Things We Should Not Be Feeding Our Cats

Just as there are toxic foods for humans, there also foods we should not be feeding our cats. However, many cat owners aren’t fully aware that some daily household foods are actually bad for their feline friends.

This is because cats do not have the same digestive makeup as we do. They can suffer from a variety of issues such as diarrhoea, vomiting, upset stomach, nausea, and even permanent damage to their internal organs when consuming something they’re not supposed to.

Everyday Foods We Should Not Be Feeding Our Cats

Here are six common household foods that are toxic or harmful to cats.

1. Chocolates

Chocolate, Bars, Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Bars — things we should not be feeding our cats.

Everyone knows that chocolate is extremely dangerous for dogs. But did you know? It is actually equally toxic to our cats.

Chocolate contains a substance called ‘Theobromine’, which takes a long time for cats to metabolise and can be harmful to their digestive system.

While chocolate is not typically something most people would feed a cat, your cat might accidentally consume some chocolate that is laying around, when left unattended.

If you suspect that your cat has consumed chocolate and is exhibiting symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, contact your vet immediately.

2. Caffeine

Food Flat Lay, Morning Coffee, Breakfast, Cat, Kitten

Believe it or not, there are some pet owners out there that think it is perfectly acceptable for their cats to have a nip or two of their morning coffee!

However, this should not be the case. Just like chocolate, caffeine also contains Methylxanthine, which can seriously damage the central nervous systems and other organs. Cats can rapidly absorb Methylxanthine which can lead to issues such as heart palpitations, rapid breathing, vomiting, diarrhoea, and restlessness.

It takes more than a small amount to lead to serious damage, but it is best to keep your cat away from items that contain caffeine such as chocolate (as mentioned above), coffee, tea, and even energy drinks.

Too much build-up over time can lead to serious damage and you do not want to leave it to chance. Hence, make sure you keep your coffee away from your feline friend, especially if it contains milk, as it may cause even more problems — we’ll explain why next.

3. Dairy

Cat, Pet, Kitten, Animal, Fur, Tomcat, Animals

For years, it was a common belief that cats could digest normal cow’s milk since they once nursed on their mother’s milk. However, most cats are unable to digest dairy, making them lactose-intolerant, which can lead to some serious digestive issues when consumed.

Dairy products can cause cats to suffer from cramps, excessive gas, upset stomachs, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

If your feline friend seems fond of cheese, milk, and other dairy items, you might want to reconsider as these are things we definitely should not be feeding our cats. Instead, you can opt for lactose-free milk that’s specially made for pets.

4. Alcohol

Champagne, Champagne Bottles, Ice, Champagne Cooler

Similar to caffeine, some pet owners that think it’s cute or amusing to allow their pets to consume alcohol. This could not be farther from the truth.

Due to their small size and stature, even the smallest amount of alcohol can cause severe damage to a cat’s brain and liver.

Consumption of alcohol in felines can lead to life-threatening issues such as coma and death. Therefore, it is crucial that we do not leave alcohol unattended near our cats, ever.

5. Raisins and Grapes

Raisins, Dried Vine, Useful

This is something that many pet parents are unaware that they should not be feeding their cats. Just like chocolate, raisins and grapes are more harmful for dogs rather than cats. However, this does not mean that they are safe for cats to consume. Cats can suffer from kidney damage which can lead to kidney failure.

If you believe that your cat has eaten raisins or grapes, contact your vet right away. Symptoms can include vomiting, weakness, and diarrhoea.

6. Garlic and Onions

Onions, Garlic — two common ingredients pet parents are unaware of that we should not be feeding our cats.

Garlic and onions are two of the most heavily consumed foods in most Singaporean households, being the primary ingredients in many recipes.

Small amounts of garlic and onion may not be life-threatening to cats or dogs, but consumption of both of these items over time can lead to serious issues such as Anemia and kidney failure.

Garlic tend to be more harmful of the two, so it only takes a minute amount of garlic to cause damage. The build-up of this over time can lead to serious internal damage and even death.

Try keep both of these foods out of your cat’s reach. As a precaution, do not feed them any foods containing garlic and/or onion. If your cat has consumed garlic or onion, call your vet for advice straight away!

Tips for Food Safety for Cats

Cats, Safely, Lapjeskat, Cat, Shelter, Hot

However, even the most cautious and fastidious cat owner can make mistakes. Cats are sneaky by nature and move really fast! So how do we protect our feline friends from eating these toxic foods? Use these simple tips to keep your feline friends safe!

  • Sweep or vacuum your floors while keeping counters and other surfaces clean after preparing or consuming any of the aforementioned foods. This helps prevent accidental ingestion as cats have a fondness for dropped food particles.
  • Store your food (and leftovers) in sealed containers and store them in your fridge or freezer.
  • Dispose of any trash in a garbage receptacle that your cat cannot easily access. Make sure it has a tight lid and is out of their reach. 
  • Keep your cat out of the kitchen while you are prepping, cooking, and cleaning up. Or at least off the counters!
  • Do not feed your cat table scraps or “human food.” Keep to your cat’s diet to form healthy eating habits!

If your cat is experiencing vomiting (other than the occasional hairball), diarrhoea, nausea (which is indicated by them repeatedly licking their lips), sudden changes in appetite (especially refusing to eat), weakness, collapsing, laboured or rapid breathing, lethargy or change in litter box habits (or urine/fecal color), be sure to seek immediate veterinary care!

Although we have discussed some common foods that are harmful to all cats, don’t forget to take into account what foods your cat might be allergic or intolerant to, too! If you would like to find out more about stomach sensitivities, do check out “Stomach Sensitivity in Cats – What should I take note of?“.