By Arden Moore for Vetstreet
“The main drivers of palatability for cats are protein and fat content, with moisture and texture being important too,” says Dr. Sally Perea, DVM, DACVN, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at P&G Pet Care in Ohio.
Some “people food” is safe for cats in small amounts, but certain items -- like raw fish and eggs -- are definitely hazardous. Dr. Perea lists the top seven no-no foods for kitties:
Feline Food Offender #1: Raw Fish
"Human-grade sushi is generally safe for people, but it can cause gastrointestinal upset in cats," says Dr. Perea. "There is thiaminase in raw fish that could break down an essential B vitamin called thiamine in cats. Thiamine deficiency can cause neurological problems -- and even lead to convulsions."
Feline Food Offender #2: Onions And Chives
Cats are considered two times more susceptible than dogs to the toxic allium components found in onions and chives, which can damage red blood cells even if a kitty only consumes a trace amount. "It doesn't matter if the onion is cooked, raw or powdered," says Dr. Perea. "Cats do not metabolize these compounds." For this reason, Dr. Perea cautions owners against offering human baby food to their cats to stimulate appetites, because it can contain onion powder, which could cause anemia in felines.
Feline Food Offender #3: Uncooked Eggs
Cats benefit from protein, but raw eggs may expose them to salmonella and other parasites that could lead to an inflamed pancreas, known as pancreatitis. Dr. Perea adds that it's safe to serve your kitty cooked eggs -- but only on occasion, and in small amounts.
Feline Food Offender #4: Bones
Bones can splinter and cause a cat to choke, as well as block the intestinal tract, possibly even perforating the intestines. "Never give a bone to a cat," says Dr. Perea. "And never give them anything that is as hard as their teeth, because it can cause dental fractures."
Feline Food Offender #5: Fat Trimmings
Feeding your feline fat trimmings could lead to gastrointestinal upset and even pancreatitis.
Feline Food Offender #6: Caffeinated Drinks
Some cats may be drawn to lapping up your coffee, tea or soda, but according to Dr. Perea, too much caffeine consumption can cause an increased heart rate and agitation in your kitty.
Feline Food Offender #7: Milk
In general, a cat's digestive tract becomes somewhat lactose intolerant once a cat reaches adulthood, causing diarrhea and other stomach upsets.
Foods That Are OK to Offer Your Kitty
On occasion, Dr. Perea says it is safe to give your cat a little canned tuna or a small bit of cheese. But keep in mind that felines only need about 200 to 250 calories a day, so go easy on the portions, limiting treats to about 10 percent (20 to 25 calories) of their daily intake needs.
How to Convince a Cat to Eat Canned Cat Food
If a cat has become accustomed to eating dry cat food and you want to switch it to canned, use these tips to make the transition.
For more information on hazardous feline foods, visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center website. And post the organization's phone number -- 888-426-4435 -- on your refrigerator for easy reference in the event of an emergency. The call center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
For more on pet health, click here.