What Human Foods Can Cats Eat?
You may have heard that cats love human foods. Now imagine this. It’s a beautiful day, you’re about to enjoy your favorite delicacy. Suddenly a cat shows up, sits in front of you, gives you an adorable stare, and a meow that means, “Can I have some?” You give it a portion of your food. It sniffs it, then walks away and you’re left a little annoyed. You can stop imagining now. So what human foods can cats eat? You may be planning on getting a feline friend and you’re wondering if it’s okay to share your daily meals with it. Before you visit the pet store (or before a feline visitor shows up unannounced at mealtime), let’s find out what human foods cats can eat.
So What Specific Human Foods Can You And Your Cat Tuck Into?
Humans have a wide variety of food choices at our disposal; from healthy meals to junk food and sweets. One of life’s best gifts to us is our taste buds (this is not debatable). We put a great deal of effort into preparing our meals and treating ourselves. If we have feline friends, we want to share the special mealtimes with them – from cooking to eating (yes, cats can help in the kitchen by…walking around idle). However, a lot of human foods can be poisonous to cats, including fruits and sweets. But cheer up. There also some human foods cat can eat safely. You can still turn your meal times to bonding moments with your special fur pal. Please note that the fact that a cat can eat something doesn’t mean it’s healthy for it. It is important to distinguish between what a cat can eat and what it should.
A lot of confusion surrounds the issue, whether or not it is safe for cats to eat fish. What isn’t debatable is whether or not cats like fish. Just leave a nicely cooked fish outside for any stray cat and watch what happens. Or you can just ask Tom (from Tom and Jerry fame). Cats are very fond of fish. How did cats come to love fish? Well, wild cats don’t have fish as part of their meals. This is because cats hate water and cannot fish for, well…fish. What changed? Domestication. We have ancient Egyptians to thank for that – for domesticating cats and introducing fish to their diet.
- Nutritional benefits: Fishes are excellent sources of protein and taurine for our feline buddies. Taurine helps to regulate the cat’s digestion. But unlike most mammals, cats cannot manufacture taurine from other amino acids. So feeding them fish helps to supplement their lack. It also gives them good eyesight and healthy hearts. However, fish may contain very high levels of mercury and toxins which are harmful to the cat. Some researchers have also found that too much fish can cause your cat to develop hyperthyroidism and some urinary tract infections.
- How to feed fish to your cat: Cats can and should eat fish. However, not more than twice a week (because of the health risks mentioned earlier). Fish should be added to a balanced diet or given as treats occasionally. Both dry and wet fish food is perfectly acceptable to feed your cat with. It not advisable to feed raw fish to your cat.
To put it simply, cats eat meat. Just like fish, meat is a rich source of protein, and cats vitally need protein. Cats are carnivores and meat is a primary source of protein in their diet.
- Nutritional benefits: Just as in fish protein, meat protein is good for the heart and eyesight.
- How to feed meat to your cat: Because cats require a lot of meat-based protein, it should form a huge part of their diet. Twice a day is appropriate for an adult cat (one year and above), or at least once a day.
- Sources of meat for cats: These sources include poultry and beef. Poultry includes chicken, duck, and turkey. All these are excellent sources of protein for cats.
However, in feeding your cat poultry, it is advisable to avoid feeding them the organs. Instead, most of their protein should come from the breasts or thighs. These contain skeletal muscles and have the right calories for your cat because they are lean meat. Duck meat is also safe. But it is advisable to only feed your cat duck meat once a while. It shouldn’t be a regular part of their diet. In order to make your poultry meet safe for your cat, it must be cooked in up to 165 degrees heat. This will help kill off any disease-producing bacteria in it.
Most vets agree that ground beef is the better choice of beef for cats. This is because not only is it fast to prepare, it is affordable and easily digestible by cats. Cats naturally have a short digestive system. So beef is a more appropriate option. Again, it is advisable not to feed your cat the organ meat. Beef should only form a small portion of your cat’s diet. To make ground beef safe, it must be prepared to a temperature of 165 degrees. If it’s not ground beef, 145 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended.
Do not feed raw meat to your cat. It may contain bacteria that are fatally harmful to it.
