Cats are notoriously finicky. Many kitties will turn their noses up to even premium cat food brands with an air of distaste. If your picky feline is saying ‘no’ to commercial foods, then why not try to spice things up with human foods for your cat?Feeding your kitty commercial cat food every day seems mundane not only for you but also for your picky feline. Many pet owners have genuine concerns about the ingredients and manufacturing processes of overly processed commercial foods. Natural foods are more attractive and palatable to pets. However, what human food can cats eat?
Try your hand at becoming your cat’s personal chef. Indulge in customized meal prep with the following top healthy and natural human foods for cats. Kitty’s energy levels will increase, and her coat will look healthier due to the added vitamins and minerals. What human food do cats eat?
Why not put a new spring in your cat’s step and tantalize the persnickety feline’s tastebuds with the addition of tasty and healthy human foods?
1. Can Cats Eat Vegetables?
Yes, cats can eat certain vegetables. If you own houseplants, the odds are good you have caught your kitty chewing on the leaves. Most cats turn to green roughage in a natural effort to add fibre to their diet. You can substitute the leaves of your house plants (and save the foliage damage) by supplementing your kitty’s food with small portions of cat-safe vegetables.
Cats are obligate carnivores and require animal protein for optimum health. Their digestive tracts are adapted for the consumption of meat. They do not digest excessive plant material well, but they do need a certain degree of roughage in their diet for optimum health, which is why cats often graze on leaves and grass.
While cats have very little need for vegetables in their daily diet, they can still be beneficial as an occasional treat or meal topper. Vegetables contain prominent levels of vitamins and nutrients that can help boost your kitties health.
Adding small amounts of veggies to an overweight cat’s diet can be helpful because the high-water content and fibre found in vegetables help your kitty feel full for longer which reduces the pet’s overeating habits and food cravings.
6 Popular Cat-Safe Vegetables
When buying vegetables for cats, try to choose organic, pesticide-free. Always thoroughly wash the veggies before feeding them to your furry friend. Here are a few veggies for your feline to enjoy:
1. Can Cats Eat Carrots?
Yes! Though carrots may not be the first veggie you think to feed your cat, they can be an excellent snack. They are loaded with beta carotene which is good for your cat’s eyes and coat. They are also a source of vitamin E, potassium, and fibre.
Carrots can be a healthy snack as long as they are fed in moderation. The natural sugars in carrots can cause digestive issues in cats if overfed.
Whole or large chunks of uncooked carrots are very hard. If your cat is accustomed to crunchy natural chews, you can try offering your cat a thin strip of carrot to munch on, but they can also be a choking hazard if your cat decides to swallow a big chunk.
2. Can Cats Eat Potatoes?
Sometimes. Though white potatoes aren't loaded with nutrients like other veggies on our list, they are safe to feed as a very occasional treat. Make sure you only feed peeled and cooked potatoes though. The peel of the potato and unripe or uncooked potato flesh contain a toxin called solanine.
Potatoes are a common ingredient in cat kibble but don't have a ton of nutritional value compared to other cat-safe veggies. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, offer more nutritional benefits than white potatoes, like vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants. They also contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, so they can be an effective digestive aid if fed in small doses.
Though they are a popular side dish for our meals, many of the ways we eat potatoes are not good for cats. Seasoning, like salt or garlic, is not safe for cats, so unless you eat your potatoes bland, you shouldn't be sharing.
Can cats eat french fries? Definitely not. Fries are deep-fried, which means they soak up oils while they cook and can cause digestive issues in cats. Additionally, french fries are very salty, which is dangerous in large enough quantities.
So no fries, but what about chips? Can cats eat chips? Sorry, but still nope. Just like fries, chips are deep-fried and heavily seasoned making them unhealthy, and potentially toxic for cats.
3. Can Cats Eat Tomatoes?
I know, I know, tomatoes are technically a fruit, but we often use tomatoes as a vegetable, just like we do with cucumber and eggplant (also botanically fruits) so it's on our veggie list. Deal with it.
So can cats eat tomatoes? They can, but only certain parts. Much like potatoes, only certain parts of the tomato plant are safe. The stem and the leaves both contain solanine, the same compound in potatoes that is toxic for your cat. Unripe or green tomatoes are also high in solanine. Only the ripe flesh of the tomato is safe.
Tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C and potassium as well as a powerful antioxidant called lycopene that helps prevent oxidative cell damage. Tomato also provides healthy fibre to support your kitty's digestion.
Tomatoes may be a safe treat, many popular foods and condiments made with tomatoes are not. Can cats eat ketchup, pasta sauce, or tomato soup? No to all. These products contain sugars and spices that are either harmful or could cause digestive issues in cats.
4. Can Cats Eat Broccoli?
Absolutely! Broccoli contains vitamin K and calcium, which are both important for your cat's skeletal health. It's also a useful source of phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A. Vegetables are usually a poor source of zinc, which is why complete cat food diets will source zinc from meat, eggs, and legumes, but broccoli can help buffer zinc levels a little bit.
Broccoli can be fed raw, but keep in mind that the stalks are hard and can be difficult to digest. Raw, hard stalks should be pureed or very finely diced. Cooking or steaming the broccoli will soften the stalks, just skip the toppings, like butter and salt. Soft, cooked broccoli will be safe to feed in diced, bite-sized chunks.
5. Can Cats Eat Cucumbers?
They sure can! Cucumber is a low-calorie, powerhouse of nutrients, containing vitamins C and K and magnesium. Despite the multitude of videos of cats freaking out at cucumbers, they are a suitable and safe treat for your cat.
The fibre and high water concentrations in cucumber make them a great low-calorie treat for chubby cats. They can help your cat feel full and reduce food cravings, and additional moisture helps to support both their digestive and urinary tracts.
Can cats eat pickles? Definitely not! Pickles are fermented in brine or vinegar. Either way, these are bad for cats and are likely to cause digestive upsets. The salt and spices that are used can be very dangerous for cats, so this tasty human snack is one your cat should avoid.
6. Can Cats Eat Pumpkin?
We recommend it! Another "veggie" that is technically a fruit, pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene and vitamin A, C, and E, but pumpkin's biggest benefit is its fibre. Pumpkin flesh is a mixture of soluble and insoluble fibre, which means it both bulks and absorbs water.
Cats with sensitive digestion benefit from the pumpkin in their diet because it can help with both diarrhea and constipation. Pumpkin is used in many commercial cat foods, but can also be used preventatively or as a quick remedy for sudden digestive distress. For an easy feeding option, check out Nummy Tum Tum Organic Pumpkin Puree.
What about the seeds? Can Cats Eat Pumpkin Seeds? You might be surprised to learn that cats can eat pumpkin seeds and actually enjoy them! The seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids that can support skin + coat, immune system, and digestion.
Raw seeds contain phytic acid, which can reduce your cat's ability to absorb nutrients. To break down the phytic acid, the seeds either need to be soaked overnight or cooked. For step-by-step instructions on soaking your seeds, check out Perfectly Rawsome.
And Many More...
If the veggies in our top 5 list don't get your cat excited, don't worry, there are plenty more cat-safe vegetables you can try. Just remember that all veggies should be fed in moderation with complete and balanced cat food.
