While cats aren’t always as adventurous as dogs, there’s still a reason for the coined term “curiosity killed the cat”! Cats aren’t generally ones to eat anything and everything, like dogs, but they still get into mischief– which is why it’s important to be aware of foods that are dangerous and toxic for not just dogs, but for cats as well. Here are 10 foods your cat should never eat:
1. Raw meat
Many cooked meats are fine to give your cats, depending on type and quantity, but raw meat is a no-go for our feline friends. Raw meat carries the high risk of food poisoning, dietary imbalance (nutrients), and consuming “foreign bodies” such as swallowing bones. Not only is consuming raw meat dangerous for cats, but it’s also dangerous for human cat owners — due to risk of infectious disease.
2. Dairy products
It’s a common misconception that dairy products are perfectly okay to feed cats — when in fact, dairy is actually quite dangerous. Many cats are actually lactose-intolerant, because as kittens, cats survive on their mother’s milk — not on dairy milk (coming from cows or goats). Dairy products upset cats’ digestive systems, making it an unpleasant and unideal food for them.
3. Plant-based milks
Unlike humans, cats (lactose-intolerant) can’t substitute nut or oat milks for dairy. Many of the ingredients in plant milks (such as sugar, high fat content, oils, stabilizers, and preservatives) are dangerous for cats and can lead to many adverse side effects, such as weight gain, diabetes, and tooth decay.
4. Grapes and raisins
Just as for dogs, grapes and raisins cause liver failure in cats, due to an unknown toxic substance. The toxin in grapes and raisins poses an even greater threat than chocolate — so make sure your cat never gets ahold of these! Ingesting these foods can cause serious liver injury, and even liver failure. There’s no known amount of grapes/raisins that causes such damage, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. Scientists don’t know yet why these foods cause liver damage — they only know that it does.
Chocolate contains three ingredients which are toxic to cats: caffeine, xylitol and theobromine. Caffeine, as you’ll find below, causes similar side effects to the effects that humans experience after having it. Theobromine is a toxic substance naturally existing in cacao. Caffeine and theobromine are both stimulants which increase blood pressure, heart rate, and induce vomiting. Some chocolates may even contain xylitol, which is HIGHLY toxic to both cats and dogs. Under no circumstances should your pet ever consume xylitol. In addition to these toxic substances, chocolate can contain ingredients such as natural sugar and fat, which aren’t toxic, but are dangerous and cause discomfort.
The primary danger nuts pose is choking — which puts cats more at risk than dogs, considering their smaller biological systems. Nuts also have a high-fat concentration, causing weight gain and risk of pancreatitis and diabetes. Among the most dangerous are macadamia and walnuts.
7. Onions and garlic
Onion and garlic are included in the allium group, a plant family containing Allium– which is highly toxic and dangerous for both dogs and cats. Symptoms might not show for 2-4 after consumption, but some symptoms include: oral irritation, elevated heart and respiratory rate, lethargy, weakness, and potentially coma.
8. Dog food
Very small quantities of dog food aren’t harmful to cats, but if it’s consumed in large quantities or eaten frequently, it can be quite damaging for cats. Dog food is lacking in certain nutrients that cats need to survive, such as Vitamin A and taurine. Cats, being stricter carnivores than dogs, need more protein — and if they’re consistently eating dog food, they aren’t getting the quantities of protein that they need to stay healthy.
Again, in very small quantities, it’s actually okay to feed your cat coconut (in its most raw, natural form), as long as they don’t have adverse reactions. However, consistently feeding your cat coconut, or feeding in large quantities, can be dangerous, and even fatal. Because of the high fat concentration, coconut puts cats at risk for hyperlipidemia and pancreatitis.
Caffeine in any form is dangerous for cats, and this includes your morning cup of coffee. You should be especially cognizant of this if you love to add milk and creamer to your coffee, or if you have an especially curious kitten. Caffeine raises blood pressure and heart rate in cats, causing their nervous system to go haywire and leaves them in unrest. At the extreme, cats could lose control of their muscular system, and even risk muscle spasms or seizures.
What to do if your cat eats something toxic
- Call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
- Call your local vet
- Cats aren’t as prone to being as adventurous with their food as dogs, and the Animal Poison Control Center and ASPCA don’t see nearly as many cats having eaten something poisonous as dogs — but to be on the safe side, keep these dangerous foods away from pets, and call for help as soon as you find out your pet has eaten something toxic