Some cats are more than happy to steal snacks off the counter and take bites off your fork. Their big, innocent eyes make it hard to say no, but it’s important to remember that cats and humans have very different dietary needs. In fact, some of the foods you regularly find in your kitchen are seriously toxic to cats. A few bites could lead to an upset stomach, or it could end with a trip to the vet and a very scary veterinary emergency.
Every cat person needs to know which foods are dangerous when it comes to sharing with feline friends. Everything on this list has potential to harm your cat, so keep an eye on your hungry feline.
Chocolate and Caffeine
We’ll start with the obvious. You probably already know that dogs can’t have chocolate, and that same rule applies to cats. Both the theobromine and caffeine found in chocolate affect a cat’s central nervous system and heart muscles. And because cats typically weight between 5 and 10 pounds, it only takes a small bite of chocolate or a few laps of your morning coffee to cause problems. Remember that dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the most dangerous, and things like caffeine pills and caffeinated energy drinks are just as bad.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins, whether they’re fresh or cooked, can cause kidney failure in cats. And because kidney issues are already common in cats, it’s important to keep this fruit away from your cat. A cat is probably more likely to bat a grape across the floor than they are to take a bite, but the rule also applies to raisins that are found in things like cookies, granola bars, and trail mix.
It’s time to put away that idyllic picture of a cat peacefully lapping up a saucer of milk. What that picture doesn’t show is the messy aftermath caused by the cat’s natural lactose intolerance. Prestige Animal Hospital reminds cat owners that most of our feline friends are lactose intolerant and are not properly equipped to digest milk and other dairy products. If they drink or eat too much dairy, they’re likely to suffer from stomach upset and diarrhea. The problem is, cats don’t know they’re lactose intolerant. They’ll happily accept your saucer of milk, but you’ll both regret that decision later.
Lemons, limes, and oranges contain something called psoralens that can cause serious indigestion and digestive upset for cats. Thankfully, the taste is usually enough to deter most pets. Every now and then, however, your cat’s curiosity could get the best of them. Even if they’re not likely to take a bite out of a fresh lemon wedge, the citrus juice in certain drinks and foods can often be enough to cause health problems.
Small amounts of coconut will most likely be okay for your cat to consume. Coconut milk, however, should never be given to cats as a non-dairy alternative. It contains specific oils that cause stomach trouble, including diarrhea. Fresh coconut flesh and coconut water are also bad ideas. Coconut water contains a high amount of potassium, which is not part of your cat’s ideal diet.
Not every kind of nut is toxic to cats, but until scientists know more, it’s best for your feline to avoid them altogether. Macadamia nuts have been proven to cause things like lethargy and vomiting in cats and dogs. Walnuts, pecans, and almonds also contain oils that are known to be harmful to pets. Not only do you need to keep your can of mixed nuts to yourself, remember that nut butters and other foods containing nutty ingredients are also off-limits to your cat.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the foods that are toxic to cats. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always best to assume the worst and not allow your cat to take a bite. Stick to the food and treats that are specifically formulated to meet your cat’s nutritional needs. And if you ever suspect your cat ate something they shouldn’t, don’t hesitate to call the vet. Catching it early could save your cat’s life.