- Can Cats Eat Lettuce? - Yes. High in calcium, phosphorus and naturally low in sodium.
- Can Cats Eat Green Beans? - Yes. High in iron and protein but with low calories.
- Can Cats Eat Mushrooms? - Yes. Rish in B vitamins, but wild mushrooms can be dangerous.
- Can Cats Eat Peas? - Yes. Good source of vitamin C and E, and antioxidants.
- Cats Eat Asparagus? - Yes. Lots of folic acid and a great source of fibre.
- Can Cats Eat Bell Peppers? - Yes. Provides lots of vitamin C and fibre to support digestion.
- Can Cats Eat Cauliflower? - Yes. Low calorie and high in vitamin C to support the immune system.
- Can Cats Eat Brussel sprouts? - Yes. High fibre and natural source of vitamin K.
- Can Cats Eat Beets? - Yes. Good fibre source, but high in natural sugars.
- Can Cats Eat Zucchini?- Yes. High water and fibre, and b vitamins and potassium.
Tips for Feeding Vegetables to Cats
While there are many cat-safe veggies, cats do not need a lot of vegetable content in their total diet. Complete and balanced cat food will provide all of the essential nutrients that your cat needs, which means that any additional vegetables should be fed in moderation to prevent overfeeding certain nutrients.
Feeding a single serving of one to two tablespoons of vegetables once per week is plenty. This allows you to offer fresh food ingredients without overdoing it.
All the cells in vegetables have an indigestible outer layer made of cellulose. This is why it's recommended to break down this layer by steaming the veggies, making them easier to digest. Cooking the veggies softens them too, so they may be more palatable to your cat.
Cooking can lead to some nutrient loss, though, so a good way to feed veggies raw is to toss them in your food processor and puree them. This makes them easy to use as a meal topper.
2. Can Cats Eat Fruit?
We know that fruit can be loaded with vitamins and other beneficial nutrients, but as carnivores, cats have very little need for fruit in their diet. Even still, that doesn't mean that occasionally treating your pet with some cat-safe fruits can still be beneficial.
Colourful and vibrant fruits can offer natural sources of beta-carotene, water-soluble vitamins, and fibre, but they are also naturally high in fruit sugars. A little goes a long way when it comes to fruit, and fruit should be just a very small portion of your cat's diet - like 1% or less.
This can make treating your cat with fruit challenging, but if you know which fruits are safe and beneficial for your cats, you can find ways to occasionally offer your cat some fresh and delicious fruity snacks.
5 Best Cat-Safe Fruits
Many fruits are safe for cats, and because we eat our fruit raw and fresh, it's one of the easier snacks to share with our pets. But just because cats can eat fruit, doesn't mean they should. Find out which fruits are safe for cats and how much of each is safe to feed.
1. Can Cats Eat Bananas?
Oh ya! Bananas are a great source of fibre and potassium, and in small portions, can be a useful digestive aid for cats, but the high sugar content in bananas means they can cause more problems than they fix if you feed too much. Try not to exceed one to two servings per week.
Cats are very tactile eaters, which is why bananas are not one of the fruits that cats are generally drawn to. The mushy texture can be off-putting for cats, so good luck getting them to eat a piece of banana as is. You may have better luck mixing the banana with more desirable flavours or textures to mask the fruit.
As far as preparation goes, the peel of the banana isn't toxic, but it can be a choking hazard and is likely to cause an upset tummy. Banana peel is very difficult to digest, so it's more likely to cause problems even if your cat can chew it up.
2. Can Cats Eat Strawberries?
Yes, they can! In addition to being antioxidant-rich, strawberries contain vitamin C, manganese, and potassium. Unfortunately, strawberries are also high in natural fruit sugars, so feeding in large quantities can lead to digestive issues.
Make sure you remove any leaves or stems as they can cause skin irritation because of the jagged shape of the leaves. Mince or puree the strawberries and add the berries to your pet's next meal.
Strawberries are not the only cat-safe berry, by the way. Can cats eat blueberries? What about raspberries, cranberries, or blackberries? Many berries are safe for cats and are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that can help boost your cats health.
Cranberries, for example, are a useful supplement for supporting urinary health in cats. Powdered cranberry, like Cranimals, is an easy way to add cranberry to your cat's meals. Cranberry is also often used in urinary health cat treats, like these ones from Emerald Pet.
Berries should be washed, and chopped, mashed, or pureed to increase digestibility and nutrient absorption. Due to their sugary and acidic nature, berries should be fed in moderation, and always avoid sugary fruit mixtures like jam, jelly, or pie filling.
3. Can Cats Eat Watermelon?
of course! You may be surprised to know that watermelon is actually one of the more popular fruits for cats. Though it's a sweet treat for us, cats tend to like the texture of fresh melon, so you may find your cat begging for a taste the next time you crack open a seasonal melon.
Watermelons are 90% moisture, so are a great option to keep your cat properly hydrated. Watermelon is also naturally high in vitamin C and antioxidants, but also in natural fruit sugars. No matter how eager your cat is for a bit of your melon, stick to small servings to prevent digestive upsets.
Other types of melon are cat-safe too. Can cats eat Cantaloupe or honeydew? Much like watermelon, they are safe for cats in small portions. With all melons, make sure to remove any rind or seed, and only feed ripe melon flesh.
4. Can Cats Eat Apples?
Yup! Apples are safe for cats to consume, but only if they are peeled and cored. The peel is tough to digest, but the seeds in the core contain amygdalin, which contains cyanide. Even small amounts of cyanide can be extremely dangerous for cats, so make sure you remove the whole core.
Apple is very high in fruit sugars, while this can be bad in large doses and can lead to an upset kitty tummy. Apples also contain a soluble fibre called pectin. In small amounts, pectin can help to support digestion by feeding the healthy bacteria in your cat's gut.
Can cats eat applesauce? We recommend most fruits pureed to maximize digestibility, so applesauce seems like an ideal option. But be very careful to check the ingredient list on prepackaged applesauce. Additional sugars or preservatives are often used and are not safe for cats.
Can cats eat apple pie? Definitely not! It's the extra ingredients that make apple-based foods unsafe for cats, and that is true for apple pie, too. The sugars, spices, and crust can be either unhealthy or just toxic to cats.
5. Can Cats Eat Avacado?
Yes, cats can safely eat avocados and many even enjoy it. Feed only tiny amounts of the flesh. Do not give the peel or seed to a cat. The skin and pit of an avocado contain person, which is toxic to dogs and cats.
Avocados are rich in fat, vitamins E, A, and B6 plus amino acids. They can help improve the coat and skin of your cat. However, some cats have sensitive stomachs which might not respond well to the high-fat content found in avocados and could increase the animal’s risk of developing pancreatic inflammation, so stick to small infrequent portions.
Can cats eat guacamole? While avocado flesh is safe, our favourite avocado dish, guacamole is not. The lime, salt, and garlic are harmful to your cat, so make sure you stick to plain, unseasoned avocado flesh only.
Other Cat Safe Fruits:
- Can Cats Eat Mango? - Yes. High in vitamins C and a digestive enzyme to digest carbs.
- Can Cats Eat Pineapple? - Yes. Contains bromelain to help break down carbs.
- Can Cats Eat Coconut? - Yes. Anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic, but also high in fat.
