What Human Food Can Cats Eat? [And What Food to Avoid]

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Cats are most vulnerable when they eat because they are so concentrated on their food that they cannot focus on their surroundings at the same time. They believe it is the same for us humans, so when your cat watches you eat, it may be guarding you against potential hazards and wanting you to feel safe. But the most common reason is that your cat wants your food!

Should you feed your cat human food? And what human food can cats eat? If you can’t resist the urge to share your food with your fluffy friend, stay here and read more.

Can Cats Eat Human Food?

Before commercial cat food was invented, cats survived eating leftovers of human food, rodents, and birds, for thousands of years. Back in the day, people believed cats could handle their diet and nutrition by themselves. So it’s safe to say that, YES, cats CAN eat human food.

DID YOU KNOW: The first dry commercial pet food was invented in 1860 by James Spratt. Later on, in the 1990s, wet pet food was produced and sold in cans.

What Human Food Can Cats Eat?

Now that you know that it is safe to share your meal with your cat, let’s see what nutritious value every type of food offers, and what people’s food can cats eat.

Vegetables

Let’s start by saying that cats are not vegetarians. But including vegetables in a cat’s diet can contribute to its health because of fibers, water, and vitamins. Cats, like humans, cannot digest plant cell walls. That’s why vegetables should be cooked (preferably steamed). Cucumbers, peas, carrots, broccoli, and zucchini are the best vegetables for cats:

  • Cucumber

Besides vitamins C and K, magnesium, and potassium, cucumbers contain molybdenum which improves a cat’s metabolism. The tremendous amount of water makes cucumbers the best human food for overweight cats. Before serving, make sure that you peel it and chop it into small pieces.

  • Peas

A great source of vitamins (A, B1, B6, C, and K), minerals, fibers, and proteins. These vegetables are regularly included in commercial cat food too. Can help strengthen your cat’s muscles, nerves, skin and fur, eyesight, bone health, immune system, and digestive system. It should be cooked before serving.

  • Carrots

A tiny amount of cooked carrot is food cats can eat. Carrots contain a lot of beta-carotene, an antioxidant from which they derive their bright orange color. The beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A, which benefits the cat’s eyesight, skin and fur, muscles, and nerves. To minimize the risk of choking, boil the carrots before feeding them to your cat, then cut them up into tiny, easy-to-digest pieces.

  • Broccoli

Broccoli is full of nutrients such as Vitamin C and carotenoids. It is also high in fiber and antioxidants. These healthy nutrients combine to make it one of the most nutritious veggies you can give your cat. It is best served steamed, blanched, or boiled for easy digestion.

  • Zucchini

Present in many commercial cat food brands, zucchini is a safe human food for cats. It contains a good amount of potassium and magnesium. You can give it to your cat raw or cooked. Make sure it is peeled and chopped into small pieces.

Fruit

Cat’s don’t have sweet taste receptors, and that’s why they are usually not interested in sweet fruits. That said, some fruits contain antioxidants, flavonoids, fibers, and vitamins A, C, K, and E and should be included in a cat’s diet. To reduce the risk of choking, chop each fruit into bite-size parts before serving it to your cat. The following fruits are healthy human food that is also good for cats:

  • Bananas

From all the “good stuff” bananas contain (potassium, magnesium, fibers, calcium, etc.), fibers are the only nutrient that can be processed by a cat’s digestive system. That’s because cats don’t have the enzymes needed to digest plant-based food. Giving a few banana slices now and then won’t harm your cat. Don’t give your cat more than that because bananas are too rich in carbohydrates.

  • Watermelon

This fruit contains a lot of water and a huge amount of carbohydrates. Has small nutritional value for cats. The water can positively affect the water balance in your cat’s system. It can be a refreshing treat during summer, and the same goes for other melons, cantaloupe, and honeydew. If your cat has diabetes, watermelon is not among the food cats can eat in that condition.

  • Strawberries

These are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. A small amount of fresh, frozen, or blended strawberries can boost your cat’s immune system.

  • Pineapple

This tropical fruit has a lot of vitamins (A, B6, folate, C) and minerals, but it also contains a lot of sugar. So again, only small amounts of pineapple should be served. Choose fresh pineapple rather than canned. Canned food has a significantly bigger amount of sugar.

  • Blueberries

They are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, which protect cells from oxidative stress and lower the incidence of UTIs. It’s recommended to give tiny amounts of this human food as a treat for cats.

