Lots of us are guilty of giving our feline friends a treat from time to time, and this can often be in the form of human food. Just as we should, it’s best to adopt the moderation mindset, as most things can be harmful in excess; there are, however, some foods that are particularly unsafe for cats in small quantities which you should avoid giving them altogether. We’ve listed some of the more common ones to watch out for below, but as a rule if in doubt always err on the side of caution!
Milk – Despite the familiar image of a cat lapping up milk out of a saucer being one we’ve all seen countless times, most cats are in fact lactose intolerant. This means that their digestive system cannot process dairy foods properly, which can lead to a stomach upset and diarrhoea.
Onions and garlic – These everyday foods contain oxidising agents that are damaging to cats’ cells, and even just a small amount can cause onion poisoning. This breaks down their red blood cells, which can have a range of dangerous health symptoms, and so they should both be avoided at all costs.
Grapes and raisins – It’s well known that these seemingly harmless little fruit are notoriously dangerous for dogs, and the same can be the case for cats too. This is due to them being a cause of kidney failure, and cats can suffer the same symptoms. As they’re often stored out in the open in a fruit bowl, owners are best to keep any grapes or raisins in a place not accessible to your cat.
Chocolate – A tasty but potentially toxic treat when it comes to your cat, as a result of it containing stimulants such as theobromine. This harmful ingredient is found in all types of chocolate, but higher levels in dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate make these the most dangerous. Christmas and Easter are times when there are plentiful amounts of the sweet stuff around, so always be mindful not to leave it out for wandering paws to find.
Caffeine – The effects of caffeine are the same for cats as for humans, except their bodies are more sensitive which means they need much less and are unable to cope with the reactions caused. If ingested, symptoms can include rapid breathing and heart rate, restlessness, fits and seizures, and muscle spasms. In large enough quantities, caffeine poisoning can be fatal for cats so this goes for any drinks or food that contain the substance – tea, coffee, soft drinks, cocoa, and chocolate.
If you really can’t resist indulging your cat on occasion, aside from cat treats and kibble, then remember their carnivorous origins. This means that in general, most red meats and poultry should be fine, but as we’ve mentioned always keep these to just small amounts.