All it takes is the sound of a can opener and your cat will come running. Cats love the taste, smell, and texture of flavorful canned foods which leads many pet owners to wonder whether their cat can eat similar “people foods”.

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While there are some safe foods for cats, there are just as many (or more) that you should avoid. Before you feed your cat something other than cat food, check this list to make sure it is a safe food for cats.

Disclaimer: This list is by no means exhaustive. Keep in mind that your cat’s body metabolizes food in a different way than yours, so some of the foods that are safe for you (or for dogs) may not be safe for your cat. Always make sure you are positive a food is safe before feeding it to your cat.

Can My Cat Eat Apples? In Moderation!

Apples are an excellent source of antioxidants and dietary fiber, but you should only feed them to your cat in small portions. When you do feed your cat apples, make sure to remove the peel and the seeds because these may contain toxins like arsenic.

Can My Cat Eat Bananas? Yes!

Bananas are a healthy snack for cats because they are rich in potassium as well as dietary fiber and other important nutrients. Just remember to feed this food in moderation – treats like this should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s daily diet.

Can My Cat Eat Nuts? Not recommended!

Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats but you should be careful about feeding them to your cat. Macadamia nuts are poisonous for cats, though other nuts like almonds, walnuts, or Brazil nuts might not be inherently dangerous. Keep in mind that the high fat content of nuts can be problematic for cats – excess fat can cause diarrhea and vomiting, so it is probably best to avoid these foods for your cat.

Can My Cat Eat Berries? Yes!

Blueberries are one of the highest food sources of antioxidants and they are a safe and healthy treat for your cat. Both raspberries and strawberries are also safe for your cat to eat. In fact, frozen berries can be a refreshing and tasty summer treat for cats.

Can My Cat Eat Melon? Yes!

Various types of melon are safe for your cat to eat and they are an excellent source of healthy nutrients. Some of the melons your cat might enjoy include cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon. Melons contain plenty of antioxidants which can boost your cat’s immune health as well as his overall nutrition. Just be careful not to feed him too much due to the sugar content of these fruits.

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Can My Cat Eat Carrots? Yes!

These bright orange vegetables are an excellent source of supplemental nutrition for cats. In addition to being loaded with dietary fiber, carrots are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and manganese. As is true for most vegetables, however, carrots should be cooked before feeding them to your cat.

Can My Cat Eat Avocado? In Moderation!

Avocadoes are loaded with healthy nutrients including dietary fiber, monounsaturated fats, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. In fact, there is a pet food brand called AvoDerm that features avocado in all of their products. Though avocado is extremely rich in nutrients, you have to be careful how much you feed your cat due to the high fat content. You should also avoid feeding your cat the peel or the pit because these may contain toxins.

Can My Cat Eat Canned Fish? Not recommended!

Though tuna and salmon are both excellent sources of protein for cats, the type of canned fish intended for human consumption is generally not the best choice to feed your cat. Canned fish tends to be very high in sodium and oil-packed varieties will be too high in fat for your cat. If you want to feed your cat tuna or salmon, stick to a wet cat food that features either ingredient.

Can My Cat Eat Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes? In Moderation!

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are sometimes used as gluten-free, grain-free carbohydrates in cat food. These ingredients are generally easy for cats to digest, as long as they are properly cooked. It is important to note, however, that there are other ingredients that offer more nutritional value, so don’t feed your cat too much of either. You should also keep in mind that unripe potatoes contain a chemical called solanine which can be damaging to your cat’s nervous system and digestion – you should also steer clear of the leaves and stems of the potato plant.

Can My Cat Eat Peas? Yes!

Green peas are a common carbohydrate used in grain-free pet foods. In addition to being loaded with carbohydrate energy and dietary fiber, peas are also a source of plant protein. You can feed your cat steamed or boiled peas in moderation, but don’t feed them as more than 10% of your cat’s daily diet.

Can My Cat Eat Rice? Yes!

Rice is a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrate for many cats as long as they don’t have problems digesting grains. Brown rice is the most nutritious source of rice, though white rice offers good digestibility for cats with sensitive stomachs.

Can My Cat Eat Bread? In Moderation!

Many cats like to snack on bread, as strange as that may seem. Just make sure that it is a whole-grain or multi-grain bread that isn’t overly sweetened, and never feed your cat raw dough.

