In cartoons and commercials, we’ve grown up seeing cats drink from saucers of milk and scarf down pans of cheesy lasagna. But can cats eat cheese? Or, more importantly, should we ever be feeding cheese and certain other foods to our feline friends?
While it might be tempting to share snacks with your pet, it’s important to know what’s safe and healthy for them to eat. Some foods that are healthy for humans can be dangerous for your cat and should be kept out of reach in case they go snooping for a snack.
What can — and can’t — cats eat?
If you’re wondering what human foods cats can eat, you should always consult your vet to learn which treats are OK to eat in moderation, and which foods to prohibit. We spoke with Dr. Stephanie Black DVM MSc, Chief Veterinary Officer, Ontario SPCA & Humane Society, to learn more about what can potentially be the best snacks to feed your feline — in moderation. She shared that the healthiest cat should be fed well-balanced cat food, both wet and dry, which will maintain their hydration and reduce the chance of urinary crystal formation. After all, the happiest cat is a healthy one.
You might also like: Hypoallergenic cats: 11 adorable breeds that won’t make you sneeze.
Cats can not eat: cheese
This brings us back to a common question for pet owners: can cats eat cheese at mealtimes? Unfortunately, according to experts, most cats are lactose intolerant. Their bodies can’t produce enough enzymes to digest milk properly, making cheese a problematic dinner choice for felines.
“Cats tend to love dairy products, but this should not be an everyday treat,” said Dr. Black. Proceed with caution and monitor your pets symptoms, as even a little cheese could cause gastrointestinal upset.
Cats can not eat: milk
Given how pop culture continues to share images of cats lapping up milk, it’s no wonder one of the most enduring feline myths is a cat’s love of dairy. As it turns out, milk is not the best idea for cats, but it may be OK to feed to kittens. A cat’s ability to produce the lactase enzyme is much better during kittenhood, allowing them to enjoy the milky dinners.
Related: All cat breeds as zodiac signs.
Cats can not eat: tuna
Believe it of not, cats can become addicted to tuna. Even though many cats love tuna, it shouldn’t be a large part of your pet’s meal plan. A steady diet of tuna won’t have all the nutrients a cat needs, such as taurine, an amino acid in their food. Dr. Black warned that “without this amino acid supplementation, your cat can become very ill.”
Cats can not eat: chocolate
It’s crucial that pet owners keep chocolate out of reach, as theobromine in chocolate is highly toxic to cats and can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death depending on how much is consumed. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate have the highest concentrations of theobromine, making them even more dangerous.
Cats cannot eat: grapes and raisins
Grapes and raisins are toxic foods for most pets, and can lead to kidney damage or even life-threatening kidney failure. While cats don’t generally indulge in grapes, it’s best to store the fridge vs on the counter, and be careful of any spills when eating or baking.
Cats can eat: poultry
As natural carnivores, cats gain the majority of their nutrients from meat. However, “owners should be cautioned that cats have very specific dietary requirements,” Dr. Black shared, “and their diet should be made primarily up of a well-balanced, high quality cat food.” Cooked, unseasoned poultry is your best bet for an occasional treat, as too much salt can be toxic to cats.
Cats can eat: eggs
Eggs are rich in protein and can be a great addition to your cats diet. Most vets agree that cooked eggs are a great treat for cats, but raw eggs should be avoided as the risk of serious bacterial infections, such as salmonella or e-coli is too high.
See also: 12 signs your cat secretly hates you.
Cats can eat: pumpkin
Skip any seasonal spices and feed your kitty pure, cooked pumpkin either fresh or from the can. Pumpkin is packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals, and is low in calories. You may even feed it to your cat as a remedy to diarrhea or constipation, said Dr. Black. “It may help their bowel movements to be more regular.” Just be sure to purchase pure pumpkin — and not pumpkin pie filling.
Cats can eat: rice
Although not a necessary part of their diet, a little bit of white rice is generally fine to feed your cat. “Most cats won’t eat it,” says Dr. Black ” but in small amounts, rice won’t do any harm.”
Related: The richest pets in the world.
Cats can eat: cantaloupe
This low-calorie fruit has a high water content and is full of fibre and nutrients, making it a healthy treat for you and your cat. Keep in mind, however, that when introducing new foods, it’s best to feed your pet a small portion first to see if they can tolerate it. Cantaloupe is high in antioxidants, which capture free radicals, which — in humans least — may effectively slow down the aging process and potentially promote healthy cell function, as well as help reduce the risk of certain diseases.