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What Can Cats Eat?
Cat Food

What Can Cats Eat?

Every responsible feline parent will jump on every opportunity to share a bite with their pet, but is your cat allowed to eat just anything? You may even wonder, “What can cats eat? If this question is on your mind, then it depends on what you want to share. Some of your meals can be nourishing and nutritious to your kitty, while some may be poisonous. 

Obligate Carnivores: The need for meat

Can a cat be a vegetarian? The short answer is no; your kitty companion needs meat more than any other meal. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that meat has to be a daily essential, not just because of how delicious meats can be, but because some of the necessary vitamins and amino acids they need can only exist in meat and not vegetables. If you place your cat on only plant-based meals, their body will start breaking down the muscles and organs for energy. Some of the vitamins a cat gets from meat include:

  • Vitamin A: Lack of vitamin A may put your cat at risk of blindness.

  • Arginine: Arginine is essential for your cat to remove the waste product of protein, ammonia. Some signs that accompany arginine deficiency include weight loss, vomiting, neurological signs, or even death. 

  • Taurine: You can source all other nutrients necessary for cats from other means, but meat is the only known source of this amino acid.

Let’s talk more about the last one. According to VCA Animal Hospital, taurine is an essential amino acid for cats, and they can only get it from animal-based proteins. Unfortunately, the cat's body cannot store taurine in large quantities, so you should feed your feline buddy meat daily to replenish this amino acid.

Some meat options for your cat, which are good sources of taurine, include; 

  • Chicken

  • Turkey

  • Beef

  • Liver

  • Lamb

Also, note that feeding your cat raw meat can make them sick, so it’s better to cook the meat thoroughly. 

Safe Human Foods for Cats

As a concerned pet parent, you are worried, “What human food can cats eat?” Of course, who does not want to share even a piece of chocolate cake—which is toxic— with their feline buddy? 

Well, here are some safe human foods we can share.

  • Cooked prawns: Serving your cat cooked prawns is a nutritious and healthy option, just cook them properly and remove the shells. 

  • Tuna: Have you ever heard that cats are obsessed with tuna? Tuna should be in only spring water, with no additives or seasonings. You should be aware never to feed your cat tuna in brine (salt water) or sunflower oil because this is for human consumption. Also, feed your cat tuna in moderation because tuna is high in mercury, so frequent consumption can lead to mercury poisoning in your cat. 

  • Whole grains: Grains are a great source of vitamins and energy. They are cost-effective and easily digestible. Contrary to popular belief, grains are a great source of nutrients for cats, and there are no known ill effects or reductions in a cat's quality or length of life.

  • Eggs: Without a doubt, eggs are a good addition for your feline friend, whether scrambled or boiled. They have many nutrients, like amino acids, and are highly digestible. 

  • Vegetables: Your cat may not be a great fan of vegetables, but if they like it, some good options include cucumber, steamed broccoli, carrots, peas, and asparagus. Vegetables can offer lots of vitamins, fiber, and water, so if your cat loves veggies, use them.

  • Sweet potato: Your cat may eat sweet potatoes but in moderation. Try not to feed your kitty raw potatoes because they are difficult to digest and can cause stomach upset. Cook them properly and regulate the quantity.

  • Fruit: Cats can't taste sweetness, but that does not mean they can not eat fruits. What fruits can cats eat safely? Apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, coconut, watermelon, strawberries, bananas, pumpkin, pineapple, and kiwi.

Human Foods to Avoid

As much as there is the urge to share your food with your feline buddy, the real question is, “What can cats not eat?” The list goes on, as there are so many human foods you shouldn't let your cat eat because of their safety. Some of these meals can cause stomach upset, kidney and liver failure, or even death.

Alcohol: Just one teaspoon of alcohol can be poisonous to your cat, as the liver and kidneys will fight to get it out of the system.

Chocolate: As delicious as chocolate looks, it contains caffeine and an ingredient called theobromine, which can be highly toxic and fatal to your cat if ingested

Caffeine: Caffeine may be a great addition to your daily meal, but not for your kitty. If your cat ingests caffeine, it can cause signs of clinical toxicity.

Dairy products: Cats are not big fans of dairy products because most cats are lactose intolerant. Although dairy products, like cheese, are not poisonous to cats, they may cause stomach upset (diarrhea) and vomiting. 

Fat trimmings: Feeding fat to your cat is not healthy. Both uncooked and cooked fat can cause harm to your cat. They may cause intestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea, and inflamed pancreas. 

Raw meats, eggs, and fish: Giving your cat raw animal protein can be toxic and cause Salmonella or E.coli infections. To avoid this, be sure to cook your cat's meat properly.

Onion and garlic: Onion and garlic may cause anemia if you feed a huge amount. Eating a little of them may not be harmful. 

Grapes: giving your cat grapes may be poisonous. Scientists have few recordings that grape consumption causes kidney damage in cats, although the toxin responsible for the poisoning is unknown. As much as you can, keep grapes away from your cat. 

Xylitol: Xylitol is very toxic to cats and can also cause liver failure, seizure, and coma. Ensure you keep xylitol or anything containing xylitol far away from your cat because even a small amount of xylitol can elicit a sudden release of insulin, causing low blood sugar. If you notice your pet may have xylitol poisoning, reach out to your veterinarian. 

Best Feeding Practices for Cats 

Adult cats should eat twice or even once per day. Eating standard food may be too boring for your pet, so try adding treats to their daily routine. Now, with treats being a fun addition to your kitty's daily feed, moderation is necessary, and they should not make up more than 10% of your cat's daily intake.

Introducing a new meal to your cat can be a bit of a chore because cats are routine pets, which means they stick to a particular routine. The older your pet gets, the harder it becomes to introduce new meals to them.

A guideline to introduce new meals to your pet cat;

  • Day 1-2: feed 75% of the current meal with 25% of the new food. 

  • Day 3-4: serve 50% of the current food with 50% of the new meal.

  • Day 5-7: serve 75% of new food and 25% of the previous food.

  • Day 8-10: Serves only the new food.

This way, you can easily switch meals for your cat successfully. 

It is necessary that your cat eats properly and stays hydrated. When feeding your cat with a meal, especially dry foods, always keep the meal side by side with water. 

Conclusion 

As a caring pet parent, you should be careful about your cat’s food because even a little mistake can send you to the vet. What can cats eat besides cat food? There are plenty of options, but you don’t want to put the cat’s health at stake. Also, do not hesitate to consult your vet if you suspect any form of poisoning in your cat. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is canned tuna good for cats?

Cats can eat tuna if it is packed in spring water with no seasonings, salts, or additives. 

What fruits can cats eat?

Cats can eat apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, coconut, watermelon, strawberries, bananas, pumpkin, pineapple, and kiwi.

What vegetables can cats eat?

Cats can eat vegetables like cucumber, steamed broccoli, carrots, peas, and asparagus.

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