When it comes to a healthy cat diet, it’s almost impossible to make it ideal. Whether you use wet or dry cat food, there are always some drawbacks in formulas – these can be ingredients, artificial components, flavors, or texture. Each cat has individual needs, and covering them all with mass-market industrial products isn’t always the right decision.
Besides, cats are carnivores – they eat raw meat and don’t need grains. This is what many owners forget about when buying kibbles with wheat and corn. As a result, their beloved pets suffer from allergic reactions, stomach upset, sensitivities, poor digestion and metabolism, excessive weight, and so on. Ideally, a feline diet should consist of what these hunters ate originally – prey and fish. You can help your cat and create an ideal menu for it.
Not only can “human food” be perfectly safe for cats, but some of your groceries could actually be good for them. Discover some harmless staples you can share with your favorite feline.
Foods You Should Avoid Feeding Your Cat:
1. Milk, Cheese And Other Dairy Products
Many of us grew up with the image of kittens drinking milk or cream in cartoons or picture books. But in reality, cats and dairy products don’t mix. Most cats are naturally lactose intolerant, meaning that cow’s milk and dairy products made from it – like cheese or cream – can upset their stomachs, causing vomiting and diarrhoea. Even though your cat may enjoy drinking milk, it isn’t necessarily good for her. Cats have trouble digesting the lactose in milk, which can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. Most cats are only exposed to lactose from their mother’s milk when they are kittens. Because kittens only drink from their mother’s milk for a few weeks, their digestive systems are often not equipped to handle a reintroduction to lactose. So, while some cats have no trouble tolerating milk, they are not recommended to drink anything but their mother’s milk while kittens, due to the possibility of digestive issues.
And what about kittens? The same rule applies: cow’s milk and by-products should be avoided. For kittens that are too young to eat solid foods and don’t have a source of their mother’s milk, veterinarians recommend feeding kitten-specific milk formulas, which provide essential nutrients for growing kittens and are gentle on their tummies.
We’ve all heard that chocolate can be fatal to dogs, but it’s just as poisonous for cats as well. Chocolate contains substances called methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, high body temperature, muscle tremors, abnormal heart rhythm, abdominal discomfort, increased thirst, and seizures. Methylxanthines are also found in caffeinated beverages and should be avoided. See your vet if your cat experiences any of these symptoms. As a general rule of thumb, darker chocolates are more dangerous than milk and white chocolate.
Though most people find chocolate delicious, this cacao-based treat contains two ingredients that are toxic to cats: theobromine and caffeine. Both milk chocolate and dark chocolate can cause several dangerous symptoms, including:
Increased body temperature
Rapid breathing or heart rate
In cases of high exposure to theobromine and caffeine, cats can also suffer from heart failure, weakness or a coma.
3. Raw eggs, meat or fish
If your cat loves hunting, you might assume it’s safe to feed them raw eggs, meat or fish – after all, what could be more natural than raw? However, these raw foods may contain dangerous E. coli and salmonella bacteria, which can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and lethargy in cats. Exposing your cat to these pathogens can even prove fatal.
4. Dog food
If you also have a dog, chances are your cat has sampled their food from time to time. But while an occasional nibble likely won’t harm your cat, a steady diet of dog food instead of cat food can cause malnutrition. Cats need vitamin A, taurine and arachidonic acid – all essential nutrients not provided in dog food. Though dog food is not toxic to cats, your cat needs a very different set of nutrients than a dog. Cat food should contain plenty of vitamin A, taurine, arachidonic acid and protein, and dog food has much lower levels of these nutrients. Dogs can survive with lower levels of vitamin A and protein, while cats cannot. Dogs are also able to produce taurine and arachidonic acid, but cats must have these acids in their food. Without a sufficient amount of taurine, cats can develop heart disease, vision and dental issues.
5. Alcohol, Bread and yeast
Alcoholic beverages and foods that contain alcohol can be dangerous for your cat. Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, disorientation, trouble breathing, coma, and even death. It’s also important to keep your cat away from raw dough. Raw dough causes expansion in the stomach, or creates alcohol in the stomach. If you think your cat has ingested even a small amount of alcohol, take her to the vet immediately.
Cats can safely eat bread on occasion, but note that bread contains no nutritional value for them (it has virtually no fat or protein), so it should not replace their normal cat food diet.
Yeast and raw bread dough are not safe for cats – after it’s eaten, the dough can rise in a cat’s stomach and cause dangerous digestive issues.
What cat doesn’t enjoy tuna? This fish can serve as an occasional treat for your cat, but you should avoid feeding them a tuna-heavy diet. Tuna lacks several nutrients cats need to stay healthy, and too much tuna can lead to mercury poisoning. And, as noted above, you should never give your cat raw tuna. Like raw meat and eggs, raw fish can carry bacteria that cause food poisoning.
7. Onions and garlic
Onions, garlic and other members of the allium family like chives and leeks can cause anaemia in cats. Whether raw, cooked, powdered or dehydrated, garlic and onions can damage a cat’s red blood cells, and can also cause nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.Onions, garlic, shallots, and scallions can cause damage to your cat’s red blood cells and lead to anemia. These foods are typically poisonous when eaten in large quantities, but exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic, such as onion soup mix or garlic powder, can also be toxic. Cats with symptoms of lethargy, weakness, reduced appetite, pale gums, and orange to dark red urine should be taken to the vet immediately.
Remember that most cats are curious creatures, and love to investigate food that’s been left out on countertops or in sinks. If your cat can easily jump on a table or counter, make sure to keep dangerous or toxic foods well out of reach – sealed behind a closed pantry door or kept in a high-up cabinet.
8. Grapes and Raisins
Even a small amount of grapes and raisins can cause your cat to become ill — they can even lead to rapid development of kidney failure. Within 12 hours of ingestion, vomiting sometimes occurs. Other signs that can show up within 24 hours include lethargy, diarrhea, reduced appetite, abdominal pain, decreased urination and abdominal pain.
9. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, clementines, and grapefruits contain citric acid and essential oils that can cause problems in cats. The stems, leaves, peels, fruit, and seeds should all be avoided. While small amounts will likely cause only an upset stomach, large amounts can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and central nervous system depression.
Macadamia nuts are toxic to pets, and like grapes, the exact mechanism of toxicity is unknown. Other types of nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, are rich in oils and fats that can cause digestive upset and potentially even pancreatitis in cats.