Cats are picky eaters, so it’s easy to sometimes assume that they know what’s right for them when it’s time to eat. But guess what, the fact that your feline friends would willingly walk away from a bad meal or meat doesn’t mean they will just walk by a can of open tuna.
And just so you know, that can of tuna may not be so great for your feline friend, and you’ll find out why soon. Plus, you’ll just be surprised to learn about some common foods your furry friend should never eat.
Cats and food: What you should know
Are cats not wired to catch, kill, and eat raw meat? Don’t they adore cheese, milk, and cream? Sadly, as we have come to discover, some common human foods aren’t so great for cats as they can trigger gastrointestinal distress. Not just that, some common human foods can cause a variety of health problems in cats you’re not just ready to deal with.
Yes, our felines are members of our family, confidants, and companions, so it’s okay to want to spoil them sometimes to show them how much you care about them. But while doing that, keep in mind that some foods you may be exposing your cats to may pose some serious risks to their health. That said, here is a list of foods you should never serve your cats.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and cream
Many of us have these images in our heads of cats drinking cream or milk. But guess what? Cats and milk don’t mix in the real world. And that’s because most cats are lactose intolerant. What this means is that dairy products like cream or cheese made using cow milk can trigger stomach upset in cats. In serious cases, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
And even for kittens, the same rule applies. Try as much as possible to avoid feeding kittens cow milk and other by-products. If you’re caring for a kitten that’s too young to be fed solid foods, experts have recommended feeding kittens with specific milk formulas that are designed to provide essential nutrients needed for optimum care and growth. More so, these recommended milk formulas are formulated in such a way that they are gentle on their tummies.
If you live in a multi-pet home where cats and dogs mingle freely, there is every likelihood that your cats may have sampled meals you served your dogs.
But while occasionally taking a bite from your dog’s food won’t harm your cat, steady nibbling on dog food instead of cat food can result in malnutrition. The truth is cats need a lot of vitamin A, arachidonic, and taurine acids- three excellent nutrients you’ll most likely not find in a dog’s food.
If your feline friend constantly nibbles on dog food, it may end up developing several health conditions, including:
- Lack of vitamin A can trigger skin issues, muscular degeneration, a dull coat, or night blindness.
- If your cat’s meal is missing essential nutrients like taurine, it can suffer vision degradation, lethargy, unhealthy coat or skin, and heart diseases.
- Feeding your cat with meals missing nutrients like arachidonic acid can trigger kidney and liver problems.
Whether it’s packed for humans or cats, there is no doubt that cats can be a bit addicted to tuna, and you know what, a little tuna every now and then won’t hurt.
But guess what, steady nibbling on a diet of tuna prepared for humans can result in malnutrition, and that’s because the diet is missing a lot of nutrients required by cats for optimum health. Here is the thing, feeding your feline too much tuna can trigger mercury poisoning.
And just so you know, having an open can of tuna next to the sink will seem like an invitation to dinner for your cat, so it’s wise to keep this food away from the reach of your cat.
Onions, garlic, and chive
Cats don’t do too well with onions, garlic, chives, and other close associates from the allium family like leeks. While these types of foods are great for humans, they can cause anemia in cats. And regardless of whether they are powdered, raw, dehydrated, or cooked, foods like onions and garlic can cause severe damage to a cat’s red blood cell. Not just that, it can also trigger health challenges like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats.
Note: While raising and caring for your feline friends, keep in mind that they can sometimes be very curious and may love to check out foods left in the sink or countertops. So, if you have a cat that can easily jump from one table to the next, it’s best to keep toxic and dangerous foods out of reach. Better still, you can go the extra mile to keep all food items sealed behind a closed pantry door or high up in a cabinet.
As humans, you may feel the urge to indulge in a bottle of beer, wine, liquor or grab a bite from foods containing alcohol, but when it comes to your cat, alcohol or wine is a big no-no. And that’s because alcohol, beer, wine, or liquor have the same effects on cats the way they affect humans.
If you feed your cats liquor or wine from time to time, it may end up causing severe damage to their liver and brain. Let’s give you a glimpse of what we are talking about.
Just two spoons of a hot whisky can trigger a coma in a 5-pound cat. And a teaspoon more than that can cause death. This means, the higher the teaspoons, the worse the symptoms.
While a lot of people fancy chocolate and find it delicious and inviting, this cacao-based treat features two ingredients that are very toxic to your furry friend: caffeine and theobromine. More so, foods like dark chocolate and milk chocolate can trigger very dangerous symptoms in your cat, including:
- Increase in body temperature
- Rapid breathing and increased heart rate
In situations where your cats are highly exposed to caffeine and theobromine, chances are they could easily suffer heart failure, heart weakness, or even slide into a coma.
