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Toxic Foods: What Your Cat Should Never Eat

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Whitney has extensive domestic animal husbandry experience and has cared for various species.

Don't feed your cat these toxic foods!

Don't feed your cat these toxic foods!

Dangerous Foods for Cats

Cats just can't eat everything that we do, and it can be hard to figure out what is safe without having a list of dangerous foods. Well, below, you'll find a list of foods and drinks that you should not let your cat have. Keep in mind moderation is the ideal key, but in most cases, it's safer to just avoid letting your cat get into the tuna, even though he loves his tuna flavored cat food.

Just remember that even if your cat is a picky eater and he loves to eat the fat trimmings from your meat, that doesn't mean that it is good for him to eat. It is important that you know what you shouldn't feed your cat, so that you know what to watch out for.

Make sure everyone in the house is aware of what not to feed that cat.

What Not to Feed the Cat

  • Alcohol: Never feed your cat any drink that contains alcohol, whether that's beer, wine, liquor, or even foods (such as the chocolates with a drop of champagne in them). Alcohol will affect your cat's brain and liver the same way it'll affect yours, but it'll take much less to do its damage. You'll find that just two teaspoons of whiskey can put a five-pound cat in a coma, and if you give the same cat three total teaspoons, it could kill him.
  • Candy and Gum: Anything that is sweetened with xylitol should not be given to your cat. This can include anything from candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and even some diet foods. The xylitol can cause the body to increase the insulin that's circulating in the body, which can cause the cat's blood sugar to drop, which can lead to liver failure. Watch for vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination—you may also notice seizures, as well. It only takes a matter of days for liver failure to set in.
  • Chocolate: Most cats won't eat chocolate on their own anyway, so it's usually not a problem, but that doesn't mean that you should tempt your cat or offer it at all. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate contains the most theobromine, so definitely keep it as far away from your cat as you can. Chocolate can cause abnormal heart palpitations, tremors, seizures, and even death.
  • Coffee, Tea, and Other Caffeine: In large enough amounts, caffeine can be fatal. You want to watch out for restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and bleeding, as these are the basic signs of caffeine poisoning. You'll find that even coffee and tea beans and grinds can cause health problems for your cat. It's best to avoid giving your cat anything with caffeine, which can include cocoa, chocolate, soda, energy drinks, and even some medicines.
  • Dog Food; A few bits and kibbles of dog food aren't going to hurt your cat, but you just can't use dog food as a substitute food for cat food. Dog food is formulated for dogs and doesn't meet the standard nutritional needs for cats. If you feed your cat a steady diet of dog food, he's going to be very malnourished.
  • Fat Trimmings and Bones: Table scraps can contain fat and meat that has been trimmed off the bones, both of which are dangerous for cats to eat. The fat, whether cooked or uncooked, can cause pancreatitis. The cat can choke on cooked bones; the bone can also splinter, causing lacerations or an obstruction in the digestive tract.
Keep sweets and sugar away from your kitty!

Keep sweets and sugar away from your kitty!

  • Grapes and Raisins: So many people (myself included) have given their pet a grape or raisin on occasion, but it's not a good idea (and as soon as I found out, I stopped, but that's just me). Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in cats. Even just a few can even kill your cat. You want to watch for vomiting and hyperactivity as early signs of kidney complications. You may find that your cat has never shown any signs of problems, but it's just best to avoid giving your cat any to prevent any issues.
  • Human Medicine: You don't want to give your cat any medications that you were prescribed or any medications that you picked up over-the-counter. Just because you have a cold and so does your cat, that doesn't mean that you both need the same medications, much less the same dosage. If your cat sneaks a pill from the counter, you want to call your vet or an emergency vet as soon as possible. Never self medicate your cat—unless you've already called the vet to ask if it was ok. On a side note, you'll find medications that contain acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be deadly to your cat, so don't ever give anything to your cat that contains either ingredient.
  • Liver: Liver can be healthy for your cat only if you offer it in small portions. Too much liver can cause a Vitamin A deficiency, which can affect your cat's bones. Watch for bone deformities, bone growth on the elbows and spine, and signs of osteoporosis. A vitamin A deficiency can cause death if it's not recognized early.
  • Milk and Other Dairy Products: But, a small saucer of milk or a slice of cheese can really affect a kitten's undeveloped digestive system. You'll find that even most adult cats just can't digest dairy. The dairy will upset their digestive system because it's just not designed to process dairy foods. You'll find that some cats will experience diarrhea or even allergic reactions after eating dairy. We've all seen it all throughout our lives—cats love milk.
You want to be cautious when giving your cat raw fish or meat.

