If your cat begs for food while you eat, you may wonder which table foods you can safely let her share. You may find it difficult to say no when your cat is looking so sweet, but you do need to be careful about what you feed her. Food that tastes good to you might be harmful to your cat.
Giving Your Cat Table Foods
If you want to supplement your cat's meals with some human foods, make sure that it's something that is not toxic to your cat. You also want to make sure it's something that's actually healthy for your cat and will improve their diet. Always use moderation when first feeding an item to your cat to make sure your cat isn't allergic to it or has an upset stomach and diarrhea.
After reading the ingredients on commercial cat food, you may be asking can cats eat turkey or chicken fresh from the table. As long as the meat is cooked thoroughly, it's perfectly acceptable to feed chicken and turkey to your cat. You should also remove the skin before cooking and cut off any fatty parts. Poaching is a great way to cook poultry without any added fat, or you can also use grilling or baking.
Cats can also enjoy some cooked meats other than poultry. Look for lean cuts of beef, lamb, and liver and remove any excess fat before cooking. Cook them using a method that does not involve adding fat, such as grilling, baking or boiling. Do not feed any type of meat that has preservatives or is overly fatty such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs or some luncheon meats.
You can feed human-grade fish to cats but in moderation. Never feed fish raw as this can lead to digestive problems for your cat. Fresh-caught fish must absolutely be cooked to avoid parasitic infection.
- While your cat might love to eat a whole can of tuna, this type of fish is higher in mercury and fat than other types. If you want to use canned tuna, choose a chunk light type over white tuna and one that is packed with water.
- Salmon can be fed to your cat if it has been cooked. Poaching or grilling is best as you want to avoid cooking it any fats.
- Other types of fish you can feed include canned or cooked mackerel, sardines and herring. Just make sure the canned varieties are not packed in oil.
Cooked eggs are a great way to give your cat some extra protein. Scramble your eggs without any butter or milk to keep them lean and of course, wait until they cool off before feeding them! Eggs should be fed in moderation as well and not as a daily treat.
Cats are often thought of as only meat eaters, but they can enjoy a variety of fresh vegetables as a treat. Cats will find it hard to digest fresh, raw cut vegetables so it's best to put them in a blender first and feed them as a puree or cook them so they soften. Cook them by baking, grilling or steaming and avoid using butter or oil. You can also mash them up and mix them in with your cat's dry kibble. Some healthy vegetables for cats are:
- Bell peppers
- Broccoli florets
- Brussel sprouts, cooked and pureed
- Cauliflower, florets only
- Green beans
- Spinach (some cats with a history of bladder stones or kidney disease should not eat spinach)
- Sweet potato
Most cats are not interested in fruit as they are not able to taste the sweetness in the way that we can. However, you can mash up some fruit or blend it and add it in tiny amounts to their meals. Fruit should always be peeled with seeds and stones removed before feeding. Some fruits that are acceptable for cats are:
- Avocado (in very small quantities)
Feeding your cat whole or unrefined grains can provide additional nutrition to their regular meals. Grains should always be cooked before being fed to your cat. You may also need to mash some larger grains before cooking to make it easier for your cat to eat them. Some types of grains you can add to your cat's diet include:
- Brown rice
- Wheat berries
Although most cats are lactose intolerant, they can enjoy a teaspoon of yogurt with their meals. The benefit of feeding yogurt are the probiotics for your cat's digestive system. Only choose plain yogurt that has no natural or artificial sweetening ingredients.
Cheese can be used in very tiny amounts and in great moderation. Cats do enjoy cheese but since they are lactose intolerant, it can give them an upset stomach. Cheese, however, is a great option when you're trying to give your cat a pill by hiding it in food. Some types of cheese you can try are hard cheeses like cheddar or low-fat cottage cheese.
Foods to Avoid
Just as there are table foods you can safely give your cat, there are foods you should never feed your cat. These include:
- Alcohol can lead not only to brain and liver damage but as little as a tablespoon can put a cat into a coma and lead to death.
- Baby food - Many types of human baby food have onion powder as an ingredient which can be toxic to cats.
- Bones, such as chicken bones, pose a choking hazard.
- Caffeine - Any type of caffeinated beverage such as coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks can have serious negative side effects on a cat's heart and respiratory system and cause seizures.
- Chocolate - This contains theobromine, which can cause heart problems.
- Dough, raw - Eating raw dough puts a cat at risk of salmonella and E. coli, as well as for alcohol poisoning and expansion of the dough in the cat's stomach.
- Eggs, raw - These contain avidin, an enzyme that prevents absorption of biotin.
- Fat trimmings from meat - Never feed your cat any types of fat you trim from fresh meat such as poultry. This can lead to a serious case of pancreatitis as well as digestive problems.
- Grapes, currants and raisins - These can cause kidney damage.
- Meat and fish, raw - Any type of meat or fish must be cooked prior to feeding your cat. Otherwise, they put the cat at risk of salmonella, E. coli and parasitic infections.
- Milk - Cats are lactose intolerant and cannot digest milk properly. It can lead to diarrhea and other stomach upset. There are "cat safe" milk products you can feed your cat.
- Mushrooms - Mushrooms can be very poisonous for cats and can be fatal. There are some varieties that are fine but it's best to avoid them to be safe. Eating wild mushrooms can lead to liver failure.
- Nuts - Some nuts, such as Macadamias, are toxic to cats. Other nuts are very high in fat and will upset a cat's digestive system.
- Onions and Garlic - These foods contain N-propyl disulfide, a substance that causes anemia.
- Potatoes, Raw - The glycoalkaloid solanine in raw potatoes can cause severe gastrointestinal disturbances. Avoid green tomatoes for the same reason.
- Salty foods - Salt can upset the balance of electrolytes.
- Sugary foods - These can cause weight gain and even lead to diabetes.
- Tuna - While you can feed your cat a tiny bit of tuna from a can, you should only use chunk light tuna packed in water and feed only occasionally to avoid excessive exposure to mercury.
- Xylitol - This is a common artificial sweetener found in gums and other foods labeled as "sugar-free." It's also found in many types of peanut butter. It is not known to be toxic to cats but is very dangerous for dogs and veterinarians advise cat owners to avoid it to be safe.
Feed Table Foods With Caution
If you do feed table scraps, make sure they are only an occasional treat and not a major portion of your cat's diet. Cat nutrition, after all, differs from human nutritional needs. Play it safe with ingredients you know her body can handle and consult with your veterinarian if you see any symptoms of concern such as diarrhea.