When your cat gives you those cute, begging eyes while you're eating, it's tempting to share your food. It's tough to resist when they look so adorable, and while a little watermelon treat is ok for cats, you've got to be cautious about what else you give them, how much and your cat's specific health conditions. Just because something tastes great to us doesn't mean it's safe for our feline friends. And just because a food is ok for one cat, doesn't mean it's necessarily safe for a cat with an underlying health condition. Some human foods can actually be pretty harmful to cats, so it's important to know what's okay to share and what's not.
Remember, when you're trying out a new food with your cat, always get the go-ahead from your veterinarian first and start with just a little bit and never exceed 10% of your cat's caloric intake with treats or human food. This way, you can see if your cat has any allergies to it or gets an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Can I Give My Cat Fruit?
Most cats are not interested in fruit, as they are not able to taste the sweetness in the way that we can. However, you can mash up some fruit or blend it and add it in tiny amounts to their meals. Fruit should always be peeled with seeds and pits removed before feeding.
Some fruits that are acceptable for cats are:
Can Cats Eat Honeydew?
Melon, like honeydew, is an acceptable snack for cats in moderation. They're high in Vitamins A and C. Remove the rind and cut a couple of small pieces for your cat.
How much honeydew cats can eat: Cats should not eat more than two to three pieces.
Vitamins and minerals: Vitamins A, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), and C, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium
Cats with diabetes or any sugar sensitivities should not be offered honeydew due to its sugar content.
Can Cats Have Grapefruit?
No, cats should never have grapefruit. Grapefruit contains a substance called psoralen, which is toxic to cats. Every part of the grapefruit, from the flesh to the peel and seeds, can cause adverse effects in cats, including diarrhea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light.
How much they can eat: None
Can Cats Eat Chicken or Turkey?
After reading the ingredients on commercial cat food, you may be asking if cats can enjoy turkey or chicken treats fresh from the table. As long as the meat is cooked thoroughly, it's perfectly acceptable to feed chicken and turkey to your cat in small portions as a treat. You should also remove the skin before cooking and cut off any fatty parts. Poaching is a great way to cook poultry without any added fat, or you can also use grilling or baking.
Any meat offered to your cat should be free of seasonings, added fats (like butter or oil), and spices.
Can I Give My Cat Beef?
Cats can also enjoy some cooked meats other than poultry as small treats. Look for lean cuts of beef, lamb, and liver, and remove any excess fat before cooking. Cook them using a method that does not involve adding fat, such as grilling, baking, or boiling. Do not feed any type of meat that has preservatives, added salt, or is overly fatty, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, or deli meats.
Can Cats Have Beef Jerky?
No, cats shouldn't eat beef jerky. Cats love meat, but they shouldn't be offered this kind. While the beef is okay, the high salt and added seasonings in jerky can be harmful to them. Too much salt can even be dangerous, causing issues like increased thirst and a risk of salt poisoning.
Can Cats Have Eggs?
Cooked eggs are a great way to give your cat some extra protein as a little treat, but keep in mind that egg yolks are high in fat, and you should never give your cat raw or undercooked eggs. Scramble your eggs without any butter or milk to keep them lean, and of course, wait until they cool off before feeding them! Eggs should be fed in moderation as well and not as a daily treat.
What About Vegetables for Cats?
Cats are often thought of as only meat eaters, but they can enjoy a variety of fresh vegetables as a treat in small quantities. If you think about it, the critters they eat have all sorts of interesting stuff in their bellies. And most cats will eat the critter they catch whole. You can see this behavior frequently from their larger cousins like panthers, lions, and other big cat species.
It's hard for a cat's body to digest fresh, raw-cut vegetables, so it's best to put them in a blender first and feed them as a puree or cook them so they soften. Cook them by baking or steaming, and avoid using butter, oil, and spices. You can also mash them up and mix them in with your cat's dry kibble.
While some veggies are ok as cat treats, preparation makes all the difference. Please take a look below to see how many junk foods, like chips and popcorn, can be harmful for cats even when the base vegetable is ok.
Some healthy vegetables for cats are:
- Bell peppers
- Broccoli florets
- Brussel sprouts, cooked and pureed
- Cauliflower, florets only
- Green beans
- Sweet potato
Can Cats Have Tortilla Chips?
Cats can technically eat tortilla chips, but it's not advisable. Tortilla chips are often high in salt and, in some cases, may contain seasonings, spices, or artificial additives that aren't safe for cats. While a small nibble here and there might not be harmful, regularly feeding them chips can lead to increased sodium intake, which can be serious.
What About Sour Cream and Onion Chips?
Cats shouldn't eat sour cream and onion chips. While the base of the chip — the potato and corn — might not be inherently harmful, the flavorings, especially onion, can be toxic to cats. Onions contain compounds that can damage a cat's red blood cells, leading to a condition called hemolytic anemia. These chips are typically high in salt and other additives that aren't safe for them to eat.
White Cheddar Popcorn?
