Many owners like to enrich their cat’s diet with the occasional treat, often a piece of food prepared for the human residents of the house. However, there are common foods that are harmful to cats and it’s up to owners to know what they are and avoid them whenever possible.
Seemingly innocuous treats could pose a major threat to your cat’s health and well-being. With some, a very small amount may be tolerated but a larger dose or regular consumption can be harmful. Others are toxic enough to cause severe symptoms if ingested, even in small amounts.
You should never give any of the foods in this list to your cat –
- Onions and garlic contain compounds that can break down a cat’s red blood cells.
- Alcohol is very toxic for cats. It only takes a few spoonfuls to kill a cat.
- Coffee, tea and chocolate are dangerous to cats. Caffeine, as well as some ingredients found in chocolate are toxic to cats even in small amounts.
- Xylitol is a common sweetener contained in gum, candy and toothpaste. It can cause liver failure in cats.
- Yeast dough could ferment and expand after ingestion, causing severe stomach pain. What’s more, the yeast produces a certain amount of alcohol which in itself is toxic to cats.
- Grapes and raisins don’t seem to adversely affect cats but they are known to be harmful to dogs, and without established contradicting evidence pertaining to cats, you should avoid feeding them to your cat in any amount.
- Avocados attract some cats due to their high fat content. However, it can be harmful to cats and upset their stomach.
- Nuts in general, and Macadamia nuts specifically may pose a health risk for cats. While there is no concrete evidence for this, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
- Almonds and other fruit kernels are also toxic to cats due to their high content of cyanide.
- Potatoes and tomatoes both contain toxic compounds which are dangerous to cats, especially when they are still green. Ripe tomatoes should be safe, as are any cooked tomatoes or potatoes.
The foods in the above list are usually not very attractive to cats. Unless you feed your cat leftovers of human meals, they are unlikely to come across nuts, tomatoes, onions or avocados in their menu.
However, there are common foods that are harmful to cats which may seem like “classic” ingredients of cat food. The following list contains several items which seem innocuous enough but can be dangerous when ingested in large quantities. What’s more, they are indeed appealing to cats, so the risk of increased consumption is higher –
- Tuna prevents absorption of certain nutrients. Do not offer tuna to your cat very often. Most cats love the taste of tuna, and cats have been known to be spoiled by owners to the point of eating nothing but tuna. Feeding exclusively on tuna will cause a cat to develop a painful disease called Steatitis, or “Yellow Fat Disease”.
- Raw eggs and raw fish can prevent the absorption of certain forms of vitamin B. Feed in moderation, if at all. Depending on the source and preparation, any raw food also poses some risk of bacterial contamination.
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- Liver contains high levels of vitamin A. The cat’s body cannot get rid of excess vitamin A and in high doses, this can be toxic and even fatal.
- Dairy products can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach. Most cats, especially adult cats, are lactose intolerant. You can feed yogurt and kefir in small quantities as they have reduced levels of lactose.
In addition, use common sense and avoid giving your cat treats that contain too much fat and salt. If your cat is overweight, underweight, or if she is a senior cat or suffers from a chronic illness, it’s best to consult your vet regarding both their overall nutrition and what treats should be given.
How to Prevent Ingestion of common foods that are harmful to cats
Fortunately, some of these foods are not appealing to cats, at least not in their natural form. With most cats, you don’t have to worry about them binging on candy or chocolate, sipping your tea, or biting into raw onions. There are exceptions to this rule though, so watch your cat carefully and if you know them to be attracted to any of these foods, take extra care to keep it out of reach.
With all cats, be on the alert for consumption of stuff they do like, be it tuna, dairy products or alluring, yet dangerous, combos such as coffee and cream.
Avoid trouble by following these rules –
1. Do not offer any of the foods mentioned here as treats.
2. Store these foods in a safe place, inside closed containers and out of the cat’s reach.
3. Before serving any “human food” to your cat, stop to carefully read labels and consider the ingredients.
4. Even with safe foods, always serve them fresh and unspoiled. Check for signs of mold and never serve anything that’s past its expiry date.
5. Don’t leave wet food out for too long without refrigeration.
Avoiding common foods that are harmful to cats will keep your cat healthier both in the short and long run. It is worth the effort!
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