You want to be cautious when giving your cat raw fish or meat.

  • Onions, Garlic, and Chives: No matter how it's cooked, prepared, or processed, onions break down the red blood cells, which can lead to anemia. This is true for raw onions and even onion powder. Garlic and chives can cause gastrointestinal issues with your cat, so it's best to avoid all three. There's no need to season your cat's food anyway.
  • Raw Eggs: Giving your cat raw eggs is potentially offering Salmonella or E. coli in his bowl. Plus, there's an enzyme in raw eggs that can interfere with the body's absorption of the B vitamin biotin, which can cause skin problems with your cat's coat.
  • Raw Meat and Fish: Raw meat and raw fish, like raw eggs, can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning. In addition, an enzyme in raw fish destroys thiamine, which is an essential B vitamin for your cat. A lack of thiamine can cause serious neurological problems and lead to convulsions and coma. Although a raw diet can be one of the more healthier diets for cats, you want to be quite cautious of offering a sole raw diet.
  • Sugary Foods and Drinks: If you offer too many sugary foods and drinks, your cat can potentially suffer from obesity, diabetes, and dental problems. It's best that you just don't offer any sugary foods.
  • Tuna: Even though your cat may love tuna, it's just not the best idea to offer it all the time. If you offer tons of tuna, your cat can become malnourished. It just won't have all of the nutrients that your cat needs for a balanced diet. Once in a while is ok, but don't make it a daily habit by any means.
  • Yeast Dough: Raw yeast dough needs to rise before it's cooked, so if your cat eats any of the dough, it will swell in his stomach, which can cause severe pain, as the abdomen fills and stretched. Plus, as yeast ferments, it produced alcohol, which can cause alcohol poisoning.

Prevention Is Key

Just remember that if it's in your pantry, refrigerator, or on your cabinets, it's probably not ideal to give to your cat. Make sure that your cat can't get into the baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and other spices because they're highly toxic for cats. Make sure to keep cabinets and pantry doors closed. Also, keep lids on your spices and containers.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Kitty on August 04, 2020:


this person on May 22, 2020:

my cat just ate 11 raisins and would have died if we didn't get his stomach pumped. so never give a cat raisins or grapes, if somehow they eat a few take your cat to the vet because they can die after having just one! symptoms are throwing up, sleepiness, lack of apatite, if your cat eats it they may get kidney failure and die.

on May 21, 2020:

Cheez-it crackers??

Philipp on July 25, 2018:

My Cat eaten some salsa is that bad mean what is the side effects I need to know don't want my little buddies getting or hurt anything I moved so he reminds me of One of my friends and then when my friend reminds me of everyone

Emlou07 on December 27, 2017:

When my brother told me that raw squid paralyzes cats. I thought he was trying to trick me

enya on July 02, 2017:

i hear that raw squid paralyzes cats. It can also make them dizzy and/or have vertigo

Lilly on March 05, 2017:

Is it ok if my cat ate chicken chips?

Chachaboy on August 09, 2013:

I'm 62 now. I've had cats all my life. From my experience, cats don't eat what they don't like and what's not good for them. We just lost our Calico of 23 years. I never had a list of things not to feed her. She loved table scraps - ate some things, didn't eat others. She liked little pieces of chocolate - I like dark chocolate. She would eat 2 or 3 tiny pieces, like she was savoring them, and she wouldn't eat anymore. She even ate an occasional piece of raw onion I would toss at her for fun. She loved raw fish, but only liked it fresh - ie., ones I just caught and was cleaning. If it sat more than a day or two in the fridge, she wouldn't eat it. She loved liver - but only raw. So you can make a business out of telling people what not to feed your cat, and promote special cat food, but I'm not buying it. My cat liked everything - dry cat food, Fancy Feasts in a can, human food - everything. And, she lived well beyond 20 years. Common sense will tell you that even if you ate a strictly tuna diiet, there will soon be something wrong with your health as well. If you ate just raw liver every day for a month, you probably won't feel well. Love your cat, play with your cat, don't over feed your cat, make sure she gets plenty of exercise and sun, and don't get hung up on what you feed her. She knows what she likes.

