dry plant pieces, or inhaling secondhand smoke. THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound in the marijuana plant that causes euphoric responses in humans. Marijuana can have an extreme effect on felines if ingested.

The most common symptom is becoming incredibly wobbly, also called ataxia, having a slower heart rate, and becoming extremely lethargic. Urinary incontinence, drooling, dilated pupils, slow breathing, twitching, agitation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, mental distress, seizures, and even coma can occur from feline THC toxicity. It is vital to contact the veterinarian or pet poison helpline right away if you think your cat has eaten marijuana and is showing any of these signs. In felines, marijuana can stay in the bloodstream for many days, so it will take several days to detoxify their systems. Felines will need supportive care when recovering from marijuana toxicity. They often do not want to eat or drink and can become dehydrated.

Kitten in bucket of popcorn

Popcorn

Cats can eat popcorn, however, only the plain kind. They should never eat flavored popcorn as it contains too many ingredients that can harm felines. Popcorn is not toxic to them, but hard and unpopped kernels can be a choking hazard or cause internal blockages. Popcorn can be high in salt, which is very bad for felines. Kitties should never eat microwave popcorn. While popcorn, in very small amounts, can be safe for felines, ideally, a kitty should not eat popcorn of any variety. It is not poisonous but has low nutritional value and no benefit to a kitty.

Toxic foods

Many human foods are incredibly toxic and harmful to felines. We have already covered some of them but have compiled a general list below of some foods that should never be fed to cats. Unless an owner knows for sure that food is safe for feline consumption, it is best to assume they are not. Felines can get everything they need from well-balanced cat food, and do not need supplements, even healthy foods from human tables. Never feed a feline any of the foods on this list. Keep in mind this is not a complete list of foods kitties should not eat.

  • Alcohol
  • Chives
  • Cherries
  • Chile or other spicy foods that contains capsaicin
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus
  • Coffee
  • Dog Food
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Green tomatoes
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Peaches
  • Raisins
  • Raw eggs
  • Raw fish
  • Rhubarb
  • Most seeds, stems, pits, rinds, and roots
  • Salt
  • Shallots
  • Scallions
  • Caffeine
  • Wild mushrooms
  • Yeast
  • Yeast dough
  • Xylitol

Final Thoughts

Feline nutrition is one of the most essential elements to their lifelong health. Felines need a high-quality, well-balanced diet from the day they are born until their senior days. Feline diets should be meat-based, high in animal proteins, and have a mix of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to support healthy growth and development throughout their lives. Many human foods are high in carbohydrates, sugars, fats, chemicals, and other unhealthy compounds and are even toxic to cats.

Never assume human food is safe for a feline. It is also never a good idea to assume that food that is safe for a dog will be safe for a kitty. Though they can coexist and even get along well in the same household, these two vastly different species of animals have different nutritional needs and considerably different digestive systems. While some human foods can be a safe and delicious treat, owners should always remember that the best thing to feed feline furballs is a food that has been specifically formulated for them. We hope our guide has helped build some understanding of what human food cats can eat.

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