Table of Contents
- List of Some Foods Cats Can and Cannot Eat
- Human Foods That Cats Can Eat
- Human Foods Cats Shouldn’t Eat
- Human Foods That Cats Can Eat in Some Conditions
- Cat Food Options
- Homemade Human Foods for Cats
- Raw Foods for Cats (BARF)
- What Your Cat Must Have in Her Ideal Diet Plan?
- Are There Any Differences Between the Feeding of Stray Cats and Domestic Cats?
- Cat Poisoning
- Why Do Cats Eat Grass?
- Can Cats Eat Catnip?
- Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
- Can Adult Cats Eat Kitten Foods?
- Can Humans Eat Cat Foods?
Over the years, a question I have often heard from many of my friends who also have cats is: Can cats eat human food?
Yes and no!
As long as it is not continuous, it is OK for your cat to eat most of the food that we eat.
ABSOLUTE NO’S: Onions, garlic, chives, chocolate, grapes, raisins, milk (adult cats), alcohol, caffeine, raw eggs, mushrooms, junk food.
For example, a delicious piece of meat that is well-cooked and deboned (small pieces of bone can get stuck in your cat’s throat), or a banana which we can serve in small pieces for dessert, are as good for her as they are for us.
However, we need to pay attention to some limitations and rules.
Otherwise, our cat might face many health problems, especially food poisoning. We put the life of our cat under risk without even realizing it.
Of course, when the answer to the question is the one above, new questions come up: If cats can eat only some of the foods that we consume; what human foods can I give my cat? or can cats eat fruits or vegetables? or which human foods are dangerous for my cat?
We will have a look at the answers to all of these questions together.
We will also take a look at what we can do for our cat to have a proper and balanced diet.
List of Some Foods Cats Can and Cannot Eat
- Meat and chicken (cooked, deboned)
- Fish (boiled, deboned/fillet)
- Tuna fish (occasionally, one tbs.)
- Egg (boiled/scrambled)
- Ham, bacon (in small amounts and cooked)
- Shrimp (cooked)
- Broccoli (occasionally, one tbs., large amounts can cause constipation)
- Green beans
- Cauliflower (boiled/cooked, small pieces)
- Spinach (rarely, large amounts can cause stone formation in urinary tracts)
- Pineapple (high sugar content/moderate)
- Apple (peeled, remove seeds completely, apple seeds contain cyanide, which is poisonous to cats)
- Pear (peeled, remove seeds completely, seeds contain cyanide, which is poisonous to cats)
- Peach (occasionally, peeled, high sugar content, hard to digest)
- Avocado (only its pulp, skin, leaves, and its seed contain persin, which is poisonous to some animals)
- Banana (limited amount, not recommended for cats who are overweight and have poor digestive systems)
- Watermelon (high sugar content/moderate)
- Raspberries (contains xliytol/moderate)
- Tomatoes (small amounts, peeled, peel and leaves contains solanine which is toxic for cats)
- Cinnamon (moderate)
- Olives (remove seeds)
- Air-popped popcorn (moderate)
- Whole grains and cereals (occasionally)
- Bread (occasionally, not over-toasted)
- Peanut butter (occasionally, one tbs.)
- Rice (small amounts, unprocessed black rice)
- Raw eggs, raw meat, raw chicken, raw fish, etc. (exept BARF diet)
- Meat, chicken or fish that have not been deboned
- Milk (cats should not drink milk)
- Cheese ( adult cats cannot digest the lactose)
- Ice cream (high sugar content, contains lactose, maybe one tablespoon)
- Onion (contains thiosulphate, poisonous to cats and dogs)
- Garlic (contains thiosulphate, poisonous to cats and dogs)
- Chives (contains thiosulphate, poisonous to cats and dogs)
- Orange (contains psoralens, poisonous to cats)
- Citrus fruits (acidic/lime, lemon, grapefruit, etc., contains psoralens, limonene, linalool, poisonous to cats)
- Cherries (contains cyanide, poisonous to cats)
- Plums (contains cyanide, poisonous to cats)
- Grapes (not recommended)
- Raisins (not recommended)
- Chips (high fat, high salt, not good for you too)
- Mushrooms (not recommended to be consumed in any form)
- Packaged popcorn
- Chocolate (contains theobromine which can cause poisoning)
- Almonds (high-fat content)
- Nuts (high-fat content)
Human Foods That Cats Can Eat
Other than the meat and fish group, other foods on this list do not contain enough ingredients to make up the main meal of your cat’s daily diet.