Cindy on April 30, 2013:

I have 3 months old Persian kitten and I give him royal canin 32 everyday and today I just gave him a boiled egg yolk is it ok?

Marilyn Alexander from Vancouver, Canada on October 13, 2012:

Thanks Whitney05 for a well-written and comprehensive hub. I have LOVED my cats and wen to great pains NOT to feed them things that could harm them - including tuna. KC (my beautiful cat) ate tuna but not very often. It was a treat.

I would like to link this hub to my hub on Chocolate where a wrote a note on NOT feeding cats, dogs and horses any chocolate.

Voted up and awesome.

thefinalword on March 02, 2012:

Thanks for your hub. I'm feeding raw and have good results to date. I'm careful about bacteria and feeding habits.

shawna on February 26, 2012:

Great information you have listed! what i keep thinking about though is that a lot of people say, since cats feed on certain things in the wild, for example mice..then they automatically think it is good or okay for them. You cant be too sure about that conclusion because just humans a long time ago were forced to hunt for food, we didn't have processed food or anything like doctors around to regulate and find out what is healthy for our bodies. So, now look at cats. They are just like humans centuries ago hunting. Just because they eat stuff in the wild doesn't mean it is healthy for them. Look at how long certain cats live in the wild. So, now that vets are around to study what is healthy for their little bodies, im sure they are right about their findings, that raw meat is not good all the time and other certain foods people think is okay just because its naturally evident about them.

formosangirl from Los Angeles on January 01, 2012:

Great hub. I will send this to my husband. I rarely give my 12 year old cat any human food. However, she is nuts about the residuals from my fruit yogurt containers. I noticed that she does not like ice cream as much and has a disgusting look trying to get it off her tongue. Voted up.

JANINAMARIE from New York on December 31, 2011:

This is all very enlightening! I didn't know about the fat trimmings causing pancreatitis! I did learn recently about the grapes....

Luv3cats on August 26, 2011:

I ate some grapes one day andI dropped a large size white grape on the floor and did not miss it. The next day, my Maine Coon started appearing to be ill. Normally he is quite active, and I could tll he was "off" something not right with him. I took him to our vet and he could not find a reason why Mickey was sick. He xrayed his stomach and there appeared to be little bits of "items/objects" in in stomach. The vet asked, has he chewed on anything, eaten string......I could think of nothing. I brought Mickey home and he appeared okay the next day. I moved my recliner that day and found a large grape which half had been chewed away. Mickey had eaten part of that grape and made him sick. I looked online and found grapes could be toxic to cats. I was surprised such a small amount of grape would hurt him, but it did.

catsong54 from Pocono Mountains, PA on July 14, 2011:

Thanks for comments such as ingredients are especially useful. I do feed my cats raw chicken now and then, organic is the best, but if you worry about works or other you can boil it a couple seconds. I only heard raw chicken bones were good, not the rest.

Nanoue on May 08, 2011:

I had a cat that ran wild on the farm, he lived for about 20 years old and had never seen a vet, with that being said, the cat I have now is 11 years old and was on MeowMix cat food and some tuna (the one for humans)for most life, a few months ago he was diagnosed with diabetes, MeowMix has been gone for 3 months now.I now give raw steak and some of the more expensive cat foods and he seems to be doing a lot better, and has lost some weight. Judging from what you're saying above not to give your cat leave very little for them to eat.

BARISTA on May 07, 2011:

I cannot believe that we have to put up with all the crap food to feed our cats and dogs that is currently on the market. It is hard to get substantiated advice. We have spent £s on our dogs and cats in vets fees. Yet it appears they do not wish to or want to pass on good advice. What's the problem? However, one thing that occurs to me re cats - our cats kill mice all the time. Is that not raw meat the bits they eat? So what is the fuss about raw meat please? I would have thought as long as it is fresh and bought as you would eat then perhaps this is more healthy for them. That is what they would eat in the wild. The reason our animals I believe are suffering from things like diabetes, the human disease is because we are feeding them human crap. Our food is a disgrace. Chicken imported from Holland and Germany which has been pumped full of filler prepared in a huge composting machine. We produce enough chicken here for our own use as we do lamb, but it is exported. We send out good and get back crap. Until you are all ready to campaign for good food which is home produced our animals are just a sympton of what is already happending with our children. Foods with hidden sugar and chemicals that we do not have a clue about. Trans-fatty acids are banned in US, why is it in most of our foods? Next time your doctor says about your health, ask him to tell the powers that be to sort out our food supplies. The NHS would save a fortune. Back to cats - Hills, Science Plan, is recommended by Vets. Is it any good?? Please help.