- Can Cats Eat Peaches? - Yes-ish. Low levels of nutrients, and high in sugar. Feed very sparingly.
- Can Cats Eat Kiwi? - Yes. High in vitamin C and soluble fibre to feed healthy gut bacteria.
Tips for Feeding Fruit to Cats
As previously stated, fruits should only be a very small portion of your cat's diet, so no matter which cat-safe fruit your kitty loves, be very cautious of how much and how frequently you feed them. One to two tsp of pureed fruit per week is lots for a carnivorous cat.
A good rule to follow is that fruits should be peeled, cored, and any rinds, leaves, pits, and stems removed. The flesh of the fruit is the only part that should ever be fed to your cat. Soft fruits, like raspberries, can be chopped into bite-sized pieces and fed, but like veggies, all fruit will digest better when pureed.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your cat may not be interested in fruit. They don't have a preference for sweet tastes, so picky cats may turn their nose up at some fresh fruit or fruit puree. Always let your cat try the fruit before adding it to her meal, as she may refuse to eat it.
3. Can Cats Eat Grains?
Many pet owners wonder when they prepare breakfast, ‘“Can cats eat oatmeal?” Yes, cats can eat whole or unrefined grains, but refined grains lack the nutritional value of whole grains which are loaded with iron, fibre, and vitamins.
Much like vegetables, cats don't need grains in their diet, but that doesn't mean that they have no nutritional value. Many whole grains are offer vitamins, minerals, and helpful fibre to support digestion.
Ideally, grains shouldn't make up more than 5 to 10 percent of a cat’s diet. This is similar to what a wild cat would eat, either through grazing on grasses and other plant material or from the stomach and digestive content of the wild prey they consume.
Best Grains to Feed Your Cat
There are many reasons to feed grains that are loaded with vitamins, iron, and fibre for optimum nutritional value. Even the healthiest grains need to be fed in moderation, especially if your cat is already eating a diet that is high in carbohydrates. Grains as treats are best used as a source of fibre to support digestion, or as an ingredient in baked or homemade cat treats.
Can Cats Eat Rice?
They can! Rice is one of the most common grains used in cat food. It's rich in dietary fibre and is an inexpensive ingredient for your cat's kibble. While it may be safe for cats, rice is often overused in pet foods, so you should avoid feeding more rice if your cat is already eating a carb-heavy diet, like kibble.
Though it's not a great treat, it can be part of a useful homemade diet for minor digestive disturbances in pets. A bland diet, like Grandma Lucy's Simple Replacements, usually consisting of cooked rice and boiled chicken, can be fed for a few days to help your cat get over a bout of diarrhea.
White rice offers limited nutrition, other than fibre, but brown rice can be substituted as a lower glycemic option to reduce blood sugar spikes and give your cat a feeling of fullness if they are on a diet.
Can Cats Eat Flour?
Technically yes, but they shouldn't. While wheat is the main ingredient in many of our favourite carbs, refined wheat is very high on the glycemic scale and is not great for cats. Whole grain wheat is better, but it's still not going to offer your cat anything other than that they can't get from fresh animal protein and some vegetables.
This means that bread and other flour-based foods, though not toxic, are just a lot of empty calories. While they may be an ok, occasional snack, there are much better and more nutritious human foods for your cat.
Alternative flours, like almond or coconut, are also safe for cats, and low glycemic, but they are high in fats, so should be limited to an occasional treat only.
Can Cats Eat Oats?
Definitely! Oats are loaded with soluble fibre and antioxidants. They are also lower glycemic than many other popular grains but are best in their whole-grain, and minimally processed form. Steel-cut oats are the ideal option.
This means that your morning instant oats are probably not the best option. The packets are often flavoured or sweetened, which will cause digestive issues in cats. If you make your own steel-cut oats at home, set aside a small portion without any sweeteners or spices for your cat and cool it completely before serving.
Can Cats Eat Quinoa?
Absolutely! Ok, so technically quinoa is a seed, not a grain, but it is eaten like a grain. Quinoa is one of the most underrated carbs for pets. It's the only grain that is considered a complete protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids that cats need, save for one - taurine.
It's also low-glycemic, so it's a better option to include in your cat's regular diet than the grains on our list. It's high in protein and fibre and offers vitamins and minerals like manganese, phosphorus, and B vitamins.
If it's so great, then why isn't it more popular in cat food? Like most things, it comes down to price and availability. Grains like corn, oats, and rice are much more cost-effective, so they are preferred by the pet industry.
Can Cats Eat Corn?
Maybe. This one is controversial, to say the least. Corn gets a bad name in the pet industry, and while many of the concerns are totally valid, corn isn't toxic to cats. Cats have no dietary need for corn. It's not the best ingredient to include as a regular part of your cat's diet, but a little as a treat, it is safe, and contrary to popular belief, does actually offer some important nutrients.
Despite its high glycemic effects, corn is a source of vitamin C, protein, and fibre, which is why it's a common ingredient in pet food. The nutrients in corn may be sound appealing as a diet booster, but there are better sources of these nutrients in meat, vegetables, and fish, all of which are easier to digest.
Another thing to consider, and one of the reasons that corn is not a preferred cat food ingredient is the high risk of mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are produced by fungus and mould spores and are very common in corn crops.
Feed producers need to have stringent regulations and procedures to minimize and manage mycotoxin-infected crops. While these regulations reduce the risk, mycotoxins can still be a risk when feeding corn products to your pet.
Tips for Feeding Grains to Cats
Feed all grains in moderation. Grains are best fed cooked to soften them. Hard grains like rice or corn will be difficult to digest, and even soft grains like oats will break down faster if they are cooked or at least hydrated. Feed only a tablespoon once or twice a week, at most.
Use grains sparingly and only as treats or meal toppers rather than a regular addition to your pet's daily meals. While whole grains are safe for cats to eat, the majority of your cat's nutrients should come from animal proteins.
If you are looking for a healthy and popular way to use grains to treat your cat, try different types of cat grass, like barley grass, ryegrass, or oat grass like in the Catit Senses 2.0 Cat Grass Kit. These offer some soluble fibre, vitamins and minerals, and can help improve your cat's digestion when fed as an occasional treat.
If you are already feeding a kibble diet or a diet high in carbs, then skipping grains as treats altogether is the best practice.
4. Can Cats Eat Dairy?
We've been led to believe for a long time that cats love milk, and even if they do, milk doesn't love them back. While some cats can eat dairy without issue, most cats show symptoms of lactose intolerance. Some cats experience gas, vomiting, or diarrhea after consuming dairy products like milk or cheese.
The good news is that not all dairy products are a no-go for cats. Find out which of your favourite dairy treats are safe to share with your kitten, and which ones may actually be beneficial.
The Do's and Don'ts of Dairy for Cats
Can Cats Have Milk?
No. At least not cow's milk. You may have heard a rumour that cats are lactose intolerant. Even though cats show signs of lactose intolerance, it's actually because the pasteurized cow's milk that we drink is missing an important enzyme, called lactase, that breaks down lactose in milk.
Goat's milk on the other hand is safe for cats to consume. In fact, raw goat's milk is an excellent digestive aid for cats. Raw goat's milk is loaded with lactase, making the lactose in the goat's milk digestible.
