Oftentimes as owners, we humans like to spoil our pets. That is evident in the fact that somewhere between one-quarter and one-half of cats in the United States is overweight or obese. In addition to feeding them too much, sometimes we may accidentally feed them something that seems harmful to us but can actually be harmful to them.
Just like there are some foods that are toxic for dogs (all of which are also toxic for cats), there are several more human foods that are unsafe for cats to consume. Next time you think to give your cat some food, make sure it doesn’t include any of these six components.
6 Foods That Can Be Harmful to Cats
1) Raw meat and fish – Because cats are carnivores, some owners want to feed their cats raw meats such as beef, poultry, or fish. Raw meat isn’t safe for cats, though, because they run the risk of consuming bacteria that can cause food poisoning and severe illness. Raw fish is especially dangerous because it contains the enzyme thiaminase, which destroys the essential B vitamin thiamine, or vitamin B1, in cats. Thiamine is vital to carbohydrate metabolism and without it, vomiting and gastrointestinal problems can occur in cats. Severe neurological problems often follow.
2) Liver – Because cats require taurine, which comes from organ meat, many people may think to feed their cats liver. Cats fed too much liver are in danger of Vitamin A toxicity, though, which leads to extreme bone problems like deformed bones, bone growths, osteoporosis, and can even be fatal.
3) Milk and dairy – Despite all the sweet scenes in movies or cute photos that depict cats drinking from a bowl of milk, dairy, especially in the form of milk and ice cream, is not safe for cats to ingest. Most cats are lactose intolerant and because they lack the ability to digest dairy, they experience bad digestive problems including diarrhea when they eat it. Some cats can eat yogurt without any problem, but it depends on the cat.
4) Fat and bones – Though cats need to eat meat to survive, there are certain parts that they shouldn’t eat because they can cause serious problems. Animal bones and animal fat can be extremely dangerous if eaten by a cat. Animal fat causes gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. Bones are not only a choking hazard, but pose the threat of breaking or splintering during digestion and injuring or tearing the gastrointestinal tract.
5) Raw eggs – Raw eggs are not recommended for cats for the same reason raw meat is not recommended for cats: it presents the possibility of food poisoning from a bacteria that causes salmonella or E. coli. Raw eggs also contain a protein called avidin, which hinders the absorption of biotin, a B vitamin, in cats. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that cats fed a diet with egg whites developed biotin deficiency. Biotin deficiency can cause problems with both the skin and the coats of cats.
6) Tuna – Tuna that has been specifically processed for cat food is safe for cats to eat fairly regularly, but tuna produced for human consumption can actually be harmful to cats if over consumed. Regular canned tuna is okay as a treat every now and then, but too much can cause mercury poisoning in cats, so don’t overdo it.
Treating Your Cat Right
Cats are certainly carnivores and should be eating meat and a diet high in protein and fats, but raw animal products are not healthy for cats to consume and can cause serious illness. We all want to give our cats treats, but it’s important that we give them the right treats.
Appropriate treats for cats include vegetables, a small portion of cooked eggs, cooked meat, or homemade treats. Just be sure any treats are free of foods that may pose a threat to your cat’s health and keep treats to a minimum. If you’ve given your cat a few too many treats and he is looking a little plump, read these tips on how to help your pet maintain and remain at a healthy weight.