  • Apples

Should be fed very seldom and in moderation. They contain antioxidants, fibers, and vitamins. Before serving to your cat, remove the stems, leaves, and seeds since they can be deadly to cats because they contain cyanide.

Meat

Cats are carnivores. That means that they need plenty of animal protein to be healthy. A cat’s diet should be mainly meat. Meat protein supports the cat’s heart, reproductive system, and vision. So, what type of human food can cats eat when it comes to meat products?

  • Poultry (Chicken, Turkey, and Duck)

Cats can get a lot of protein from poultry. Rather than organ meat, the majority of the protein should come from skeletal muscle, such as meat from the breast and thighs. Lean meat, such as chicken and turkey breast, is the best source of calories for cats. Duck meat is also good, but it should be fed with caution because it contains a lot of fat. Always be sure that the meat is cooked at 165 Fahrenheit.

  • Beef

Beef is an excellent choice of meat for cats. Ground beef is one of the human foods cats can eat. It’s affordable, simple to cook, and easy for digesting. Organ meat can be included in a cat’s diet but in tiny portions. Beef should be cooked before giving it to your cat. Beef must be cooked at a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and ground beef should be cooked at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Pork

Pork meat is a proper alternative to chicken and beef for cat food. Many commercial cat foods contain pork. Pork should be given to cats seldom, mainly as a treat, not as a whole meal. You should be careful because many cats are allergic to it.

  • Lamb and Veal

Lamb and veal are among other human foods cats can eat. They should be given to your cat in small portions because of the fat they contain. The other issue with lamb is that it is pricier than other meats.

  • Fish

Fish meat is high in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. You should give it to your cat cooked, sliced into tiny pieces, and without any spices. Choose fresh-caught fish over canned, and be sure to thoroughly remove the backbone and bones. Canned tuna and salmon contain more salt than is recommended, so maybe they are not particularly safe human food for cats.

TIP: If your pet is a big-sized breed of cat (such as a Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Persian, etc.), make sure their diet contains more meat protein.

Key Takeaways

Cats don’t have sweet taste receptors, and that’s why some cats are not interested in food that tastes sweet.
You shouldn’t give milk to your cat, because many adult cats are lactose intolerant.
Onion, garlic, and chives can cause anemia in cats.
Cucumber, watermelon, yogurt, apples, bananas, and strawberries are safe and popular cat treats.
Raw meat, fish, and eggs are some of the most toxic foods you can give to your cat.

Dairy Products

Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t give milk to your cat. Most cats are lactose intolerant, but we will get back to that later on. Although milk should be avoided, some dairy products are safe for your fluffy friend:

  • Yogurt – rich in fat and proteins, yogurt is another healthy human food suitable for cats that can boost your cat’s immune system and ease diarrhea.
  • Cheese – cheeses such as cheddar, gouda, and cottage cheese are safe if given occasionally as a treat.
  • Ice cream – although it doesn’t have nutritious value, ice cream can be a nice treat for your cat, especially on hot summer days. Make sure that you don’t give too much of it because of the sugar content.

Grains

Carbohydrates are not required in a cat’s diet. But unrefined whole grains and wheat cereals contain vitamins, fiber, and iron that can be beneficial for your cat. However, they should be served as a treat rather than a regular meal, because your cat can get fat. Chunky cats are cute but it’s not healthy for them. What other human food is good for cats? There are a few options:

  • Oats – include a lot of iron and fiber and are beneficial for your cat’s overall health. Just like for humans, oats are good for treating your cat’s skin rashes and inflammations.
  • Brown rice – you can give well-cooked brown rice to your cat if it has some digestive problems, like stomach pains or diarrhea.
  • Corn – due to the significant amount of fiber, corn is great for gut health and may help treat obesity, diabetes, diarrhea, constipation, and hairballs.

Eggs

From the various types of people food for cats, eggs are an excellent source of protein that cats need in their diet. Especially the whites. The yolk contains fat, so it’s best to avoid giving the yolk. Serve the egg fully cooked. The best option is a boiled egg, but you can also give your cat scrambled eggs cooked without any oil or seasoning.

DID YOU KNOW: 59.5% of the cats in the US are overweight!

When Feeding Cats, Stay Away From These Foods

As a cat mom or dad, all you wanna do is spoil your kitty. But remember, that one of the main factors that can prolong your cat’s lifespan is a healthy diet. We learned what kind of human food cats can eat, now let’s see which foods they shouldn’t. If you want your cat to stay healthy and active for many years, don’t give it the following human foods:

Milk

As we mentioned before, some cats are lactose intolerant, so you shouldn’t give milk unless you wanna clean vomit from your favorite carpet. Cow milk especially is a no-no food for adult cats and kittens. If you have a tiny kitten, it’s better to use kitten-specific milk formulas instead of cow’s milk. In fact, any human food for kittens should be avoided in the first 4-5 weeks of their life.

