Is Human Food Safe For Cats? What Your Cat Can And Can’t Eat
Have you ever seen that viral video that did the rounds a few years ago called New York Pizza rat? Well, in our house we’ve been treated to a similar spectacle – South London Pizza Cat!
Leave a box of unfinished pizza on the side, and before you know it little Lola will be making a mad dash across the room with a stolen slice hanging out of her mouth. She LOVES pizza. (For those of you who are worried about Lola’s pizza habit – we now no longer leave uneaten pizza anywhere within her reach!)
It’s hilarious to witness but it leaves me a bit torn. She obviously really wants to eat some of the same things that we do – not just pizza but other foods as well – she once devoured half a mince pie at Christmas when nobody was looking! But as responsible cat owners, how should we respond? Should we shut these strange dietary habits down, or let our cats indulge in the odd human treat?
In this post we’ll go through the human food items that you definitely shouldn’t feed your cat – and the surprising ones that you can share with them in moderation. None of these foods should make up a significant proportion of your cat’s diet, but it’s handy to know which ones can stand in as an additional treat from time to time!
Before we begin, it’s worth noting that as in humans your cat may have specific allergies that take other things off the menu for them. If you’re concerned or suspect that might be the case, just check with your vet before going ahead.
1. CAN CATS EAT CHEESE?
Lots of cats seem to love cheese. But whether you should feed it to them depends on whether they can process lactose, the sugar that is in milk and dairy products.
A large proportion of cats are lactose intolerant which means that any dairy will give them a stomach upset and bad diarrhoea. If your cat falls into that category, then for their sake and yours its best to steer clear of cheese. If, however, your cat appears to tolerate dairy, then cheese in moderation is an acceptable treat! (Just don’t forget it’s pretty calorific, so it shouldn’t be a regular feature of a cat diet).
2. CAN CATS EAT BREAD?
Bread in moderation seems to be OK for cats. It’s not going to do them any special good, because it’s fairly salty and doesn’t offer many of the key nutrients that cats need, but it’s not going to kill them either. However, you must make sure that the bread is properly cooked, and you absolutely must never feed your cat raw bread dough. The yeast in uncooked dough gives off carbon dioxide that could cause dangerous gas build up in your cat’s digestive system.
3. CAN CATS EAT PASTA?
Like bread, pasta in small quantities is unlikely to do your cat any harm. However, it’s important to be vigilant about any sauce that’s on it. Onions and garlic contain a compound that can cause potentially fatal anaemia in cats, so make absolutely certain that if there’s sauce on the pasta, it’s onion and garlic free (that includes onion and garlic powder too).
4. CAN CATS EAT ICE CREAM?
Ice cream is another dairy product that some cats seem to love. Like cheese, it all comes down to whether your cat appears to be lactose tolerant or intolerant. If any type of dairy appears to cause them digestive upset, then keep ice cream firmly off the menu. Otherwise, a little bit of ice cream on special occasions should be fine!
5. CAN CATS EAT FRUIT?
It’s surprising how many cats get excited about fruit! Almost all fruits are safe for cats, but there is one that you really need to keep an eye out for: grapes. Grapes have been known to cause kidney damage in dogs (for reasons that remain slightly mysterious), and it’s suspected that they could cause similar damage in cats. So, fruits in general get a thumbs up, as long as the quantities are small because they contain a fair amount of sugar, but give grapes a wide berth.
6. CAN CATS EAT SPINACH?
Spinach and its relative swiss chard contain high quantities of a compound called oxalic acid, which is suspected to contribute to the formation of kidney and bladder stones. It’s best to avoid.
7. CAN CATS EAT LETTUCE?
Good news for all the kitty lettuce lovers out there – lettuce appears to be safe for cats!
8. CAN CATS EAT COOKED MEATS?
A bit of cooked chicken breast, turkey or fish will make a nice tasty treat for your cat. But beware pieces of cooked meat that contain bones, as the cooking process makes bones likely to splinter – which can injure your cat’s throat or digestive system. Also watch out for cooked cold cuts of meat, such as ham or pastrami. Your cat will probably love these, but you’ll need to keep an eye on portion sizes are they are high in salt. And finally, avoid fatty cuts of meat or those with the skin on – the high fat content in these can give your cat stomach ache and diarrhoea.
9. CAN CATS EAT TINNED FISH?
Tinned fish in small quantities is fine, but make sure that it’s not making up a significant proportion of your cat’s diet. Tinned fish tends to be salty as it is often preserved in brine, and in large quantities can cause dangerous mercury poisoning.
10. CAN CATS EAT CHOCOLATE?
No! All types of chocolate – even white chocolate – contain a compound called theobromine, a stimulant which can be lethal for cats. Make sure that chocolate is kept out of your cat’s reach, and isn’t in any of the foods you might offer up to them.
11. CAN CATS EAT PIZZA?
Sad news for Lola and other pizza cats out there – pizza really isn’t recommended dining for cats. If it’s a just bread base, cheese and tomato sauce then there’s probably not anything in there that will be dangerous for your cat, but the chance of added nasties (e.g. onion or garlic powder in the tomato sauce, and salty processed meats on top) means that it’s best to steer your cat away from pizza.
12. CAN CATS EAT EGGS?
Yes they can! Eggs in moderation are a good source of taurine (an essential amino acid for cats), and are high in protein too. However, raw eggs contain a compound that if consumed in large quantities could cause a vitamin deficiency in your cat, so it’s best to stick to cooked eggs, and make them an occasional treat.
13. CAN CATS EAT CHILLI OR SPICY FOODS?
Cats can taste spicy food just like we can – the capsaicin in chillies activates the receptors on their tongue in exactly the same way it does ours. You might think that that would prove to be a deterrent, but some cats appear to love spicy food! Although it doesn’t appear to be seriously toxic for them, spicy food can take a toll on a cat’s digestive system, so it’s best to restrict their spicy food intake. In other words, the odd nibble won’t hurt, but it’s best not to order an extra vindaloo for kitty!
Are there any human foods that your cat loves that we have left off the list? I’d love to hear what your cat makes a beeline for! Just leave a message in the comments below or join in the conversation over on Facebook or Instagram (both @supakitstore).