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Human Food for Cats

Everyday Foods that Are Safe as Cat Treats

By Madeleine Burry. February 21, 2013 | See Comments

  • expert or vet photo
    vet verified

    Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM

    Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

    Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

Human Food for Cats

While there are plenty of human foods that are off-limits for your cat, some of the foods that you eat yourself can be healthy, tasty alternatives to their canned or dry fair. Find out what foods you can use as cat treats here.

While there are plenty of human foods that are very problematic for your pet -- including onions, chocolate, and caffeinated foods -- some of the foods that you eat yourself can also be healthy, tasty options for your cat. Do keep in mind that your cat is carnivorous: since meat is necessary, don’t overly substitute vegetables into their diet in place of pet food or meat. Obesity is a growing problem amongst cats in the United States, so be mindful of portion size: a small dish for a human is a big meal for a cat. But, it’s a good gamble that using some everyday foods to treat your pet will be a lot healthier than some packaged treats.

Check out five great types of food that both you and your cat can eat. You can serve this food on its own, or mixed into cat food.

1. Fish

Making a tuna sandwich? Broiling some fish for dinner? You may find your cat twining around your legs, looking eager for some. Fish is perfectly fine to serve to your cat, although you should serve fish cooked, and not raw. While cats generally adore it, tuna fish should not be a primary source of nutrients for cats, since it can have traces of mercury which can accumulate in the body over time, and it doesn’t have all the nutrients that a cat needs for a healthy diet, such as vitamin E.

2. Meat

Cats are carnivorous creatures, so meat such as beef or chicken is always going to be appealing, whether it comes in a cat food can or from your stove. Because of the risks of salmonella and other food-borne illness, meat should always be cooked, and not given to cats raw. It’s also best to avoid giving them fatty parts of meat or bones, which cats can choke on.

3. Eggs

A great source of protein, your cat will love eating eggs scrambled or hard boiled. Be sure not to include lots of butter or oil while cooking the eggs. And, because of salmonella concerns, avoid giving cats raw eggs. As with all human food recommendations, if it’s not cooked enough for you to eat, it’s not okay for your cat to ingest either.

4. Fruits

While not all fruits are suitable for your cat to eat, some berries, bananas, and melons are all fit for cats to eat, as well as apples. Be sure to remove any seeds or pits, since your cat could choke on them.

Important note:

Cats should never eat grapes. It’s not yet fully understood, but cases of toxicity have been reported in dogs who’ve eaten grapes. Cats should also avoid citrus fruits, which they probably wouldn’t like the taste of anyway.

5. Vegetables

Even though they’re carnivorous and meat is essential to their diet, cats do enjoy eating vegetables as well. You can serve vegetables steamed and mashed up or cut into small pieces. Some of the vegetables cats enjoy are sweet potatoes, carrots, lettuce, green beans, zucchini, and squash.

Caution:

Onions and garlic are toxic for cats, and they should not be allowed to eat them.

More on Feeding Your Cat

Nutrition for Feeding a Senior Cat
What to Feed a Kitten
Why Cats Eat Grass and Other Self-Medicating Habits

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine.

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