Even though it’s dogs who seem to get the reputation for eating anything and everything in their path, any cat owner who has been woken up at 4am by their cat standing over their face and demanding breakfast knows our feline friends are just as motivated by food as their canine counterparts.
And while some cats can be extremely picky eaters, others are just as eager to eat whatever they can get their whiskers into.
Today we will look at nutrition for cats, and some of the foods which they should steer-clear of in order to live long, happy, and healthy lives.
Foods Your Cat Should Never Eat
Before sharing your dinner with your cat, read over this list of foods which they should stay away from – preferably before they climb on your table and start eying your plate like it’s prey…
Before you go tossing away all of your tinned cat food, bear with me for a moment here.
Some tuna every so often won’t hurt your cat, however they require a larger variety of foods in their diet for proper nutrition – and because cats can be picky creatures, it’s easy to fall into giving them the same favourite foods again and again.
Too much tuna in the diet can lead to mercury poisoning however, and tuna made for human consumption is lacking in vital nutrients your cat needs – tuna specifically manufactured for cats has added nutrients to make it more nutritionally complete.
Also – avoid sharing your sushi with your cat.
Raw tuna carries risks such as salmonella and E. coli, and although we humans face the same risks, they are much greater for your cat whose body size is much smaller than yours.
2. Dairy Products
Even though the image of cats and kittens lapping up milk is a common one, this generally isn’t a good idea.
Many cats are lactose intolerant, and cannot properly process dairy.
Giving them cow’s milk or other dairy products can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
Although many humans need coffee or tea in the morning to get moving, it needs to be kept away from your cat.
Caffeine can cause muscle tremors, heart palpitations, and rapid breathing for your feline friends.
Sadly the effects of caffeine poisoning can be fatal – and there is no antidote.
Even though there are no reported cases of cats becoming sick from eating grapes, or their shriveled counterpart, raisins, this fruit has been known to cause acute kidney failure in dogs.
Therefore, we recommend playing it safe and not allowing your cat to eat grapes either.
Even the tiniest amount of alcohol can be deadly for your cat.
It has the same effect on your cat’s liver and brain as it does on yours, however due to their smaller body size, even just a couple of teaspoons can have devastating effects – from coma, to death.
Onions may be a delicious addition to your cooking, however don’t share them with your cat.
All forms of onion – including powdered, raw, and cooked can cause your cats red blood cells to break down, resulting in anemia.
If they manage to take a bite of your burger, and ingest a small amount one-time, it’s probably nothing to worry about too much, however eating a large quantity or having it on a regular basis can cause onion poisoning.
Garlic and chives can cause gastrointestinal upset as well.
Chocolate contains the compound theobromine.
It is found in all forms of chocolate, however it is most concentrated in dark, and unsweetened varieties.
Ingestion of theobromine can lead to heart problems, muscle tremors, or seizures.
Add to this the fact that chocolate contains caffeine, which we discussed earlier, and it’s best just to keep it away from your cat altogether.
Xylitol is found in sugar-free foods such as chewing gum.
Although there are no records of this sugar-free sweetener causing illness in cats, it can cause seizures and convulsions in dogs, and eventually lead to liver failure.
Better safe than sorry, due to the effects Xylitol has on dogs, it’s best to keep it away from cats as well.
9. Raw Eggs
One of the reasons not to give your cat raw eggs may seem fairly obvious.
This is the risk of salmonella or E. coli. which is the same risk humans face when eating raw eggs.
The other is that a protein in raw egg whites, called avidin, can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B – this can lead to skin problems for your cat.
10. Dog Food
If your cat gets into the dog’s dish and has a few bites, it probably won’t hurt them.
However cat food and dog food are separate for a reason, as cats and dogs have different nutritional needs.
Eating dog food instead of cat food on a regular basis can cause your cat to be severely malnourished.
What To Do If Your Cat Eats Something Toxic
Although cats can be known as notoriously picky eaters, sometimes what they can get into surprises even the most careful pet owners.
And sometimes they are attracted not by the food, but by the shiny packaging – I know of one cat who decided the silver, tin-foil wrappers on Hershey’s Kisses were “interesting”.
So if, despite your best efforts your cat gets into something they should not have, its best to be prepared.
Keep numbers for your vet, as well as that of your local emergency vet clinic on-hand for these types of emergencies.
The ASPCA also has an Animal Poison Control Center which can be reached at (888) 426-4435.
If you suspect your cat has ingested harmful foods, or they are showing adverse symptoms be sure to contact your vet straight away.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.