Cats are so independent, people often say that they take care of themselves. Whether or not cats can actually take care of themselves remains a mystery, but they often do help themselves to whatever they desire. And because they are curious and agile beings and are often seen stalking on kitchen counters and helping themselves, you should be aware that there are foods that are unhealthy not to mention very dangerous for your cat to eat.
Whether raw, cooked, or powdered, onions and garlic can be a threat to your cat's red blood cells, causing anemia. If large quantities are consumed, onion poisoning will ensue. Be cautious because onion powder can be found in baby foods, which cat are often attracted to.
Seemingly a perfect size for a little cat treat, but grapes are actually very dangerous for cats (and dogs for that matter). For an unknown reason, grapes and raisins contain toxins that can cause kidney failure. Even a small amount can make cats sick.
It doesn't get much better than sipping your morning coffee with your cat snuggled in your lap. However, don't let your cat drink any of your coffee or other caffeinated drinks. I know you are thinking "I wouldn't just let my cat take a sip," but think of when you walk away and leave a cup o' joe sitting out, guess who might be tempted to have a sip. Caffeine can damage a cat's heart and nervous system, and results can be fatal if ingested in large amounts.
As tempting as it may be to feed your cat some raw fish, don't...it can be dangerous. Not only do does raw fish have the possibility to carry bacteria, leading to food poisoning, but it contains an enzyme that destroys thiamine, which is essential to a cat. Too much raw fish can lead to neurological issues, seizures, coma or even possibly death.
Though not necessarily toxic for cats, dog food fed as a regularl diet to cats can lead to malnutrition. Dog food is specially formulated for dogs, as is cat food. There may be common ingredients, but there are specific vitamin and nutrient formulas that will differ with cat and dog food.
Remember Heathcliff the Cat and how he ate fish bones all the time? Well, that was just a cartoon for a reason. Bones from fish or meat are brittle, break easily and can cause an obstruction in your cat's airway or digestive system. Also, fat trimmings whether from cooked or raw meats can cause pancreatitis. It's safest to just keep table scraps away from your cat; or keep your cat away from tables and counters, where table scraps tend to be.
To keep your cat healthy, don't feed them sugary foods. Though sugar isn't toxic to cats, it can cause obesity and potentially diabetes (as is the case with humans, too). It could also take a toll on a cat's dental health.
Just as alcohol can affect human livers and brains, it can do the same to cats, only it takes way less to take effect on cats. If cats ingest alcohol or food containing alcohol, they can become intoxicated, sick, fall into a coma or even die.
Say it isn't so! I can't share my chocolaty treat with my cat?! Yep, don't do it. Cats won't usually go after chocolate on their own, but might if they are enticed into thinking it's a treat. The truth is, chocolate - any variety - is lethal to cats (same goes for dogs). Containing caffeine and other toxins such as theobromine, chocolate quickly affects a cat's heart and nervous system. Stick to human-only consumption when it comes to chocolate.
The dirty truth about mushrooms is that they contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in a cat. Eating mushrooms can cause shock and result in death. Keep an eye on those outdoor cats too if there are mushrooms popping up in the yard.
When feeding your cat tuna that is packed for human consumption, an all-tuna diet can cause malnutrition in your cat. There are cat foods and treats that are designed specifically for cats for this reason. Small amounts probably aren't harmful, but tuna in-full or in-excess can be dangerous. Talk to your vet about incorporating tuna to a cat's regular diet if they just can't resist the temptation when they hear the can opener.
Yes, kittens don't get much cuter than when they are gently lapping up milk from a saucer, however, milk and dairy products like cheese can be harmful for adult cats. Kittens need milk while their digestive system strengthens, but adult cats aren't able to process dairy and lactose well. This can lead to many digestive problems and possibly food allergies.
The safest way to ensure your cat doesn't eat foods that it shouldn't, don't leave food out where your cat can reach, and don't allow your curious cats on the counters, in cupboards or on the dinner table.
Here's to happy and healthy cats everywhere!
For more information about safe cat foods, talk to your vet's office or visit the ASPCA site.