“Meow, Meeeeeooooow, I said MEEEEOOOOW you loser! Give me ALLL the tunnnaaaaa!”.
A rough translation of what my cats say to me when I open a can of tuna, or the few things I do make or open that they are interested in. Cats aren’t like dogs. They tend to be more particular with what graces their palates. Some refuse to eat chicken and others refuse to eat a certain brand of food. And everyone that doesn’t have a cat or love a cat will say – put food in their bowl; they’ll change their mind when they are starving. No, no, no they won’t. But they will find a snake, a bird, a tarantula or something yuck and leave it half-eaten on your pillow until you change your mind and change their food.
Nevertheless, just because cats are very particular with what they consume doesn’t mean they can’t get themselves seriously sick by eating what they shouldn’t. Like dogs, cats can eat human food that is harmful to them. Stuff we like to feed them, and they like to eat. But the bottom of the kitty line is, it’s still bad for them.
Recently I posted a blog: 21 Human Foods That Can Kill Your Dog. I thought its now the time for the feline version of this blog: 15+ Foods Toxic To Your Cat. So meow-we-go…
1) DAIRY/MILK PRODUCTS
Milk, yoghurt and other dairy– a nightmare for people who are lactose intolerant. But what about kitty?
A massive misconception people have is that milk is an awesome treat for cats. So, your kitty gets a bowl of milky yumminess often – they are worth it after all! This isn’t a great idea and certainly not something you should be feeding rescue kittens (get kitty milk mix from the vet or pet shop). Most cats are lactose-intolerant; milk can cause an upset stomach, diarrhoea and vomiting. Some claim yoghurt is better than milk but why give your kitty anything that may cause them harm or pain. Rather stick to vet approved treats.
Cats can smell and hear a can of tuna opening across a rugby field, through rain, hail, thunderbolts and lightening (very, very frightening). And when you do open a tin – they come a-running singing the song of their people and nagging until your soul grows weary and you feed them the tuna. But the next time you pop a can of “tunes” just remember this is maybe not the best idea.
Often “human” tuna is served in salt water, or oils that are not super for cats – and can cause renal failure. Cats can also become addicted to tuna, which can lead to mercury poisoning. So, unless you want to enrol your Buttons, Mr Tibbs, or Duchess in TA (Tuna Anonymous) rather do not give them your tuna (stick to giving them kitty tuna in moderation).
3) DOG FOOD
If you catch your Sylvester snatching a piece or two of your Pluto’s pellets don’t stress. But don’t feed your Sylvester, Pluto’s food because you have run out. Or if Sylvester is addicted to dog food – it’s a problem. Dog and cat food are made specifically for each species.
Quality cat food contains plenty of Vitamin A, Taurine (yes, that’s the stuff in energy drinks), Arachidonic Acid and protein. Dog food doesn’t contain high levels of these nutrients because dogs don’t need the same amounts as cats to survive. And dogs produce Taurine and Arachidonic Acid in their bodies – whereas cats need to ingest these in their food (they don’t naturally produce it). Without taurine, cats develop heart disease and have dental and vision issues.
4) ONIONS, GARLIC, CHIVES
Powdered, raw, chopped, cooked, in your meal or in baby food – onion, garlic and/or chives, like with your pooches, shouldn’t be part of your cats’ diet.
Large quantities can cause poisoning, gastro-intestinal upset and is toxic to your kitty. The problem with onion, garlic, chives and the like, is that it breaks down red blood cells in your cats and can cause anaemia. If your beauty exhibits any signs of – weakness, reduced appetite, pale gums, dark red urine and seems lethargic take him/her to the vet immediately. Even if they didn’t eat any of the above mentioned.
Obvious, right? Well, apparently people think it is funny to feed their kitty’s alcohol or “just a few sips of beer” or Amarula.
Alcohol affects a cat’s liver and brain the same way it does humans. But it takes a lot less to harm your kitty. Just a few licks or paw-dips of beer, Amarula, wine, or food cooked in alcohol can be detrimental to your Sylvester, Toulouse or Socks. Symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, coordination difficulties, breathing complications and even coma or death have been associated with alcohol poisoning in cats.
Have you ever bought dough from the Spar or the like and it looks like a pillow? Or maybe you make your own because you are a fancy foodie. The point is – it starts off little and then puffs up like a cumulonimbus cloud.
The fat-cloud action is exactly the problem for your kitty-cat. As it swells inside their belly, the dough can stretch your cat’s abdomen and cause extreme discomfort. Likewise, when the yeast ferments in the dough (to make it rise), it “makes” alcohol. This can lead to alcohol poisoning. You’ve already read why alcohol is toxic to your kitty.
7) RAW MEAT, LIVER, FISH AND EGGS
Some people feel it’s natural to feed their kitties a “raw diet” that includes unprepared eggs, fish, meat and liver. According to many highly-acclaimed vets and associations, raw food shouldn’t be fed to your cats unless the owners are 100 percent sure they are hormone-free, not off and of high quality.
