What Human Foods Are Safe for Cats?


Updated: July 17, 2023

268


When it comes to treating your cat during mealtime, it’s important to be mindful of what human foods are safe for feline consumption. While your furry friend may eagerly await a tasty morsel under the dining table, not all foods are suitable for their delicate digestive systems. In fact, some human foods can be downright harmful to cats.

Fortunately, there are several cat- and vet-approved options that can satisfy your cat’s snack cravings without compromising their health. These safe options include lean meats such as cooked chicken or turkey, provided they are boneless and free from seasoning or sauces. You can also offer small amounts of cooked fish, such as salmon or tuna, as long as it’s free from any additives.

Certain fruits and vegetables can also make for healthy treats. Cats can enjoy small portions of steamed or cooked carrots, peas, or green beans. However, it’s important to note that cats are obligate carnivores, and their diet should primarily consist of animal protein.

It’s crucial to avoid feeding your cat foods that are toxic to them, such as chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, and anything containing caffeine. Dairy products, although cats may enjoy them, can often lead to digestive upset due to lactose intolerance.

10 Human Foods That Are Safe for Cats to Eat

Cooked Meat and Fish

Cats, being obligate carnivores, require a meat-based diet, making them go crazy over turkey slices or chopped chicken. Interestingly, if you’re feeding your cat chicken, you might wonder what chickens eat—beyond bugs.

Fortunately, the meat we enjoy is perfectly safe and healthy for cats too, making it an excellent treat option. However, it’s crucial to provide only lean, cooked, and unseasoned meat, avoiding raw meat, salt, butter, oil, and additional toppings. High-sodium foods like beef jerky should be kept away from cats due to potential risks.

Garlic and onion are highly toxic to cats, and fatty meats, as well as both cooked and raw bones, should be avoided. Instead, lean beef, cooked salmon, skinless chicken, and lean deli meats are excellent choices.

Be cautious not to share ham from your casserole or meatballs meant for human consumption with your cat. Save the seasoned chicken or sauced fish for yourself, and instead, offer a small piece of plain, safe meat to your furry friend—he’ll surely appreciate the treat!

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is safe for cats to eat in small amounts, but it is not a natural part of their diet as obligate carnivores. Cats’ digestive systems are designed to primarily process animal-based protein.

If you choose to give your cat oatmeal as an occasional treat, ensure that it is plain and cooked thoroughly without any added sugar, salt, or flavorings. Oatmeal can provide some fiber and nutrients, but it should not be a significant part of your cat’s regular diet.

Remember that the main source of nutrition for your cat should be a balanced and appropriate cat food that meets all their dietary requirements. If you are uncertain about adding any human food to your cat’s diet, consult with your veterinarian to ensure it is safe and suitable for your feline friend.

Cooked Eggs

Both humans and cats should avoid consuming raw eggs, but cooked eggs can be a different story.

Eggs are packed with beneficial amino acids and easily digestible protein, making them a fantastic superfood for felines. Offering a small amount of cooked eggs as an occasional treat, about once a week, can potentially enhance your cat’s coat, energy levels, and overall mood.

Just like with meat, proper preparation is crucial. Never feed your cat raw or seasoned eggs, as raw eggs pose a risk of salmonella, which can be fatal for cats. Additionally, common seasonings such as garlic and onion are toxic to felines.

For treat time, opt for plain scrambled, hard-boiled, or poached eggs. Scrambled eggs are often preferred by cats as they are easier to eat, making it a good starting point if you’re introducing eggs into your cat’s diet. Remember to keep the eggs plain and free from any additives or seasonings to ensure the safety and health of your feline friend.

Vegetables

Vegetables can be a healthy addition to your cat’s diet, but it’s important to choose the right ones and offer them in appropriate amounts. While cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their diet primarily consists of animal-based protein, some vegetables can provide essential nutrients and fiber. Here are a few cat-friendly vegetables:

  1. Carrots: Cooked or steamed carrots in small portions can be a tasty and nutritious treat for cats.

  2. Peas: Plain, cooked peas are safe for cats and can provide fiber and some nutrients.

  3. Green Beans: Cooked, plain green beans can be a healthy option for cats, but avoid those with added seasonings.

  4. Pumpkin: Plain, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) can aid in digestion and is safe for cats in small amounts.

