What Can Cats Eat? The Complete Guide

Many owners with good intentions end up feeding their cats something that isn’t good for him or her. Cats are tough enough to get over minor mishaps (like if they eat the dog’s food instead of their own). But some foods can do serious damage. To help owners everywhere, we’re going to answer the question: What can cats eat?

We start out by giving the short list of what cats can and cannot eat, then we go into a little bit more detail about each item. Cat food is an obvious yes, so we don’t include it in our list.

What Can Cats Eat?

  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Catnip
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggs
  • Ham
  • Potatoes (if they’re cooked)
  • Rice
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelons
  • Yogurt

Can Cats Eat Apples?

Yes. Apples are safe for cats and have a lot of calcium for strong bones. Apples also have pretty good helpings of vitamins, some minerals, and a dash of healthy antioxidants.

If you do feed apples to your cat, make sure to remove the seeds. Apple seeds have trace amounts of the chemical cyanide. Cyanide is very poisonous to cats (and people). Your cat is a pretty small creature, so even a little cyanide can have some serious consequences. If you think your cat has consumed an apple seed, call a vet ASAP.

It’s also important to cut or crush apples into manageable chunks. Remember that cats’ teeth aren’t good at chewing, so you want to make sure that your critter can swallow without any problems.

Can Cats Eat Avocado?

Yes. Cats and avocados get along pretty well. The super food of the 21st century is loaded with fats (great for your kitty) and antioxidants. These antioxidants make sure that your cat is getting what he or she needs to have a perfect coat.

Avocados are a great veggie for skin and coat health, but make sure that your cat doesn’t get a hold of the seed. It can be a choking hazard.

Can Cats Eat Blueberries?

Yes. Blueberries have high amounts of vitamins and minerals for your cat. These treats are low in calories but high in fiber and antioxidants. Many cat foods even go so far as to include blueberry powder.

If you want to give your cat a change in pace, you can try freezing a blueberry. Cats love new experiences and this will give your kitty a taste and texture that he or she may have never been exposed to before.

cat eat, closeup image of domestic cat eat food

Can Cats Eat Broccoli?

Yes. Broccoli is a veggie that’s great for your cat! It’s packed with tons of vitamins and minerals for your kitty. There’s even been some studies showing that broccoli eaters develop lower rates of cancer.

Broccoli helps your cat’s digestive system by providing a bit of roughage. Roughage is made up of fibrous materials that pass through the gut. These fibers aren’t digested, but they help the whole digestive track. So broccoli helps your cat in quite a few ways. Proceed to feed.

Can Cats Eat Carrots?

Yes. Cats and carrots don’t have any problems with each other. Carrots provide helpful nutrients that your cat needs to have healthy skin, shining fur, and plenty of vitamin A for your cat’s vision.

Carrots also make sure that your cat’s immune system stays strong and prepared to fight off invaders. If you are feeding your cat some carrots, you may want to cook them or slice them thin before feeding. Uncooked carrots can be hard for your cat to chew and lead to some digestive problems like vomiting or constipation.

Can Cats Eat Catnip?

Yes. Catnip is a type of herb that probably got its name from just how much cats love it. It works as a mood enhancer for your kitty, so you can expect an extra helping of affection, purring, and playing if your cat finds some. This is helpful if your cat seems to be down or less active than usual. Try to give him or her a bit of catnip and see what happens.

Eating catnip is calming for your kitty, but smelling catnip can act as a stimulant. So unless you want your cat bouncing off the walls, it’s best to feed him or her some catnip after smelling 😉

You may want to limit how often your cat has access to catnip though. Being around catnip too much can result in your cat not feeling the effects of it any more. This is because most of catnip’s positive effects for a cat come as a result of a cat smelling the catnip (though some cats may eat it and that’s fine too).

Being around anything too often dulls our ability to smell it, so catnip is best used as a treat instead of a staple in his or her diet.

Can Cats Eat Corn?

Yes. Corn isn’t a problem at all for your kitty’s stout digestive system. Corn is loaded with proteins, vitamins, and minerals that help keep your cat in tip top shape. Corn is a common ingredient in a ton of cat foods, so no worries about it harming your kitty.

The only caveat here is that cats have trouble with seasonings (as we discuss below, so read on). If you like to spice your corn up, try to avoid giving it to your cat.

