Foods your cat should never eat

Anyone with a cat will be familiar with their curious (some might say, nosey) nature. Cats have a great knack for getting into anything they’re not meant to, including getting their paws on foods that could potentially harm them.

You may be surprised what foods are dangerous for your cat, so here’s a quick  look at some foods that your cat should always avoid:


Tuna sounds like the perfect fishy treat for cats, but giving your cat a steady diet of tuna and not much else can lead to malnutrition as it doesn’t contain all the nutrients that a cat needs. Canned fish also tends to be very high in sodium, and oil-packed varieties will be too high in fat for your cat. If you want to give your cat a  taste of tuna or salmon, it’s best to opt for a portion of cat food containing either ingredient, like our responsibly sourced salmon cat food. 


Onions, garlic and chives
In all forms, onion can break down a cat’s red blood cells and lead to anaemia and eating a large quantity once or eating smaller amounts regularly can cause onion poisoning. Also be aware that garlic is five times as potent as onions, and that chives can cause significant health and potentially life-threatening problems.


Milk and dairy products
Lots of cats love the taste of milk, and that’s no surprise. Kittens drink their mother’s milk when they’re young, so drinking milk may bring back feelings of comfort, safety, and protection. But surprisingly most cats are actually lactose intolerant which means that their digestive system cannot process dairy foods and can cause digestive problems and diarrhoea.


Any food product containing alcohol is not suitable for your cat. Alcohol has the same effect on a cat’s liver and brain that it has on humans, but it just takes less time to do the damage. Only two teaspoons of whisky can cause a coma in a 5-pound cat, and one more teaspoon could kill it.


In large quantities, caffeine can be fatal for a cat, and there’s no cure. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, and muscle tremors. Caffeine can also be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas, and stimulant drinks such as Red Bull, so these need to be kept well away from your feline friends.


Chocolate seems like it would be a harmless treat, but like caffeine, chocolate can be lethal for cats. Most cats won’t eat it independently or search out a sweet fix, but in some cases, they can be encouraged to eat it by owners who think they’re giving them a treat. The toxic agent theobromine is found in all kinds of chocolate, even white chocolate, but the most dangerous types are dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate. If your cat has eaten chocolate it can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and in some cases death.


Fat trimmings and bones
Both fat and bones can be dangerous for cats. Fat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause intestinal upset, with vomiting and diarrhoea. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or cut the inside of your cat’s digestive system.


Raw eggs
Eggs can contain bacteria like salmonella or E.coli. The second is a rare problem in which a protein in raw egg whites, called avidin, could interfere with the absorption of the B vitamin biotin and has been known to cause skin problems as well as issues with your cat’s coat.


Raw meat and fish
Like raw eggs, raw meat and fish can also contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning. There’s also an enzyme in raw fish that destroys thiamine, an essential B vitamin for your cat. A lack of thiamine can cause severe neurological problems and lead to convulsions and coma.


Dog food
The odd mouthful won’t hurt, but dog food has specifically been formulated for dogs so isn’t suitable as a long term diet plan. Cats need more protein, as well as specific vitamins and fatty acids, so a  steady diet of dog food could cause your cat to be malnourished and lacking the vital vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy.


Offal sounds like the perfect treat for cats, but in large amounts, liver can cause vitamin A toxicity, a severe condition that can affect your cat’s bones. Symptoms include deformed bones, bone growths on the elbows and spine, and osteoporosis. Vitamin A toxicity can also cause death.


Yeast dough
Before it’s baked, bread dough needs to rise. And, that’s precisely what it would do in your cat’s stomach if your cat ate it. As it swells inside, the dough can stretch the abdomen and cause severe pain and damage. When the yeast ferments the dough to make it rise, it also produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.


Human medicines
Ingesting a drug prescribed for humans is one of the most common causes of poisoning in cats. Just as you would do for your children, put all medicines where your cat can’t get to them. And never give your cat any over-the-counter medicines unless advised to do so by your vet. Ingredients such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are common in pain relievers and cold medicine and can be deadly for your cat.


Grapes and raisins
Although they might seem harmless, fruits are digested differently in cats and dogs than in humans. Grapes, in particular, can cause severe issues in cats when ingested. Animal experts are unsure of what causes the toxic reaction to grapes in dogs and cats, but they are sure about the potentially harmful effects they can cause. Keep them off the countertop and well out of reach.

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