Can Cats Eat…

Cats can be finicky eaters, and their dietary preferences can vary significantly from one cat to another. Some cats are very particular about the type of food they will eat, while others are more flexible and will eat a wider variety of foods.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they require a diet that is primarily made up of animal protein. In the wild, cats get the majority of their nutrition from prey animals such as rodents, birds, and reptiles.

Outside of your cat’s daily nutritional requirements, you may notice your cat’s desire to eat foods like green beans or coconut oil. While there are some foods that cats enjoying eating, it is important to be mindful of your cat’s nutritional needs and to feed them a balanced meat-based diet that meets their specific needs.

A black cat sitting in a blue plastic bowl facing a window.
Cats require a diet high in animal protein. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

For your cat’s health, keep potentially harmful foods out of reach. This includes foods that are toxic to cats, such as chocolate, raisins, and grapes, as well as foods that are high in salt, sugar, or fat, which can be unhealthy for cats if consumed in large amounts.

Vegetables

Cats can eat certain vegetables in small quantities. If you want to feed your cat a few vegetables as a treat, make sure the vegetables are cooked or steamed, as raw vegetables can be difficult for cats to digest.

Pumpkin

Cats can eat pumpkin in moderate amounts.

Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and can help with digestion in cats. Some cat food contains pumpkin as a source of added fiber.

Pumpkin is also a good source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.

Pumpkin is generally safe for cats to eat in small amounts as a treat. It is important to remember to only give your cat plain, cooked pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, as the added sugars and spices can be harmful to your cat.

Green beans

It is generally safe for cats to eat small amounts of cooked green beans as a treat. Green beans are a good source of fiber and contain a number of nutrients that can be beneficial for cats, including vitamins K, C, and A, as well as antioxidants.

Orange tabby cat eating green beans from a white plate.
Some cats love to eat green beans.

Other vegetables that cats can eat in small quantities include:

  • Cooked or steamed broccoli
  • Cooked or steamed asparagus
  • Cooked or steamed spinach
  • Grated carrots
  • Grated zucchini

Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic contain compounds called thiosulphates, which can be toxic to cats and can cause anemia if ingested in large amounts. Cats are more sensitive to the effects of thiosulphates than dogs or humans, and even small amounts can cause harm.
More: Why are Garlic and Onions Bad for Cats?

A photo of a blue of garlic and an onion.
Avoid letting your cat eat anything that contains onion or garlic. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Wheatgrass

Cats can safely consume small amounts of wheatgrass as a treat. Wheatgrass is a type of grass that is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, calcium, and magnesium.

An orange tabby sniffs some cat grass in a gray pot on a wooden table. Colorful paper lanterns on the ceiling are in the background.
An orange tabby checks out the cat grass. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Fruit

Cats can safely eat a variety of fruits as a treat, but it is important to keep in mind that fruit should not be a staple of a cat’s diet. Cats require a diet that is primarily made up of animal protein, and they do not have the same nutritional needs as humans. Fruits should be fed to cats in moderation, and it is important to ensure that they are getting the nutrients they need from other sources.

Some safe fruits that cats can eat include:

  • Apples (without the seeds)
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cranberries
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Pears (without the seeds)
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries

It is important to remove any seeds, pits, or stems from the fruit before giving it to your cat, as these can be choking hazards or contain toxins. In addition, it is best to avoid giving your cat fruit that is sweetened or canned, as these can be high in sugar and additives that are not suitable for cats.

Grapes and raisins

It is generally not recommended to feed raisins to cats. Raisins can be toxic to cats and can cause a number of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, raisin ingestion can lead to kidney failure in cats.

The amount of raisins that is toxic to cats varies based on the size of the cat and the type of raisin. It is not clear why raisins are toxic to cats, but it is thought that they may interfere with the normal function of the kidneys.

Condiments and sauces

Tomato sauce

It is generally not recommended to feed tomato sauce to cats. Tomato sauce is typically made with tomatoes, which are safe for cats to eat in small amounts. However, tomato sauce often contains a number of other ingredients that can be harmful to cats, including onions, garlic, and spices.

Tomato sauce is often high in salt, sugar, and other additives, which can be unhealthy for cats if consumed in large amounts.

Oils and fats

While some oils can provide certain health benefits, they should be given in moderation and should not make up a significant portion of your cat’s diet.

Fish oil

Fish oil can provide omega-3 fatty acids, which can have anti-inflammatory effects and may be beneficial for skin and coat health. Fish oil can be given to cats in small amounts, but it should not make up a significant portion of their diet.

Coconut oil

Cats can safely consume small amounts of coconut oil as a supplement to their diet. Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which can have a number of potential health benefits for cats, including improving skin and coat health, reducing inflammation, and aiding in weight loss.

However, it is important to use coconut oil in moderation and to be mindful of the caloric content. A little bit of coconut oil can go a long way, and too much can cause weight gain in cats.

Grains and pasta

Cats can eat small amounts of bread although it is high in calories and can contribute to weight gain in cats if fed in large amounts. Any bread that your cat eats should be plain and not contain any nuts.

Cats can eat rice in small amounts as a treat as long as the rice is cooked, plain, and unseasoned. Raw rice can be hard for your cat to digest.

The same goes for pasta. A small amount of cooked and plain pasta is fine for a cat to ingest.

Sweets and desert

Cats should not be given desserts or sweets as they do not need these types of foods in their diet and can lead to health issues such as obesity and dental problems.

Cats lack the ability to taste sweet, so often a cat that is interested in licking cake crumbs off a plate is responding to the texture.

Chocolate

Do not feed chocolate to cats.

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which can be toxic to cats if ingested in large amounts. Theobromine can cause a number of symptoms in cats, including vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, tremors, and seizures. In severe cases, chocolate ingestion can be life-threatening.

The amount of theobromine that is toxic to cats depends on the type of chocolate and the size of the cat. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate contain higher levels of theobromine compared to milk chocolate, and are more likely to cause problems in cats.

Chocolate also contains caffeine which is also harmful to cats.

All types of chocolate can be harmful to cats, and it is important to keep chocolate out of reach of cats to prevent accidental ingestion.

Pastries and cake

It is generally not recommended to feed cake and pastries to cats.

Cake is often high in sugar and other additives that are not suitable for cats, and it can contribute to weight gain and other health problems if consumed in large amounts. In addition, many cakes and pastries contain ingredients that can be harmful to cats, such as chocolate, nuts, and raisins.

Be aware of what your cat is eating

It’s important to always be mindful about what your cat is eating. While cats may not be as aggressive about begging for human food as dogs are, some cats will try and sneak food off your plate.

Never leave your food unattended. Keep harmful food like chocolate and onions out of the reach of your cat.

If your cat has gotten into food that they should have, make sure you monitor them for any signs of a negative reaction. If your cat has eaten food that is toxic to them or is showing signs of distress, seek medical help immediately.

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