Goat's milk also contains a different kind of milk protein, called casein, than cow's milk. This type of milk protein is easier to digest and not linked to the same allergy and digestive issues.
While goat's milk can be fed daily, it should be done in small servings to balance with their regular diet. One tablespoon per 10 lbs of body weight is a good daily amount. A more shelf-stable option for giving your cat goat's milk is The Honest Kitchen Goat's Milk Booster. It's a powdered goat's milk that can be made in single servings at a time by simply adding water.
Can Cats Eat Cheese?
Technically no, but kind of. Like milk, cooked or pasteurized cheese products are going to lack the lactase needed to digest the milk sugars in cheese. So should cats eat cheese? No, but can cats eat cheese? Very sparingly.
The type of cheese can also be a factor. Hard cheeses tend to be very salty, which is not good for your cat, while super soft cheeses have higher lactose contents.
Can cats have goat cheese? Goat dairy can again be the solution to the cat-dairy conundrum. Unpasteurized goat cheese can be a safer and more digestion-friendly option for cats that love cheese as much as we do. Check out brands like Happy Days for some ready-made cat-safe goat cheese treats for dogs and cats.
Can Cats Eat Yogurt?
Surprisingly, yes! Yogurt is made from cow's milk, but the fermentation process involved in making yogurt starts to break down the lactose into more digestible sugars. But why would cats need yogurt? Well, it turns out that yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, and contains digestion-friendly bacteria.
Stick to plain yogurt that leaves out the fruity flavours or added sugars. The natural sugars are more than enough already. Yogurt can be fed as a daily digestive aid, but keep your portions small. One tsp per day is enough to offer the digestive benefits of probiotics.
Can Cats Eat Butter?
No. Butter isn't toxic to cats, but it's most definitely not good for them either. Butter is made from cow's milk, but it's a concentration of the fat and protein in milk. It's generally low in lactose or other milk sugars, but the high-fat content can lead to digestive upsets and pancreatitis if fed in large quantities.
Even small amounts of butter can lead to your cat having a soft or runny bowel movement. Keep butter covered or tucked away in the fridge to prevent a curious cat from stealing a taste.
Tips for Feeding Dairy to Cats
For the most part, very small amounts of dairy from cow's milk is not likely to cause any major issues, so an occasional piece of cheese is fine, but to be safe e and get a nutritional benefit from your cat's treats, stick to goat's milk products instead.
Goat's milk will not only satisfy your cat's dairy addiction but when used regularly as a treat or meal topper, goat's milk and goat's milk products will support your cat's digestion. Even still, small portions are key. Goat's milk should be less than 10% of your cat's daily diet to prevent overfeeding or unbalancing your cat's total nutrition.
5. Can Cats Eat Meat?
Cats thrive on a diet that includes certain meats such as chicken, beef, turkey, and duck. Meat contains the protein that cats require for a strong heart, good vision, and a robust reproductive system.
Always buy meat from a reputable source that is known for safe meat handling. If you feed meat, always wash, and sanitize the food bowls after the cat finishes dining on the meat to ensure good and safe hygiene.
Meat can be fed cooked or raw as a treat. As carnivores, cats are well suited to consuming animal protein, especially raw meat, because it is unaltered by heat that can denature or degrade nutrients. Feeding cooked meat as a treat is usually safe, so long as you skip all the seasoning and oils that you would normally use to cook meat for yourself.
Meat contains certain nutrients that are either difficult or impossible to find in plants ingredients. This is part of what makes cats carnivores. Some essential nutrients, like zinc and iron, are most abundantly sourced or most biologically available from meat.
Safest Meat for Cats
Your carnivorous feline might not be picky about the kind of meat that you offer them, but some meats or cuts of meat might not be the ideal healthy snack for your cat.
First and foremost, stick to lean cuts of meat. While cats can handle a moderate amount of fat in their diet, excessive fat can lead to digestive issues, or even pancreatitis when fed in large quantities. Lean meats are a great way to provide long-term energy for muscle maintenance and are a desirable treat for picky cats.
Can Cats Eat Chicken?
Absolutely! Chicken is one of the most popular animal proteins used in commercial cat food. This is partially due to its cost and availability, but also because it's considered a biologically appropriate protein choice for cats. Wild cats often hunt birds, so your domesticated cat is well suited for digesting poultry.
Chicken can be fed either cooked or raw. If you choose to cook the chicken, skip the spices and cooking oils to keep the meat cat-safe. Breaded prepared chicken products like chicken nuggets or fried chicken are a no-go as well. Plain white chicken breast is the safest way to treat your cat with chicken.
Can cats eat chicken bones? Some pet owners give their cats bones to chew on, but you should opt for raw bones like chicken wings or necks. Cooked bones can splinter and cause injury to a cat’s gums or gastrointestinal tract. Only feed under supervision. Never leave your cat alone to chew on a bone.
Can Cats Eat Beef?
Definitely! Though it's not as common an ingredient in many cat diets, beef is safe and nutritious for cats. Choosing the right cut of beef is important because beef can be very fatty in certain areas. Lean ground beef found at the grocery store typically has about 17% fat or lower which is suitable for cats.
You can cook the ground beef but make sure you leave out any spices or oils that can be harmful to your cat. This means that you can't just share your spaghetti and meatballs with your cat when she begs. The same rules apply to other kinds of beef.
A nice juicy steak may be one of your favourite ways to eat beef, but can cats eat steak too? While nutritionally, steak is fine for cats to eat, you will need to make sure that you cut the steak into small, bite-sized pieces to make sure that your cat can't choke.
Can cats eat raw beef? Cats can eat raw meat safely. While raw meat can contain bacteria that are harmful to us, your cat is built to eat raw meat and fight this bacteria in their gut. As a treat, raw meat should be fed in small pieces. Ground beef is soft and easy for your cat to chew, so it's the ideal format for cats that aren't accustomed to eating raw.
Can Cats Eat Lamb?
Yep! Unlike other red meats, lamb can be quite fatty. Choosing lean cuts is going to be important if you are using lamb as a treat for your cat. Ground lamb has a similar fat content to regular ground beef, so feed in moderation.
Like beef, lamb can be fed either cooked or raw safely. Lamb is a popular choice for cats with food allergies that need to avoid the most commonly used meats in cat food, like chicken and beef. If you choose chops or other whole cuts of meat, trim off any excess fat to make sure the lamb won't upset your cat's tummy.
Can Cats Eat Pork?
Oh ya! This one might be surprising because, in the past, pork has been thought to carry parasites and be a generally poorer quality of meat. This is because pork is a known carrier of a parasite, called Trichinella. Fortunately, we've learned a lot about how to prevent and manage the risks of this parasite.
Firstly, thoroughly cooking pork is the way that we keep pork safe for ourselves, so cook up some pork, no spices or oils, for your kitty as a tasty treat. Feeding raw pork is also safe for cats, so long as the pork is frozen at temperatures below -15 C for at least 20 days. This is why raw pork diets for cats are becoming a popular option.
Pork can also be too fatty for cats, so make sure you stick to lean pork cuts. Ground pork can be inconsistent in its fat content, so as a treat, feed in moderation.
Can Cats Eat Turkey?
