Cat peeking into open fridge

Key takeaway

Cats can eat a variety of human foods, including meat, fish, and certain foods and veggies. Pet parents should talk to their veterinarian before sharing new foods with their cat.

Sharing your food with your cat is a great bonding experience and allows you to give them a little treat. But unfortunately, not all human foods are safe for your cat to eat, even though they might beg for something off your plate. 

Additionally, cats don't need human food, and in some cases, they shouldn't eat any human food because they get all the nutrients they need from their cat food and regular diet. But, of course, sometimes, you might want to share your snacks. So what human foods can cats eat? Here is our list of human foods cats can eat. 

Human foods that cats can eat

Meats

Lean meats are safe for cats as long as they're plain, which means no oils or seasonings. Your cat should only ever be given meat that's cooked with the bones and skin removed beforehand. Depending on the type of meat, you may also cut it into small pieces to avoid a choking hazard. 

Tuna

What do cats like to eat? Fish! Tuna is a great choice for cats because they love fish. Additionally, oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to eyesight, joints, and brain health. You can feed your cat canned or fresh tuna, depending on what you plan to eat yourself. Of course, if you're feeding them canned tuna, only feed them tuna in water instead of oils. Never feed your cat any tuna with added salt, which can be dangerous to cats in large doses. 

Salmon

Salmon is another great choice for cats, and many cat foods are salmon-flavored because cats love the smell and taste. Like tuna, salmon is another good source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Always cook the salmon before feeding it to your cat, as cats should never eat raw food. 

Eggs

Eggs are another healthy source of protein that cats can enjoy. They're also loaded with amino acids and are low in calories, making them a healthy treat for your feline friend. Of course, always cook your cat's eggs; they can eat them boiled or scrambled. Since there's a risk of salmonella, always wash your hands after handling raw eggs. 

Turkey

Turkey is a lean protein that cats love because they're carnivores. It contains essential amino acids that can improve immunity, and it satisfies your cat's nutritional need for high protein and low carbohydrates. Of course, only feed your cat plain, cooked turkey. 

Veggies

Some cats are more interested in vegetables than others. Because cats are carnivores, they don't always like vegetables. In addition, vegetables contain carbs, which cats have little nutritional need for. However, if your cat seems interested in your food, you can offer them the following vegetables:

Spinach

Spinach is full of vitamins A, C, and K and essential minerals like iron and calcium, making it an incredibly healthy cat-friendly snack. Some commercial cat foods actually contain spinach because it's a superfood and full of essential vitamins and minerals. However, some cats, including those with bladder stones, should not eat spinach.1 

Broccoli

Broccoli is another healthy food for cats because it contains vitamin C and fiber that your cat needs for a healthy digestive system. However, as a cruciferous vegetable, broccoli can make cats gassy which may be unpleasant for cats and their pet parents.

Carrots

While cats don't require any vegetables in their diets, they may still enjoy crunching on some carrots every now and then. However, raw carrots can be a choking hazard for cats, so always cook them to soften them up and make them easier for your cat to chew. 

Corn

Commercial cat food uses corn as a filler ingredient instead of more expensive animal byproducts, so your cat may already be getting corn in their diet. Corn is high in fiber, and many cats can enjoy a piece of corn without becoming a choking hazard because it's already a good size for them. When feeding your cat corn, never give them corn on the cob. Instead, take the corn off the cob to prevent a choking hazard or potential intestinal blockage. 

Peas

Peas are another great vegetable for cats because they're high in fiber and vitamins A and C. Like corn, they're also often used as a filler ingredient in commercial cat foods. When feeding your cat peas, always remove them from the pods. Peapods are a choking hazard and can be difficult to digest, leading to mild GI issues. 

Fruits

Similar to vegetables, some cats may show little interest in fruit. However, since your cat watches everything you do, they might want a taste of your snack from time to time. Believe it or not, many fruits are safe for cats to snack on, including: 

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a low-calorie treat for cats and dogs that's high in fiber and promotes digestive health. It may also be a good natural treatment for cats with loose stool or diarrhea. Plain, cooked pumpkin in a can or baked fresh is safe for cats, but never feed your cat pumpkin pie filling as it's filled with sugar that can lead to weight gain and cause spikes in blood sugar levels in cats with diabetes. 

Blueberries

Blueberries are a superfood packed with antioxidants and vitamins A and C. Many pet foods already contain blueberries because of their benefits to felines. 

Apples

Apples are high in fiber and vitamin C, so your cat can have a small piece every now and then. However, when feeding your cat apples, always remove the seeds, stems, and core, as they contain trace amounts of cyanide that's toxic to cats in high quantities. 

Cantaloupe

Everyone loves cantaloupe during the summer, so it's no surprise you might consider sharing a piece with your cat. Cantaloupe is high in antioxidants and beta carotene that can support your cat's skin and eye health. It's also relatively low in calories but still contains sugar, so your cat should only eat cantaloupe in moderation. Always avoid feeding your pet the rind because it can be a choking hazard and is difficult to digest. 