But since some of these foods are rich in vitamins, iron, oil or calcium, they can be added to your cat’s food in the appropriate amount, or they can sometimes be given as treats or snacks.
Meat, Fish, Seafood
Yes: Boiled, bbq or oven-baked, well cooked.
Meat, rich in animal protein and amino acids, contains many vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and is the main food source of cats who are carnivorous by nature.
The healthiest choices for your cat are types of meat that are boiled or cooked without any sauce or additional ingredients.
As a cooking method, frying should not be chosen since it contains a lot of fat.
If you will cook the meat in a barbecue or an oven, make sure it is cooked well enough that all the possible bacteria and viruses on it are dead.
I belong in the group that prefers giving their cats all kinds of meat in cooked form.
For your cat to eat easily, you can chop the meat to 1-2 cm cubes.
You can give cooked meat to your cat as the main dish or by mixing it with her dry food.
Yes: Boiled, no bones.
It contains vitamins and minerals as well as useful fatty acids for your cat. Instead of farm-raised, fresh-caught ones should be preferred, such as salmon, tilefish, herrings, etc.
You can serve your cat the fish boiled and cut it into small pieces.
However, the skeleton and bones of the fish should be picked out very carefully.
It is better not to put any sauce or seasoning on the fish. Any additional flavor that appeals to your taste could be harmful to your cat’s digestive system.
Yes: Boiled or scrambled.
Another rich source of protein.
Should be served cooked (boiled or scrambled).
Therefore do not feed your cat raw eggs.
Ham and Bacon
Yes: Cooked, small amounts, occasionally.
However, they contain high amounts of salt and fat. They could be given in small amounts every now and then as a treat or snack.
It must be completely cooked and cut into 1-2 cm pieces.
Yes: Boiled or cooked.
Our little friend, who is a big fan of seafood in general, may also be as fond of the scent and aroma of shrimp as crab.
It contains high levels of calcium, phosphorus, and protein. It is also rich in Omega 3.
It is good for blood circulation, heart health and especially the health of the fur and skin of old cats.
It can occasionally be added to her meal, boiled or cooked, or it can be given as a delicious snack. However, it is not a staple in the daily diet.
Cats don’t have enough enzymes to digest vegetable proteins.
However, they can eat some vegetables in appropriate amounts as long as they don’t consume it constantly.
Some vegetables can be consumed in their raw form, others can be given steamed or boiled, even mashed and added to your cat’s food.
Because, apart from protein, some vitamins and minerals in plants may be particularly good for overweight cats’ diets due to their high water content or low-fat content and calories.
Here are some examples of appropriate vegetables:
The beta carotene it contains is very good for the eyes of your cat as well as her fur.
By peeling a fresh carrot into one or two sticks wide a snack can be prepared.
Fresh carrots also protect your cat’s dental health.
An ideal supplement food, especially for overweight cats. Green beans, which are rich in protein and iron, are low in calories.
From time to time, you can add a tablespoon of fresh, frozen or canned beans to your cat’s meal.
However, I recommend you to prefer sodium-free canned food.
Celery, another snack high in water content, can be given to overweight cats with controlled diet plans as treats or snacks.
Lettuce should be washed extremely well like all the fresh vegetables that you give your cat and it should be given in small pieces, never exceeding a handful.
It is OK for cats to eat most fruits.
However, it should not be forgotten that fruits have a higher sugar content compared to vegetables.
If your cat is overweight, it is vital to pay attention to the sugar ratios and amounts in the fruits you will give her as a snack o reward.
In addition, the fruits should be washed very well, the parts with thicker skin should be peeled off, and seeds should be removed if there are any.
Here are some fruits that cats can eat:
It is a wonderful fruit that you can give in small amounts as a treat or snack to cheer your cat up.
Protects cell and tissue health, reduces the risk of infection in the urinary tract. It contains vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.
You can give a few cranberries in raw, dry or in cooked form.
Cranberries are rich in vitamin C, fiber, magnesium. However, I would not recommend giving them to your cat in sauce or juice form because the high amount of sugar will be bad for her stomach.
Yes: Small amount.
Pineapple, which is beneficial for the digestive and immune system, contains many minerals and vitamins, especially zinc.
But its high sugar content should not be ignored. After peeling off the skin and the hard parts, you can give a small amount of pineapple in small pieces.
Strawberries, which you can add to your cat’s food raw or pureed, help strengthen your furry friend’s immune system.
Yes: Small amount.
Watermelon, which is more than 90% water, positively affects the water balance in your cat’s body.
