Have you ever wanted to share your dinner with your cat? Maybe you’ve given your feline friend some table scraps in the past, or maybe they snuck a little bit of food while you weren’t looking. There are some human foods you might consider incorporating into your cat’s diet because of their health benefits. But before you hand over your dinner plate to your cat, you should have a better understanding of their nutritional needs.
If you have a good cat food that’s meeting all your cat’s nutritional needs, you don’t need to worry about adding a lot of “people foods” to your cat’s diet. It’s important to note that every cat is a little different. What one cat enjoys, another might dislike and vice versa.
Cats can also have food allergies and other medical conditions that might cause them to have adverse reactions to certain foods. So, whenever you try to incorporate new foods into your cat’s diet, do it gradually. Don’t overhaul your cat’s diet all at once. Observe your cat to see how they react to new foods.
The most important thing to know as a cat owner is that all cats are obligate carnivores. They must eat meat to live. Lean proteins are the best way to feed cats meat. Ideally, they should be cooked. You should never feed your cat raw fish or poultry.
Some fruits and veggies are good for cats, but too many can actually harm them. Be careful not to feed your cats too many carbs, as this can quickly cause them to gain weight. Some cats can enjoy dairy products in small quantities, while others are lactose intolerant. For more specific guidance on what you can and can’t feed your cat, keep reading!
Meat and Fish
Because cats are carnivores, meat and fish are vital parts of their diet. Giving your cat lean protein is usually harmless. Most of the time, it’s safer to feed your cat cooked protein, whether that’s meat, fish, poultry, or eggs.
The important thing to remember with meat is that cats should eat a limited amount of fat. If you leave too much fat on their meat, your cat may end up with an upset stomach. Excess fat also has more calories and can cause your cat to gain weight. Trim the fat off any meat before feeding it to your cat.
Protein provides many health benefits for your cat, including helping them maintain good eyesight and a healthy heart. Protein also helps keep your cat’s reproductive system healthy. But you won’t just find protein in just meat—eggs are also a great source of protein for cats!
Although you should never feed your cat raw fish, they love their fish cooked. Salmon and even fish oil itself are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They’ll keep your cat’s coat sleek and shiny.
Some specific meats that are safe to feed your cat include:
- Skinless chicken
- Lean beef
- Lean deli meats
- Cooked eggs
- Cooked salmon
- Cooked tuna
- Canned fish
- Fish oil
You may be surprised to learn that vegetables aren’t as good for cats as they are for people. Although too many veggies can be unhealthy cat food, occasional ones encourage good digestion. If you’ve noticed that your feline has started nibbling on your house plants, you might want to add some greens to your cat’s diet. While your house plants can be toxic, small portions of veggies can have health benefits for your cats.
Many vegetables are rich in fiber. Not only is this good for cats, but it’s also enjoyable for cats to eat. If you’re feeding your cat raw vegetables, make sure you thoroughly wash them first.
If you choose to steam vegetables for your cat, know that this does remove some of the nutritional value. However, it also makes especially fibrous vegetables easier to eat. Steaming veggies like carrots and broccoli decreases the risk of your cat choking.
Some of the best vegetables for the feline in your life include:
- Pumpkin/squash, which is high in fiber
- Peas, which are rich in antioxidants, protein, and fiber
- Cucumbers, which are high in vitamins A, B, and C, as well as potassium
- Spinach, which is high in vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium
- Cooked or steamed vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, asparagus, and green beans
Fruit is a human food that many cats love! Fruit is a lower-calorie alternative to our cat’s favorite treats. Like vegetables, fruit may also help your cat if they have digestive issues. Fruits are usually high in vitamins and fiber. Because they have lots of water, fruit can help keep your kitty hydrated on even the hottest days!
With this people food, you have to be cautious of choking hazards. If you have fruit with large seeds such as melons, you must remove them first. Although a couple of seeds may not harm your cat, quite a few seeds could cause them to choke or even block their digestive tract. Some smaller fruits like grapes will also pose a choking hazard to cats.
If you want to incorporate fruit as an occasional treat or sweetener in your feline’s diet, consider adding:
- Blueberries, which are a good source of vitamins A and C
- Bananas, which are a great source of fiber and potassium
- Watermelon, which is filled with water to keep your cat hydrated
- Cantaloupe, which is high in antioxidants and good for skin and eye health
- Honeydew (with seeds removed!), which is rich in antioxidants and fiber
- Peeled apples—a good source of Vitamin C and fiber
- Apricots, which are a good source of potassium and fiber
- Cranberries, which are rich in antioxidants and able to keep your cat’s urinary tract healthy
- Mangoes, which are filled with vitamins A and B-6
- Oranges (peeled and sliced!), which are an awesome source of Vitamin C
- Kiwis, which are high in antioxidants and vitamin C
- Pineapple, which is filled with fiber, folate, and vitamin B6
You may think that giving your cat dairy products like milk would be a no-brainer. Surprisingly, dairy is one of the people foods cats don’t adjust to well. Unfortunately, it’s common for adult cats to develop lactose intolerance.
This means that cat’s can not digest the enzyme lactose. This unfortunately causes a painful stomach ache while your cat’s body tries to break it down.
This is not the only downside to dairy. Most dairy products are high in calories and fat. This can cause several severe health problems as well as obesity in your cat. So as a general rule: it’s best to stay away from including dairy in your cat’s diet. They might beg for that slice of cheese, however they might regret it once the tummy ache begins.
What Can Cats Not Eat?
As cats age, they can develop new health problems. Even if certain foods didn’t bother them when they were young, they could develop sensitivity to them as they age. Adult cats developing lactose intolerance is a prime example of this. Some cats may have other types of food allergies. Other health problems could end up restricting their diet even more.
If you’re unsure about whether or not a food is safe for your cat, do your research. You can always talk to a vet. It’s not necessarily a good idea to take your friend’s advice, as every cat is unique with slightly different dietary needs.
If your research leads you to believe that a certain food item is safe for your cat, integrate it into their diet gradually. Start with a small portion and only increase the amount if you’re certain your cat isn’t having an adverse reaction to it. Watch to see if your cat experiences any new health problems or behavior changes. The food may not sit well with their digestive system. If something is wrong, immediately stop feeding your cat the item.
Some of the foods cats should definitely not eat include:
- Fat trimmings
- Coconut milk
- Raw fish
- Bread dough
- Cooked bones
- Xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener
What Does All This Mean for Your Pet?
The bottom line here is simple: some foods can benefit your cat’s health, while others may be harmful. The tricky part is understanding that what’s safe or even beneficial for a person to eat may not always be healthy for a cat. Be careful when feeding your cat any type of human food. As long as you’re an attentive pet parent, you shouldn’t have any problems ensuring that your cat is eating healthy food options.
If you still have questions about what human food is safe for your cat to eat, check out more posts on FetchMyVet’s blog. We offer expert advice on how to care for pets. It’s the easiest way to get a veterinarian’s opinion on all your cat-related concerns!