Pawlicy Advisor / Pet Care Blog

List of Human Foods Cats Can And Can't Eat

Ricky Walther, DVM
Richard Walther, DVM
Associate Veterinarian
There are lots of human foods that cats can safely eat but there are also some that can make them very ill. This list will show you which human foods cats should and shouldn’t eat and why.

If you want to share some of your favorite foods with your feline companion, you’re probably wondering what cats can eat and if they can eat human foods. The answer to this question is: it depends on the food. While some foods are safe for feline consumption, others can cause serious health issues or even poisoning.

To help you make an informed decision, we created a detailed list of human foods cats can eat plus foods they should avoid.

Table of Contents:

  • What human food can cats eat?
  • Human foods that should be given with caution
  • What can cats not eat?
  • What human food can kittens eat?
  • Key Takeaways

Pro Tip: A pet insurance plan is a good idea for all cats, even those who stay inside because any cat can get hurt and end up needing vet care. For instance, your kitty could eat something they shouldn’t or suffer from diseases like diabetes. By enrolling them in pet insurance, you’ll be able to give your pet the best care possible with less worry about the financial aspects.

What human food can cats eat?

Fruits

Cats can eat most fruits but only in small amounts. This is because fruits are high in sugar and could make your cat overweight or cause diabetes if given in large amounts. In addition, you should always wash fruits thoroughly before offering them to your kitty and remove any parts that might be hard to chew and swallow, such as the peel and seeds.

Some of the fruits cats can eat include:

Apples

Apples are rich in vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. They can be safely fed to cats in moderate amounts. Make sure to remove the peel and the seeds because they might contain small amounts of cyanide which is toxic to cats.

Bananas

Bananas are rich in fiber and are considered a great source of potassium, as well as other nutrients. However, they’re also quite high in sugar, which is why they should only be given in small amounts; treats like bananas should make up to 10% of your kitty’s daily diet.

Pears

Even though pears are high in sugar, they also contain vitamins and dietary fiber that protect your feline friend against infections and cancer. Be sure to feed it in small amounts and remove the peel and seeds. Similar to apples, the pear’s seeds contain cyanide, which is poisonous to cats.

Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in vitamin C and powerful antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage and reduce the risk of UTIs. Blueberries can be given in moderate amounts as a snack or a reward treat.

Strawberries

Cats can consume strawberries fresh, frozen, or pureed. Full of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, a small amount of these sweet red fruits can strengthen your kitty’s immune system.

Raspberries

Besides being rich in dietary fiber and low in sugar, raspberries also offer anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them a great treat for cats, especially older ones. However, it should be noted that raspberries contain high levels of xylitol, a natural sweetener that is known to be harmful to pets. The amount of xylitol in raspberries is negligible, so if given in small amounts and on occasion, they should cause no harm.

Cranberries

Cranberries are rich in vitamin C, magnesium, and dietary fiber. You can give your cat a few cranberries in raw or cooked form, but you should avoid feeding them cranberry sauce or juice because these are high in sugar and could cause stomach upset.

Watermelon

Watermelon contains vitamins A, B, C, and potassium and is more than 90% water, which positively affects the water balance in your pet’s body. Cats can also safely consume other types of melon, like cantaloupe and honeydew. You can feed them in small amounts but don’t forget to remove the outer hard skin and the seeds.

Pineapple

Pineapple is rich in many vitamins and minerals and is very beneficial for the immune and digestive systems. However, this tropical fruit is also quite high in sugar, which is why it should only be fed in small amounts, after removing the skin and the hard parts.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is perfectly safe for feline consumption, as long as the outer skin and the seeds are removed. In fact, two or three spoons of cooked pumpkin puree added to your cat’s meal can help with diarrhea and constipation issues.

Vegetables

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they rely on animal protein to get all the required nutrients. This means that their digestive systems are not designed for fruits and veggies. However, some vegetables can be safely fed in small amounts and on occasion because they contain vitamins and minerals which are absent in meat. These might be especially good for overweight kitties due to their high water, low-fat content, and low-calorie content.