Bananas

Another cat-safe snack, bananas, contain potassium and fiber to support your cat's health and wellness. However, bananas can cause digestive issues in cats, so only feed them a small piece to see how they react to it. Additionally, always toss the peel, which is too difficult for your cat to digest. 

Carbs

Cats don't have a nutritional need for carbohydrates outside of their regular cat food because they don't have as many enzymes to support the digestion of carbs as dogs or humans do. However, that doesn't necessarily make carbs unsafe. While excess carbs could lead to health issues like diabetes,2 feeding your cat carbs in moderation is considered safe. So here are carbs you can share with your cat: 

Brown Rice

In small doses, brown rice is safe for cats as long as it's cooked and plain. Brown rice is high in fiber, supporting your cat's digestive system. Cats can also eat white rice. 

Bread

Bread can be a good source of protein and fiber, but it depends on the type of bread. Of course, cats shouldn't eat bread too often because it's packed with carbs, which can lead to cat obesity. Additionally, some breads are high in calories, which can lead to weight gain in cats.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is full of healthy carbs and B vitamins and is often found in commercial cat foods. You can feed your cat raw or cooked oatmeal, and if you're going to cook it, only use water instead of milk since adult cats are lactose intolerant. But, of course, your cat can only eat plain oatmeal; never add sugar or cinnamon to your cat's oatmeal as both can be toxic at high levels.

Human foods cats can’t eat

Foods You Shouldn't Give To Your Cat

While there are many foods that you can share with your cat, there are also some that you can't because they're toxic and can lead to severe illness. If you’re wondering, "what can cats not eat?”, here are human foods you definitely shouldn’t give to your cat.

  • Grapes and raisins: Grapes and raisins are toxic to cats, leading to illness within just a few hours. Unfortunately, the reason why grapes and raisins are toxic to pets is unknown. 
  • Onions and garlic: Onions and garlic can lead to anemia in cats and are poisonous in large quantities. Any form of onion or garlic, including powder, is toxic to cats. 
  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains toxins that can cause severe illnesses with symptoms ranging from diarrhea to seizures in cats. 
  • Macadamia nuts: Macadamia nuts contain unhealthy oils and fats for cats, which can cause lethargy and GI issues. 
  • Bread dough: Raw dough contains alcohol that can be dangerous for your cat, leading to difficulty breathing, coma, and possibly death. This food may also expand in your cat's stomach, causing GI issues. 
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can lead to ethanol poisoning in cats, causing depression of the nervous system and resulting in vomiting, weakness, and loss of coordination. It can also cause severe dehydration. 
  • Xylitol: Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in many foods, including peanut butter, yogurt, candy, and syrup. Even in low quantities, xylitol can be toxic to cats, prompting a release of insulin that drops your cat's blood sugar and can be potentially fatal. 

Talk to a vet if you’re unsure what's safe to feed your cat. While cats get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their regular diets, your vet can provide you with a complete list of safe or unsafe human foods for cats. 

Signs your cat ate something they shouldn’t 

Human Food For Cats: FAQs

Is it OK to give a cat human food?

It depends. There are many safe human foods to share with your pet in moderation. However, your cat's treats should only make up around 10% or less of their diet, so if you've already given your cat a fair share of treats for the day, avoid giving them any more since it can lead to weight gain and obesity. 

Why does my cat eat human food?

There are many reasons why your cat might like human food. Cats may think your food tastes good, or they may be looking for some variety since they eat the same thing every day. Cats may also show an interest in your food because you're eating it. 

What human food is good for cats?

Many human foods are safe for cats to eat. However, most cats don't need anything extra in their diet. Of course, you can share your snacks from time to time; just don't make a habit out of it. Depending on what your cat likes, you can use human food for treats or share some of your snacks whenever you're eating. Always talk to your vet before feeding your cat something new to ensure it's safe for them. 

Cat on counter looking at ingredients for a salad

Final Notes

Many human foods that you love are safe to share with your cat. However, just because something is safe to eat doesn't mean your cat needs it. While sharing your snack can be a great bonding experience with your cat, they should be getting all the nutrients they need from their regular cat food. When sharing safe human foods with your cat, never feed them more than 10% of their diet in treats because it could lead to weight gain. 

Talk to a Dutch vet whenever you're unsure of what to feed your cat. Our licensed vets can help you find the right cat food and discuss healthy snacks and treats for your feline friend. 

References

  1. Feline Calcium Oxalate Uroliths - University of Minnesota. https://www.vetmed.umn.edu/sites/vetmed.umn.edu/files/feline_calcium_oxalate_uroliths.pdf.

  2. Verbrugghe, Adronie, and Myriam Hesta. “Cats and Carbohydrates: The Carnivore Fantasy?” Veterinary Sciences, MDPI, 15 Nov. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5753635/.