It also contains vitamins A, B, C, and potassium. It also has a positive effect on the immune system.
Don’t forget to peel off the hard outer skin. Keeping in mind its sugar content, give small amounts every now and then.
Yes: Small amount, occasionally.
Raspberries with their high fiber content and low sugar are anti-inflammatory and therefore an ideal treat especially for older cats.
But let me remind you: It contains Xliytol, which experts do not recommend because of the possibility of harm to dogs, so it is likely to have similar effects on cats, even if there are no clear research results.
It is useful to keep in mind that Xylitol, a natural sweetener, causes liver damage in dogs.
However, the amount of Xylitol in raspberries is negligible. Provided that it is not very often, you can treat your cat with half a handful of raspberries every now and then.
Yes: Small amount, occasionally.
Another light snack.
Cucumber contains vitamins K, C, magnesium and also a high amount of water which helps keep the weight of your cat in check.
By peeling and cutting it into thin strips it can be given twice a week.
You can prepare it in many forms.
You can give pumpkin, peeling its hard skin off, as a snack or you can add 2-3 tablespoons of it in her meal.
It is possible to give boiled pumpkin as a puree when your cat has constipation or diarrhea problems.
Yes: Small amount.
Don’t worry too much if your cat tries to steal some cinnamon (powder or stick) from the kitchen. There is no harm unless eaten in huge amounts.
Olives, green or black regardless, are harmless and among their favorites. However, there are no known benefits of eating them either.
Isoprenoids and pimentos are natural chemicals contained in olives and similar to catnip, they emit strong scents that attract the cat.
Yes: Small amount, occasionally.
Popcorn contains vitamin B, iron, and fiber. But the way it is prepared is important.
If you want to serve popcorn to your little friend as a snack, choose air-popped popcorn.
However, it should not exceed a handful.
Whole Grains and Cereals
Unlike humans, cats do not necessarily need vegetables and carbohydrates in the content of their dietary plans.
Animal proteins are the main source for the healthy functioning of their bodies, however sometimes unrefined whole grains, oatmeal given with plenty of water and wheat cereals can be good for them in terms of vitamins, iron and fiber intake.
But rather than being a major part of the actual diet plan, it should stay as the occasional little snack option.
Raw dough can cause digestive problems for cats but a slice of baked bread that is cut into small pieces might be a snack to cheer your cat up. Although you should avoid the parts that are over-toasted as they might damage your cat’s throat.
Yes: Small amount, occasionally.
You can give an amount between a teaspoon to a tablespoon as a snack but do not go overboard.
Although it is a rich source of protein, peanut butter has a high amount of fat and carbohydrate content that cats cannot digest well.
I recommend you be careful, especially when giving peanut butter to cats that are not very active or overweight.
It cannot be part of your cat’s daily diet.
Yes: Boiled, black rice.
Unprocessed black rice can be boiled and given in small. White rice should not be preferred because it does not provide any benefits for your cat’s health.
Human Foods Cats Shouldn’t Eat
Some common foods can be poisonous to your cat.
Others may harm your cat’s health in the medium and long term, leading to serious illnesses if consumed continuously and in large quantities.
Obesity, nerve system problems, infections, urinary and bladder tract problems, kidney and liver damage are some of them.
Therefore, even if it does not directly lead to poisoning, it would be better to keep your cat completely away from some human food in terms of her life span and quality.
Meat and Seafood
Raw Protein Sources
No: Raw eggs/meat/chicken/fish etc.
Raw protein sources carry a risk of potentially fatal amounts of bacteria and viruses. The most well-known of these are Salmonella and E. Coli.
In addition, the raw meat group may contain a high percentage of fat. This can lead to pancreatitis.
Raw foods that are not kept under proper conditions spoil very quickly and produce bacteria.
There are also animal lovers following raw nutrition plans recommended by some experts for their cats.
A delicious and healthy meal of meat or fish that you cook for your cat can turn into a nightmare. You can end up at the vet because of a small piece of bone.
Small pieces of bone can get stuck in your cat’s esophagus.
This can also cause serious damage to the stomach and intestinal system during digestion.
Make sure to remove all the small pieces of bones, except for boiled or baked coarse bones, which your cat can manage to remove from the meat and are also good for her teeth.
If she swallows a piece of small bone that you have missed, your cat can often get it out by vomiting, but sometimes this is not enough and she may begin to breathe hard, cough and gag. At that point, you might have to consult your vet.
Also, such pieces of bone that have entered the digestive system can lead to constipation.
No for adult and older cats.
