What Human Foods Can Cats Eat?
By Sara Ochoa, DVM May 18, 2019
Every time your kitty meows at you while you’re eating dinner, or walks into the kitchen because of the smell of bacon and eggs, the question of what human foods cats can eat might have crossed your mind. Can cats eat human foods? If so, is eating human food a healthier option compared to cat food? Should the food be cooked or should it be fed raw? Is grain-free a good choice? As cat parents, we want to make the best decision possible, one that is beneficial to our kitty and us. But it is important to note that there are pros and cons to every single one of these choices. So let’s explore what human foods cats can eat. Then we'll look at the pros and cons of grain-free and raw foods.
What Human Foods Can Cats Eat?
If you are cooking beef, do not season it. Some seasonings can make your cat sick. Feeding your cat raw beef is perfectly okay as long as it is fresh and unprocessed. Packaged beef will almost inevitably have something added to it. Also, it's likely bacteria was introduced into the meat from the machinery during processing. Therefore, feeding the freshest beef possible is recommended if feeding raw. However, if you are going to cook the beef, then packaged beef is fine. It is always recommended to consult your cat's veterinarian to be sure all of their nutritional needs are being met with the diet you choose. Sometimes supplementation is needed.
Most cats love the taste of tuna fish and will eat it readily. Canned tuna is acceptable, but tuna fish should only be fed as a treat. Tuna fish does not provide all the nutrients needed to maintain your cat's health. In addition, feeding raw tuna only will lead to thiamine deficiency, resulting in your cat becoming very sick. When choosing canned tuna fish, only choose the tuna fish in water. Do not choose the ones in brine, oil, or mixed with anything else. Raw, cooked, or canned tuna fish should only be fed in moderation and not as a primary diet.
Believe it or not, cats can eat raw chicken. However, there are concerns that still remain. If the chicken is not fresh enough or has been sitting out for too long, then bacteria like Salmonella or Listeria can develop. The bacteria can make cats very sick. Cooked chicken with no seasoning can help with an upset stomach, but it should not be your cat's primary diet without supplementation.
Eggs are a great source of protein to add to your cat's diet. But it is best to feed cooked eggs to your kitty, as raw eggs have the same health concerns as raw chicken. Moreover, eggs should not be the only food that your cat eats. Your cat will need other nutrients to stay healthy.
Salmon is an okay source of protein to give to your cat as a treat. Make sure the salmon is fully cooked and free of bone. Salmon does not provide your cat with enough Taurine. Since Taurine is an essential amino acid that is required in a cat’s diet, salmon should not be fed to your cat daily as the sole source of protein.
Most cats do not really care for raw peas, but boiled peas are a great source of protein and a very nutritious supplement to a healthy diet. Giving your cat a tablespoon of peas is a great source of carbohydrates to add to their meal.
Melon in small amounts can help with digestive issues and can be a wonderful source of water for cats. It is recommended to remove any rind or seeds. It is not necessary to cook melon so it should be served raw. It is best to limit your cat to 2 or 3 small cubes.
Potatoes can be eaten cooked or boiled, but only in a small amount and not on a regular basis. They are safe to eat, but cats are carnivores and do not need a high carbohydrate intake. It is best to only feed your cat about 1 tablespoon of potatoes per feeding.
- Certain Fruits
Cats really seem to enjoy fruit. However, it is not a natural food they would consume in the wild. Certain fruits such as mangoes, bananas, apples, apricots, blueberries, and cranberries are safe for cats to eat. It is best to give your cat only 2-3 berries or one small chunk of fruit at a time. Too much of a good thing can also cause GI upset in some cats. Starting off with just a very small amount and working up to a max of about 1 tablespoon is best so you can observe how your cat responds to different fruits. These fruits can even be given as an alternative healthy treat to overweight cats. Raisins and grapes should be avoided as they are known to result in acute kidney failure in dogs and could potentially harm your cat.