Can Cats Eat Cucumbers?

Yes. Cucumbers pack loads of nutrients for your cat. In addition to the nutrients, cucumbers have a lot of water so will help your cat stay hydrated. This can be a sort of treat on a hot summer day.

Cucumbers are loaded with Vitamin K, a vitamin that helps your cat prevent blood clots. Your kitty will also get a healthy dose of other vitamins and minerals that aid heart health, metabolism, and general organ health.

Cucumbers are a definite yes. Feed away!

Can Cats Eat Eggs?

Yes. Eggs include high levels of amino acids necessary for strength and have a variety of vitamins. Vitamin B in particular makes eggs a good food choice for a shiny, clean coat.

Cooked eggs are best here. Uncooked eggs carry the same risks for cats as for humans: food poisoning or other food-borne diseases. Uncooked eggs also have a protein that inhibits the release of vitamin B. This means that your cat will be missing a vital nutrient for his or her nice and shiny coat.

So eggs are fine, but best served cooked.

Can Cats Eat Ham?

Yes. Cats are carnivores and don’t have any problem digesting meat. Ham is loaded with proteins that your cat needs to be active and healthy, so feed away.

The one time that we don’t recommend ham is when your cat is eating something like honey-baked ham. It’s a bit (or a lot) too high in sugar and your cat doesn’t taste sweetness anyways. It’s best avoided.

young cat eating food from kitchen plate

Can Cats Eat Potatoes?

Whether or not cats can eat potatoes depends on the type of potato and how it’s cooked. Raw potatoes are dangerous for cats since their skin contains doses of solanine, a toxic chemical. If you catch your cat trying to munch on a raw potato, it’s best to give your vet a ring.

Cooked potatoes without much seasoning should be fine for your kitty. When potatoes are cooked, the poisonous chemicals are destroyed. Make sure that you don’t add any condiments, butters, or other artificial ingredients. Your cat won’t thank you for them.

Can Cats Eat Rice?

Yes. Rice is pretty healthy for your cat. It has lots of vitamins like vitamin A and E. It includes many of the minerals your cat needs to live a healthy life with a balanced diet.

Many cat foods include rice in their ingredients. But make sure that your cat isn’t eating just rice. It has its place in a balanced diet, but rice doesn’t provide everything your cat needs.

Can Cats Eat Strawberries?

Yes. Strawberries have lots of vitamins and minerals that are great for your kitty. Strawberries benefit your cat by adding things like fiber and vitamin C to his or her diet.

If you do feed your cat strawberries, make sure that they are cut up where your cat can eat the pieces almost whole. Cats’ teeth are best at grabbing and tearing, not for chewing. Your cat will appreciate the smaller chunks.

And it’s best to keep the portions kind of small, since fruits (including strawberries) have quite a bit of sugar. Too much sugar can cause weight gain and some dietary problems for your furry guy or gal.

Another thing to watch out for is strawberry flavoring. It’s fine in small doses, but high in sugar. Make sure that your cat isn’t getting too much of it and you’ll be fine.

Can Cats Eat Sweet Potatoes?

Yes. Sweet potatoes contain some nutrients that help your cat out a bit. These veggies even make an appearance in some cat foods, so there’s no problem if your cat starts chowing down.

Sweet potatoes come with a warning though: make sure they aren’t seasoned or flavored. Spices like cinnamon or pepper are bad for your cat. Brown sugar is a definite no (your cat can’t taste sweet things anyways, so he or she doesn’t mind). Butter won’t help your cat either.

So if you give your cat some sweet potatoes, make sure that they’re au naturale. No extra ingredients necessary.

Can Cats Eat Watermelon?

Yes. One of watermelon’s big benefits is that it helps hydrate your cat. Watermelon’s high water content is perfect for your cat if he or she doesn’t drink a lot of water, but likes wet foods.

Watermelon is high in vitamins and has lots of fiber, so it’s a good treat for active cats or cats that have some stomach problems. If your cat runs around a lot, he or she will need more water than a lazier kitty. Watermelon is perfect for replenishing your cat’s water stores and getting him or her ready to be active again.

And some cats just love the stuff. Here’s one of those cats:

Can Cats Eat Yogurt?