Like raw meat, liver and fish, eggs may have bacteria that causes food poisoning. Think salmonella or even more recently Listeria … Early symptoms may include vomiting, fever, and enlarged lymph nodes. Immediately seek veterinary assistance if your cat behaviour changes or shows any of the symptoms mentioned. Not feeding your cats raw food products like eggs, is an egg-cellent idea.
8) FAT AND TRIMMINGS
Picking off the bacon, tjoppie or biltong fat for your pussycat? Giving your Socks or Whiskers… chicken or soup bones? It’s tempting when your eyes connect, and your furry-half says “meow-sablief”. But as in the case with dogs, fat and bones are terrible treats for your cats.
Excessive fat => obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, lameness (for no reason), dermatopathy, oral disease, lower urinary tract disease, increased inflammatory mediators, cardiovascular changes, and reduced longevity.
And even if your kitty asks “meow-sablief” – vets see way too many animals that are cruelly obese or with perforations from well-intentioned owners giving their kitties inappropriate treats.
Chocolate makes the world go around and is always the answer for humans – but not for your feline-better half.
Chocolate’s evil ingredient is theobromine (methylxanthines). An evilness that is present in all chocolate – even white (which some people claim isn’t chocolate at all). The darker the chocolate, however the more dangerous it is for cats. Some of the symptoms from chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems, tremors, seizures and death.
10) RAISINS AND GRAPES
Grapes and raisins – are sweet and easy for you kitty to gulp up.
Even a “paw-full” of grapes and/or raisins can cause your cat to become severely sick. It can lead to rapid development of kidney failure. Vomiting can occur within a half-day of the kitty ingesting grapes/raisins. Other signs (within a day) include lethargy, diarrhoea, reduced appetite, abdominal discomfort/pain, and decreased urination. It isn’t clear why grapes/raisins cause kidney failure in cats but what is certain is that even a small amount is toxic. So, make sure to keep these clear of you kitty’s paws.
11) COFFEE AND CAFFEINE DRINKS
Coffee (beans or ground), tea, cocoa, colas, energy drinks, cold medicine and even painkillers may contain caffeine and must NEVER be given to your cats or be accessible for them to dip-and-paw-lick.
Caffeine can be fatal to your pussycat. Signs like unexplained restlessness, fast breathing or unexplained panting, and muscle twitches can indicate caffeine poisoning. And certainly, warrants immediate veterinary attention. Keep your kitty’s favourite cuppa – a cuppa fancy-meowriffic-vet-approved pellets instead.
12) TOO MANY TREATS
You love your baby-fur-ball – you speak fluent feline (meow-meow-purr). And you love a tubby belly – which you now and then can pat once before you lose your arm. And part of that is loving to spoil your fluff-ball with treats.
It’s easy for adult cats to become obese – they don’t like to play as much anymore. Yes, they have the occasional zoomies (the sudden burst of energy when they roadrunner like lunatics around the house). But we overtreat them and under-play them. It’s well-intentioned but toxic to your kitty.
I once took one of my kitties to the vet and he asked what we were feeding our cats – I mentioned a popular supermarket brand and their wet-food. The vet said those foods are loved by cats but is like junk food – delicious, high in fat and super bad for them to eat all-day-every-day. He suggested that we try go for healthier wet-food and sachets – of course it was more expensive. But made a massive difference to their health and coats.
13) YOUR MEDICATION
Your precious mouser tussled with the local bully tom and is hurt. It’s in the middle of the night and your fur-baby is suffering – so you pop a painkiller in a bit of butter or tuna and let them eat it. Just until you can take them to the vet in the morning. As tempting as it is DON’T GIVE YOUR CATS YOUR MEDICATION. Also, don’t have your medication within their paws.
Your meds can make your fur-baby very sick. Never give your kitty any over-the-counter medicine (unless it is a specific instruction from a TRUSTED local vet) or anything chronically prescribed either – even if it is “herbal”!
Ingredients like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are common in pain relievers etc. And, are a lethal brew for your kitty.
14) XYLITOL, SWEETS AND GUM
Sweets, chewing-gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet foods are sweetened with xylitol.
Xylitol can cause your cat’s blood sugar to dip, as well as cause liver failure. Some symptoms can include vomiting, stupor, and coordination problems. In due course, your kitty may have seizures and liver failure can happen within just a few days.
15) ITEMS FOUND IN YOUR KITCHEN PANTRY
Common items found in a kitchen or pantry can be harmful to your pussycat. Baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and other spices are highly toxic for kitty.
Death of your loved one.
Now you know 15+ toxic foods to keep away from your furry-fabulous-feline/ better-kitty-half. Obviously use your instinct – if your kitty seems blue, stops eating or changes their behaviour in anyway rather be safe than sorry.
Please feel free to share any tips or knowledge you have picked up in the comment section below.