Fruits And Vegetables
Remember being forced to eat your fruit and veg when you were growing up? Those torturous days behind the dinner table, under the watchful eyes of your parents, with a plate of vegetables and green peas in front of you? “Eat your vegetables” became one of the most dreaded sentences we could ever hear as children. You may be wondering if cats should eat their vegetables too. Better still, if you should feed your cat vegetables. Unfortunately (or fortunately for cats), just because humans need their greens does not mean that our feline friends need veggies also. Cats do not gain many benefits from vegetables.
We have mentioned earlier that cats are obligate carnivores and therefore meat forms a major part of their diet. All the filling nutrients they need come from their protein-rich diets. Unlike humans and dogs who are omnivorous. Cats have the tendency to grow fat easily due to their comparatively laid-back nature. So if you’re concerned that your cat could gain too much weight from the rich calorie diet, you may want to add some “fresh from the farm” greens to their serving. Or serve them as snacks. There are some fruits and vegetables you can give your cat. Please note however that, it is very important to first check with your vet before introducing any vegetable or fruit to your cat’s diet.
Vegetables: Some recommended vegetables your cat can take include:
- Chopped greens
- Steamed broccoli
- Steamed asparagus
- Winter Squash
- Green beans
Once your vet gives you the all-clear on these vegetables, always be sure to serve them washed, fresh and in chewable sizes. Because vegetables are not nutritionally beneficial to cats (except for the fiber), they should be fed sparingly. If you’re a vegetarian and you intend to recruit your cat into that lifestyle, please consult your vet first.
Fruits: Some fruits your cat can snack on are:
Please note that fruits and vegetables should not exceed ten percent of your cat’s diet.
There are some fruits and vegetables to keep away from your cat because they’re potentially toxic. These include:
Just like fruits and vegetables, cats do not need a whole-grain diet. That does not mean that grains have no importance to them. Neither does it mean that your cat should never eat a whole-grain food. Cats can eat grains. There are however some types of grain foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein that can be found in specific types of grain food. These are rye, barley or wheat. This means that these grain foods can be beneficial to supplement a cat’s protein needs. Because of the “high protein, low carbs” nature of a cat’s diet, most cat owners do not consider grain foods necessary. But it is important to note that some grains are not high carbohydrate foods and can be used in place of other high carb foods. That is if you’re seeking to introduce something extra to your cat’s diet.
Types Of Whole Grains:
- Oats are easy to make. Also, they contain (per calorie) a lot of protein.
- Cornmeal (grounded coarsely)
- Wheat berries (mashed)
Because of a cat’s short digestive system, grains should be well cooked before serving. This is to aid in easy digestion. Some cats have allergic reactions to grain-based protein. It is therefore important to consult your vet before including whole grains in their diet. Some cats may show the following symptoms when they react negatively to protein in grains:
- Loss of hair
- Baldness in patches
- Inflamed skin
Speak with your vet first to be sure that you’re feeding the appropriate portion of grain food. This is to avoid your cat putting on unhealthy weight. Everyone wants a healthy cat. Your vet may recommend some brands of whole grains for your cat.
Eggs are another human food that cats can eat with their humans. Eggs are rich in protein and amino acid, both beneficial to our feline friends. However, as a complete meal, eggs are not recommended despite the fact that they are considered to be a complete protein food. Why aren’t they good enough for a whole cat meal? That is because, despite their rich protein content, they cannot provide your cat’s day-to-day balanced diet. It is therefore advisable to only feed your cats small portions of eggs either to add to their main diet, or as snacks to nibble on. Also, eggs are rich in calories and you do not want to add extra calories to your cat’s diet.
Feeding Eggs To Your Cat: First and foremost, raw eggs are not good for your cat. This is because an uncooked egg may contain bacteria like salmonella that can cause harm to your cat. Secondly, avidin, a protein in egg whites could lead to a vitamin deficiency in your cat. Here’s how. Avidin can bind vitamin B7 and make it impossible to absorb. Raw egg whites are therefore bad for your cat. In order to prevent these, you must cook the egg before serving it. Remove all the shells and serve only in small portions.
How Much Is Too Much: As indicated earlier, you do not want to add extra calories to your cat’s diet. Therefore, their egg intake should not exceed ten percent (10%) of their diet. It is very easy to feed too much egg to your cat without realizing. It is therefore advisable to feed only small amounts at a time. Do not feed eggs as whole meals for your cat. You can serve them eggs as snacks or add it to their main dish. Be sure to only use eggs to supplement your cat’s protein needs.