  5. Broccoli: Offer small, cooked pieces of plain broccoli, but only occasionally as large quantities can upset a cat’s stomach.

Remember to introduce vegetables gradually and observe your cat’s reaction. Not all cats will enjoy or tolerate vegetables, and some may have allergies or sensitivities to certain types. Always consult your veterinarian before introducing new foods into your cat’s diet to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your pet’s health.

Yogurt

Yogurt can be safe for cats in small amounts, but it’s essential to exercise caution and follow some guidelines. Not all cats can tolerate dairy products, and many adult cats are lactose-intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products.

If you plan to give your cat yogurt, opt for plain, unsweetened yogurt without any additives or artificial sweeteners. Greek yogurt, in particular, tends to have lower lactose content. Start with a tiny portion to see how your cat reacts, and watch for any signs of digestive upset, such as diarrhea or vomiting.

Yogurt contains probiotics, which can be beneficial for a cat’s gut health, but it should not replace their regular cat food. It’s best to offer yogurt as an occasional treat and in moderation.

If you are unsure about your cat’s tolerance to dairy or any other human food, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before offering it to your cat to ensure it is safe and suitable for their individual health needs.

Carrots

Wait a moment – aren’t carrots meant for rabbits?

Well, surprisingly, many cats actually enjoy munching on carrots too. The good news is that carrots are entirely safe for cats to indulge in!

Carrots offer a good amount of moisture and dietary fiber, which are often lacking in feline diets. Treating your cat to some carrots can improve their digestive health, address litter box issues, and boost their energy levels.

While raw carrots are safe for cats, some prefer boiled or steamed carrots as they are easier to chew. Just like with other human foods, it’s essential to offer plain carrots and do so in moderation. This way, you can satisfy your cat’s taste buds while also meeting their dietary needs.

Cooked Grains

Whole grains aren’t just for humans; cats can enjoy them too! Plain-cooked oatmeal, couscous, millet, brown rice, and polenta make excellent and wholesome snack choices for your feline friend. These grains are high in protein and offer a texture and taste that cats seem to love.

Remember to cook the grains before offering them to your cat, as raw grains can be difficult for them to digest. Avoid using any seasonings, and if the grains are too large, consider mashing them up to make them more manageable for your cat to eat.

So, next time you’re enjoying a warm bowl of oatmeal or adding couscous to your salad, consider treating your furry companion to some whole grains as well!

Cat-Specific Treats

Cat-specific treats are specially formulated snacks designed to meet the nutritional needs of cats while providing a delicious reward. These treats are created with feline health in mind and are generally safe when given in moderation.

Cat treats come in various forms, such as crunchy treats, soft treats, freeze-dried options, dental treats, and more. They may contain ingredients like chicken, fish, turkey, or other meats, often fortified with vitamins and minerals essential for a cat’s well-being.

Cat-specific treats can serve multiple purposes, including training incentives, dental care, hairball control, or simply as an occasional way to bond with your cat. Always follow the recommended portion sizes on the packaging and avoid overfeeding, as treats should only complement your cat’s balanced diet, not replace it.

When choosing cat treats, ensure they are free from harmful additives, artificial flavors, and excessive sugars. It’s best to opt for reputable brands that prioritize feline health and consult with your veterinarian if you have specific concerns or dietary considerations for your cat.

Plain Rice

Plain rice can be a safe and bland option to feed your cat, especially when they are experiencing digestive issues or recovering from an upset stomach. Cooked plain rice is easily digestible and can help soothe your cat’s tummy.

If you plan to offer plain rice to your cat, make sure it is well-cooked and without any seasoning, additives, or sauces. Avoid using any spices, salt, butter, or oils, as these can be harmful to cats.

However, it’s important to note that plain rice should only be a temporary solution or occasional treat. Cats are obligate carnivores, and their primary diet should consist of animal-based protein. While plain rice can be helpful in certain situations, it should not replace their regular balanced diet.

