What Foods Are Bad For Cats?

If you’ve been a kitty parent for any length of time, you may have wondered what foods are bad for cats. We all like to treat our fur babies, but some foods may actually be harmful to our pets. In this post you’ll discover what foods you should avoid, and what to do if your kitty has eaten any of them. You’ll also discover foods that are good for your cat, plus, lots more.

Why raw fish is bad for cats

why raw fish is one of the foods that are bad for cats

We all know that cats love fish, and it’s actually very good for them, just as it is for us. However, there are some types of fish that may actually do more harm than good. I remember my mum cooking coley for our cat. The smell was awful, but the cat loved it! I’m not suggesting you go out and buy coley, but when cooked properly, it’s a good source of nutrition for your kitty.

Tuna steaks are fine for your feline friend, providing they’re cooked and no oil or seasonings are added. Tinned tuna in spring water is fine, however, make sure you rinse the fish in running water before giving it to your cat. Traces of mercury are often found in tinned tuna, so only ever give as an occasional treat.

Raw fish of any type is highly dangerous both for yourself and your cat. Though packed with essential nutrients, fish in its raw state carries bacteria that can be deadly, including salmonella and e-coli. Apart from the dangers of poisoning, raw fish can also destroy thiamine, an essential nutrient your cat needs to keep healthy. Lack of thiamine can lead to neurological problems, and even death in extreme cases.

Raw meats and raw eggs

what foods are bad for cats include raw eggs

Always keep meats and raw eggs out of your cat’s reach. Never leave any on counter tops as your kitty may see it as an invitation! Teaching your cat to keep off kitchen counters is the best way to ensure her safety, and your lunch!

Just like raw fish, uncooked meats and eggs are highly dangerous. Though your cat may hunt local wildlife, raw meat is still a risk. In addition, bones can cause choking unless they’re very small. Bones from a tiny rodent or bird would probably pass harmlessly through the gut, with no risk of choking. However, cooked bones can splinter, causing internal damage.

Raw eggs not only carry the risk of salmonella, but can damage your feline’s skin and coat. If given in the correct way however, eggs are good for your cat. They must be cooked though, and form part of a nutritionally balanced diet.

Why you should never give your cat milk

milk is a food that's bad for cats

The idea that you should give cats milk is a very old and outdated one. It’s not that your kitty wouldn’t enjoy drinking milk, but the effect it could have on her. Cats are lactose intolerant, and the only milk they can safely drink is their mother’s. Cows milk is very different though, and can cause an upset tummy with diarrhea and vomiting.

Always provide a bowl of fresh drinking water for your cat, and rinse out several times a day to keep clean. Even better, invest in a drinking fountain for your furry friend.

Chocolate is a definite NO!

never give your cat chocolate

Chocolate is very poisonous to both dogs and cats. But while dogs have a sweet tooth, cats don’t, and would only eat chocolate if very hungry. While the only dangers you’d get from eating too much chocolate are a happy dentist and expanding waistline, your cat could suffer cardiac arrest.

A substance known as theobromine is highly toxic to animals and found in chocolate. Even one tiny piece could be deadly. Please note, the photo above is an exception and only done for demonstration purposes! The photographer’s cat came to no harm and never actually bit into the chocolate!

Never let your cat drink gravy from stews.

IF you enjoy a nice meaty stew for dinner, you may decide to give kitty the leftovers. However, it may contain dangerous ingredients your cat should never eat. Onions and garlic are typically added to soups and stews, and though nutritious for humans they can be highly toxic to cats. Exposure to onions can destroy red blood cells leading to anemia.

If your cat has ingested large quantities of onion she may seem lethargic and weak. Any suspicions your cat has helped herself to your food, means you must keep an eye out for any symptoms. Anemia may not show itself for a while, and your cat may seem ok.

Salt is also very toxic, and commonly added to stews. Signs to watch for are an increased thirst and drinking lots of water. In severe cases your cat may have diarrhea, become lethargic, or won’t eat. Get your cat to a vet as soon as possible for urgent treatment.

Why you should never give your cat dog food

If you’ve run out of cat food, never be tempted to give her dog food instead. Your dog has completely different nutritional needs and you could be doing your kitty harm. While dogs produce taurine on their own, cats don’t. Your feline friend needs this vital amino acid in her diet. It’s always a better idea to go to the grocery store, no matter what time of day or night! Better still, stock up in advance so you don’t run out!

The hidden dangers of house plants

If you’re wondering what foods are bad for cats, you may not have considered house plants as being top of the list! We all know how much cats enjoy eating grass, and munching it is commonplace. However, it’s also quite common for cats to chew leaves on house plants as well.

The problem with this is, many of these plants are very toxic to cats. Lilies can be particularly attractive due to their sweet scent. If you have lilies in your home, whether in a pot or vase, make sure your curious cat can’t reach them.

Every part of a lily is toxic to a feline and can cause kidney failure if ingested. Even the pollen can be dangerous and is easily spread on your cat’s fur by brushing against it. The best solution is not to have lilies in the home at all, or even in the garden if your cat goes outside.

Cacti are usually very safe from your inquisitive kitty. Prickly spines will soon deter even the most determined cat. Though most cactus plants are non-poisonous, any spines that get on to your cat’s skin could cause injury.

How to prevent your cat from eating dangerous foods

what foods are bad for cats and how to stop your cat eating them

If your cat is anything like mine, turning your back for a second can mean half your dinner goes missing!! Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but he’s been known to try and grab the odd bit of food, especially where fish is involved!

Keeping everything out of your cat’s reach can be a nightmare at times. Kitchen counters are easily within jumping distance unless your kitty is very elderly. However, you can train your cat to keep off counters with a bit of practice. One thing you should never do though, is feed your kitty scraps from the table. Ignoring those wide, pleading eyes can be hard, but once you give in, your cat will never leave you alone.

