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7 Foods Cats Can’t Eat

It may seem more likely for a dog owner to have to worry about their pet snatching a toxic food from the countertop. Human food shouldn’t make up more than 15% of the diet you feed your cat, but if you’re a cat owner, you know they can get into anything they set their minds to! This includes human foods that are unhealthy and sometimes dangerous.

Foods Cats CAN Eat

Learn about several foods cats can’t eat and why.

1. Onions and Garlic

Although a meal almost always benefits from onions or garlic, your cat doesn’t. That includes scallions and shallots too! The compounds found in these foods can do damage to red blood cells and cause anemia.

If your cat consumes a food in the onion family, you’re likely to see symptoms like:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Pale gums
  • Lessened appetite
  • Orange to dark red urine

While these foods are generally toxic when eaten in large amounts, be careful of concentrated foods as well, like garlic powder and onion soup mix.

2. Caffeine and Chocolate

You’ve heard that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but did you know it’s dangerous for cats too? That’s because it contains theobromine, a methylxanthine. Theobromine is found in cacao seeds, and while it’s easy for humans to digest, it isn’t for cats.

small pieces of chocolate

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Muscle tremors
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Unusual heart rhythm

Caffeine is another methylxanthine and just as bad for your cat. She should never have tea, coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverages or items. If your cat ingests caffeine, she’s likely to show the same symptoms as she would if she ate chocolate.

3. Candy

It may be tempting to let your feline friend nibble from your piece of candy, but there are better ways to share! Many candies, gums, and baked goods contain xylitol, an ingredient that can be toxic to cats. It’s a sweetener often used in sugar-free candies, but it also shows up in products like vitamins, toothpaste, and mouthwash.

Vets report seeing fewer cases of xylitol poisoning in cats than they do in dogs. This could be because cats are pickier about what they eat. (They also can’t taste sweet!) But the definitive answer is not yet known.

Symptoms of xylitol ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

4. Alcohol

Alcohol in any form is dangerous to cats. But alcohol isn’t just limited to your after-dinner drink. It can be found in many other items, like syrups and rum-soaked cakes.

Your cat is much smaller than you. Even a tiny amount of alcohol can lead to quick intoxication.

If you think your cat accidentally consumed alcohol, look for these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle tremors
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma

If it’s not caught right away, alcohol ingestion in cats can lead to death. Should you need to take your cat to the vet, try your best to tell them how much your cat consumed and the strength of what she had.

5. Raisins and Grapes

Grapes and raisins are fun for people to snack on, but they can cause rapid kidney failure in cats. It’s not known why grapes and raisins are foods that are dangerous, but it’s not worth the risk of having them around!

If your cat experiences kidney failure as a result of consuming grapes or raisins, it can cause vomiting within 12 hours. Within 24 hours, she may exhibit:

  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced appetite
  • Decreased urination

Kidney failure is not something to wait on. Bring your cat to the vet immediately if she shows signs of having it or if you know she’s eaten grapes or raisins.

6. Raw Dough

Raw yeast dough—like bread dough—is dangerous for cats because it contains alcohol. It creates alcohol in a cat’s stomach, causing the stomach to expand.

7. Raw Meat, Raw Eggs, and Bones

Raw eggs, meat, and bones all have one hazardous thing in common: the risk of salmonella and E. coli. While cats are carnivores and need meat to thrive, it’s best to cook it. The possibility of E. coli and salmonella is too risky to take the change that it harms your cat or you, as it could pass through your cat and remain in the excrement you clean out of her litter box.

Symptoms of these bacteria include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Letheragy

Raw eggs and bones carry additional risks:

  • Raw eggs – They carry an enzyme that can cause problems with your cat’s coat and skin.
  • Bones – Besides being a choking hazard, a hard bone can harm your cat’s teeth, and a sharp bone can damage her digestive tract.

Vet Note: Dairy

puddle of splashing milk

Many people think dairy is dangerous for cats. You should avoid feeding your cat dairy products because it is most likely lactose intolerant, and products like milk, cheese, and butter can cause her digestive upset (vomiting and diarrhea). While most cats become lactose intolerant as they mature, some cats can still enjoy dairy in small quantities. If you feed your cat a dairy product, keep an eye on her afterwards to see if it made her sick or uncomfortable.

If you think your cat has eaten one of these items, take her to a veterinarian right away. Note a couple of important things:

  • What she ate
  • How much she ate
  • When she ate it

You don’t have to answer all of these questions! Even a little information can help your vet craft a plan of action for your cat’s health.

You should also bring your feline friend to the vet if she’s showing any of the common signs of poisoning, even if you aren’t sure of what she ate. Those signs include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Learn more about cat poisoning here.

Prevention is best! Avoid feeding your cat these foods. And keep foods that are dangerous out of reach of your furry friend’s mischievous paws. Always clean up after making a meal.

Do you believe your cat ate a toxic substance? Don’t wait! Bring her to an experienced veterinarian, like those at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, right away. Ask a question about poisonous food or let us know you’re coming by giving us a call at 281-693-7387.

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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