Many cats are happy to eat their food and the occasional treat, never venturing near foods that humans eat. But other cats are a bit more daring. It is possible for a curious or hungry cat to get into human food if she can reach it, even if they haven’t shown a tendency to eat human food before, and the consequences can be significant.
Foods That Are Risky for Cats
Despite the common anecdote of giving a cat a saucer of milk, cats are lactose intolerant and cannot digest milk based products easily. Milk will often cause an upset stomach, although it is rarely harmful in the long term.
But other food can be even more dangerous and require an immediate visit to the veterinarian if you discover your cat has consumed one. These foods include:
- Alcohol - Ingestion of alcohol can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, coma, and death in extreme cases. Take your cat to the vet if he has swallowed any alcohol.
- Chocolate - The Theobromine in chocolate can cause vomiting, excessive thirst, tremors, seizures, and death, necessitating a vet visit.
- Caffeine - Coffee and soda contain methylxanthine, the same type of substance that makes chocolate dangerous.
- Grapes or Raisins - Even small amounts of grapes or raisins can lead to rapid kidney failure. Early symptoms include vomiting, hyperactivity, lethargy, and abdominal pain. The chances of death are higher for elderly cats.
- Onions, Garlic, and Chives - These are fine in small doses such as may be found in pet food. Large amounts can lead to gastrointestinal upset or red blood cell damage.
- Raw Meat and Eggs - Raw animal products pose the same risks for cats that they do for humans due to the fact they may contain salmonella or E. coli.
- Xylitol - A sugar substitute, this product is used in candies, sweets, and processed foods like peanut butter. It can cause a loss of coordination, seizures, and eventually liver failure.
- Yeast - Raw bread dough that contains yeast can expand in your cat’s stomach and might create alcohol that can be harmful.
- Unripe Potatoes or Unripe Tomatoes - These fruits, including their leaves and stems, can contain a poisonous alkaloid that causes an upset stomach.
Most cats show little interest in human foods so the chances of your cat coming in contact with them might be low. But you should still take precautions by keeping foods out of reach of your cat and keeping your cat off the counter. Maintain a veterinarian recommended diet for your cat, avoid feeding him table scraps, and always be careful about what foods you leave out.