6+ Human Foods That Are Safe to Share with Cats
You find your feline friend on the countertop or the dining room table, lapping up milk at the bottom of a cereal bowl or tasting cake batter. Is that okay? If you’ve wondered, “What human foods can cats eat?”, keep reading. We’ve compiled a list of six common food groups it’s okay for cats to try.
Vet Tip: Cats generally get all the nutrients they need from commercial cat food, so any people food should be given in moderation unless you get veterinary advice first. If you suspect your kitty is nutrient-deficient, make an appointment with a vet, who can run tests to ensure he’s healthy.
A Key to Nutrients
Under each food in our list, you’ll see the nutrients it provides. Here’s a key to help you understand how each helps your cat:
Antioxidants – Protects your cat’s cells from damage caused by free radicals (molecules that can harm cell membranes, enzymes, and DNA)
Calcium – Helps blood clot and supports teeth and bone health
Fiber – Maintains a healthy microbiome in the gut and helps food move through the digestive system
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Keep the coat shiny and healthy and support the immune system
Protein – Helps repair and build tissue and muscles and contributes to healthy hair and skin, a strong heart, good vision, and a healthy reproductive system
Vitamin B – Maintains the digestive system and promotes good blood circulation
Cats are carnivores. They need meat to thrive! A little extra cooked and unseasoned meat in your cat’s diet can be a great addition. Trim off the fat, as it can be hard for cats to digest and can result in diarrhea. Turkey can be especially high in fat.
The most common image of a cat enjoying people food is a happy feline lapping from a bowl of milk. The second most common is a happy cat enjoying tuna! Tuna fish and other cooked or canned fish is healthy for cats, and they love it.
Serve canned or fully cooked fish to avoid parasites. Raw fish also has too much thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine, an essential vitamin for your cat.
Vet Note: Carnivorous fish (swordfish, tuna, salmon) tend to have higher levels of mercury than flounder, halibut, and cod. Tuna has high levels of polyunsaturated fats, which can deplete your cat’s vitamin E. If you love to feed your cat fish, do so in moderation, and choose a variety of types!
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Wild cats commonly raid nests to eat eggs. Your cat is just as likely to enjoy eggs in his diet, but be sure they’re cooked, not raw. The risk of E. coli and salmonella is too high in raw eggs. And while your cat might successfully pass salmonella or E. coli, it could remain in his excrement, which you clean up.
Scrambled eggs are a quick, easy way to deliver nutrients like:
- Vitamin B
Dairy can be a confusing subject for cat owners. You’ve probably seen images of cats drinking from bowls of milk. But you may also have heard that milk is bad for cats. Which is true?
Lots of adult cats are lactose intolerant. They can digest milk as kittens but lose that ability as they age. You can know if your cat is lactose intolerant if he vomits and/or has diarrhea after he eats a dairy food.
Most cats—even cats that are lactose intolerant—enjoy dairy, even if it causes them stomach upset. And dairy is a source of protein, although it’s not as beneficial a source as meat, fish, and eggs. If you struggle to give your cat medicine, it can be very effective to grind up the pill and put it in cheese or butter. This should only be done in very small amounts of dairy.
- Cottage cheese
- Sour cream
Vegetables (and Fruit)
Cats are carnivores, but they do like greens and need them in their diets. The main benefit of greens is fiber; otherwise, they don’t provide many nutrients.
- Winter squash
- Green beans
- Baked carrots
- Fresh cucumber
- Steamed broccoli
- Steamed asparagus
- Water content
Remove the cores and seeds of the fruits and vegetables you serve your cat to prevent choking.
Vet Tip: If you notice your furry friend chomping on grass or trying to chew a houseplant, he might be lacking fiber, and you can take it as a sign that he may like his diet supplemented with greens.
Whole grains can be an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps keep your cat’s bowel movements regular. Make sure any grains you serve are cooked and maybe mashed, so your cat can digest them. Don’t add sugar or any other flavoring.
Avoid feeding your cat bread. It’s full of carbohydrates and calories without providing much nutritional value.
- Brown rice
- Soluble fiber
Feeding your cat new foods can be fun! It’s interesting to learn what they like and what they don’t. And it’s nice to know that these foods aren’t just delicious; they can benefit your cat too! If you have questions about nutrient deficiencies or you’re wondering if a food listed above is safe for cats, ask one of our vets or vet techs at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re always here to help!
The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital
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