What Foods Are Harmful to Cats?

Some foods should never find their way into this bowl.
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It can be tempting to offer your feline friend a scrap of chocolate or dollop of ice cream. These and other foods that are tasty and harmless to you could be toxic to your cat. Foods not formulated for the feline body can cause loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting.

Dairy Products

You’ve seen it in animated movies and in plenty of children’s books: an adorable kitten lapping at a saucer filled with milk. But many cats become lactose intolerant as adults. The lactose in dairy products can cause digestive upset, diarrhea and vomiting. Most adult cats do not produce a sufficient amount of lactase, the enzyme required to break down the lactose in dairy products. While some can tolerate milk and other dairy products, the potential problems do not outweigh the benefits.

Fruits and Veggies

While your cat may turn his nose up at a cluster of grapes, it’s best to avoid any consumption mishaps by keeping grapes and raisins out of Kitty’s reach. Both are capable of causing kidney failure in cats. The fruit, leaves, seeds and bark of avocados can also cause tummy troubles, including diarrhea and vomiting. Apple seeds, apricot and cherry pits, onions, tomato leaves and stems, garlic and cloves are all known to cause gastrointestinal upset.

Meats and Fish

While a fully cooked morsel of chicken on occasion won’t do your cat any harm, raw or undercooked meat and eggs can contain salmonella or E. coli bacteria, which are harmful to pets. Meat bones can be highly dangerous to pets, as they can result in choking or injury, especially if bone splinters develop. While the occasional tuna treat makes for a happy cat, fish does not provide all your feline’s nutritional needs. Too much tuna can also lead to mercury poisoning, so don't offer it by the can.

Alcohol and Treats

It’s true that cats can get drunk too. Even a tablespoon of alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, central nervous system depression, coma and even death in cats. Chocolate is another major no-no, as it contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause heart arrhythmias, seizures and muscle tremors. Macadamia nuts (often used in candies and cookies), sweeteners like xylitol, chewing gum, salt and yeast dough can cause a plethora of uncomfortable symptoms.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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