From the moment cats transition from breast milk to solid food, their enzymes that digest lactose in milk and dairy products begin to decrease and disappear in the vast majority.
Therefore, adult cats cannot digest milk.
A wide range of problems can occur, ranging from allergic reactions, poisoning, digestive and urinary problems, to liver damage.
Vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation are the most common health problems in cats who drink milk.
If this happens, contact your vet immediately.
As I mentioned above, I would not advise you to give any kind of cheese as the majority of adult cats cannot digest the lactose in milk and dairy products.
Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite can be seen in a cat eating cheese.
Even if you do not encounter any problems at first, you can cause serious damage to your cat’s digestive system in a relatively short amount of time if you constantly feed her with large amounts of milk or other milk products.
No: If you must 1 tsp.
The fact that cats have lactose intolerance and the high sugar content in ice cream puts ice cream on the dangerous foods list!
Gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea can occur in cats that eat ice cream. On the other hand, some experts point out that giving between one teaspoon and one tablespoon of ice cream per day does not cause any significant damage to the cat.
Onion, Garlic, Chives
Another group of poisonous human food for cats is the plants in the onion family.
All kinds of onions and garlic, either raw or cooked, even those that are used powdered or in the sauce are life-threatening to your cat.
The thiosulphate they contain is poisonous to cats and dogs.
It causes the destruction of red blood cells in your cat’s body and leads to hemolytic anemia, which causes poisoning.
No: Lime, lemon, grapefruit, etc.
It is better to keep your cat away from acidic fruits.
The acid ratio in the fruits affect your cat’s digestion negatively and damage their stomach.
The seeds, stems, leaves, and fruit of the cherries contain cyanide which is poisonous for cats.
It is poisonous because its skin, leaves, seeds, and the fruit itself contains cyanide. I would advise against giving plums to your cat.
The acid in oranges contains, although not as much as acidic fruits such as lemon and grapefruit contains, can damage your cat’s stomach if she eats too much of it. It also contains psoralens.
Grapes & Raisins
It is not recommended for cats as it causes serious kidney damage in dogs. Although it is not known exactly which ingredient is causing it, there is no need to put your cat’s health at risk.
Any kind of chips that are harmful to humans due to their high fat and salt content are also dangerous for your cat.
You can easily give her boiled or mashed potatoes instead. Keeping your cat away from chips is necessary for both weight control and a healthily functioning digestive system.
Packaged popcorn contains additives and preservatives which are harmful to your cat.
It weakens the digestive system, leading to diarrhea and constipation.
Air-popped popcorn, which you can prepare at home, does not contain any additives, so it can be given as a snack occasionally.
Too dangerous for cats!
Mushrooms should never be included in the diet of your little friend as they have poisonous effects on cats.
All mushrooms (especially wild ones), which are not recommended to be consumed in any form, contain amanita which creates toxic effects and some mushrooms contain muscarine.
One of the biggest dangers of these substances is that they show signs of poisoning in 6-24 hours after digestion.
Therefore, this reduces the chances of early intervention. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning are discoloration of the skin, vomiting, diarrhea, and an increased heart rate.
It should definitely be avoided. Chocolate contains theobromine which can cause poisoning, serious heart problems, contractions and muscle tremors and seizures in cats.
No type of chocolate is okay for your cat.
This includes dark and sugar-free chocolates. Also, don’t forget that chocolate contains caffeine, which is also harmful to your cat.
Almond and Nuts
They are not poisonous, but the high-fat content in almonds, pecans, and walnuts can damage your cat’s digestive system.
In cats that eat almonds and walnuts regularly or too much, vomiting and diarrhea may occur, as well as pancreatitis in the medium and long term.
Although a piece of baked dough is a nice snack for your cat, the raw dough can have very dangerous consequences. After having been eaten by your cat, the fermented dough begins to swell in her stomach. Depending on the amount she eats, it might cause fatal risks by covering her entire stomach.
This is a sweetener used in all sugar-free human foods that contain artificial sweeteners.
It is used especially in chewing gums in large quantities. Although xylitol is not proved to be harmful to cats, it is still not recommended in the diet of our little friends as it is proven to be harmful to dogs.
Human Foods That Cats Can Eat in Some Conditions
Can eat canned tuna prepared for cats.
It has surely happened to you; whenever I open a can of tuna for myself in the kitchen, my cat meows and runs from the other end of the house!
Cats who dislike tuna fish are rare.
However, canned tuna for humans is insufficient, unlike the ones prepared for cats, and the ratio of unsaturated fats are very high.