Raw eggs, meat, or fish
If you have cats that love to hunt, you may sometimes assume that it’s safe to feed them raw foods like meat, egg, and fish; after all, what other food could be more natural than raw food? But as much as we hate to burst your bubble, raw foods may sometimes contain dangerous E. coli and salmonella bacteria that aren’t good for cats.
These types of bacteria can cause lethargy and vomiting in cats. Plus, if your cats are exposed to raw foods, you leave them at the mercy of these pathogens that have proven to be fatal.
To add to that, raw egg whites are known to contain a protein called avidin. Should your cat be exposed to this protein, it may have problems properly consuming B vitamin biotin, which can potentially result in skin conditions like a dull coat.
Grapes and raisins
A lot of pet owners have treated their feline friends to a meal of grapes and raisins, but according to cat nutritionists, this isn’t such a bright idea, and you’ll see why soon.
While it isn’t entirely clear as to why you shouldn’t feed your cats these food items, it is believed that grapes and raisins can trigger kidney failure in cats. Even a small amount is enough to get your furry friend sick.
Should your cats be exposed to these food items, you may notice early symptoms like hyperactivity and vomiting.
While some cats may not show any warning signs, it’s best not to feed them grapes or raisins. Another thing you should ensure is that you keep grapes and raisins away from their reach.
Fat trimmings and bones
Leftovers from lunch or dinner often contain fats trimmed off meat and bones. And in case you don’t know, fat and bones don’t go too well with cats; whether cooked or uncooked, fat can cause serious stomach upset in cats. In severe cases, it may cause vomiting or diarrhea.
When it comes to bones, keep in mind that your cat can easily choke on a bone. In other scenarios, bones can splinter inside your cat’s digestive system, leading to an obstruction or cut.
Bread and yeast
Are you among those cat owners who love to feed your cats bread and yeast? Then it’s time to stop, especially if you take the health of your cat seriously.
Yes, cats can be fed bread occasionally, but keep in mind that bread contains very few nutrients that are of importance to your cat’s health. So, if you’ve been treating your cat to a meal of bread and yeast, it’s time to do the needful as bread can’t replace normal cat foods.
More so, yeast and raw bread dough aren’t very safe for cats. Once eaten, there is every likelihood that the dough can rise in their stomach, leading to serious digestive issues.
Feeding your feline a small amount of liver isn’t such a bad idea. But if you take things overboard, it may lead to vitamin A toxicity. This condition is pretty severe and can do a lot of damage to your cat’s bones. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include osteoporosis, deformed bones as well as bone growths on the spine and elbow. In serious cases, vitamin A toxicity can result in death, and we doubt you’d like that very much.
How to stop your cat from eating dangerous foods
Your cat’s life and overall wellbeing greatly depend on the type of food you’re feeding it. By keeping toxic foods out of your cat’s reach, you’re helping your cat eat balanced food and ensuring that it stays healthy at the same time.
And if you’re serious about ensuring that your cat doesn’t have access to dangerous and toxic foods, here are some tips that could help:
- Endeavor to keep food out of your cat’s reach. You can easily do this by installing cabinets or cat proof locks, especially if you have a curious kitty.
- While cooking or eating, it is wise to keep your cat away from the countertop.
- Feeding your felines table scraps is a no-no. That’s because table scraps may have bones and fats that aren’t too healthy for your furry friend.
- It’s important to stay mindful during holidays as your cat is prone to fall for enticing meals you may disapprove.
Frequently asked questions
How do I treat a cat that has eaten harmful food?
If you suspect that your cat has consumed harmful food, your best bet is to reach out to a veterinarian for prompt treatment. Treatments usually include hospitalization, intravenous fluids, and other diagnoses to monitor your cat’s organs.
Should I leave food out for my cats all day?
If your cat can maintain its weight, then leaving food out while you are away isn’t such a bad idea. On the flip side, if you have a cat that always wants to eat, then leaving food out all day is a no-no.
How long can cats go without food?
The longest a cat can go without food is one to two weeks. And that’s if they have a water supply. Without protein, they can survive between three to four days, that’s regardless of whether they have enough water.
Overall, without food and water, a cat can barely survive longer than 3 days.
As a cat owner, you must do your due diligence to ensure that your furry friend eats healthy. But if you notice or suspect that your cat has consumed any of the foods we mentioned in today’s post, the right thing to do is visit your veterinarian immediately. Although some foods may only trigger slight discomfort, others can be quite lethal, resulting in serious health complications. If you’re still in doubt, you can always ask your vet for guidance.