The list of cat-safe vegetables includes:

Carrots

Carrots are chock-full of beta carotene which is great for your cat’s eyes and coat. You can safely feed this orange veggie to your pet as long as it is peeled and cooked in order to reduce the risk of choking.

Cucumbers

Cucumber contains vitamins C and K, minerals like magnesium, and a high amount of water which makes it a great snack for overweight felines. Peel it and cut it into thin strips before offering it to your kitty.

Celery

Celery is rich in vitamins and fiber, which is great for cats with digestion issues. This crunchy veggie also possesses diuretic advantages and can assist with your pet’s kidney functions. It is also high in water, so it can be given to overweight cats with controlled diet plans as a snack or treat.

Green beans

Green beans are rich in iron and protein and are also low in calories, which makes them ideal for overweight cats. You can safely add a tablespoon of fresh, canned, or frozen beans to your pet’s meals. However, if you’re feeding the canned variety, make sure the beans are sodium-free.

Lettuce

Besides vitamins A and K, folate, and fiber, lettuce is also low in calories and very high in water, which means that it can be great for cats who don’t drink enough water from traditional sources. This green veggie should be washed thoroughly before feeding and should be given in small pieces.

Meat & Fish

Meat

Meat is rich in animal protein and amino acids and is the main nutrient source for cats. You can feed your cat any type of meat as long as it’s cooked and served plain, without any sauces or seasonings. As far as cooking methods are concerned, opt for boiled, grilled, or baked meat but avoid serving it fried as it contains lots of fat. In addition, be sure the meat is cooked well enough so that all the possible viruses and bacteria on it are killed.

Fish

Fish contains vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. The best way to serve fish to your cat is boiled, cut into small pieces, and without any seasonings. Opt for fresh-caught fish instead of farm-raised and make sure to pick out the skeleton and bones very carefully.

Shrimp

Shrimp is rich in phosphorus, calcium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s good for heart health and can help keep your kitty’s fur in good condition. You can add cooked shrimp to your pet’s meals from time to time but don’t make it a staple in their daily diet.

Bacon and ham

These types of meat can be given in small amounts and on occasion as treats because they contain high amounts of fat and salt. Make sure they’re well cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces (about the size of your cat’s kibble).

Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of protein and can be safely fed to cats as long as they’re cooked (scrambled or boiled). Never give your kitty raw eggs as they carry the risk of certain viruses and bacteria, such as E. Coli and Salmonella.

Cereals and grains

Similar to fruits and vegetables, cats don’t need carbohydrates in their diet. However, unrefined whole grains and wheat cereals can be good for them in terms of vitamins, fiber, and iron. Again, they should be offered as an occasional snack and not become an everyday staple.

Oatmeal

Oats are high in dietary fiber and iron, both of which are beneficial to your cat’s overall health. You can also use them topically for skin issues.

Rice

Rice is safe for cats as an occasional treat, as long as it is well cooked and fed in moderate quantities. Due to its high fiber content, rice can help with diarrhea and stomach issues in cats. However, it is not part of the natural diet for felines and is not likely to provide any nutritional benefits. As obligate carnivores, cats should not eat grains too often.

Most of the foods on this list should be given as treats after your cat’s regular cat food diet. They shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your cat’s daily calorie intake.

Be sure to introduce any new foods slowly to see how your cat reacts to them. If there aren’t any side effects like diarrhea or vomiting, increase the amount gradually.

Finally, don’t forget to give your cat lots of water, especially if they only eat dry food. If your kitty doesn’t consume enough water, they might end up with stones in their urinary tract.

Human foods that should be given with caution

Avocado

Avocado’s pit, skin, and leaves contain persin which causes poisoning in some animals such as rabbits, goats, and birds. Even though there’s no clear evidence that avocados are poisonous to cats, it might be better to stay on the safe side and not feed it too often to your kitty. The avocado flesh, which can be given in very small amounts, is also quite high in fat.

Peaches

You can safely feed a small amount of peeled peach but too much of it might cause stomach upset and diarrhea due to its high sugar content and because it’s difficult to digest. Be sure to remove the pit as it contains small amounts of cyanide and can present a serious choking hazard.

