Does your cat ever look at you longingly when you’re enjoying your favorite human snack? Can you share? There are some human foods cats can eat, just make sure they’re on the safe list. In this article, we discuss which foods felines can and can’t consume. We also look at the dangers of cats eating too much human food.
Whether your cat is a picky eater or ready to eat whatever you put in front of it, keep reading to know how to create a balanced diet. Let’s dig in!
What Are Felines Favorite Foods?
Felines have several favorite foods. They’re obligate carnivores, which means their natural diet consists primarily of meat. While they can ingest some food from plant sources, they do not have the means to fully digest it. They’ve evolved to rely on a diet rich in animal protein, unlike omnivores that can efficiently digest and extract nutrients from both plants and animals. Cats require a meat-based diet to thrive, and therefore cannot be vegan. Their bodies are designed to digest and metabolize animal tissues. So, felines’ favorite foods match up with their nutritional needs via animal protein and fats.
Cats lack the ability to taste sweetness. Also, they’re not usually responsive to salty tastes, as their natural diet doesn’t typically include high-salt foods. However, they are drawn to flavors that are rich in umami, which is often found in protein-rich foods such as meat. They also have a heightened sensitivity to fatty foods, an important energy source for them.
Can Cats Eat Human Food?
Cats’ dietary requirements differ from humans. Some human foods can be safe for cats to consume in small quantities, but it’s generally not recommended for them to eat our food as a regular part of their diet.
As obligate carnivores, cats require a diet primarily consisting of animal protein and cannot digest most plant-based food. Human food often contains plant-based ingredients that may be harmful or difficult for cats to digest, such as spices, onions, garlic, and certain seasonings. In addition, some human foods like chocolate, caffeine, grapes, and raisins can be downright toxic to cats.
It’s essential to provide cats with a balanced and nutritionally complete diet specifically formulated for their needs, such as commercially available cat food. But, if you’re unsure about whether a particular food is safe for your cat, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian.
Suggested Reading: Learn what happens when cats eat peanut butter.
What Can I Feed My Cat If I Don’t Have Cat Food?
If you find yourself without cat food and need to feed your cat, there are a few options to consider. Cooked chicken, turkey, fish, or other lean meats without seasoning can be a suitable alternative as they provide the necessary animal protein. You can also try offering boiled eggs in small portions. We’ll look more closely at human food options coming up.
Just remember that these alternatives should only be given temporarily and in moderation. Regular cat food is specifically formulated to provide the essential nutrients cats require for optimal health and should be the primary source of their diet.
Human Foods Cats Can Eat
Let’s look more closely at specific human foods your cat can eat whether you don’t have cat food or you simply want to treat your fur baby.
As you’ve likely seen in cartoons, it’s true that cats like fish. They also can be a healthy choice, as they have omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial to felines’ eyes. The fatty acid can also help prevent kidney disease, arthritis, and heart disease. However, be sure to give your cat cooked fish, as vets recommend avoiding raw fish since it can have unhelpful bacteria in it.
Since we’ve established that cats are obligate carnivores, we know they like meat. However, we humans tend to spice things up with our meat, so you’ll want to be careful about any scraps you’re feeding off the kitchen counter or your plate.
First of all, be sure to cook the meat fully, as raw meat can be harmful and can cause illnesses similar to how it can be for humans. Secondly, if the meat has been cooked with any seasonings or sauces, particularly garlic or onion, you really should pass on sharing. A tiny bite may be okay, but it’s best to avoid more than that.
Cats tend to like chicken, beef, turkey, liver, and lamb. Pork is another option, however, many sources online seem to debate how much should be given to your cat.
Cooked eggs are also a good source of protein for cats. Raw eggs can be harmful due to the risk of E. coli and Salmonella bacterial infections. You can put cooked eggs over your cat’s food and spoil it with an extra dose of protein for breakfast.
Suggested Reading: Is it harmful or hurtful to let your dog eat raw eggs?
Fish, meat, and eggs are the best sources of protein for cats, but small amounts of cheese can sometimes be good too. However, we recommend trying to feed your cat a little cheese to see how it reacts. Some cats get an upset stomach from dairy products.
Cats can eat some vegetables even though they may not digest them all the way. The vitamins, fiber, and water in veggies are beneficial to felines. Just be sure not to feed your cat garlic or onions, they can cause damage to red blood cells. But vegetables such as broccoli, cucumber, or asparagus are things cats tend to enjoy.
Rice and Oats
Rice and oats have protein. So, adding some to your cat’s diet can help give them a boost. But remember to cook them fully for easy digestion and minimize how much you give your pet. Cats don’t need carbohydrates since they’re obligate carnivores, but you can add small amounts of grains into their diet once in a while. They tend to prefer brown rice, corn, barley, and smaller grains like couscous.
Bananas may seem like an odd choice for cats, but some like them. Since they can’t taste sweetness, maybe it has to do with the texture of the banana. Just be sure to minimize how much you feed them because bananas are high in calories. They shouldn’t hurt the cat in small quantities, but there’s also really no reason to feed a cat any banana. We’d recommend some specially formulated kitty treats or meat.
What Human Foods Shouldn’t a Cat Eat?
There are several human foods that should never be given to cats. For example, they shouldn’t consume any form of chocolate, as it contains theobromine, which is toxic to them and can lead to symptoms ranging from mild agitation to seizures and even death. Onions and garlic should also be avoided, as they can cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Grapes and raisins are known to be highly toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure.
Foods containing caffeine, macadamia nuts, bread dough, and alcohol should also be kept away from cats. In addition, Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in things like sugar-free candy, can be harmful to cats but doesn’t typically cause serious problems as it does for dogs.
Dangers of Feeding Too Much Human Food
Feeding a cat too much human food can pose significant dangers to its health and quality of life. Their bodies aren’t equipped to handle certain foods, as we mentioned. Human food tends to be higher in calories, sugar, and fat content, which can contribute to obesity in cats. Obesity increases the risk of various health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, and a shortened lifespan.
Feeding cats excessive amounts of human food can also lead to nutrient imbalances and deficiencies, as they may not receive the essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins needed. It’s crucial to provide cats with a balanced diet specifically formulated for felines.
Too much human food can also make cats picky eaters. Or they may constantly beg for your food at the dinner table or throughout the day. You know you won’t have the will power to resist them, so it’s best to not ever start.
Pro Tip: See which extra vitamins and minerals are good for your cat.
Play It Safe & Keep The Human Food to a Minimum
The best way to give your cat a balanced diet and keep it healthy is to minimize how much human food you allow it to eat. Commercial cat food is designed to contribute to your cat’s overall health and well-being. However, we understand wanting to make sure your cat eats like the king or queen they are, so a little morsel here and there of human food is tolerable.
Do you feed your cat human food? Share which foods your cat likes in the comments below.
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