Amino acids such as vitamins, minerals, and taurine added to wet or dry prepared tuna foods provide a balanced diet for your cat.
Therefore, I advise you to not be so generous when giving your cat canned tuna originally prepared for humans.
Occasionally it may be suitable as a treat or a snack in the amount of about one tablespoon.
Sometimes you can add the same amount to the food or you can make her food more delicious by pouring a little of the water in the tuna can on the dry food in the container.
But constant consumption of large amounts of tuna is harmful to your cat.
Boiled, small amount, can cause constipation.
A rich source of vitamins, broccoli is likely to cause constipation. Every once in a while you can boil it and add it to the food in small pieces that do not exceed a few tablespoons.
Small amount, rarely, can cause kidney problems.
It can be given very rarely. If your cat has digestive tract issues or kidney problems, I wouldn’t recommend giving her spinach.
Because the calcium oxalates in it can cause stone formation in urinary tracts.
However, if you have a healthy cat, you can add this green leafy vegetable which contains almost every vitamin and mineral, to your cat’s food in small pieces in an amount that does not exceed a handful.
Raw potatoes contain toxic solanine.
Most cats love the taste of potatoes. Even some readymade cat foods contain potatoes. Potatoes are rich in Vitamins C, B, and potassium.
But remember: raw potatoes contain solanine, a toxic alkaloid. Solanine, which is extremely dangerous for your cat, disappears while cooking.
Potatoes that have been peeled, boiled or cooked and with no sauce or seasoning can be added to your cat’s meal from time to time in an amount not exceeding a handful.
You can add mashed potatoes to your cat’s food.
Although not poisonous in general, it does not suit the biology of cats.
A few pieces of corn that you can offer fresh will not harm your cat, but corn, which is consumed in large quantities and found in low-quality cat foods, can damage your cat’s digestive system and stomach.
Stay away from this type of food and if you are going to give your cat a little bit of corn, choose those that are boiled or cooked without using spices, sauce, and oil.
Small amount, contains high amounts of sugar.
You can give a limited amount of banana to your cat. The potassium it contains is useful for her heart and kidneys. But unfortunately, this fruit that cats are a big fan of, contains high amounts of sugar.
Bananas are not recommended for cats who are overweight and have poor digestive systems.
Small amount, contains high amounts of sugar.
There is no issue with giving your cat small amounts of peach if the fruit is peeled. However, if consumed too much, it can damage the stomach and cause diarrhea due to its sugar content and because it is hard to digest.
The skin contains toxic solanine.
You can only give the fruit itself in small pieces, peeled. The green leaves and the skin of tomato contain solanine which is a substance toxic for cats.
But a peeled tomato does not contain solanine.
If you want to add some tomatoes to your cat’s meal or if tomatoes will be one of the ingredients when preparing her food, make sure that it is a small amount and completely peeled!
Apple seeds contain toxic cyanide.
Apple, which has a lower sugar content than most other fruits, should only be given after peeling off its skin and completely removing the seeds in its core part.
Apple seeds contain cyanide, which is poisonous to your cat.
Apples, which you need to give your cat carefully and in a moderate amount, can be a good choice for healthy bones and tissues thanks to its high fiber and vitamin content.
Do not forget to wash them well.
Seeds contain toxic cyanide.
Pear can be given after washing it very well, removing the middle part which contains the skin and the seeds. The pear’s seeds contain cyanide. Cyanide is poisonous for your cat.
Although it is high in sugar, it contains vitamins and fiber that protects your cat against cancer and infections when you give it in small pieces that are peeled and deseeded.
Skin, leaves, and its seed contain persin.
Avocado’s skin, leaves, and its seed, in short, all the parts of the avocado excluding its pulp, contain persin which causes poisoning in some animals such as birds, rabbits, and goats.
Although there is no clear evidence that avocadoes are poisonous for cats, it may be a better idea not to consume too much of it.
It can possibly cause poisoning, as well as serious damage to the heart, liver and digestive system.
Remember that the pulp, which can be peeled and given in very small quantities, is also high in fat.
Small amount, occasionally.
Various milk products ranging from cheese to ice cream are considered dangerous for cats since most adult cats do not have the necessary enzymes that break down the lactose in milk and dairy products. Therefore they cannot be digested. Some cats even develop allergies to milk products.
Although not proven by research, some experts claim that yogurt should be added to the diet of cats as long as it does not exceed the amount of a water glass. It is also said to be effective in treating diarrhea in cats as it is good for the intestinal flora since it contains probiotics.
Some useful information for a cat’s healthy and balanced nutrition
There is an important correlation between your cat’s nutrition and her happiness.