If you are concerned about your cat’s health or dietary needs, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian to ensure you are providing the appropriate care and nutrition for your feline friend.Pumpkin

Hard Cheeses

You’ve likely heard that cats are lactose-intolerant, and the traditional image of a “cat with a bowl of milk” is not suitable for their health.

However, while it’s true that cats should avoid high-lactose foods like milk, hard and aged cheeses are an exception. These cheeses are typically low in lactose and are generally safe when given sparingly to cats.

Cheeses like Cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, Parmesan, and Asiago are well-tolerated by most cats’ digestive systems. Offering a thin slice or a small amount grated into your cat’s bowl on special occasions should be fine. Just be cautious not to do it too frequently, as excessive consumption may lead to stomach upset.

On the other hand, it’s essential to avoid soft cheeses such as mozzarella, Brie, feta, and goat cheese. Soft cheeses contain higher lactose levels and are likely to cause digestive issues for your cat.

So, remember to treat your feline friend with care, sticking to hard cheeses in moderation to keep their tummy happy and healthy!

Frequently Asked Question

Are there any human foods that are safe for cats to eat?

Yes, some human foods are safe for cats to eat in moderation. Examples include cooked lean meats like chicken or turkey, plain rice, certain vegetables like carrots and peas, and small portions of plain, cooked eggs.

Can cats eat fish?

Yes, cats can eat fish, but it should be cooked and free from any seasonings or additives. Small amounts of cooked salmon or tuna can be a treat for cats.

What about dairy products like milk and cheese?

Most adult cats are lactose-intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme to digest lactose properly. While hard cheeses in small amounts may be safe for some cats, milk and other dairy products are generally best avoided.

Are fruits safe for cats to eat?

Cats are obligate carnivores, and while some fruits like small portions of sliced apples or bananas may be safe in moderation, they are not a natural part of a cat’s diet and should be given sparingly.

Can cats have treats like yogurt or oatmeal?

While plain, unsweetened yogurt and cooked oatmeal may be safe in small amounts, they should only be given as occasional treats. It’s essential to consider a cat’s individual dietary needs and consult with a veterinarian if unsure.

Are there any vegetables that cats can eat?

Some cats may enjoy and tolerate vegetables like cooked carrots or green beans, but it’s essential to introduce them gradually and in small portions.

What human foods should I avoid giving to my cat?

Cats should avoid foods that are toxic to them, such as chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, and anything containing caffeine. Additionally, avoid high-sugar, salty, and fatty foods, as well as seasoned or spicy dishes.

Can I replace my cat’s regular food with human food?

No, human food should not replace a cat’s balanced and nutritionally complete cat food. While some human foods may be safe as occasional treats, a cat’s primary diet should consist of specially formulated cat food to meet their specific nutritional requirements. Always consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new foods into your cat’s diet.

Conclusion

While some human foods can be safe for cats to consume in moderation, it’s essential to be cautious and mindful of their specific dietary needs and limitations. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their diet primarily consists of animal-based protein, and their nutritional requirements differ from those of humans.

Safe human foods for cats include cooked lean meats like chicken and turkey, plain rice, certain vegetables like carrots and peas, and small amounts of plain, cooked eggs. Hard cheeses like cheddar and Swiss can also be given as treats occasionally.

However, it’s important to avoid foods that are toxic to cats, such as chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, and anything containing caffeine. Additionally, high-sugar, salty, fatty foods, and seasoned or spicy dishes should not be given to cats.

While some fruits and vegetables may be safe, they are not a natural part of a cat’s diet and should be offered sparingly.

Cat-specific treats, formulated to meet feline nutritional needs, are generally a safer option for rewarding your cat or providing them with additional nutrients.


Michael R

Michael R

I'm a publisher and editor at Cat Guide 101. I imagine that since you’re here, you likely own a cat — or two! — so helping you better understand them is my aim. I'd like to invite you to check out our about page to learn more about the Cat Guide 101 story.

Please Write Your Comments