mythbuster from Utopia, Oz, You Decide on October 29, 2010:

OhNO... my cat gets into my coffee and laps it up lol If I dash to answer the phone, he will get up on my desk and help himself to my coffee... I will start using my travel mug from now on.

Adela on September 28, 2010:

i am not sure about all the products you have underlined. some sites praise raw meat. it makes sense to me as their sisters in the wild don't have any cooked meal. i agree with all the bad stuff the manufactures add to the cat food, canned or dry. after my loved fourteen years old cat died last week, i feel like i have to change the feeding habits for the cat left. in my opinion the vets know about the bad stuff in the cat food but let it be and have clients.

RGNestle from Seattle on May 27, 2010:

I found out that even low quality cat foods can make a cat sick. My cat, Babushka, died of aggressive colon cancer which metastasized and spread throughout her body.

The culprit seems to have been the cheap, apparently filler filled, cat food which I had been forced to buy for her.

I wish an article like yours had been around in 2007 so I could have possibly saved her. At least I still have the pictures and memories. She was great.

I hope you keep writing these wonderfully informative Hubs! Thanks!

Rachel B. on March 30, 2010:

I am a firm believer that you shouldn't feed your cat human food. The Sciene Diet guide I was given when I adopted my cat has a nifty little chart that puts the whole "To Feed My Cat Human Food or Not To Feed My Cat Human Food" question into perspective. According to the guide, 1 oz of cheese fed to your cat is equal to 3.5 hamburgers to a human. There are other examples, but it really does open your eyes to how bad human food can be for your furry pal.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on February 03, 2010:

As long as the diet is kept balanced and the pet's health is monitored, a Raw diet is actually quite healthy. When feeding raw, one ensures that there are no fillers in the food and that the pet is getting the most out of the vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in the meats. But, again if takes some monitoring and a good bit of work, which is why it's sometimes better to just find a super high quality cat food that contains no fillers, like EVO or Innova.

Faye Constantino from Florida on February 02, 2010:

This was very informative, especially the other sites in the comments as I am unemployed and was trying to find a way to make cat food at home. I thought raw was BAD, although I guess that is what they would eat if they were wild. I have a cat alegic to Salmon of all things, so have to be careful with my purchases.

Annalisa from Pennsylvania on February 01, 2010:

Thanks for the tips! I have 4 wonderful felines living with me,and I really enjoyed reading this.

stephensaldana from Chicago on January 30, 2010:

The list provided is useful. The various precautions for instance don’t feed your cat any kind of wine, sugary substance, dog food and garlic etc. is highly fruitful. Cat loves milk and all dairy products. The whole hub is meticulously formatted and presentation is of par excellence. Thanks a lot for providing such a great hub.

wishingstation on January 29, 2010:

Brilliant Hub, Nice to know that someone cares.I have 2 10 year old Chinchilla Persians who are only allowed to eat a vet's brand of exclusive food for Hypersensitive cats. No milk, red meat, fish and all the food that you list too. I feel terribly sorry for them. The emercemcy medication is on permanent standby for when the upset tummy starts. I wander if thas has to do with their breed?

girly_girl09 on January 27, 2010:

Great hub. My cat is obsessed with all sorts of weird foods (some on this list) I'll now know to avoid these!

HealthyHanna from Utah on January 27, 2010:

Good list. It is hard not to give my cat samples of the things I am eating---he loves it...and friends and family think it is funny.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 26, 2010:

Are they eating out of the same bowl? Could it be that the one cat is eating more of the food, leaving less for the smaller cat?

It's highly possible the one is just built to be a bigger cat and the other built to be thinner. Like people.

