Layne is an animal lover and grew up in a household full of rescued critters. She is a registered veterinary technician.
What Human Foods Are Safe for Cats?
Cats can actually eat a variety of human foods including fruits and vegetables. Although cats are often noted as picky eaters, offering some variety and healthy treats can really expand their palette and their nutrition.
Cats are categorized as obligate carnivores, meaning, they need a high quantity of meat and protein in their diet in order to be healthy. They should not be on vegetarian or vegan diets—these diets lack taurine which is essentially for keeping your cat healthy. Taurine can only be found in animal protein.
Although your cat must consume a carnivorous diet, you can make sure to introduce many colorful foods into their daily regimen, just remember to always do so in moderation. In addition, check with your veterinarian first. It is especially important if your cat has any known health conditions, as dense, nutritional foods can compromise organs and the body if your cat has preexisting conditions.
What Vegetables Can Cats Eat?
The following vegetables are safe to offer your cat on occasion and in small quantities.
Your cat might enjoy a small serving of steamed, chopped asparagus once in a while. Make sure it is cooked and cooled. Do note, however, that because asparagus has a high alkaline profile, you might be best skipping it, especially if your cat has urinary issues. In addition, asparagus is rich in potassium and can lead to crystal formation and urinary tract blockages in cats with a history of such problems (this is especially true of neutered male cats).
Broccoli is considered non-toxic (it is not listed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and can be served steamed and cooled to cats. Broccoli is rich with healthy antioxidants. Remember to only feed this as a rare treat and in small quantities. Adding anything to your cat's diet, even a small treat, can cause tummy upset if not done carefully.
Cats can definitely eat steamed carrots. They are high in fiber and packed with a bunch of yummy nutrition. Again, as with all other vegetables, cats should be fed carrots minimally and in rare intervals. It is important to avoid raw carrots; make sure to cut the carrots up in smaller pieces so that your cat does not choke.
Green beans are considered safe for cats and they are a good source of fiber, protein, and healthy vitamins. Carrots are a good snack option for cats that suffer from obesity. Foods that are rich with fiber can sometimes cause gas and GI upset, however, so make sure you introduce this treat slowly and offer it in rare intervals. Do not feed your cat canned, salted green beans—go for fresh and organic.
Cats can definitely eat peas and a lot of commercial cat foods contain pea protein as a substitution for other proteins for cats that tend to have food protein allergies. Peas offer both carbohydrates and protein, and can be a fun treat for your kitty. Always feed peas in moderation.
Pumpkin is a great source of fiber and vitamins for your cat. Pumpkin can also help with issues around constipation or even complications surrounding impactions due to hairballs. Be sure to only offer your cat pure pumpkin; it should not contain spices or seasoning.
Cats naturally like leafy greens, and spinach carries quite a few beneficial vitamins for your cat. Although, avoid feeding spinach to cats that have kidney or bladder (urinary) problems due to the calcium content in spinach and other high levels of vitamins.
Cats can definitely eat winter squash. It can be serve either pureed or chopped, but it is best served pureed. Winter squash offers a variety of healthy vitamins and minerals like vitamin B, C, potassium, and magnesium, in addition to healthy amounts of fiber.
Which Fruits Can Cats Eat?
The following fruits are safe to offer your cat on occasion and in small quantities.
If you want to offer your cats apples, make sure they are organic and fed without the skin on. In addition, remove all seeds (they contain cyanid and are poisonous). Cats actually don't detect sweet flavors, so your cat may or may not take to a small piece of apple.
Bananas aren't toxic to cats but they are difficult to digest due to the high fiber content. Bananas also contain a large amount of potassium. Bananas are also high in sugar, so if you do offer bananas, keep them to a minimum and in small quantities.
Cats can definitely eat other berries like blackberries, and they offer a good amount of fiber and vitamins like A,C, E, and K. Offer berries in small portions so that your cat does not choke and always feed berries as a treat rather than in large quantities.
Blueberries are considered safe for cats and the antioxidants they offer may be beneficial for your kitty; some cat foods even contain blueberry powder. The fiber content and water in blueberries is good for pets that tend to suffer from issues around dehydration. This can be a fun treat to offer on occasion.
A bit of cantaloupe is ok for your cat and cats actually tend to like this treat (in addition to dogs). It is thought the the texture and aroma of cantaloupe appeals to them. Of course, make sure to deseed the melon and cut it into smaller sizes so that your cat won't choke; you might even consider pureeing it.
Honeydew, according to the ASPCA, is non-toxic to cats. Although a novelty fruit for many, you might want to consider offering it to your kitty as an occasional treat. It is rich in Vitamins A and C and offers a great source of fiber.
Rasperries are a great treat to offer your cat. They are low in sugar and high in fiber and offer wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. However, raspberries should only be fed in moderation as they do naturally contain trace amounts of xylitol which is toxic to animals in large amounts, especially if synthetically derived. Never give raspberries to your cat in bulk.
Seedless watermelon is ok to offer cats and most cats generally enjoy eating it. It is a good treat for cats that otherwise struggle with hydration. However, cats that are diabetic or sensitive to large quantities of sugar should not be offered sweets such as watermelon due to the high sugar content.
