Do You Know What Human Foods Cats Can Eat?

It’s good to make yourself aware of what human foods will not harm your cat, and which ones could poison your fur baby. So, do you know what human foods cats can eat? Also, what foods should your cat avoid?

First of all, you must make sure your cat gets everything he needs for a 100% complete and balanced diet. You don’t have to add anything extra to a quality cat food, but you can give a treat from your table now and then if you know what is safe for kitty.

Cat grabbing chunk of meat from cutting board

Extras should be just that — extras. Look for the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement on your cat food label. That documentation will let you know that you have chosen a nutritionally-complete food for your pet.

Then, you can add an extra bite of something from your meal if it is safe for kitty. Just make sure not to overdo on these treats, as you do not want your cat to become overweight or develop health problems.

So, let’s look at a list of the foods that could fall into the “kitty treat” category:

1. Protein

a. Cooked beef, chicken, turkey, or small amounts of lean deli meats make acceptable treats. Do not give your cat raw or spoiled meat, as it might make kitty sick. Use this rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t expect kitty to eat it either.

b. Fish: The Omega-3 fatty acids will help your cat’s vision to stay sharp. They can also help with arthritis, kidney disease, and heart problems.

cat next to cutting board holding small fish

Just make sure every bit of fish you give your kitty is cooked, not raw.

c. Eggs: These can prove an excellent source of protein. If cooked, (scrambled or boiled) and then cut into bite-sized pieces, kitty will like them. Just make sure, as with fish and meat, that they are cooked. If raw, they could be harmful to kitty.

2. Fruits

If your cat likes fruit, he can choose from several different ones that might please him. A cat should only eat fruit in very small amounts, because the fruit is high in sugar. Your kitty could gain too much weight, or the fruit could cause diabetes.

Always wash fruit before giving it to kitty. Also, remove parts that might prove hard to chew and swallow, such as peel and seeds.

Try these fruits if you wish to see if your cat likes them?

a. Blueberries: These have a high vitamin C content and act as powerful antioxidants. These protect cells from oxidation damage and reduce the risk of UTIs.

Slice of watermelon

b. Strawberries: Serve to kitty fresh, frozen, or pureed. The vitamin C, potassium, and fiber will help strengthen the immune system.

c) Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew: Contains vitamins A, B, C, and potassium. As watermelon is over 90% water, it will positively affect the water balance in kitty’s body.

You can also give small amounts of cantaloupe and honeydew melons. My mom had a cat who loved cantaloupe, so we often shared.

3. Vegetables

Though cats are obligate carnivores, and have a digestive system not designed for fruits and veggies, you must give only small amounts of some vegetables which contain vitamins and minerals absent in meat. Try these vegetables:

a. Carrots: The beta carotene in carrots can do great things for your cat’s coat and eyes. Peel and cook to reduce the risk of choking.

Some cats like carrots, but my cat, Mocha, has become quite adept at eating everything but the carrots in his canned food.

b. Cucumbers: Contain vitamins C and K, minerals, such as magnesium, and lots of water. Peel and cut into thin strips to offer to kitty.

c. Green Beans: Rich in iron and protein, yet low in calories. For an overweight cat, add a tablespoon of fresh, canned, or frozen beans to his dinner. If using the canned variety, be sure the can says “sodium free.”

d. Lettuce: Contains vitamins A and K, folate, and fiber. Low in calories and high in water. Wash thoroughly before feeding, and give in very small pieces.

Cat eating salad

e. Asparagus: Kitty can safely eat this vegetable in small quantities. Another of my mother’s cats oved asparagus. If he smelled it cooking, he would meow and make a fus until she gave him some.

4. Grains

Cats don’t really need carbohydrates in their diets. However, vitamins, iron, and fiber from grains can give benefit to the cat. Think in terms of unrefined whole grains and wheat cereals if you plan to give them as occasional snacks for your kitty. Try the following

a. Oatmeal: High in dietary fiber and iron.

b. Rice: If well-cooked and fed in moderate quantities, you can feed your cat a very small amount of rice. Though it will not provide any nutritional value, it can help with diarrhea and stomach issues. However, don’t feed them rice too often.

c. Other grains you can try: Sometimes cats like polenta, a coarsely-ground cornmeal. Brown rice, barley, and wheat berries can be safely fed, but you will need to mash them first. Smaller grains such as millet and couscous could make a hit.

Just make sure any grains are well-cooked so kitty can digest them.

Do keep in mind that fruits, vegetables, and grains should be served occasionally as a treat, but should not become an everyday staple.

Human Foods You Should Not Feed Your Cat

This list of foods consists of items you should never give your cat, because they are not safe for him to eat.

  • Dairy Products: These include milk, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. You can give kitty cheese in very small quantities. However, the lactose-intolerant cat should never get large quantities of milk or milk products because they can cause a number of problems, including liver damage.
  • Chocolate, especially dark chocolate
  • Nuts: In particular, avoid macadamia nuts and walnuts
  • Grapes and raisins: These could cause kidney failure
  • Oranges: The seeds, leaves, stem, and peel of the orange are all poisonous to cats. Fortunately, most cats abhor the smell of citrus, so won’t want to eat an orange.
  • Cherries and plums: All parts of the cherry and the plum’s seeds, stems, and leaves should be avoided by cats
  • Garlic, onions, chives, leeks, shallots, and scallions
Onions, scallions, garlic
  • Xylitol: A sweetener with a toxic effect on small animals.
  • Coconut milk
  • Alcohol or foods containing it
  • Seeds
  • Raw fish or raw meat
  • Small cooked bones: These can splinter and injure kitty internally.
  • Raw dough: The yeast can produce carbon dioxide and alcohol quickly, which will cause a problem for the cat. Also, the dough can expand in the animal’s stomach so much that surgical intervention may become necessary to save the digestive system.

Remember to make sure your cat receives a canned food containing all the necessary ingredients your cat needs. If you give treats to kitty from your meal, give in small quantities and do not give too often.

Don’t overfeed — you don’t want an overweight cat with the corresponding health problems. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of kitty’s daily calorie intake.

Keep kitty healthy with the right kind of diet.

References I used for this post:

4 thoughts on “Do You Know What Human Foods Cats Can Eat?”

  1. Good article. I like the fact that you recognize the fact that lactose intolerance in cats varies. My husband and I have had several cats who could tolerate a small amount of yoghurt with no digestive issues. I have to wonder at the 19th century paintings of cats queuing up to drink milk. Maybe they did enjoy it–then had diarrhea where their humans didn’t notice it, outdoors.

    • Thanks, Mary. I appreciate your comment. I don’t give my cat, Mocha, any milk, but I use grated Mexican cheese for tacos. Mocha gets a little bite of that, and he loves it. It’s such a small ammount that it must not affect him.

  2. Very helpful article Fran. We have three female cats and three small male dogs. We tend to treat them with small amounts of food we eat. One of our cats thinks she’s a dog. Everything we give our dogs she wants.

    Typical things are small bits of meat, they love crispy bacon. But only in small amounts. They also love bits of French Fries.

    I read that raw carrots are good for dogs. I can see how boiled carrots in small pieces could be fed to a cat. I also read that, unlike cats, dogs should not be given cooked meat. It was suggested to feed them raw organ meat. I am going to try that, but only for the dogs.



    • I am so glad the article was helpful. Yes, it is not always easy to know what is safe for cats and what is not. I use the list of “good stuff” as a reference my own self, as Mocha seems to think he’s always hungry. So glad Lucinda the literate cat is a virtual cat — it is much easier to feed her.


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