Yes. Cats are lactose intolerant, so milk is best avoided. Yogurt is dairy, but all of the lactose is broken down when the yogurt forms. This makes it safe for your cat to eat.

If you do give your cat yogurt, you’ll need to watch out for how many sugars it has. Sugars aren’t great for cats. Sweets can be bad for your cat’s teeth, heart, protein levels, and weight. This isn’t as sad as it sounds though. Cats can’t taste sweets anyways, so your little guy or gal isn’t missing out if you pass on the sugary yogurts.

Edible But Not Recommended

  • Applesauce
  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Dog food
  • Grapes
  • Honey
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Popcorn
  • Raw meats
  • Tomatoes
  • Tuna

Can Cats Eat Applesauce?

Yes, but it’s not recommended. Apples are healthy for your cats and if you crush the apples into a pulp, then that should be fine. But store-bought applesauce is high in sugar and lacks many of the nutrients found in real apples. It’s best avoided.

Can Cats Eat Bread?

Yes. Cats can eat a little bit of bread, but just a little bit. Dr. Julie Churchill says that bread is fine, but it’s best relegated to a small amounts.

Since the normal cat will need 200-250 calories per day, even small amounts of bread can take precious calorie space. These bits and pieces of bread will provide almost no nutritional value. Over time, this can lead to an overweight and unhealthy cat. Since bread has so few vitamins and minerals, your cat could be missing out on better, healthier food.

So your cat can eat bread, but there are better options out there.

Can Cats Eat Cheese?

Yes, but cheese isn’t very good for your cat. Cats are lactose intolerant. The stereotype is that cats love nothing more than a bowl of milk, but that may be giving your cat some problems with digestion.

Feeding your cat cheese can lead to an upset stomach. Your cat may have gas, smelly poop, diarrhea, or even vomiting. Cheese is best avoided if possible.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Yes, but it’s not a substitute for quality cat food. If you catch your cat nibbling on your dog’s food, there’s no need to worry. Most dog foods are harmless, but won’t be good for your cat if eaten over long periods of time.

Dog food isn’t ideal for 4 main reasons:

  1. Dog food doesn’t have as many proteins as cats need for a healthy diet
  2. Dog food often doesn’t have enough Vitamin A for cats
  3. Dog food will deprive your cat of arachidonic acid
  4. Dog food won’t have enough taurine, an essential amino acid

Cats can eat dog food, but not for an entire diet. Your cat needs unique proteins, vitamins, and minerals that aren’t present in dog foods. We recommend getting a high quality cat food.

Here’s a video explaining why cats can’t eat dog food:

Can Cats Eat Grapes?

Yes, but it is not recommended to feed grapes to your cat. There are no known documented instances of cats having a bad reaction to grapes. But grapes are very harmful for dogs and until the scientific literature gives us the all clear, we recommend steering clear of this fruit.

We can’t say that grapes are harmful, so we aren’t putting this one on the “Foods that cats can’t eat” list. But we can’t say that it’s safe either. If you see your cat eating a grape, keep an eye on him or her for gastrointestinal problems. Vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation are all signs that your cat needs to go to the vet and will occur within 24 or fewer hours.

Most cats don’t care much for grapes anyways, so there isn’t much to worry about. The biggest thing is to keep an eye on your kitty.

Can Cats Eat Honey?

Yes, but it isn’t recommended. Honey has a lot of sugar and can lead to digestive problems for your cat, so it’s best given in small doses. Honey lacks a lot of important nutrients that your cat needs but is high in calories. Your cat won’t feel full but will have a higher chance of weight gain.

Your cat can’t eat much honey, but he or she isn’t missing out on too much. Cats can’t taste sweets, so your cat won’t love honey as much as humans do anyways. All in all, it’s best to avoid honey even though it is edible.

Is Milk Bad For Cats?

Milk isn’t bad for every cat, but many adults cats are lactose intolerant. As cats grow out of the kitten stages of life, they become less and less tolerant towards lactose. Giving milk to these lactose intolerant felines can cause some stomach problems like diarrhea or nausea.

Not all adult cats are lactose intolerant and most kittens handle goat milk just fine. That said, kitten milk replacement formula (KMR) is the best thing you can give a kitten. If you give your cat milk, it’s best to keep an eye on him or her for the next 24 hours. If he or she starts having stomach problems, know that the milk may be causing it.