Can My Cat Eat Oatmeal? Yes!

Not only is oatmeal gluten-free, but it is a complex carbohydrate that offers good digestibility for many cats. In addition to being rich in fiber, oatmeal is also a good source of B vitamins. The key to digestibility it to cook the oats properly.

Can My Cat Eat Pumpkin and Squash? Yes!

Both pumpkin and squash are low in calories – they are also excellent sources of dietary fiber and healthy nutrients for your cat. If your cat needs a little extra fiber in his diet, stir some pumpkin or squash puree into his food.

Can My Cat Eat Chocolate? No!

Most cats aren’t attracted to chocolate anyway, but you should still be careful. In addition to the sugar content, chocolate also contains a dangerous compound called theobromine which can be toxic in even very small quantities. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate generally have the highest levels of theobromine, so keep these foods far away from your cat. Symptoms of theobromine poisoning may include heart palpitations, seizures, tremors, and even sudden death.

Can My Cat Eat Raw Meat or Fish? Not Recommended!

Meat and fish are some of the primary ingredients in many of the best cat food recipes. What you have to remember, however, is that these products are cooked to make them safe for your cat to ingest. Never feed your cat raw meat or fish because it could transmit food-borne pathogens like salmonella. If you choose to feed your cat a raw or frozen raw food diet, make sure to store the food properly and follow basic food handling safety precautions.

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Can My Cat Eat Bones? Sometimes!

Wild cats consume most of the body of their prey which sometimes includes the bones. You have to remember, however, that they would be raw bones, not cooked bones. When bones are cooked (especially poultry bones) they can become brittle and are likely to break. A splintered bone could perforate your cat’s esophagus or get lodged in his throat.

Can My Cat Eat Onions or Garlic? No!

All foods belonging to the onion family are toxic for cats in large doses. A slice of green onion or a small clove of garlic may produce nothing more than minor digestive upset, but if eaten in sufficient quantities, foods in the onion family can cause your cat to develop anemia.

Can My Cat Eat Grapes or Raisins? No!

Though grapes may seem like a healthy snack for your cat, they are actually incredibly toxic – so are raisins, since they are simply dried grapes. Feeding your cat grapes could put him at risk for kidney failure. Some of the early signs may include vomiting and hyperactivity.

Can My Cat Drink Alcohol? No!

It may seem like an obvious answer, but some cat owners think it would be funny to feed their cats alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can have an extremely damaging effect on your cat’s brain and liver the same way it affects your own, though the consequences will be much faster for your cat than they are for you. Even two teaspoons of whisky could put a 5-pound cat into a coma and three teaspoons could be fatal.

Can My Cat Ingest Caffeine? No!

In significant amounts, caffeine can be fatal for your cat so keep him away from caffeinated beverages including soda, coffee, tea, and energy drinks. Signs of poisoning may include rapid breathing, heart palpitations, restlessness, muscle tremors, and bleeding.

Can My Cat Eat Dairy Products? Sometimes!

Many cats develop lactose intolerance, especially as they get older. Certain dairy products like yogurt and hard cheeses as well as low-lactose cheeses like cottage cheese may be okay for your cat in small amounts, but some cats simply can’t tolerate dairy. And despite what you may see in the movies, it is not a good idea to give your cat milk.

Can My Cat Eat Mushrooms? Not Recommended!

Some cats love the smell of mushrooms and would eat them, if they could get their paws on some. While a small amount of mushrooms may not harm your cat, certain varieties are incredibly toxic so it is better to be safe than sorry. Wild mushrooms contain a number of harmful toxins and may induce symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and liver damage. Unfortunately, these symptoms tend not to develop until 6 to 24 hours after ingestion and they may subside and then come back even worse. If you don’t catch mushroom toxicity early and get your cat the treatment he needs, he could go into liver failure.

Can My Cat Eat Eggs? Yes!

Similar to meat and fish, eggs are an excellent source of complete protein for your cat – this means that they contain all of the essential amino acids. Again, however, you should only feed your cat cooked eggs to reduce the risk for food-borne illness.

Can My Cat Eat Game Meats? Yes!

Game meats are an excellent alternative source of protein for cats. Common meats like beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb can sometimes trigger food allergies in cats but uncommon proteins like game meats (think duck, rabbit, venison, etc.) are less likely to cause a problem. Game meats also tend to be more lean than beef and other commercially raised animals.

