People Food For Cats – What’s Good and What’s Really Not

People Food For Cats

If you have siblings, chances are you were brought up knowing that it’s nice to share. But sometimes sharing can go horribly wrong, especially for our delicate little felines. As far as people food for cats is concerned, it’s pretty black and white – it’s either yes or no, despite what your kitty might try to tell you. And if your cat is anything like my Sparrow, he’ll try to tell you he wants to eat everything. Don’t fall for his tricks.

I’m not trying to discourage you from sharing – the occasional treat from your snack stash can be good for your kitty, you just need to make sure it’s not on the list of stuff that can be harmful. But how do you know? Don’t worry, I’ve made some research for you.


What do Cats Eat

Cats are obligate carnivores, which basically means they need meat and only meat to fulfil all of their nutritional needs. I’m not going to go into a great deal of detail here, but if you’re after more information, check out this article on the Best Foods For Cats With Asthma. Asthmatic cats only have a few different ‘rules’ with their food, so even if your kitty isn’t wheezy, it’s still handy information.

As a rough guide, think about what cats would eat in the wild. Their diet would consist mostly of prey animals that they catch – rodents, birds and the like. Cats generally don’t go fishing, so all of those storybook pictures of cats licking their paws next to a fish skeleton are lies. I’m sorry if this ruins any of your childhood ideals, but you need to know.


What Can Cats Absolutely Not Eat?

Cats have different ways of doing most things, and the way they process food inside their bodies is no exception. Feeding your cat something wrong can harm the digestive system and cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe illness and even death. There are certain people foods that cats absolutely can not eat – check out this video for a quick run-down:

Some of the more common people foods that cats should never eat include:
  • Cooked bones from meat, fish and poultry – these can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive tract.
  • Alcohol – this has the same effect on cats that it has on humans, but cats are much smaller than us so the effects are much, much worse.
  • Caffeine – this includes chocolate, coffee, tea or anything with even a minute amount of caffeine. Caffeine can be toxic to the nervous system and heart.
  • Onions, garlic or chives – these contain sulfoxides and disulphides, which can harm red blood cells and cause anaemia.
  • Salt – large amounts can cause an electrolyte imbalance.
  • Mouldy or spoiled food – this should go without saying. If it’s too far gone for you to eat, it’s too far gone for your cat to eat.
  • Raw eggs and raw meat – among other problems, these things can cause salmonella poisoning.

This is not an exhaustive list, so as a general rule if you’re not sure, don’t feed it to your cat. Cat-World has a great list that goes into more detail, you can check it out here.


People Foods Cats Can Eat

I know, sometimes it’s hard to resist that cute little face sniffing at your meal. The good news is you can share some things in small amounts. These foods are perfectly safe and good for your kitty, but should not make up more than 10% of his diet:

  • Cooked meat – this is pretty obvious given that cats are carnivores, but always make sure there are no bones as these are bad news if swallowed.
  • Cooked eggs – a source of protein and vitamin B, both of which are great for cats.
  • Fresh vegetables – a lot of cats don’t like eating greens, but some of them love munching down on steamed green beans, broccoli, carrots or asparagus. Just make sure they’re thoroughly washed first.
  • Cheese – cats are mostly lactose intolerant, but small amounts of cheese are fine as a treat. Just go with tiny amounts as too much can cause diarrhea and general tummy upsets.
  • Fruits – some cats don’t enjoy sweet things, but some do (they are weird). Small amounts of bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe (with all the seeds removed) and peeled apples are good for your cat to munch down on.

Remember, if you’re feeding your cat people treats, this will make up some of his daily calorie allowance, so don’t overdo it – it’s much easier to keep kitty’s weight in a healthy range than it is to slim down a fat cat.


What to do if Your Cat Eats Something Wrong

Cats are going to get into things that they’re not meant to, it’s just what they do. If you see or suspect that your cat has eaten something wrong, keep a very close eye on the situation and get to the vet if you notice any signs of sickness. Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and any unusual behaviour should be taken seriously. Be sure to identify what your cat has eaten so you can tell the vet – the more information they have, the easier it will be to fix the situation.

People Food For Cats

Cats can enjoy the occasional treat from your plate, as long as you remember to steer clear of the foods that are poisonous. Yes, poisonous. It’s that serious. Be sure to only feed your cat people food that he will tolerate and enjoy and don’t overdo it. Sharing is only nice if it’s done right.

Which people foods does your cat like? Share your treats in the comments below…

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  1. thanks for the educational post Shirley!

    i guess i hadn’t really thought about it, but makes sense that cats are carnivores… and also that they wouldn’t be used to eating fish.

    so basically i imagine cat food must consist of just raw meat then. never really thought of what was in that either but hey like the saying goes “you learn something new everyday”


  2. I hope nobody is feeding their lovely cats anything listed in the “not allowed” section, I just shudder when I think of the obstruction caused by bones. You have also open my eyes as to what cats can eat, and yes, I do have the misconception about the fish 🙂 you are spot on about this point!

  3. Hi Shirley n Sparrow,
    Thanks for your eye opening article on people food for cats. I never thought it’s such a big deal to share just any food I’m eating with a cat- like you said, we grew up being told sharing is caring! And cats have always been a great beneficiary of that parenting policy.
    But now I know that it’s not everything that is best when shared with cats. Especially those that are asthmatic.
    You surprised me on the fruits bit. Can cats can enjoy a pudding? The only fruit I thought cats eat is ripe avocado. Can’t wait to try a few more types of fruits!

  4. Hi, Shirley,

    OH my goodness! I always give uncooked eggs and milk to my cats. Thank God I read your article. I could have killed them without knowing it! Sometimes I even give them poultry. Ok, I am going to stop this right away and tell to my children and my husband not to give the cats the foods that are listed. Thank you so much much for this excellent post!

  5. Wow I never knew so many house plants, etc could be that harmful to cats and/or dogs. I have had cats through the years, mainly dogs and all rescue. I believe they’re the best pets in the world! Having said that, now I know what to “Not” let them get int, even though I am a far cry from having a green thumb. But I do have a saga palm,have had Easter Lilies from my church when it is around Easter of course. If I recall correctly, our cat that we had to put down last year “Oliver” (from Old Age)he was jumping at the lilies and would try to eat them. Now I know that they are dangerous, I will definitely will not let and future pets get into them. Thanks so much for all your valuable information!!

  6. Very informational, good read for any cat owner. I was not aware that you should not feed your cats onion or garlic, not that I ever have. You commonly hear about things you shouldn’t feed dogs such as chocolate, but this kind of information for cats seems to be less widespread.

  7. Major wake up call. Thank you so much Shirley!
    . Few months ago my little one ate my tuna salad prepared with red onions and olive oil. I left it on the coffee table to get a drink. Did not agree with him at all. We were told that milk helps the little furry felines when they have an upset tummy. Does it surprise you that it did not help? Now we know why.
    Is Mylanta safe for cats when they have an upset tummy?
    This article is so educating, I am sending it to all my friends that have cats.


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