A cat fed with the right nutrients in the right amounts will be a great housemate for as long as she is active and healthy.
Unlike cats that hunt to eat, domestic cats rarely go hunting for food. They will mostly live by the diet plan that you prepare for them.
This imposes an important responsibility on you to ensure that your cat lives a long, healthy and happy life. So, what should be the proper diet for your cat?
Don’t let your cat eat only one type of food.
Whether it is ready-made cat foods in wet or dry form, homemade human foods, or whatever you give your cat, do not constantly feed her with one type of food.
This not only negatively affects her health but also prevents a balanced diet.
Just as each type of cat food has certain benefits for your cat’s health, it is possible to see nutritional problems in cats that are fed only a certain type of food.
Dry cat food can contain high levels of salt and fat. Aside from the amount of food, cats fed with dry food constantly encounter obesity and a fatty liver. Also, kidney problems are seen more often in comparison to cats with more varied diets.
Also, it is not possible for the cats who are fed only wet food to develop healthy teeth and gums.
On the other hand, most home-cooked foods are suitable for your cat, but even if these foods contain many vitamins and minerals, they may not have all the necessary nutrients that your cat needs in her daily diet.
For this reason, it would not be correct to say that a cat who is fed only human food has a healthy diet.
If you are one of those who prefer to give your cat the daily amount to eat as a single meal, you can give her wet food one day, dry food on the next day and on the third day you can serve her the fish you cooked at home as a meal.
Otherwise, the bacteria in it may damage your cat’s digestive system. In addition, it is necessary to sort out the fishbones well.
You can also feed her two times a day: dry food in the morning and homemade food in the evening.
You can also mix wet and dry, ready and homemade foods.
Thus, your cat can benefit from the nutritional values of various food ingredients and the advantages specific to each. You can create daily menus by taking into account the preferences of your cat.
When you make changes to your cat’s food, I recommend you to do this gradually.
For example, if you are going to try a new wet fast food for the first time, you can mix it with a suitable homemade human food that you cook at home.
A gradual change in your cat’s diet allows the formation of new bacteria in her intestines to digest food, which she has just begun to try.
Keep in mind; if you have created some menu options that your cat enjoys, don’t give up on them.
Because a constant change in her diet can make your cat grumpy and selective and she may not touch the food container for days until she gets what she wants!
Apart from the form of the food, the content of what your cat eats is also very important.
Also, avoiding a one-type-food-only diet helps cats, often famous for their selectivity, to find different tastes and flavors they enjoy.
In addition, it will minimize some health problems such as the frequency of kidney problems due to salt in cats fed only dry food, or the frequency of heart problems that can occur due to a lack of some important amino acids in cats fed only with homemade human food, etc.
So what do cats eat? What kind of meal options do you have in the diet you will plan for your cat?
Here are some alternative foods for cats:
Cat Food Options
Most of the dry and wet cat food that is on the supermarket shelves has all the essential nutrients required for a cat.
You may not need to look for other foods or supplements (vitamin supplements etc.) to meet your cat’s nutritional needs.
But nevertheless, you should remember that giving your cat these packaged or canned foods constantly have negative effects.
Dry Cat Food
Dried cat food is cooked in pressure and produced with various flavors (meat, fish, chicken, vegetables, etc.) and content and sold in packages of different weights.
Pros: Suitable for all age groups, contains all necessary nutrients, cheaper.
Cons: Contains additives, high-fat content, no water.
Dry food has all the necessary nutrients. You often don’t need to add anything extra to your cat’s diet.
However, sometimes oil is sprayed on the dry food during its production to increase your cat’s appetite and enhance the food’s flavor, which unfortunately means some additives have been used.
In addition to that, high-fat content in a cat’s diet can lead to digestive problems and liver damage, obesity being a primary example.
Even if you have a picky cat, one of the dry food varieties consisting of meat, fish, vegetables, chicken or their combinations will definitely attract your cat’s attention.
In addition, dry foods have a variety suitable for all age groups of cats (kittens, adults or elderly cats), as well as very weak or overweight cats with digestive problems.
As their name suggests these foods are dried. In other words, they should be consumed with plenty of water.
Badly pressed dry food can cause blockage in the urinary tract of the cat, which can lead to important health problems such as FLUTD (Lower Urinary Tract Disease).
Even quality dry food can cause similar problems if not taken with enough water, especially in cats that are not very active.
Because they are dry, they last longer than wet foods and homemade foods, and because they are solid, they also contribute to the development and health of your cat’s teeth and gums.