Potatoes

Many cats like the taste of potatoes and some cat food manufacturers even add these veggies to their products. Potatoes are rich in Vitamins B and C, as well as potassium. However, raw potatoes contain solanine, a toxin that can be very dangerous for your feline friend. The good news is, solanine disappears while cooking, so you can safely feed moderate amounts of peeled and cooked (boiled or baked) potatoes. Avoid feeding fried potatoes due to the high-fat content and be sure to serve them plain.

Spinach

If your pet has kidney issues or digestive tract problems, spinach should be avoided altogether. This is because it contains calcium oxalates that can cause stone formation in the urinary tracts.

However, healthy cats can safely consume small quantities of this green leafy veggie which is packed with vitamins and minerals.

Broccoli

Broccoli is full of vitamins and minerals but it can also cause constipation. You can feed it to your cat every once in a while in small amounts, boiled and unseasoned.

Tomatoes

The leaves and the skin of tomatoes contain solanine which is toxic to cats. If you want to include tomatoes in your cat’s diet, be sure that they’re ripe and completely peeled.

Corn

Even though corn is not toxic to cats, it doesn’t really offer any nutritional value to them either.

A few pieces of corn won’t harm your cat, but if consumed in large amounts, it can negatively affect their digestive system and stomach. If you’re going to give your pet a bit of corn, opt for boiled or cooked without any spices, sauces, or oil.

Tuna fish

Cats can safely eat canned tuna prepared for them but the one for humans can be high in unsaturated fats. It might be suitable as a snack or treat in the amount of about one tablespoon, but constant consumption of large quantities of tuna can be harmful to your cat.

Bread

Cats can safely eat small amounts of bread from time to time but note that bread contains no nutritional value for them, so it shouldn’t replace their normal cat food diet.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is safe if given in very small amounts (between a teaspoon to a tablespoon). Even though it is rich in protein, peanut butter is also high in fats, which can contribute to obesity and diabetes, and carbs that cats can’t digest well. Moreover, its sticky texture can present a choking hazard. It is also possible for your feline companion to have a peanut allergy which can prove to be life-threatening.

What can cats not eat?

Some common human foods can be very dangerous to cats and result in serious illnesses if consumed continuously and in big amounts. Infections, obesity, bladder and urinary tract issues, liver and damage are some of them. Some types of mushrooms, on the other hand, can be toxic and could even result in death. The list below contains all the foods your cat should stay away from.

Fruits

Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure and GI problems in dogs. Even though there is no concrete evidence proving these fruits have the same effect on felines, there are reports of similar reactions.

Oranges

The seeds, leaves, stem, and peel of the orange contain oils that are poisonous to cats. In addition, citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and grapefruit are very acidic and can upset your cat’s tummy. The good news is, most cats are repelled by the smell of citrus and probably won’t even try to eat these fruits.

Cherries

All of the parts of the cherry plant except the ripe fruit are considered toxic to cats. This includes the pits, stems, and leaves.

Plums

The plum’s seeds, stems, and leaves contain cyanide. Plums are always toxic to our feline companions, but they are especially dangerous as they wilt because they have higher concentrations of the toxin during wilting.

Vegetables

Onion and garlic

All members of the allium family (including chives and leeks) are poisonous to cats if they eat a single large serving or repeatedly nibble on small amounts over time. Garlic is considered to be five times as toxic as onions for felines.

Mushrooms

Most store-bought mushrooms are safe for cats in small amounts but you should never give wild mushrooms, as they can be poisonous. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning are diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, discoloration of the skin, etc.

Meat and fish

Raw meat, fish, eggs

Raw meat, fish, and eggs carry a risk of potentially fatal viruses and bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella. In addition, some raw meats might contain high amounts of fat, which can lead to pancreatitis.

Small bones

Small pieces of bone can easily get stuck in your kitty’s esophagus or damage the stomach and intestinal system during digestion. You don’t have to worry about cooked (baked or boiled) coarse bones, which your pet can manage to remove from the meat and are also good for their teeth.