I can’t recommend allowing your cat to drink milk. There aren’t many benefits but the downsides can be pretty large.

Can Cats Eat Peanuts?

Yes, but they aren’t recommended. Peanuts earn some points by being high in proteins and a good snack for active cats. But there is always the chance of your cat having a nut allergy. Like with humans, eating a nut with an allergy can range from uncomfortable to lethal. So we can’t recommend that you give peanuts to your cat.

If you do see your cat munching on peanuts, it’s best to keep an eye on him or her. If you see anything that could resemble an allergic reaction, go to the vet ASAP. Do not hesitate.

Try your best to make sure that any nuts you give to your cat aren’t too salty. Salt can lower your cat’s hydration levels and cats aren’t great at drinking water in the best of times. Too much salt exasperates the problem, so unsalted nuts are best.

Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Yes, but it’s not the best choice to feed your cat. Peanut butter is high in fats and proteins, both of which are very important to your cat. But peanut butter is almost always loaded with sugar. Eating too much can give your cat diarrhea or cause it to vomit.

Peanut butter also has a nasty tendency to get stuck at the top of cats’ mouths, making it more difficult for your cat to breath. Even a small amount of peanut butter could lead to choking.

Peanut butter in glass jar, white wood background

Peanut butter is edible, but not a great idea. It’s best left in the pantry and kept for human use.

Can Cats Eat Popcorn?

Yes, but it’s not recommended. Cats can eat popcorn but it doesn’t have a lot of nutrients. It’s not high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, or proteins. Popcorn is high in carbs. Too many carbs can lead to weight gain or stomach problems for your kitty.

If you do give your cat popcorn, make sure that it’s not loaded with salts or butter. Too much salt can lead to dehydration for your kitty, who might not drink enough water as it. Butter is high in calories and low in nutritional value, so it’s not a good addition on any food your cat is eating.

Can Cats Eat Raw Meat?

Yes, but it isn’t recommended. Cats can handle raw meat better than humans since their digestive systems are faster and more acidic. But raw food isn’t always best for your cat. Raw food can carry pathogens like salmonella or E. coli and cooked food often offers no downsides. So it is a good idea to toss that strip of beef on a skillet before you give it to your cat.

Remember that while cooking meat for your kitty, it’s best to avoid a lot of sauces or spices. He or she won’t thank you for them.

Cats are able to handle a wide variety of meat, so almost all your options are fair play: beef, pork, chicken, and deli meat are all fine. Make sure that the meat isn’t too fatty or grisly.

Can Cats Eat Tomatoes?

Yes and no. A ripe tomato in itself is fine. The dangers you’ll need to watch out for are unripe tomatoes, tomato plant leaves or stems, and condiments.

Most cats won’t be interested in tomatoes at all – much less unripe tomatoes or tomato plants. But cats are curious and we know how that saying goes :(. If you see your cat getting real frisky with a tomato plant or an unripe tomato, it’s best to separate the two. Unripe tomatoes and tomato plants aren’t lethal in small doses, but can cause some digestive problems for your critter.

Salsas or condiments are also a problem for cats. Even ketchup is a no no. This stuff is pretty harmless for humans, but lots of spices and preservatives are horrible for your kitty.

If your cat is sticking to red, ripe tomatoes, then he or she will be getting a healthy dose of fibers, potassium, and vitamins. So tomatoes are edible, but we can’t recommend it in good conscience.

To be safe, we put this in the “Edible but not recommended” category.

Can Cats Eat Tuna?

Yes, but tuna isn’t recommended for your cat. Fish is very high in protein, and that’s great news for your kitty. But fish lacks some important minerals that your cat needs for a balanced diet.

If you do give your cat fish, it’s best to start in small doses and watch for side effects. Loss of coordination, lack of energy, and aggression are all symptoms of vitamin deficiencies caused by too much fish. It’s also important to always remove the bones, as even small bones can get stuck in your cat’s throat of digestive tract.

Foods Cats Can’t Eat

  • Bones
  • Caffeine
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Milk
  • Onions
  • Sweets

Can Cats Eat Bones?

No. Cats’ digestive systems aren’t able to handle bones and their teeth are much better at grabbing and pulling than crushing. If you do give your cat a piece of beef, pork, chicken, or fish, make sure that there are no bones inside the meat.