Chocolate

As cats can’t taste sweets, what’s the point of giving them chocolate? Plus, chocolate is made from cacao seeds that contain methylxanthines, naturally occurring chemicals present in many plants. Theobromine and caffeine are two methylxanthines that are highly poisonous to cats. Sorry cats, no chocolate.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives

Onions can weaken a cat’s red blood cells, causing weakness, shortness of breath, and anemia. Garlic is more powerful and degenerative than onion, so it is a human food for cats that must be avoided at all costs. Do not give onions, garlic, or chives to your cat in any form, whether powdered, cooked, raw, or dried.

Coffee and Tea

Caffeine found in coffee and in some teas can cause anxiety, fast breathing, heart palpitations, and muscular tremors. Large doses of caffeine can be fatal for cats.

Alcohol

Don’t give your cat even a tiny amount of beer, wine, or whisky, as it can be lethal.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes are not human food safe for cats. Recently, a new toxic ingredient was discovered in grapes that can lead to kidney failure in cats.

Raw Meat, Fish, and Eggs

Bacterias like salmonella or E. coli that cause food poisoning may be found in raw meat and raw fish, as well as raw eggs. Also, an enzyme in uncooked fish degrades thiamine, a crucial B vitamin for your cat. Thiamine deficiency can cause serious neurological disorders, including seizures and coma.

The Liver-Consuming

The liver can often cause vitamin A toxicity that can seriously harm your cat. It affects bone health, leading to osteoporosis, deformed bone growth, and in severe cases, death.

Canned Tuna

It’s not human food that’s safe for cats. It contains more salt than a cat needs. It doesn’t have any nutrient value, and excessive consumption can lead to mercury poisoning.

Uncooked Potatoes

There is a small list of raw foods you can give to your cat. Potatoes are not on that list. Uncooked green potatoes can lead to heart problems, hallucinations, and paralysis in cats.

Human Medicine

Medication is digested differently by pets compared to humans. Even seemingly innocuous over-the-counter or natural drugs can be fatal to pets. So always consult a vet before giving human medications such as Benadryl to your cat.

BONUS TIP: Be aware that health issues resulting from giving your cat self-prescribed medication or food that can lead to food poisoning are not covered in the cat’s health insurance.

DID YOU KNOW: If offered unpalatable food, cats will not only refuse the food, they can even starve themselves.

Let’s not forget that cats are natural hunters, so they always search for food in their surroundings. We discussed what food cats can eat, so make sure you put the human food that’s bad for cats out of their reach because they are most likely gonna eat it if they can find it.

Also, be careful about the amount of food you give your cat. Whether you decide to feed your cat with commercial food, home-cooked food, or a little bit of both, make sure that your cat receives the required amount of protein, fibers, and fat.

FAQ

What can I feed my cat if I run out of food?

Any type of cooked meat can do the job – chicken, beef, lamb, or fish. Chicken is one of the best choices for feeding your cat. Cooked veggies such as carrots, peas, cucumber, and broccoli are great for your cat too. You can also give your cat brown rice, oats, yogurt, cheese, blueberries, apples, and cooked eggs as occasional treats.

Can cats eat scrambled eggs?

Eggs are rich in proteins, so they will complement your cat’s diet. You should never give your cat a raw egg, but any kind of cooked egg is safe. Scrambled eggs can be given if they are cooked without oil and seasoning.

What human food can cats not eat?

Certain foods can harm your cat’s health. Don’t give your cat: chocolate, alcohol, coffee, liver, canned tuna, onions, garlic, milk, grapes, raisins, raw meat, fish, or eggs. Talk to your veterinarian if you’re still unsure about what human food can cats eat.

Do neutered cats need special food?

Because of the anesthetics, your neutered cat will need lighter meals rich in protein, such as fish and chicken, immediately after the operation. The meals should be smaller, approximately half the usual served portion. After neutering, your cat’s appetite will increase, so be strict about the amount of food you give because, at this period, the cat can quickly become overweight.

ABOUT AUTHOR

When she couldn’t decide between being a nurse, a psychotherapist, and a financial genius, Ofelia decided to do all three. Her interests run far and wide, and she loves researching about everything you get to read on our website. Credit cards or top-notch software, she’s here to tell it all like it is.

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