Dairy Products

Milk

From the moment kittens transition from mother’s milk to solid food, the enzyme that digest lactose in milk and other dairy products begins to decrease. In fact, most cats become lactose-intolerant and can’t digest milk. If a lactose-intolerant cat consumes milk, they might experience a number of issues, ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to liver damage.

Cheese

Cheese is lower in lactose so some cats can tolerate it better than milk, but you should still be very careful. If you give your cat cheese at all, feed them a small piece once in a while. Feeding your cat large amounts of milk or other milk products can cause damage to their digestive system.

Ice Cream

Besides the lactose issue, ice cream also contains sugar, which can cause diarrhea and other GI issues.

Yogurt

Although not proven by scientific evidence, some experts claim that small amounts of yogurt are safe and even beneficial for cats. Yogurt is believed to be effective in treating diarrhea in cats as it contains probiotics.

Other foods

Xylitol

Xylitol is a common sweetener used as a sugar substitute in many human foods. Even though it is not proven to be harmful to cats, it is known to be toxic to dogs, which is why it’s best to steer clear of it.

Nuts

Although nuts aren’t poisonous to cats, the high-fat content can damage your pet’s digestive system. In cats that eat walnuts and almonds frequently or in big amounts, diarrhea and vomiting might occur, as well as pancreatitis in the long term.

Popcorn

Store-bought popcorn often contains preservatives and additives which can cause diarrhea and constipation. Air-popped popcorn, which you can prepare at home, can be fed occasionally and with caution as it can present a choking hazard.

Alcohol

Even small amounts of alcohol can cause a range of nasty symptoms such as digestive upset, disorientation, breathing issues, coma, and even death.

Caffeine

Caffeine toxicity in cats can cause increased heart rate, hyperactivity, breathing difficulties, tremors, and seizures. While it is unlikely that a lick or two from your coffee, soda, or energy drink will cause serious harm, raw coffee grounds and tea bags could contain enough caffeine to quickly create a problem if your cat ingests them.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which can cause heart problems, muscle tremors, and seizures in cats. This also refers to sugar-free and dark chocolates.

Raw dough

One of the main problems in the raw dough is the yeast. In fact, it can quickly produce enough carbon dioxide and alcohol to cause some major problems for a cat. In addition, the dough itself will expand inside the animal’s stomach to a size that might require a surgical intervention to remove the digestive obstruction.

Pro Tip: Did your curious cat eat something they weren’t supposed to? Pet insurance can help you cover the cost of vet bills, so you can rest assured that your beloved pet will receive the best possible care if the unexpected happens.

What human food can kittens eat?

Growing kittens should eat kitten food or food labeled for all feline life stages. Even if you introduce other foods, this should be their primary source of nutrients as too many changes in the diet can lead to digestive upset.

On the other hand, if your kitten grows up eating only one food, they’ll become accustomed, and changing it later will be difficult. For that reason, you can try offering foods like scrambled eggs, cooked meat and fish, salad greens, and pumpkin.

Remember to introduce any new foods slowly and always feed them in small amounts. Keep in mind that these foods should not make up more than 10% of your kitten’s daily calorie intake Any more than 10% could upset the nutritional balance of their food. In addition, offer one new food item at a time to give your pet a chance to taste and get to know that food.

Key Takeaways

  • Most food groups contain a few items that your feline companion can safely consume, but they also have foods that you should never feed, such as chocolate and wild mushrooms.
  • If you suspect your pet has ingested human food that is poisonous to cats, call your veterinarian for advice. In some cases, small amounts might not cause harm but larger quantities may require urgent treatment.
  • Keep in mind that human foods should be given as an occasional treat and shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your cat’s daily calorie intake.
Ricky Walther, DVM

Richard Walther, DVM

Associate Veterinarian - Petco

Ricky Walther, DVM, is a small animal general practitioner in the greater Sacramento, California area. Realizing the positive financial and medical impact that pet insurance can provide for pet parents and the profession, he lends support and advice to companies like Pawlicy Advisor that simplify the process of connecting with veterinary financing resources.

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