If you want to give your feline friend Scraps from left over fish or meat, that’s ok, but wait until you’ve finished eating first. You also want to make sure there are no traces of seasoning or any bones before putting it in your cat’s bowl.

Some cats are so clever they learn how to open cupboard doors! This may be especially true if that’s where you keep the treats! Always store foods either in the fridge or in closed cupboards.

What if your cat has eaten a poisonous substance?

If your cat has managed to eat anything poisonous, don’t panic. Call your vet immediately and ask for advice. Make a note of any symptoms your cat may be experiencing. Never try to make your cat vomit, or drink water. You’ll only cause distress and make matters worse. If the worst happens during out of hours surgery, phone your nearest emergency clinic. You may need to take your cat there for immediate treatment depending on what she’s eaten.

What foods are good for cats?

what foods are good for cats

Now you know what foods are bad for cats, you may be wondering what foods are good. The best diet you can give your cat is one based on quality cat food, containing all the essential nutrients your furry friend needs. However, many pet parents are now making their own homemade cat food. This isn’t as time consuming or complicated as it sounds. In addition, the occasional meaty treat from leftovers is perfectly fine as mentioned earlier.

Cooked eggs are a good source of protein and easy to digest. In addition, they’re packed with amino acids that promote lean muscle, so great for both humans and felines. Though cooked rice has no nutritional value for your kitty, it’s easy to digest. Vets often suggest mixing a little cooked rice and chicken together to ease an upset tummy. As long as it’s cooked, rice can help harden stools and help with diarrhea.

Keeping your cat healthy

Understanding what foods are bad for cats and what your cat needs is essential for all cat parents. As long as you follow basic guidelines on feeding, you should be fine. When it comes to bad foods, cats seem more aware of what they shouldn’t eat than dogs. Most dogs will eat anything including socks! However, cats have a bit more common sense and less likely to eat something harmful.

Supplementing your cat’s diet isn’t usually necessary unless suffering illness, however probiotics can help maintain gut health. You can find out about some of the best probiotics for your cat here. In addition, some vets will prescribe them if your cat needs to take antibiotics.

In this post you’ve not only discovered what foods are bad for cats, but what to do if your kitty should eat any any of them. Plus, tips on preventing your fur baby from eating toxic foods, and a quick look at what foods are good for your kitty.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share. Also, if you have any questions or experiences you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Wishing you a purrfect day:)

8 thoughts on “What Foods Are Bad For Cats?”

  1. I’m a vegetarian but its good to know that cats should not have any milk. I also give my cat packaged food that contains taurine, Yes I agree that cats should never be given dog food. My cat seems to understand that he should not eat our dog’s food, but it is always best to keep a watch. Thank you for these helpful tips Kathy!

    • Thank you Padma:) I’m also vegetarian:) Yes, taurine is essential for cats, and most packaged cat food contains it today. Glad to hear your cat isn’t tempted to eat the dog’s food, and yes, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on him:)

  2. Hi Kathy,
    I’m a first time cat owner and I’m just SO scared of ‘breaking’ her. I’ve owned and bred German shepherds for years so the whole cat thing is new to me.
    I’m feeding her kitten food but also buy her fresh fish and roast chicken. She is so different to dogs and will only eat a little bit and come back throughout the day for more. Is that normal? Or do you think I need to give her tastier foods?

    • Hi Marketa, you sound like a very loving pet owner. I also used to own a German Shepherd, and they’re beautiful dogs. Yes, it’s perfectly normal for cats to eat little and often throughout the day. This is more so with young cats, as just like babies, they grow fast! As your kitten grows into an adult, she may be fine with 3 meals a day. Dogs eat everything at once, but a cat will typically leave food in the bowl, and return later to finish it:)

  3. While we now have a dog, there were always cats at my childhood home so I’m familiar with the dietary precautions of both. We actually had a seniors chinchilla before our adopted senior dog. I’m tellin you cats and dogs are easy compared to chinchillas, of course it’s a bit easier to watch after them than cats and dogs.

    Our cats did eat fresh fish that was caught from the lake and they also hunted small rodents at our yard in the summertime. They never had any problems from these but it, of course, meant they had to get wormed (not sure if this is the correct term in English). Freshwater fish is pretty much guaranteed to have tapeworms in them as are wild rodents.

    I’d ad one reason for not to feed dog food to your cats. Cats can’t really handle high amounts of carbs while dogs can. Dogs have evolved to be omnivorous to a certain extent while cats are completely carnivores. Their body relies on protein and fat and carbs can cause high blood sugar because their pancreas can’t really produce enough insulin. I’m not a vet so I would confimr that, but I remember reading so.

    • Thank you Jukka, how lovely your cats were able to eat fresh fish from a nearby lake. Yes, worming is an essential part of cat care. It’s very true that tapeworms are commonly found in small rodents such as mice. Regular worming helps to kill any that may be ingested and prevent an infestation. Thank you for mentioning about the carbs, and the effect they can have if added to a cat’s diet. I’ve also read that somewhere as well:)

  4. I don’t own a cat but grew up watching most people give milk to their kittens (even cartoons like Tom and Jerry, served milk to their cat). However, I had no idea that these cats were actually Lactose intolerant, oh my goodness, poor cats.
    And seriously who gives their pets raw meat? I feel like people should be licensed first before they can adopt a pet. I think that most people adopt them without really knowing what’s good or bad.

    • Thank you Rachel, yes, a lot of cat owners don’t realise it’s bad to give milk to cats. It certainly would be a good idea to educate pet owners before they adopt. A lot of mistakes could then be avoided:)


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