Remember, cats are carnivores by nature. Just because cats can eat certain human foods, it doesn’t mean that they should eat it or that it is going to be good for them. If you want more information on what foods cats can’t eat or should avoid, then read our article here. Now that you know cats can eat certain human foods, another question might come to mind.
Is It Possible To Make Homemade Cat Food?
Yes, it is possible. Many lower quality cat food brands use preservatives and coloring to make their food look better, but it really adds no nutritional value whatsoever. In contrast, quality cat food can be expensive. In between those two options is homemade cat food. Homemade cat food can provide all the nutritional needs of your cat and cost less than the quality name brand cat food. There are a plethora of how to videos and forums with all sorts of recipes for homemade cat food. As always, it is a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before fully switching to homemade cat food. This way, you ensure your cat is getting all the proper nutrients.
Homemade foods such as cooked salmon, scrambled eggs, baked chicken, and boiled chicken are all great sources of protein for your cat. But, it is important to not season your cat's food with any spices or herbs. Herbs and spices can cause your cat to become ill and should be avoided. Furthermore, if you do decide to cook your own cat food, vitamins must be added for complete feline nutrition. These vitamins are available at most specialty and online pet stores. Consult a veterinarian to find out what your cat will need. There is a lot of good information online, but consulting a veterinarian is highly recommended.
Whether you decide to make your own cat food or continue with canned cat food, you will also need to decide whether the food you choose for your cat is raw, cooked, or grain-free.
Pros And Cons Of Feeding A Raw Diet
Feeding a well-balanced raw diet can help ensure your cat eats only the freshest and healthiest foods without fillers, additives, and preservatives. These additives are a necessary evil. Without these preservatives, cat food would spoil on the shelf before it ever got sold. Still, they are not the healthiest thing to ingest. With a well-planned and hygienically prepared raw diet, your cat will likely reach maximum fitness and health.
Most raw diets are easier to manage if they are prepared in bulk. That means you will need to set aside time to prepare the food when it is bought to help ensure it remains fresh and bacteria free. Letting the food sit in the refrigerator even for a day or two could result in your cat not accepting it. Then you will have to prepare the meal again. This leads to the next issue: If meat is left out for too long, bacteria will develop and could potentially make your cat very sick.
If you do decide to feed your cat a raw diet, it is never recommended to leave food out for more than a few minutes. Anything that your cat hasn’t eaten within a few minutes should be discarded.
Pros And Cons Of Feeding Grain-Free
The main reason to feed your cat grain-free food is if he or she has been diagnosed by a veterinarian who has performed a food trial to confirm that your cat truly has an allergy. Food allergies do happen, but an allergy to grains is not as common. Grains are frequently used in cat food, and most allergies are found to be related to beef, fish, or dairy. Corn and grains are low on the list. But if your cat is truly allergic, then grain-free is definitely the way to go. Just read the ingredients to make sure your cat will receive all the necessary vitamins and nutrients.
Not all grain free diets provide all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients, so supplementation is still needed. Grain-free foods can be expensive because they are specialized and are often not necessary to feed.
If you suspect that your cat has a food allergy, then an examination by a veterinarian is recommended. The veterinarian can run a food trial to see if your cat is allergic to grains, and then they can help you decide which food is best for your cat.
Should You Give Your Cat Food Off Your Plate?
A pretty solid answer to this is no. But let’s face it, we all do it. You never really know what will make your cat sick. What you give your cat today can make them sick tomorrow. If you do decide to give your cat something off your plate as a treat, make sure it’s small and contains little or no seasoning. Moreover, to reduce the possibility that your cat comes begging you for food while you are eating, it is recommended that you feed your cat in his or her own area.
There are a lot of ways to feed your cat. Whether you decide to go with store bought or make your own. Raw or cooked, freeze-dried or frozen, just about any of them will provide your cat with everything he or she needs to stay strong and healthy. It is recommended to feed your cat the food that best suits your lifestyle. If you have the time, then a cooked or raw diet may work. If you are busy and on the run all of the time, then packaged or canned food may work best. The choices are limitless, so figuring out what works for you while keeping your feline friend healthy for years to come is part of the adventure.