Earthbeat on January 26, 2010:

Whitney, thanks so much for this list. I have two cats, Misty and Newby, and though I don't feed them anything other than cat food, I do wonder what might happen if they taste tested other foods.

What does concern me more than what they eat is how much they consume. Misty has been spayed, and seems to plump up without trying. On the other hand, Newby has been a skinny cat since I first discovered her one cold evening sitting on my car's engine block. I think she should put on some weight, yet she seems quite healthy, and keeps Misty in shape through their morning sparring sessions in the living room.

I look forward to reading more of your Hubs.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 26, 2010:

Pamela, you're definitely right and I have a similar list (without the health complications) as a part of another hub about dogs. It's somewhere.

Lana, it's a gamble. Raw can be fed safely, but there are always things that you should consider when feeding raw excessively. Squid on occasion may be ok. Just watch for signs of health problems that may be associated.

Lana Helmy on January 25, 2010:

Good hub. I adore my cat. Some of the information i didn't know, so it was useful to me. I'm not sure about raw meats though...My cat loooves squid, he is going crazy when smells it. He is about 10 years old, and thank God healthy:o)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 25, 2010:

Whitney, that's a good list and much of that is true for dogs also. My cat wants to smell everything but he does not even want to eat anything but his cat food. I use a high quality can food because I want him to live a long healthy life.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 25, 2010:

Yea, it's the second top brand. The boutique I buy it from told me the other brand, but she doesn't carry it bc there's not a demand. Evo actually has about a 43% protein, but it will vary on which flavors. Yes, balance is the key. One just has to realized there are potential problems with everything, and one must weigh the pros and cons, as well as watch for the problems if decided to go for it.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on January 25, 2010:

Yes, you are right in that. EVO wasn't the most expensive brand. There was another one, but I can't remember the name of it right now but it was like 75% protein. EVO is only 30-35%. Hamburger is what my cats love and so does my dog. Funny that my dog won't eat the chicken, but will the hamburger and beef but my cats will play with the beef cubes and not eat them. I have finicky eaters. They both love chicken livers raw with all the blood. I don't get that very often. For some reason the stoes only sell the tubs of chicken livers on occasion and not thrugh out the year. I love chicken livers too--so they only get a wee bit when I do get it. Balanced is best and we both agree with that.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 25, 2010:

EVO is quite expensive, but it's definitely one of the best. It's what I use for my dog, and will use when I get another cat (right now, no cats). I will also be switching to a part BARF/part EVO diet when I move out. I think that BARF is one of the best ways to go, but I want to make sure that my pets get a full balanced diet. Plus, I know that sometimes, it'll be plain easier to just scoop the kibble into the bowl.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on January 25, 2010:

Yes, I used EVO for a while until my budget couldn't handle it anymore. I also found that it was cheaper and better to feed raw on occasion. I have 5 indoor/outdoor cats and 6 outdoor strays that come to feed at my house. If I had one or two cats that would be perfect, but I am still trying to find a way to handle the cost of feeding so many cats. I understand where you are coming from now. Thank's for clearing that up.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 25, 2010:

I actually have a few hubs on the BARF diet. The above is still a consideration that you have to keep in mind. I am very pro BARF, as long as it's done properly, and do agree that raw bones are better than cooked, as once cooked they become brittle, which is why it does say cooked bones.

Also, keep in mind the states 'can' and 'potential' which means it may or may not happen, especially in regards to raw...

Again, I'm pro BARF diets. Please check out the hubs that I do have on them. I believe I have 2 or 3. (I figured someone would jump my case about listing raw meats and bones... Guess I should have stated to check out my BARF hubs, they do tell the benefits, but there are always potential downfalls if the BARF diet isn't offered properly.)

Also, as for corn and fillers. There are dry cat kibble that do not contain either. EVO is one of those brands. Check them out. They're essentially a raw diet in a simple, kibble form.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on January 25, 2010:

Not all of the above is true. RAW bones, like chicken bones, wings and thigh protions are OK, just not the cooked ones. Cooked bones get brittle, but Raw is the best for any animal. You should check in with the BARF Diet and the Myths of RAW Feeding sites and re-vamp this hub. You have lots that is true, but just not the RAW feeding. If you look at most of the lower cost cat foods the first three ingredients you see are CORN. I don't mean to be rude, but when have you seen any cat go into a corn field and munch out on corn.