Many articles have been written about what not to feed dogs in regard to human foods, but I have not come across very many articles containing information regarding cats and human foods. So with the help of the Internet and some outside research I have come up with some interesting information.
As most of us know, cats have different nutritional needs than dogs and their humans. They require twice the protein, so which human foods are healthy for cats and which ones should be avoided?
In all honesty treats do not have to be nutritional, as treats are really meant to help in the bonding experience between a human and their cat. However, treats should not exceed more than 10 percent of a cat's daily caloric intake.
To begin we will start with the no-no foods.
- Chocolate: As with dogs, chocolate is a no-no for cats also. Seriously though most cats do not like chocolate or for that matter even have a sweet tooth. Cats in that respect are definitely not like dogs, which will eat most anything. However, for your information, chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, it is a bittersweet alkaloid that acts as a stimulant to the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. The amount of theobromine found in chocolate depends on the type of chocolate, unsweetened Baker's chocolate contains eight to ten times more than milk chocolate. Should your cat consume any chocolate, call you vet at once, giving them the weight of your cat and the type of chocolate that was eaten and how long ago it was consumed. Your vet can then decide whether you can induce vomiting at home or if there is a need to bring your cat to the office.
- Onions/Chives/Garlic: Generally cats will not eat either of these things if offered by themselves, however when they are mixed with something they like, it is another story. An accidental amount mixed in with a piece of meat more than likely will not cause a problem as it is below the toxic amount. However, if you have your cat on a baby food diet for some reason, be careful and read the labels as onion powder is added to most baby foods for flavor. Onion powder, as well as the other two, are part of the allium family and can affect red blood cells and cause a blood disorder known as Heinz body anemia. Symptoms of this condition are vomiting, diarrhea, discolored urine and a loss of appetite.
- Alcohol: It amuses some people to see cats and dogs intoxicated, unfortunately it is a stupid thing to do. In cats, alcohol can suppress the nervous system and cause respiratory failure. Lucky for us, cats usually do not drink alcohol like some dogs do.
- Chicken Bones: Cooked chicken bones and even raw ones can splinter and cause serious problems inside a cat. They can lodge in a cat's throat, splinter inside and cause damage to the intestinal tract and other internal organs. Make certain your chicken scraps are in a safe secure garbage pail.
- Coffee and caffeinated teas: Again this seems like a silly topic to mention when talking about cats, but there is always that one cat, who will try anything once. These beverages stimulate the central nervous and cardiac systems and within several hours can cause vomiting and heart palpitations in cats. Call your vet should your cat drink any of these substances at once.
- Xylitol: Along with the coffee and teas, this sweetener can cause problems by dropping the cat's blood pressure and causing a seizure. It is also found in diet candies so be careful with your cats and dogs, as it can be very toxic.
- Mushrooms: Most cats will not touch a mushroom on a bet, but again, there is that one cat who is adventurous and will try anything edible or not. Mushrooms contain toxins that affect multiple systems in cats. A tiny bite mixed in gravy, more than likely will not hurt the cat, as most cats would not touch it.
- Raw egg whites: Cooked eggs are a great treat for cats, my guys love an egg now and then, however raw egg whites contain an enzyme that destroys biotin, a essential B family vitamin.
- Grapes, raisins, salt: Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin that may cause kidney damage to cats and salt in large quantities can lead to electrolyte imbalances.
So what can you feed your cat as treats, other than the established cat treats? Well, I feed my cats small pieces of raw beef (usually stew beef, cut in small pieces.) Cooked liver is an excellent source of vitamin A, however too much liver can cause a vitamin A toxicity, which means a poor appetite, dull coat and a possible deformity of vertebrae in the neck. A little liver goes a long way. Do not feed raw liver or cooked liver as a regular mealtime food.
Canned tuna (the human kind) is a great treat in moderation roughly about one tablespoon day. My cats love to drink the tuna water that I pour from the can more than they like the tuna itself. Do not feed your cat human tuna as a regular diet as it lacks the proper nutritional needs for your cat.
Milk is another things some cats cannot tolerate, as the sugar in the cow's milk cannot be broken down in the cat's digestive system. Yogurt and lactose free milk is a better suggestion.
Starchy snacks are okay to feed your cat in small amounts. Things such as cheese, corn, potatoes, cereal, rice in small amounts is fine. Cats do not need carbohydrates and most cats prefer meat or fish treats to people food anyway. Most veggies are too hard for a cat to digest; their systems were designed for mice and small prey.
Home cooking for your cat should be discouraged. It is next to impossible to come up with a nutritional diet that is perfect for your cat.
I personally had a cat that would not under any circumstances eat anything but raw beef, not knowing what I do now; he nearly died from the lack of proper vitamins.
It was necessary for me to supplement his diet with vitamins and minerals concocted in a kitten bottle with kitten food and water, everyday of his life in order to keep him alive. He lived to be 10 years old and I hand fed him every day of his life, his kitten bottle of nutrients.
So the answer is feed your cat, food made for cats and you will have a much simpler life and a healthier cat.
If this article has been of benefit, please visit my web site and blog at http://www.cats-and-dogs-on-the-web.com