Human Food Cats Should Not Eat

Cats are members of the family, and as such, it should feel natural to share everything with them—including table food. But sharing your plate can harm your cat's health. Before you share that treat, make sure you know the difference between harmful foods for pet cats and risk-free ones.
Human Food Cats Should Not Eat - KittyNook Cat Company

Cats are members of the family, and as such, it should feel natural to share everything with them—including table food. But sharing your plate can harm your cat's health. Before you share that treat, make sure you know the difference between harmful foods for pet cats and risk-free ones.

What Human Foods Can I feed My Cats?

three cats eating cat food. the one on the middle is looking at the camera

The Clinical Nutrition Service states that many human foods are generally considered safe for cats, as long as it's no more than 10% of a cat's everyday consumption. For example, if a cat takes in 250 calories daily, no more than 25 should come from unbalanced food resources.

However, the Clinical Nutrition Service also warns that owners should consider individual needs. Some cats might consume a particular food without a problem, but the same product can make another cat vomit, have diarrhea, et cetera. With this in mind, it's an excellent habit to speak with your vet before including any human food in your pet's diet—including ones that you might think to be risk-free.

Which Human Foods are Harmful to Felines?

a white and orange cat eating a single strawberry

There are human foods that owners should never feed cats. The ASPCA has a checklist of human foods owners should not feed cats, but it may not be an extensive listing. 

Nonetheless, here are some no-gos from the ASPCA's list:


Food and drinks containing alcohol can cause severe problems in cats and dogs. Even just a little as a tablespoon of alcohol can have some issues for your feline. It can cause liver and mental damage to a cat. It can also cause looseness of the bowels, vomiting, breathing troubles, coma, and even death.


Chocolate has compounds called methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) that are toxic to pets. These compounds can trigger looseness of the bowels, vomiting, seizures, and even death. While this bitter-tasting stimulant is found in all kinds of chocolate, the concentration of methylxanthines differs in chocolate products. It's most concentrated in dark and bitter chocolate; the cocoa powder is the most potent, while white chocolate has the least amount of compounds.

Energy Drinks, Coffee, and Tea

These beverages have high levels of caffeine—which can cause rapid breathing, palpitations, and seizures.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, clementine, lemons, limes, and grapefruits have citric acid and essential oils that can cause cat trouble. While small amounts will only upset your cat's stomach, they can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and CNS depression in large quantities. Your cat should avoid stems, leaves, peels, fruit, and seeds.

Coconut Flesh and Water

Fresh coconut milk and flesh can cause digestion issues in cats, although small amounts aren't likely to cause significant harm. Coconut water has too much potassium, making it unsafe for cats to consume. Coconut oil could be helpful for some cat skin problems, though. Speak to your veterinarian before using or including it in your cat's diet.

Cheese, Milk, and Other Dairy Products

Perhaps surprisingly, milk products are high on the list of what cats cannot eat. Most cats are lactose intolerant so dairy products can cause diarrhea and vomiting. The best practice is to avoid dairy products altogether. However, if you want to feed your cat cheese, you can refer to this blog for valuable tips.

Grapes and Raisins

While the reason these are harmful to pets remains a mystery, there's proof that feeding cats (and dogs!) grapes and raisins can trigger kidney failure.


Macadamia nuts are harmful to cats, and like grapes, the specific cause of poisoning is still unknown. Other nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, are rich in oils and fats that can cause indigestion and possibly even pancreatitis (from too much fat) in cats.

Fat trimmings, Raw Meat, Raw Eggs, and Raw Fish

Raw eggs, meat, and fish can carry microorganisms that trigger gastrointestinal disorders in cats. Fat trimmings can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or pancreatitis. There is likewise a danger of Salmonella or e. coli related to these foods.

Signs of bacterial infection include vomiting, looseness of bowels, and fever. Raw eggs also have avidin, an enzyme that impedes cats from absorbing biotin, a vitamin necessary for healthy skin and hair. The Clinical Nutrition Service says stomach problems like diarrhea are typical in pets eating raw meat-based diets.


In large amounts, salt and salted foods can trigger diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and fatality in pets.

Garlic and Onion

All members of the onion family can trigger issues in cats. Eating onion on a regular basis might cause anemia. A little onion or garlic in some sauce is not most likely to cause any problems. Nonetheless, eating a clove of garlic or a green onion might cause indigestion in cats.


This sweetener is put in many sugar-free foods, like chewing gum. There are no records of cats being ill because of xylitol, but we know that it can trigger high blood sugar levels, seizures, and even death in dogs. It's much better to be on the safe side and not allow your cat to eat foods containing this active ingredient.

What Should You Do if Your Feline Eats Something Toxic?

a cat munching on a palm leaf

If you know or think your cat has eaten a food item from the list, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Pet Poisonous Substance Control Center at 888-426-4435 ASAP. Don't wait for any symptoms to call for help. The faster you act, the better. Thankfully, according to the Clinical Nutrition Service, there are seldom cases of cats with food-related toxicosis. It's much more prevalent in dogs that are much more undiscriminating about the things they eat.

First Aid For Cats

a gray cat eating from a blue bowl

Treatment is usually supportive if your cat has ingested food that can cause harm until the symptoms subside. This may include hospitalization, intravenous liquids, and blood examinations to check organ status.

Small amounts might not cause problems, but more significant amounts might need immediate therapy.

How to Stop Cats from Eating Harmful Foods?

a cream colored cat eating from two stainless bowls, looking shocked

If you want to keep giving your cat some human food as an occasional treat, follow this advice:

  • The food needs to be considered a treat and sparingly to prevent intestinal distress and dietary imbalances.
  • If you would not eat it, do not give it to your cat.
  • If you would not eat raw food, your cat should not either. The best prevention is always unreachable to your cats.
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