Much like chicken, turkey is a safe and popular meat option for cats. The fat content in turkey varies depending on the cut of meat. White meat is leaner, so look for lean ground turkey that will have more white meat and less dark. Turkey can be fed either raw or cooked to cats, just make sure you avoid any seasoning or oil during cooking.
When it comes to allergies, we often lump all poultry together, but that's not always the case. Cats with chicken allergies may not have the same reactions to turkey or other poultry, so don't discount turkey as a protein source for your cat's diet or as treats too quickly.
Avoid feeding precooked or processed turkey which is high in salt and other preservatives. This includes deli turkey or ready-made products in the freezer section of the grocery store.
Can Cats Eat Duck?
Yes! Duck is an ideal source of vitamins, protein, and minerals for cats. While duck is often thought to be high in fat compared to other poultry, the majority of the excess fat is between the skin and muscle layers. If you do choose to treat your cat with a piece of duck, remove the skin and fat layer, offering only the lean muscle meat.
Duck is considered to be a novel protein, meaning it's uncommon in commercial cat diets. This is why it's often used in elimination diets for cats with suspected food allergies. Like other poultry, duck can be fed raw or cooked to your meat-loving cat.
Can Cats Eat Liver?
Oh ya! Liver is just one of many animal organs that are not only safe for cats but extremely beneficial as a regular part of your cat's diet. As carnivores, cats are fully capable of getting their nutrients from animal ingredients, and liver is an especially important part of that.
Liver is loaded with iron and vitamins A, B12 and B6, and it's a flavour that cats tend to go crazy for. Liver has become very popular for cats, which is why it's easily found in cat treat formulas and as single-ingredient, freeze-dried cat treats.
Don't overdo it with liver snacks though, because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that your cat's body will start to store excess vitamin A and could lead to toxicity. Other organs like heart, kidney, and tripe are also suitable snacks for cats. Organs can be fed raw or cooked.
Tips for Feeding Meat to Cats
Many pet owners want to feed their cats an all-natural diet that consists of meat on a daily basis, and while different types of diets will offer different levels of meat inclusion, meat is one of the safest human foods to feed as a treat.
Meat is calorie-dense and filling, so don't go overboard. Meat can be fed daily as a treat or meal topper, but cut the meat into small treat-sized pieces and stick to treating only a few a day. This should be less than 10% of your cat's daily intake, so keep your portion sizes small.
Avoid Cured and Processed Meats
Some of our favourite meaty treats are actually some of the worst things to share with your cat. Cured and heavily processed meats are filled with extra ingredients that are harmful to cats, even in small amounts. Plain, fresh meats are always the safest option. Here are a few meat products that you should never feed to your cat:
Can Cats Eat Bacon?
Sadly, no. Bacon is high in sodium which can lead to hypernatremia in some cats. Avoid feeding bacon or other cured meats to your cat. The high-fat content of bacon is also a concern. It could lead to digestive issues or even pancreatitis if your cat consumes enough bacon or consumes it regularly.
Can Cats Eat Ham?
Probably not. Ham is also remarkably high in sodium and should be avoided. While it's not quite as risky as most cured meats, ham is still not a good treat for cats. As a very occasional treat, it is probably fine, but there are much better options for treating your cat.
Can Cats Eat Salami?
No. Salami is filled with additives like salt, flavour enhancers, and artificial colourants. It contains seasonings like garlic and paprika which are toxic to cats. Salami is high in saturated fats which causes rapid weight gain in felines. Ideally, you should avoid giving your cat salami.
Can cats eat pepperoni? Double no. Pepperoni is also not good for cats because a single slice often has over 35 mg of sodium which is much too high for your cat. No matter how much your cat begs for a bite of your pizza, this is not a snack you can share.
Can Cats Eat Beef Jerky?
Definitely not. Commercial jerky contains spices and prominent levels of salt. Jerky can contain garlic and onion which are both toxic to cats. Even if you make your own jerky at home and skip the spices, jerky is tough to chew and is likely a strong choking hazard for cats because of how they chew (or in this case, don't chew).
Can Cats Eat Hot Dogs?
It's not recommended. Avoid feeding hot dogs due to the additives and salt. Plus the contents of a hot dog are likely to contain meat sources of unknown and questionable quality. Though hot dogs are less dangerous than cured meats, they should not be regarded as a healthy snack for cats.
Can Cats Eat Sausage?
Don't. Sausage contains nitrites, sodium, and excessive fat which make them a no-no for cats. Sausage may also contain garlic or onion which is toxic to cats. Even the most natural of store-bought sausages are likely to contain something that is not good for your cat.
6. Can Cats Eat Eggs?
Eggs are often referred to as a superfood because they contain iron, protein, and vital minerals. Many commercial cat foods actually add eggs as a primary ingredient. Cats typically love eggs. In the wild, many cats will raid birds' nests to steal the eggs which they eat whole.
Eggs can be a great meal topper to boost protein and other nutrients in your cat's diet, or they can be a great treat if you love to offer some table scraps to your begging kitten. Just keep in mind, the eggs should be unseasoned to make sure they are safe to offer.
Benefits of Eggs for Cats
Eggs are packed with the following nutrients:
- Animal Protein: Eggs are a perfect source of animal protein that your cat craves. The protein found in eggs helps obligate carnivores to produce needed liver enzymes which they use to metabolize proteins.
- Amino Acids: Amino acids are referred to as the building blocks of protein. All cats require 11 essential amino acids and 10 of those are found in abundance in eggs.
- Taurine: Cats cannot naturally manufacture taurine so it must be added to the feline’s diet. Eggs are a vital source of taurine.
- Carbohydrates Free: Eggs are pure animal protein and contain no carbohydrates. Obligate carnivores have no real need for carbohydrates, so eggs are the ideal source of protein for all felines.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is used by your cat to support its skin health, heart, and nervous system.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is needed for strong bone growth and to build calcium in the body. Cats cannot manufacture vitamin D, so it is essential they get the necessary amount from their diet. The skin of humans can synthesize vitamin D from the sun, but cats do not.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that helps protect your cat’s cells from damage. It is considered an essential vitamin in all commercial cat foods.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that helps support your cat’s immune system, nervous system, and digestion.
- Iron: Cats require iron to produce red blood cells and remain healthy. Without sufficient iron in their diets, your cat will quickly become anemic.
- Thiamine: Thiamine provides the brain with energy. It also helps cats digest carbohydrates.
- Riboflavin: Known as B2, riboflavin assists in red blood cell production and provides antibodies to aid the immune system’s response.
- Zinc: Improves your cat’s hair, skin, and reproductive system.
- Selenium: Known as a potent antioxidant, it protects the feline’s cells from free radical damage.
- Biotin: Biotin improves the quality of the animal’s coat and skin. It also helps assist with the function of the thyroid and adrenal glands.
Tips for Feeding Eggs to Cats
Eggs can be included in your pet's meals 2-4 times per week but in small portions (1 tbsp). Cooking the eggs is the safest way to feed them. Scramble the eggs without seasoning and let them cool completely before offering any to your cat.
Can cats eat raw eggs? Maybe. This is a hotly debated topic for a few reasons. The more well-known argument for avoiding raw eggs is the bacteria risk. Just like raw eggs for us, bacteria, like salmonella, can be present in raw eggs.