Older cats may have weak teeth and even lose some of them over time.
For this reason, although dry foods may appeal to your elderly cat, they can often have difficulty eating them due to dental and gum problems, leading to weight loss.
Wet Cat Food
These are cat foods with high water content, sold in cans or pouches.
Some are prepared as semi-moist and often by adding vegetable protein (soy).
Let me also remind you that semi-moist cat food that is sold in pouches contains less water than canned wet food.
Pros: Contains all necessary nutrients, includes water.
Cons: Short shelf life after opening, expensive.
Wet foods, similar to dry foods, are prepared with a wide range of flavors and meet all of your cat’s nutritional needs (minerals, vitamins, and protein) in one product when given in the right amounts.
Despite having a taste that will appeal to your cat’s appetite, it is not a great idea to give wet foods regularly as they will not benefit the health and development of teeth and gums due to their soft textures.
Wet food in airless boxes does not last very long after they are opened. If it stays in your cat’s food bowl for a long time, the texture changes, it dries out and loses your cat’s attention. It might even spoil.
Therefore, it should be consumed in a short time. The opened packages should be consumed within 24 hours.
Some Tips About Readymade Cat Foods
Pay attention to the complementary label: Almost all readymade cat foods, wet or dry, offer all the ingredients required for a cat’s nutrition in one package, but some are made to be given in addition to other foods for a more balanced and adequate diet.
Such foods are labeled as complementary and they are not an adequate meal alone.
For this reason, I recommend that you review the labels and content information on the packages when buying cat food.
Be careful when discarding empty cans! I recommend that you shut the garbage bag tight by squeezing it so that nothing can enter it while throwing the can of wet food.
These food boxes thrown in the trash are taken out of the garbage bags by street animals due to the smell they produce.
Most stray cats or dogs that put their mouths inside the box so that they can eat what’s left inside are exposed to metal cuts.
Sometimes they can experience more serious life threats by getting their faces trapped in the can.
As any sensible animal lover will do, we can crush our boxes before throwing them away to reduce this risk.
Homemade Human Foods for Cats
Cats will be happy to share the beef you cooked for your evening meal with you!
Cats cannot easily say no to a slice of well-cooked meat, chicken or fish, even though they love readymade foods that dazzle with a variety of flavors.
Pros and Cons of Homemade Human Foods for Cats
Human Foods are a great option to diversify your cat’s diet, regulate her appetite, prevent her from sticking to certain cat foods and rejecting others.
It will also make your cat happy if you stick to suitable food groups and cooking or serving forms.
For example, cooked pieces of chicken mixed with her dry food (do not forget to pick out the bones!) or a piece of apple (peeled and deseeded) you will give as a treat for her to enjoy will be beneficial!
However, unlike the readymade cat foods, almost none of the human foods you will give your cat contains all the vitamins, minerals, proteins and other micronutrients necessary for her health.
For example, Taurine, which is an essential amino acid for your cat and found in meat protein, loses its effect in the cooking process.
For this reason alone, you may need to give your cat additional supplements of taurine on a regular basis.
If the amount of calcium in the meat you give is insufficient, your cat’s bones may weaken or if there is an excess amount of calcium this may cause calcification in the spine and joints.
In short, a portion of home-cooked human food or a snack on its own is not the best choice for a healthy and balanced diet for your cat.
Having a portion of food you cooked for your cat or even a small piece of strawberry under your control means that you have full information about its content. This is a good way to keep preservatives, excessive salt or sugar out of your cat’s diet, which may be harmful to her.
Homemade foods require cat owners to take time out of their busy daily routines.
Considering the practicality and the completeness of readymade foods, the time spent for a fish that will be cooked and have its fishbones sorted out at home may not always be very efficient.
If you give human food by cooking, you may need to check the ingredients you use one by one.
For example, cats cannot eat onions and garlic, regardless of whether they are raw or cooked.
Some compounds in them, such as thiosulphate, have a poisonous effect in cats as well as in dogs.
The use of these foods even in the powdered form will damage your cat’s stomach and cause very serious destruction (hemolytic anemia) in her red blood cells during digestion.
Therefore, having onion or garlic in the ingredients of a meat dish you prepare for your cat can be fatal rather than beneficial.
In addition, if a food normally suitable for your cat is not consumed fresh, it will soon lose its taste and texture and will repel her.
A portion of homemade human food that remains in your cat’s food bowl for a few hours may spoil and cause food poisoning.