Cooked brown rice is okay to offer to your cat if it is plain. Rice, in general, is generally offered to dogs that are experiencing diarrhea—this is also a trick that can be used for cats, too. Understand that rice is extremely constpiating, so use it with your veterinarian's oversight.
Barley is a great digestive grain for cats and the greens can be offered in sprouts to help aid your cat's digestion. Cats tend to love barley. It's loaded with active enzymes and helps to keep their coat and skin healthy.
Corn is often used in pet food and is okay when cooked and ground. Many pet food suppliers use corn as a filler and regularly in both dog and cat food. Some cats tend to enjoy small pieces of corn chips on rare occasions.
Millet offers protein to your cat and does contain some fat, which is considered a healthy alternative to some pet food ingredients. Cooked millet is a common grain in some commercial dog and cat foods.
Cats do enjoy oatmeal and can be offered it in the similar way that you would prepare it for yourself. Avoid adding high levels of salt, butter, or milk. It can be offered in moderation as an occasional treat.
Wheat is another staple in most cats diets, which is why the occasional taste of a plain wheat noodle or small crumb of bread is generally just fine. Wheat is heavily used in dog and cat food but also offers some important nutrients. If you are offering your cat anything with wheat, consider organic wheat products.
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Cats are obligate carnivores, so meat should make up the bulk of their diet. Between fish, white meat and red meat, here are some of the common types of meat you may feed your cat. Of course, always feed cooked meat due to the risk of salmonella and E. coli and be sure to remove bones thoroughly:
Salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, tuna, and whitefish.
Red and White Meat
Chicken, pork, turkey, pheasant, and beef. (Note: Duck may be offered on occasion, but due to the high fat content, can be risky).
Eggs are a protein-rich food source and can be beneficial for your cat. If you do feed eggs to your cat, do so in small quantities and avoid feeding raw eggs due to the risk of salmonella or E. coli.
Can Cats Eat Liver?
You should avoid feeding your cat liver in large quantities (only feed in small amounts). Liver can cause vitamin A toxicity which can damage your cat's skeletal structure. This can lead to bone deformities and osteoporosis. Severe vitamin A toxicity may also result in death.
Can Cats Eat Dairy—Cheese and Milk?
Whether cats should be fed diary is long-debated and it may simply depend on your cat. Lactose, just like in humans, can cause vomitting, diarrhea, and uncomfortable bloating and gas.
Some cats love cheese and can do quite well having it as an occasional treat at times. You might consider using dry cheeses for palate enhancements—a sprinkle or parmesan or a string of mozzarella. Generally, a little bit of cheese or a drip or unsweetened and unflavored dairy might be ok here and there, just don't offer your cat a bowl of milk.
Foods That Are Toxic to Cats
There are some known foods that are toxic/poisonous to cats and should never be fed to them, these foods are: grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions/garlic, bread dough (yeast), alcohol, xylitol, caffeine, liver, trimmings, and human medicine. Do note that xylitol can be found in yogurt and sweet foods as a added sweetener. In addition, you should never offer your cat human medications.
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.
© 2021 Laynie H
Laynie H (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 10, 2021:
Hi Sangre, it was interesting to research this too. My cat will try to eat anything and I'm often researching what is NOT safe to eat but I thought a list of what is safe to eat (once in a while and in small quantities) would be helpful as well.
Sp Greaney from Ireland on January 08, 2021:
My cat is a carnivore. She will eat most types of meats. I didn't even know that cats could eat vegetables and fruit. This is so interesting.
Laynie H (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 03, 2021:
Hi Brenda, glad you will be checking your yogurt for xylitol. Peanut butters contain it too if you have dogs that like to eat that . . . I've had to be careful with xylitol in peanut butter with our dog.
Laynie H (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 03, 2021:
Hi Peggy, I'm glad you found this article useful. It was really interesting to overturn some of the novels foods on this list with some research.
Laynie H (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 03, 2021:
Hi Lora, I'm so glad you liked this article. I'll admit, my cat has only tried a couple of these things. I was really happy to learn cats can have cantaloupe and melon. I did a lot of reading for this one. I always get nervous about feeding my pets anything "new" so I always advise to double triple verify (even if asking your vet). My cat will try anything so I often don't let her appetite guide me . . . I'll still Google it. She loves oatmeal and chips, doesn't have issue with dairy, eats green beans, banana, berries (mostly plays with them), and a few others on this list.
Lora Hollings on January 02, 2021:
Great article on foods that are good for cats and those that are harmful, Layne. My cats enjoy steamed carrots, green beans and broccoli. They love winter squash too. But, I only give these in small amounts and occasionally. I will try some of the fruits that you mention, especially the cantaloupe. I had no idea that cats can eat such a variety of foods! It is good to vary cats and dogs diets and include these healthy additions as it makes for a healthier and happier pet! I will also have to try oatmeal and millet. These are great suggestions. I will share this excellent article with my family and friends who also have cats. A Happy New Year to you, Layne!
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on January 02, 2021:
Thanks for a great article.
I will be checking out my yogurt for xylitol...since my kitty loves for me to save him a bite.
Mostly they go nuts over chicken but yogurt is a close first.
I enjoyed reading.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 02, 2021:
This is good information to know. When we would open cans of tuna, our cats would love to drink the tuna juice. We always purchased the tuna processed in water. We would also give them bites of cooked fish.