The thing to keep in mind is that eggs sold for human consumption are pasteurized, which means that are heat-treated to kill bacteria like salmonella. This isn't a guarantee though. Just like when we eat raw cookie dough, drink eggnog, or eat hollandaise sauce, the risk of consuming a raw egg product is still real.
The other argument for avoiding raw eggs is egg whites. Egg whites are high in avidin, which is a biotin inhibitor. This means that large amounts of avidin can stop your cat from digesting biotin in their food. Fortunately, egg yolks are very high in biotin, and some research suggests that this is enough to counterbalance the effects of avidin.
The nutritional difference between cooked and raw eggs for cats is minor, so if you'd prefer to play it safe, especially if you have an immune-compromised pet, then go ahead scramble and cook those eggs before serving.
7. Can Cats Eat Fish?
Media often portray cats as fish obsessed, and most felines do enjoy a smelly, fishy snack. Fish is an ideal food for your cat, but it should not be the pet’s sole source of protein or vitamins. Fish often lacks sufficient protein to meet a cat’s needs, plus it is deficient in key minerals and vitamins.
The omega fatty acids in fish oil offer numerous benefits for cats, like improved skin and coat, anti-inflammatory properties, better immune function. Fish are also highly palatable and can help to improve eating habits in picky cats.
Fish can be fed either cooked or raw, but be cautious of bones that could be a choking hazard. Small fish, like sardines, are fine to feed bone-in, but larger fish like salmon need to be scaled and deboned before feeding.
Many people are concerned about heavy metals in fish, like mercury. While this can be a problem, choosing the right kind of fish can make it safer to feed fish on a regular basis. The smaller the fish, the lower the mercury content. Sardines, herring, and anchovies are ideal.
Bigger fish, like salmon and tuna, can still be fed but should be less frequent and in smaller quantities to prevent mercury build-up.
Best Fish for Cats
Small and wild-caught fish are generally going to be the best option for treating your cat. They have a better omega 6 to 3 ratio than farmed fish because of their more natural diet. Offering your cat a small piece of your fishy dinner is probably fine, but be cautious of the extras, like oil, butter, and spices that are harmful to your cat.
Here are a few of the most common cat-safe fish, and a few less common ones:
Can Cats Eat Tuna?
Of Course! Cats love tuna but they can contain heavy metals so should not be consumed more than a few times per week. Some cat diets, especially canned cat foods, use tuna as a base protein. Tuna can also be a great treat if your cat is not already eating a fish-based diet, and can be fed either cooked or raw.
Don’t spoil your cat too much with tuna, though, because some cats will become obsessed with tuna and refuse other food types by going on a hunger strike. This is very common in cats that are fed canned tuna for humans. Canned tuna often contains other ingredients like salt, oil, and spices, so check the ingredient panel before you share your tuna.
Can Cats Eat Salmon?
Oh ya! Similar to tuna, salmon can also be a great snack for kitties. Canned salmon is likely to contain salt, spices, or preservatives, so fresh-cooked salmon is ideal, just make sure to skip the seasonings.
Raw salmon can also be fed as a treat, but less frequently. Raw salmon, like all fish, contain an enzyme called thiaminase, that breaks down thiamine, an essential B vitamin. When fed regularly and in large quantities, can lead to thiamine deficiency in your cat. Cooking the fish destroys the enzyme, making it safer to feed fish more regularly.
If your cat is not a huge fan of fish, which may seem odd, but isn't that uncommon, you can still offer her valuable nutrients from salmon oil, or other fish oils. They have a milder flavour and are easy to add to your cat's dinner unnoticed.
Can Cats Eat Sardines?
Definitely! Sardines are one of the best fishy treats for cats because they are high in EPA and DHA, two omega 3 fatty acids that are beneficial for growth and cognitive function. Additionally, sardines are a more sustainable fish, meaning they are not overfished, like larger fish that are popular in human cuisine.
Canned sardines are one option for treating your cat, but be cautious of what else is in the can. Oils, salt, and other seasonings are not good for cats. 1-2 fresh sardines per week is safe, and they can even be fed raw. Whole small sardines make a great treat for cats that love to chew, but freeze-dried sardines are a less messy choice to protect your furniture and carpets from raw fish juices.
Can Cats Eat Anchovies?
Yes, but fresh only. Anchovies for people often come canned and heavily salted or in brine. These are a definite no-go for cats. Fresh anchovies are the only safe option for cats.
As a smaller fish, anchovies are much more sustainably sourced and have lower mercury and heavy metal content than larger fish, so they can be fed more frequently as a treat or as a meal topper to boost your cat's nutrition. 1-2 small anchovies per day if fine as a treat, so long as your cat isn't already eating a fish-heavy diet.
Other Cat-Safe Seafood
Cats love fish for the taste, and we love fish for the health benefits, but what about the other creatures of the sea. Are the rest of our favourite ocean delicacies safe for cats too?
The good news is that lots of them are. Though you may not be eating many of these fancy dishes every week, it's good to know which ones you can offer your cat a taste of whenever you do splurge on a seafood dinner. Like with fish, seafood is safest when cooked without spices or oils. Boiling the seafood in plain water is the best way to prepare seafood for your cat.
Here are some of our favourite cat-safe sea creatures:
Can Cats Eat Squid?
They can, though they may not like the texture. Squid isn't for everyone, especially without the breading and dipping sauce that your cat can't have. The chewy texture might be off-putting for some cats.
- Squid is abundant in zinc, which is important for your cat's skin and coat health.
- Squid oil is higher in DHA than other seafood and is ideal for growing kittens and senior cats.
- Due to its chewy texture, squid can be a choking hazard for cats. Cut it up into small, bite-sized pieces.
Can Cats Eat Shrimp?
Shrimp and prawns are one of the more affordable seafood options for humans, but they can be a tasty snack for cats too. Boiling the shrimp is the safest way to cook them for cats because you can easily skip any oils or butter that are often used in frying. Absolutely no tempura or other deep-fried shrimp.
- Contains ample zinc, vitamin B12, copper, and Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Always remove shells and legs, similar to how you prepare shrimp for yourself, as they are hard to digest.
- Avoid feeding processed or prepackaged shrimp which contain salts and preservatives. Fresh is always best.
Can Cats Eat Shellfish?
Lots of shellfish are cat-safe and nutrient-dense. Make sure that shells should always be removed and the shellfish should be boiled for safety. Popular cat-safe shellfish include crab, lobster, clams, scallops, and mussels. Skip the typical toppings and dips though. No butter, seafood sauce, garlic, or hot sauce for cats.
- Loaded with iron, copper, zinc, calcium, and other minerals.
- Makes an ideal occasional treat for your feline friend.
- Only the soft flesh of the shellfish should be fed. Shells are hard and pose a choking and digestion risk.
Tips for Feeding Fish to Cats
Fish can be part of your cat's regular diet, but most are best fed as an occasional treat. 2-3 times per week is safe for most fish and other seafood so long as the portion you feed isn't more than 10% of your pet's total food for the day.
Feeding fish as a treat is best if your cat is not already eating a diet that is rich in fish. Some fish, like anchovies, can be fed more frequently, but don't let your cat's fishy treat unbalance their regular diet. Remember that you are just supplementing, so small portions.
Feeding fish oils daily is a good option for cats who don't need the extra calories of eating fish as treats. Fish oils can be helpful in reducing inflammation, conditioning skin and coat, improving digestion, and supporting your cat's development as they age.