The flavorings, especially the salt and artificial additions in flavored popcorn, can be harmful to cats. Popcorn can also be a choking hazard. It's best to keep these snacks away from cats and stick to their regular diet or cat-specific treats. If a cat accidentally consumes a small amount, watch them, look for any signs of distress, and consult a veterinarian if you notice anything odd.
French Fries with Salt?
French fries are fried in oils that can upset a cat's stomach. Eating too many can lead to weight gain and pancreatitis. Additionally, the high salt content in fries can cause salt poisoning in cats, leading to symptoms like excessive thirst, vomiting, and, in severe cases, even death. If your cat gets a nibble, it's probably nothing to worry about, but fries aren't a good treat for cats.
Cats can't be vegetarians. Their bodies require taurine from their food, which is found in meat. Taurine deficiencies can cause serious health problems and even death in cats with certain health conditions. This is why it's essential to speak with your veterinarian before making changes to your cat's diet.
Can Cats Eat Spinach?
Yes and no — spinach is acceptable for most cats and can be a nutritious addition to their diet on occasion. But if your cat has ever had calcium oxalate bladder stones, steer clear of this leafy green.
Can Cats Eat Peas?
Yes, cats can eat peas, if they want to. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, peas can be a healthy addition to a cat's diet, providing essential nutrients.
Can Cats Eat Fish?
You can usually treat cats with human-grade fish but in moderation. Never feed fish raw, as this can lead to digestive problems for your cat. Fresh-caught fish must absolutely be cooked to avoid parasitic infection. Also, keep in mind that some prepared fish has high amounts of sodium and mercury, which can be dangerous for cats.
Can Cats Eat Tuna?
While your cat might love to eat a whole can of tuna, large fish are higher in mercury and fat than other types. If you want to use canned tuna, choose a chunk light type over white tuna and one that is packed with water rather than oil. Also, make sure to keep this as an extra small and occasional treat only because high salt content can cause sodium-ion poisoning in cats.
What about Mayonnaise with Tuna?
While most cats go crazy at the smell and taste of tuna, the addition of mayonnaise complicates things. In small amounts, mayonnaise is unlikely to be harmful to cats. But, it's not good for them either. Mayo is high in fats and calories, which can cause obesity and other health conditions. It's also typically made with raw eggs, something that should never be given to cats.
Plus, if the mayo is combined with tuna intended for human consumption, there's another consideration: the salt content. Tuna for humans is often packed with added salt, like most other human foods, and isn't recommended for our kitties.
Serve tuna plain and choose water-packed tuna over oil-packed for your cat.
Can Cats Eat Salmon?
Small, broken up treats of salmon can be fed to your cat if it has been cooked. Poaching or grilling is best, as you want to avoid cooking it with any fat. Keep in mind that smoked salmon has high sodium content, so should be given sparingly to avoid sodium-ion poisoning.
Can Cats Eat Other Fish?
Other types of fish you can treat your cat with in small portions include canned or cooked mackerel, sardines, and herring. Just make sure the canned varieties are not packed in oil and to ask your veterinarian about any concerns before giving it to your cat.
As an added precaution against parasites, freeze the fish for about two weeks.
What Grains Can Cats Eat?
Feeding your cat whole or unrefined grains as a treat or small meal-topper can provide additional nutrition to their regular meals. Grains should always be cooked before being fed to your cat. You may also need to mash some larger grains before cooking to make it easier for your cat to eat them.
Some types of grains you can add to your cat's diet include:
- Brown rice
Can Cats Have Oatmeal?
Yes, cats can eat oatmeal. Rich in protein, fats, and fiber, this grain offers a good source of essential nutrients that can complement their regular meals. Just make sure to avoid oatmeal with any added sugars or sweeteners, as these can be toxic.
Since cats are lactose intolerant, you should never combine the oatmeal with milk.
Is Yogurt OK for Cats?
Although most cats are lactose intolerant, they can usually enjoy a teaspoon of yogurt with their meals. Yogurt contains probiotics that could help the beneficial bacteria in your cat's gut to flourish. Don't go after that flavored yogurt, though. Look for a plain yogurt that has no natural or artificial sweetening ingredients.
Xylitol is a common sweetener used in human-grade yogurt and is highly toxic for cats. Avoid yogurts that contain sweeteners.
Is Cheese Ok?
Cheese can be used in very tiny amounts and in great moderation. Cats do enjoy cheese, but since they are lactose intolerant, it can give them an upset stomach. Cheese, however, is a great option when you're trying to give your cat a pill by hiding it in food. Some types of cheese you can try are hard cheeses like cheddar or low-fat cottage cheese.
What About What We Think is Healthy?
The other common questions we have heard include food, too. If you have a kitty that begs for fruits and veggies, you've got a rare one. But it still happens. Every cat is different, just like every human is different, and every dog is different.
Feed Table Foods With Caution
If you do feed table scraps, make sure they are only an occasional treat and not a major portion of your cat's diet. Cat nutrition, after all, differs from human nutritional needs. Play it safe with ingredients you know their body can handle, and consult with your veterinarian if you see any symptoms of concern, like diarrhea.