This is even more important if the bones are tiny like the bones of a fish. Such bones can get stuck in your cat’s throat and digestive track, causing severe pain and gastrointestinal problems.

If you think your cat has eaten a bone, it’s best to give your vet a call.

Can Cats Eat Or Drink Caffeine?

Yes, but it’s not very good for your cat. Tiny doses of caffeine like a lick or two of coffee won’t do any damage, but higher doses of caffeine can lead to caffeine poisoning. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include:

  • Mild to severe hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Tachycardia (elevated heart rate)
  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Tremors
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

A little caffeine won’t do any damage other than making your cat a little more active. But it’s hard to know when your cat has had too much until it’s too late. So caffeine is best avoided for your cat.

coffee

Can Cats Eat Chives?

No. Chives are toxic for your cat, so eating just a little bit will cause your cat to start having some stomach issues. Vomiting or diarrhea work as the body’s way of expelling chives from the digestive tract, so they’re best avoided.

Chives also work against your cat’s body by breaking down his or her red blood cells. This results in anemia. Symptoms of anemia include panting, fatigue, and high heart rate as the body tries to repair itself. If you see your cat eating chives, it’s best to get the chives away from him or her and call your vet ASAP.

Can Cats Eat Chocolate?

No. Chocolate has a chemical called theobromine that is very poisonous to your kitty. Even small doses can lead to heart problems, seizures, and death.

There’s no need to worry about your kitty missing out on one of the best parts of life. Your cat can’t even taste sweet, so he or she wouldn’t like chocolate anyways.

If you catch your cat nibbling at a piece of chocolate, it’s best to take your kitty to the vet ASAP. Do not hesitate. Chocolate is very poisonous for cats.

Can Cats Eat Garlic?

No. Garlic breaks down the red blood cells in your cat’s body, leading to anemia. Anemia reduces the amount of oxygen in your cat’s blood. He or she will start panting, will be sluggish, and will have a higher than normal heart rate.

Keep any garlic away from your cat and make sure that he or she isn’t getting garlic-loaded table scraps. Even a small amount can be fatal. If you see your cat eating garlic, it’s best to call up your vet.

Is Milk Bad For Cats?

Milk isn’t bad for every cat, but many adults cats are lactose intolerant. As cats grow out of the kitten stages of life, they become less and less tolerant towards lactose. Giving milk to these lactose intolerant felines can cause some stomach problems like diarrhea or nausea.

Not all adult cats are lactose intolerant and most kittens handle goat milk just fine. That said, kitten milk replacement formula (KMR) is the best thing you can give a kitten. If you give your cat milk, it’s best to keep an eye on him or her for the next 24 hours. If he or she starts having stomach problems, know that the milk may be causing it.

I can’t recommend allowing your cat to drink milk. There aren’t many benefits but the downsides can be pretty large.

Can Cats Eat Onions?

No. Even in small bites, onions are dangerous for your cat. Onions hurt your cat by breaking down his or her blood cells and causing anemia. Cats have a lot of problems processing onions, so these little veggies can also cause liver damage.

Onion powder is dangerous for your kitty as well. If you see that your cat is nibbling on an onion, it’s best to separate the two and contact your vet ASAP. Even small bites can start breaking down your cat’s blood cells, which really is just as bad as it sounds.

Can Cats Eat Sweets?

No. But this isn’t as sad as it sounds. Whatever you may think, your cat doesn’t even like sweets. Cats are the only mammal that we know of without taste buds for detecting sweetness.

So your cat will never know the joy of eating an ice cream Snickers, but he or she doesn’t want one anyways. This isn’t a bad thing; your cat is at a lower risk of diabetes and being overweight.

cat eating cupcake with balloons in the background

If you see your cat nibbling at something sweet, it’s best to separate the two. Sweets can be bad for your cat’s teeth, heart, protein levels, and weight. He or she doesn’t like them anyways, so your kitty won’t be mad at you. We promise.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our post on what cats can eat. If you aren’t sure about a food, it’s best to stick to regular, nutrition-loaded cat food that’s made by the experts to give your cat a balanced diet.

Let me know in the comments below: what’s your cat’s favorite food? Also, let us know if there are any foods we need to add to the list 🙂

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