8. Can Cats Eat Nuts?
They can! This one might seem odd because you wouldn't think of nuts as a common ingredient in your cat's diet, but nuts can offer beneficial nutrients and in certain raw diets, help to properly round out the nutrition of the diet. Nuts might just be a tasty snack for you, but they are loaded with healthy fatty acids, fibre, and fats that your cat's body can use as energy.
That being said, too much fat can be an issue for cats, so nuts should be an occasional snack that is fed in small portions. Avoid salted and seasoned nuts, and always remove the shells.
The best way to feed nuts, much like seeds, is to soak them overnight to remove anti-nutrients like phytic acid and grind them to make them easy to digest. Whole nuts can easily be a choking hazard for a cat and will be harder to digest if they are not chewed.
4 Nuts That Are Safe for Cats
Many of the most common nuts are safe for cats, but there are a few that are toxic. Make sure you know which nuts to avoid feeding your cat. Nuts are high in fat, so even those that are non-toxic and nutritionally beneficial need to be fed in small amounts to prevent digestive issues or more severe problems.
1. Can Cats Eat Peanuts?
Yep! Peanuts are high in protein, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium help to support your cat's bone health, and the high, but healthy, fats can provide an energy boost for active cats.
Can cats eat peanut butter? They can, but natural is always best. Peanut butter can have lots of extra ingredients like sugars, or worse, toxic artificial sweeteners like xylitol. Stick to plain, natural, single-ingredient peanut butter.
2. Can Cats Eat Almonds?
Absolutely! Almonds are a great source of protein, magnesium, and copper. Adding nuts to your cat's meals can boost fibre too, which can help your cat feel fuller for longer, which is great for cats that need to lose some weight.
3. Can Cats Eat Cashews?
They can! Cashews offer similar vitamins and minerals to almonds, but also contain types of antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. The fat in cashews helps provide energy for the brain and body.
5. Can Cats Eat Pecans?
Yup. Pecans are the dessert nut, so when you want to give your cat a "sweet" treat, pecans are a great way to do so. Pecans are very high in fat, even compared to other nuts on our list, so you need to stick to small portions and only as an occasional treat. The high fibre content of pecans can help with digestion and weight loss too.
Tips for Feeding Nuts to Cats
Nuts are high in fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that are all beneficial for your cat, and even though several nuts are safe for cats to eat, you need to be very careful about how they are prepared.
Nuts need to be shelled and unsalted or unseasoned, but feeding whole shelled nuts can still pose a choking risk. It's best to grind or chop them finely and use them to sprinkle over their meals.
Additionally, nuts contain phytic acid which is an antinutrient, meaning it prevents other nutrients from being digested. To remove the phytic acid, the nuts should be soaked overnight and drained and dried before being ground.
Some nuts are toxic for cats, like walnuts, so stick to only cat-safe nuts, and feed in small portions. Nuts can be fed as a treat or make a great dietary booster. 1/4-1/2 tsp per day, a few times per week can add flavour and nutrients to your cat's diet. Other cat-safe nuts include brazil nuts, pine nuts, and pistachios.
9. Spices, Sweeteners, and Herbs for Cats
We like to use spices, herbs, and sweeteners to make our food more palatable, but you may not know that many of these aromatic and flavourful food additives actually offer some health benefits as well.
Of course, your cat doesn't need the flavour additives when they are eating a high-quality, meat-rich diet, but you may find that some of these cat-safe spices and condiments are actually quite good for them.
Spices for Cats
Not many spices are cat-friendly. Some are toxic, while others are an unpleasant smell or taste for cats and might make your cat turn her nose up at her spiced-up dinner. check out two spices that can be used to boost your cat's health.
Can Cats Eat Ginger?
Yes. This one is technically a vegetable, but you most likely use it as a spice in your cooking. Ginger has many health benefits, and because it's non-toxic, you can use ginger as a meal additive to help support your cat's health. The most well-known benefit of ginger is its anti-nauseant properties. It can be used in combination with digestive aids to help soothe your cat's tummy, like Fruitables SuperBlend Supplement.
Additionally, it contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to support digestive issues, skin and coat issues, and even joint and mobility problems. Ginger is potent, so your cat won't need much. A little goes a long way, and this "spice" has a potent flavour and aroma, so 1/8 tsp is plenty to add to your cat's meal.
Can Cats Eat Cinnamon?
In small doses. Cinnamon isn't considered toxic for cats but can be an irritant when your cat is exposed to large quantities. Consuming very small amounts of cinnamon is unlikely to be an issue, but large doses, inhalation, and even skin contact can be irritating for cats.
Cinnamon does have some benefits though, most popular is its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe digestive issues and improve nutrient digestions.
All in all, keep cinnamon, including cinnamon sticks and cinnamon essential oils, out of reach from your cat. If you choose to feed cinnamon for its digestive benefits, then add just a sprinkle (1/16 to 1/8 tsp).
Sweeteners for Cats
When you think of snacks for yourself, you might crave something sweet. A few drops of honey in your tea or a drizzle of maple syrup in your oatmeal are a great way to take a boring treat and make it special, but can you use sweeteners to spruce up your cat's meals too?
In general, we don't recommend sweetening your cat's food or treats. Partially because cats don't have a preference for sugar or sweet tastes, so what's the point, but mostly because sugary ingredients will cause digestive issues. Sugars feed gut bacteria and can quickly lead to some uncomfortable digestive reactions.
That being said, some naturally sweet ingredients can have some beneficial properties for your cat.
Can Cats Eat Sugar?
Yes, but they shouldn't. Sugar is a quick source of energy, but it's often more than your cat will use. This can lead to weight gain. Even more, excess sugar feeds bacteria in your cat's gut which can cause digestive issues. All in all, sugary foods should be avoided for cats.
Other very sugary foods, like maple syrup and molasses, are not toxic either, but they still offer way more sugar than your cat is built to handle. You may see them as an ingredient in some cat treats (more often in dog treats), but they will be extremely small quantities. It's best to avoid these sweeteners for cats.
Can Cats Eat Honey?
Yes, but sparingly. Honey is sometimes used in specialty cat treats, and in small doses it's safe. Raw honey has many helpful properties, like as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal remedy, and is a good source of antioxidants, but the typical honey we use to sweeten our tea is pasteurized and doesn't offer the same benefits.
If you do feed honey to your cat for its healing or immune-boosting properties, stick to raw Manuka honey and only feed in very small quantities - 1/4 - 1/2 tsp per 10lbs of body weight mixed with their food.
Herbs for Cats
We use many herbs to flavour our food, and while they do contain essential oils that can have health benefits, cats don't benefit the same way because they are difficult to digest due to their carnivorous digestive system. Lots of herbs are non-toxic for cats, so if you grow your own herbs, your cat may be curious enough to give them a try, so it's important to know which ones are safe to leave out for your cat to nibble.
Find out which herbs are safe for cats to eat, and if there is any nutritional benefits to feeding them.
Can Cats Eat Basil?
Yep! Basil is totally non-toxic for cats, so if your cat likes to sample your indoor herb garden, then don't fret. Basil contains a very aromatic essential oil, and it can act as a repellant for cats, but some cats are just too curious to care about the smell.