Cheese And Milk
Okay, so back to Tom and Jerry. While Tom likes fish and strangely, milk, Jerry is the one mostly after the cheese. But does Tom like cheese too? Cats are naturally curious pets. And when it comes to food, they observe their human companion’s choices. If you eat cheese a lot, chances are your cat will want to join in. And you will know by their solicitation with the usual adorable meow.
Cats can eat cheese. But not every type of cheese. And they should only be fed small quantities. Cheese is rich in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. It is therefore not a bad idea to pass a slice of cheese onto your cat’s plate once a while. However, as indicated earlier, only some types of cheese. Especially plain cheese. Most of our fur buddies are lactose intolerant. Their lactase count needed to break down large amounts of lactose is very small. So it is safe to feed your cat (again) only small amounts of cheese per serving. A small slice is enough. Needless to say, cheese cannot be served as a whole meal on its own. Aside from the dairy content, it is not nutritionally balanced enough as a meal for your cat.
What Type of cheese can your cat eat? Hard or soft? Because soft cheese is high in lactose, you should not feed it to your cat. Soft cheese includes cream cheese and cottage cheese. Hard cheese tends to be much lower in lactose and are therefore more appropriate. So basically the type of cheese to feed your cat depends on the lactose amount it contains. You can consult your vet if you are unsure about a particular type of cheese before feeding it to your cat. Only serve in small quantities. A small slice of say, Swiss cheese is enough. Alternatively, you can sprinkle small amounts of cheese onto your cat’s main food. Moderation is the key. And check for your cat’s reaction.
How Much Cheese Is Too Much Cheese? Again, cheese serving should not exceed ten percent (10%) of your cat’s general diet. A small slice for a snack once a while is sufficient.
Milk is healthy for kittens. Not so much so for grown cats. The lactase enzymes in kittens are enough to break down lactose. Therefore kittens are able not only to consume but also digest milk with no issues. But as they grow past the nursery stage to more solid food, less lactase is produced by the body. This is because the cat’s body and digestive system needs to readjust to take on solid food. So when your kitten grows up, chances are it is going to be lactose intolerant. Unless your cat is Tom of course who still consumes large quantities of milk. But Tom is a different kind of cat.
Human Foods To Keep Away From Your Cat
As much as we would love to share all our delicacies with our feline friends, there are some human foods to keep away from them.
- Chocolate and sweets: Most sweets can be toxic to your cat – fatally toxic that is. So to be safe, avoid sharing your sweets with your cat no matter how pitifully adorable their solicitation meows are. Plus, cats lack the taste buds to appreciate sweets anyway. Why bother? Chocolates contain theobromine. Aside from its bitter taste, this stimulant can cause serious heart problems, unstable muscle as well as seizures. Why would you want to put your cat through that?
- Raw Dough: Do you love baking? Do you do it often? If you do, then make sure you keep your cat away from the kitchen when you’re baking or using raw dough. It is dangerous to your cat’s health. Consuming raw dough can cause gastrointestinal problems as well as pancreatitis in cats. Did you cringe?
- Alcohol: Alcohol is an absolute no-no. Not even the tiniest amount. The cat’s liver is very small, and cannot handle any amount of alcohol. Alcohol can cause your cat’s liver to fail. That’s not all. It can also cause severe brain damage. I notice you cringed. And oh, the drunk cat memes on social media are fake. But you already know that.
- Energy Drinks And Coffee: Energy drinks, tea, and coffee all have one thing in common (no. Not the wetness) – caffeine. Caffeine can cause heart problems in your cat. Problems like heart palpitations and rapid breathing.
- Grapes And Raisins: Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failures.
- Onions And Garlic: Onions are garlic could be safe in small amounts. But if your cat consumes a whole clove, it can cause digestive problems.
There are lots of human foods you can share with your cat. But there is also a lot that is harmful to them. The fact that your cat can eat a particular food does not mean it should be fed with it. Being carnivores, the protein forms the largest part of the feline’s diet. But you can treat them with other foods as snacks. As mentioned several times throughout the article, other foods must be fed in small quantities. However, there could be exceptions. Not all cats are the same. The fact that one cat can eat a particular food does not mean another cat can. Pay attention to your cat’s reaction and don’t hesitate to consult your vet if you have more questions.
- People Foods Cats Can Eat – Pets WebMD
- 10 Healthiest ‘People Foods’ You Should Be Feeding Your Cat – Little Things