Awareness, Cat Food

What Food Can Poison Cats? 13 Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Cats

What Food Can Poison Cats?

The diet of a cat is crucial in maintaining its overall health and well-being. Proper nutrition can bolster a cat’s immune system, support healthy skin and a shiny coat, and help maintain optimal muscle and bone health. Conversely, an imbalanced diet can lead to obesity, nutritional deficiencies, or chronic conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease. Additionally, certain human foods that are toxic to cats, like chocolate or onions, can cause immediate health crises. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a cat’s food carefully and be mindful of both the quality and quantity of their intake.

The foods discussed here may not poison your cat, but excessive intake can lead to serious health issues for your cat.

Food Can Poison Cats

13 Foods That Can Poison Your Cat

Onions, Garlic & Chives

These common kitchen ingredients contain thiosulfates, which can cause oxidative damage to a cat’s red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anemia. Even small amounts, if ingested regularly, can lead to toxicosis. These substances are harmful to cats in all forms: raw, cooked, powdered, or within food mixtures. The symptoms of poisoning might not appear immediately and can include lethargy, weakness, reduced appetite, and pale gums.

Raw Meat, Raw Eggs, and Raw Bones

Raw meat and eggs can contain pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, which can lead to serious gastrointestinal problems in cats. Raw eggs also contain avidin, an enzyme that interferes with the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat issues. Raw bones can splinter and cause choking or blockages in the digestive tract, as well as potentially damage a cat’s teeth.

Canned Tuna

While small amounts might not be harmful, feeding cats tuna meant for human consumption can lead to malnutrition because it doesn’t have all the nutrients cats need. Moreover, too much fish can result in thiamine deficiency, leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and brain damage. Mercury poisoning is also a risk with repeated exposure.

Canned Tuna


In small amounts, liver can be beneficial for cats, but in large quantities, it can cause vitamin A toxicity, a serious condition that can lead to bone deformities, bone growths on the elbows and spine, and osteoporosis. Cats require a balanced diet, and too much liver can disrupt this balance.

Foods with Caffeine

Caffeine is highly toxic to cats and can cause rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and restlessness. Found in many beverages and foods, such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, and chocolate, even small amounts can be dangerous and potentially lead to caffeine poisoning.

Foods with Xylitol

This artificial sweetener, commonly found in sugar-free gum, candy, and some peanut butters, can lead to a rapid insulin release in cats, causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can result in vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, seizures, and even liver failure.


Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to cats. Even in small amounts, chocolate can cause serious health issues such as heart arrhythmias, muscle tremors, or seizures. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate are especially dangerous.



Cats are highly sensitive to alcohol, and even a small amount can cause serious health issues. Alcohol can lead to dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature, along with causing seizures, respiratory failure, and potentially death.

Grapes & Raisins

Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure in cats. Symptoms can include vomiting, lethargy, and dehydration, and they may not appear immediately after consumption.

Milk & Dairy Products

Many cats are lactose intolerant, which means they lack the enzyme lactase needed to digest lactose in milk. Consumption of milk or dairy can lead to gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea and stomach discomfort.

Yeast Dough

Yeast dough can rise and expand in a cat’s stomach, leading to bloating and severe discomfort. Additionally, as it ferments, it can produce alcohol, which can lead to alcohol poisoning. The dough’s expansion can also create a blockage in the digestive system.

Yeast Dough

Uncooked Potatoes and Tomatoes

Both belong to the nightshade family and contain solanine, a compound that can be toxic to cats. While ripe tomatoes have lower solanine levels, green, unripe tomatoes and all parts of the potato plant can be particularly dangerous, causing gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, and confusion.

Dog Food

Though not toxic, dog food lacks the essential nutrients that cats require, like taurine, arachidonic acid, and vitamin A. Long-term feeding of dog food to a cat can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies and associated health problems.

Sings of Food Toxicity in Cats

  • Vomiting: This is a common sign that a cat has ingested something toxic, indicating the body’s attempt to rid itself of the harmful substance.
  • Diarrhea: Like vomiting, diarrhea is the body’s response to expel toxins and can lead to dehydration if not treated.
  • Lethargy: A sudden lack of energy or sleepiness can signal that a cat’s body is working hard to combat toxicity.
  • Seizures: Toxins affecting the nervous system may lead to seizures, which are sudden, uncontrolled bursts of activity.
  • Difficulty Breathing: If a cat is struggling to breathe or is panting heavily, it could be a sign of respiratory distress from a toxic substance.
  • Abnormal Gum Color: Pale, white, blue, or yellow gums can indicate serious internal issues, such as anemia or liver dysfunction, often associated with toxicity.

Sings of Food Toxicity in Cats

What to do if your Cats eats something Toxic?

If your cat eats something toxic, immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic. Do not try to induce vomiting unless instructed by a professional. If possible, identify what your cat has ingested, as this information can be crucial for the vet. Keep your cat calm and comfortable while you transport them to the veterinary clinic for assessment and treatment.

Tips to Prevent Cats from Eating Toxic Foods

  • Store Food Securely: Keep potentially toxic foods in closed cabinets or containers that cats cannot access to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Dispose of Garbage Properly: Ensure that garbage cans have tight-fitting lids and are not accessible to your cat to prevent them from scavenging harmful leftovers.
  • Use Pet-Safe Plants: Be selective with indoor plants and decorations, avoiding those that are known to be toxic to cats, like lilies and poinsettias.
  • Educate the Household: Make sure all family members and visitors know which foods are dangerous to cats to prevent accidental feeding.
  • Supervise Meal Times: Watch cats during human meal times and avoid tables and countertops where they might jump up and access unsafe foods.
  • Immediate Cleanup: Clean up any food spills immediately so that curious cats won’t be tempted to lick or eat what has been dropped.

Harmful Substances other than Food for Cats in the House

  • Lilies and other toxic plants
  • Antifreeze (ethylene glycol)
  • Household cleaners (bleach, detergents)
  • Essential oils
  • Human medications (acetaminophen, NSAIDs, antidepressants)
  • Rodenticides and insecticides
  • Fertilizers and plant food
  • Batteries
  • Paint and varnish
  • Mothballs

Human Foods Safe for Cats

  • Cooked Meat: Chicken, turkey, and lean beef are safe for cats in small amounts if they’re cooked without harmful seasonings like garlic or onions, providing protein and energy.
  • Cooked Eggs: Offering protein and various essential amino acids, cooked eggs can be a healthy treat but should be served plain and fully cooked to avoid the risk of salmonella.
  • Cheese: Many cats can tolerate small amounts of hard cheeses like cheddar, which can be a source of protein and calcium, but be cautious with lactose-intolerant cats.
  • Vegetables: Certain cooked vegetables such as carrots, peas, or broccoli can be given to cats as a source of fiber and vitamins but should be plain and without any added oils or seasonings.
  • Cantaloupe: A small amount of cantaloupe can be a sweet treat that is high in antioxidants and water content, though fruits should generally be given sparingly to cats due to their sugar content.

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