Can Cats Eat Cilantro?
They can! Another potent smelling herb, cilantro is not likely to be your cat's favourite snack, but if she is willing to give it a nibble, then don't fret. Cilantro does offer small amounts of vitamins and minerals, but not enough to be used as an effective nutritional aid.
Can Cats Eat Mint?
It's not recommended. Cats are often attracted to the scent of mint because of its similarity to catnip, a member of the mint family. Garden mint contains peppermint oil which can be toxic in large quantities. A small amount of mint may only cause minor irritation, but if your cat is chowing down on fresh mint, or concentrated essential oils, you will have big digestive problems.
If you grow your own mint, make sure you keep it out of reach of your kitty. Instead, make sure you have some catnip on hand to give your cat a much safer, and funner alternative. To find out more, check out our Ultimate Catnip Guide.
Can Cats Eat Parsley?
Oh ya! This is one of the rare herbs that can actually be beneficial for cats, but not in the way that you'd think. Parsley has natural antibacterial properties that can be an effective breath freshener for cats. Adding a small chopped-up sprig to your cat's food can help ditch that kitty breath and improve dental health.
This dental trick will not replace regular dental care habits, like brushing your cat's teeth, but can still be helpful. It is also a natural diuretic, which can help support urinary care health by increasing urination and flushing out unwanted bacteria from the urinary tract.
Cats are typically drawn towards green leafy herbs, and while there are some cat-safe herbs, like the ones above, but most don't fill any nutritional need for cats, so feeding them as treats or meal toppers isn't necessary or an effective way to boost your cat's health.
Top 7 Toxic Foods for Cats
Fresh ingredients are a great way to help boost your cat's overall nutrition, and while there are many human foods that are safe and nutritious for cats, but there are many that are highly toxic and should never be fed to your kitty. Take a look at some of our favourite foods that are toxic for your kitty.
1. Can Cats Eat Chocolate
Definitely not! While chocolate is one of the ultimate human treats, it's not safe for your cat. Chocolate of all kinds contains theobromine. Cats (and dogs) are very sensitive to the effects of theobromine. In humans, it acts as a mild stimulant, but for your cat is can lead to intense digestive issues, seizures and even death if your cat eats enough of it.
The darker and purer the chocolate, the more theobromine is present. Dark chocolate could have 3-4 times the levels of bromine than milk chocolate, but no matter how potent, all chocolate should be avoided for cats. If you really want to give your cat a sweet treat for a special holiday, then stick to small amounts of carob instead.
2. Can Cats Have Alcohol?
Obviously not! Alcohol, in any form, is very dangerous for cats (and dogs!). Ethyl alcohol can cause your cat's central nervous system to slow down and could cause respiratory distress. Never, ever, ever offer your cat any booze, beer, or spirits of any kind.
Rubbing alcohol and other products, like cleaners and hand sanitizers, contain a different kind of alcohol, called isopropyl alcohol. These are even more dangerous for cats, so make sure you keep your cleaning agents out of reach of your kitty.
3. Can Cats Eat Grapes?
Absolutely not! This is one of the more well-known toxic foods for cats. The strange thing is that we don't totally know why grapes, raisins, and currants are toxic for cats (and dogs). All we know is that damage is done to the kidneys.
There is speculation that it could be mycotoxins or naturally found compounds that could decrease blood flow to the kidneys, but to date, we just don't know. What we do know is that grapes should never be fed to dogs and cats.
So no grapes, but can cats eat raisins? Still nope. Though dried and shrivelled, raisins are still just as toxic as grapes, so keep them out of reach. This also goes for sultanas and currants, too.
Reactions to grape poisoning vary on an individual basis, so even though some pets can sneak a grape or two without consequence, others may suffer reactions from even a small amount of this toxic fruit and its cousins.
4. Can Cats Eat Citrus Fruits?
No. No matter how many vitamins citrus fruits may have, you should not offer your cat a taste of these sour and acidic fruits. The natural essential oils in many citrus fruits, like lemon, are toxic to cats. Symptoms of citrus poisoning include vomiting, digestive distress, weakness, and even skin reactions.
Citrus fruits that you should steer clear of offering your cat include lemon, lime, grapefruit, and oranges. If your cat accidentally sneaks a taste of some citrus fruit or juice, the chances are the reaction will be mild, but you should monitor them for worsening symptoms. Never give your cat citrus fruits.
5. Can Cats Eat Garlic?
It's not recommended. There are a lot of questions about whether or not garlic, in small doses, is harmful to cats. We know that dogs can benefit from small doses of garlic, but what about cats? The truth is garlic may be beneficial to cats but can still be very dangerous if you feed too much.
In general, feeding garlic to your cat is not recommended, but it likely won't do your cat much harm if she steals a small nibble of food that contains garlic. Even if your cat can tolerate small amounts of garlic, it's unlikely that the small dose of garlic would actually provide better health benefits than using other cat-safe supplements, like kelp or bone broth.
6. Can Cats Eat Onions?
Newp! In the same allium plant family as garlic, onions are toxic to cats. This also includes shallots and leeks. Though tiny amounts of onion are likely not going to be harmful to your cat if she happens to sneak a taste, there is no nutritional benefit from onion, so why take the risk?
Onions are a common ingredient in many sauces and premade foods that you may eat, so be mindful of any foods you share with your cat.
7. Can Cats Eat Junk Food?
Never. Some of our favourite unhealthy snacks, like chips, candy, ice cream, and soda, are especially bad for your cat. There are a number of dangerous ingredients that are used in these packaged goods, like sugar, salt, garlic, and artificial ingredients.
Any human foods you feed your cat should be healthy and natural. Anything heavily processed is guaranteed to have something bad for your cat, so absolutely no sharing.
While toxicity and digestive reactions may vary depending on the potency of the ingredient and your unique pet, you should never, ever, intentionally feed your cat foods that are known toxins.
If your cat ever accidentally ingests (or steals) a bite of one of these toxic foods, you should monitor their behaviour and digestion for the next 24 hours for any issues, and call your vet immediately if your cat has ingested large quantities of them or shows any signs of discomfort or distress.
Moderation is Key
Now that you know which of your snacks and favourite foods are safe to share with your feline friend and which ones should be avoided, you can start to boost your cat's nutrition with some fresh ingredients or just spruce up her treat routine.
Fresh ingredients are a great way to boost your cat's nutrition, but everything in moderation. If you are feeding a high-quality cat diet already, then adding additional fresh ingredients isn't required but can still be beneficial.
Cats enjoy a varied diet, so adding cat-safe human foods not only offers nutritional benefits but also gives the kitty something to look forward to each meal. You can add a little human food mixed with high-quality commercial cat foods to ensure you are meeting all of your cat’s dietary needs.
If you rely too heavily on human foods to encourage your cat to eat, you may find that your cat starts to develop some picky eating habits. For meal toppers, try to only offer human foods that have plenty of nutritional value, and not just flavour.
If you find your cat is getting addicted, then stop giving human foods as meal toppers entirely, and limit treats to specific reasons, like rewards for training or chewing and dental health.
With any treating or toppers, try to stick to the 10% rule. Extras should not be more than 10% of your cat's daily food intake. This will help to prevent imbalances and picky eating habits.