Can My Cat Eat Fat Trimmings? Not Recommended!

It may seem harmless to offer your cat some fat trimmings or other tidbits from your meal, but it could be dangerous. Fat trimmings are extremely high in calories which can put your cat at risk for obesity, not to mention the risk for pancreatitis. You should also avoid giving your cat cooked bones to chew on.

Can My Cat Eat Sugar and Sweeteners? No!

There is no good reason to include sugar or other sweeteners in your cat’s diet. Some low-quality pet food manufacturers use sugar to make their product more appealing for cats, but this ingredient serves no nutritional value. In fact, certain kinds of sweetener can actually be toxic for cats – this is the case for xylitol. Xylitol can be found in all kinds of gum, candy, and other sweetened foods and it can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar for your cat. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning may include vomiting, loss of coordination, lethargy, and seizures. It may also lead to liver failure.

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Can My Cat Eat Spinach? Yes!

Often labeled a superfood, spinach is loaded with healthy nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. To improve digestion for this ingredient, steam the spinach first. You should also be mindful of feeding your cat too much spinach if he has a history of calcium oxalate bladder stones because this vegetable is high in calcium.

Can My Cat Eat Broccoli? Yes!

Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can offer your cat, though you should make sure to steam or boil it to ensure that it is digestible. Broccoli is rich in dietary fiber and an excellent source of antioxidants. It is also rich in vitamin C and carotenoids.

Can My Cat Eat Dog Food? No!

Though dog food and cat food may look alike, they are completely different products. Not only is dog food formulated according to a different nutrient profile, but it contains higher levels of certain nutrients which could be bad for your cat. If you have a dog in your household, try to keep your cat out of his food.

Common Foods that are Good and Safe To Feed Your Cat (in moderation)

Many cats don’t enjoy people foods which, in all honestly, probably isn’t a bad thing. Your cat is better off getting his nutrition from a complete and balanced cat food rather than from table scraps. If you want to offer your cat a treat, or if you’re thinking about making your own cat food, there are some foods that are safe for cats. Many proteins like meat, poultry, eggs, and fish are safe for cats as long as they are lean and properly cooked. Fresh fruits like bananas and melon are safe for cats, as are certain vegetables when they are steamed or cooked. Cats have a limited ability to digest grains, but there are a number of them that are technically safe. Here is a list of safe foods for your cat:

Proteins that are safe for cats:

  • Beef (lean)
  • Chicken (boneless, skinless)
  • Deli meat (lean)
  • Duck
  • Eggs (cooked)
  • Herring
  • Lamb
  • Liver
  • Rabbit
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Whitefish

Fruits that are safe for cats:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Watermelon

Vegetables that are safe for cats:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Squash

Grains that are safe for cats:

  • Barley
  • Bread
  • Brown rice
  • Corn
  • Couscous
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Tapioca 

Common Foods That Are Bad and You Should Avoid Feeding Your Cat

Though there are a number of “people foods” that cats can eat, some foods may cause digestive upset or toxicity. As a general rule, you should never feed your cat something if you aren’t 100% sure that it is safe. If you aren’t absolutely positive, it isn’t worth taking the risk. Here are some of the most dangerous foods you should avoid feeding your cat:

  • Alcohol
  • Baby food
  • Bones (cooked)
  • Caffeine
  • Canned tuna
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Citrus oil
  • Dog food
  • Energy drinks
  • Fat trimmings
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Human vitamins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peanut Butter
  • Raisins
  • Raw eggs
  • Raw fish
  • Raw meat
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Tea
  • Tobacco
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast dough

In addition to the foods on the list above, there are some foods which may be okay in small amounts or for certain cats. For example, some cats can eat hard cheeses and yogurt, though other milk-based dairy products may be a problem. Many cats are lactose intolerant, however, so be mindful of this before you feed your cat any dairy products. You should also be careful about how you prepare the “people foods” you offer your cat. Grains, vegetables, and proteins should all be cooked prior to feeding to increase digestibility. Fruits can be fed fresh as long as you remove the seeds and peel.

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Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is a freelance writer specializing in the subject of pet health and wellness. An avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate has a great deal of experience writing about all kinds of pets and all aspects of pet care. Her work has been featured on a number of pet websites and she is a regular columnist for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine.

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