Raw Foods for Cats (BARF)
Some experts point out that domestic cats, who are basically biologically carnivorous (obligate carnivores), are entirely fit for feeding on foods with raw and animal protein, much like their ancestors and wild cousins in nature.
Cat owners, who follow the diet Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, shortly called BARF, or the “Bones And Raw Food” diet, plan the diet of their cats around certain foods that can be consumed completely raw.
Today, you can easily find frozen or freeze-dried BARF products in markets.
These products are prepared with additional ingredients to contain all the vitamins, minerals and protein amino acids your cat needs.
Therefore, I would advise you to be careful. The product should be examined in terms of whether these ingredients are in proper proportions or if it contains preservatives.
What is the Content of the Barf Diet for Cats?
All kinds of big and small cattle, chickens, rabbits, etc. (poultry) and raw muscles and organ meat of fish.
Large, one-piece raw bones (ground bones) and whole raw eggs.
Some micronutrients that are not present or insufficient in the content of the raw meat, are added to your cat’s diet as a supplement under the supervision of your vet.
Cat owners who want to feed their cats with raw food can switch to the BARF diet from the 6th month with additional food supplements.
Pros and Cons of Raw Foods for Cats
Because cats have a more acidic digestive system that is shorter in length compared to ours, they digest raw food easier and faster.
Some experts who are against this kind of nutrition have highlighted, there is the possibility of bacteria and viruses in raw meat and eggs and the risk increases when they are not stored in proper conditions.
Salmonella and E. Coli are among the most known.
Therefore, the risk of infections increases, which will affect not only the cat but also the people who feed her.
In the BARF diet, cats are not exposed to the negative aspects of human food made at home or readymade food (high fat, sugar, etc., reduced amount of taurine in meat cooked at high temperatures) thus the risk of obesity and diabetes decreases.
Their appearance (coat, skin, etc.) is enhanced, their teeth and gums can develop much better.
Cat owners who want to feed their cats in accordance with the BARF diet and prepare their food at home must take precautions against serious infection risks.
It is important that the raw food bought for the cat is completely frozen and that the melted are not frozen again.
Also, your cat should be given her food on a surface that can be easily cleaned and is in an isolated area.
As soon as the container is emptied out, all the materials should be washed thoroughly using gloves.
It should be ensured that your own food and your cat’s food do not come into contact with each other. Especially in families with young children, children should stay away from the cat’s food or her food containers.
What Your Cat Must Have in Her Ideal Diet Plan?
Vitamins (A/B complex/D/E/K): Vitamin A, especially, is vital for cell development in your cat’s body. Since a cat’s body cannot produce vitamin A, it is needed much more than the other vitamins.
Protein and Amino Acids: Meat, the main food source of cats, provides all the protein cats need. Meat group (meat, fish, chicken) must be present in the diet of a cat. The protein in meat also contains an important amino acid that cats can’t produce on their own: Taurine. Taurine is vital for the development and repair of body tissues and for the hormonal system along with other amino acids such as niacin. Lack of taurine in a cat can lead to serious health problems in many organs, especially the eye and heart.
Micronutrients (Calcium, Phosphorus, Iodine, Selenium): All micronutrients, especially Calcium, are very important for a cat’s bone development and dental health. They are also effective in the healthy functioning of her hormonal system and metabolism. Although a high amount of intake is not required, the lack of any micronutrient in a cat’s diet can lead to significant health problems.
Fiber: Lack of fiber in a cat’s diet can lead to many problems in the digestive system, constipation being an important one. Cooked vegetables and grains contain high levels of fiber.
Fats: Fats are an extremely important source of energy in maintaining the health of a cat. Fats are generally obtained from meat.
Water: Water is vital for your cat as well. Cats eating only dry food will need even more water. As the name suggests, dry foods contain the lowest possible levels of water and therefore, if it is not taken with enough water, it may cause problems such as stone formation in the urinary tract. Make sure your cat’s water bowl is filled with freshwater by checking it daily in the morning and evening. In the meantime, if you live in a big house, you can put a water bowl in more than one place.
Are There Any Differences Between the Feeding of Stray Cats and Domestic Cats?
Theoretically, whether it is a stray cat or a domestic cat, the food types and nutrients that cats need for healthy eating do not change.
However, in practice, a stray cat cannot be fed like a home cat given her conditions (weather changes, shelter problem, difficulty finding food, and unhealthy options, etc.) and also if she is deprived of the care and protection of animal lovers or shelters (catteries).
Sometimes stray cats, under the watch of animal lovers, may find dry food and freshwater.
But most of them evaluate all the options they can find using their hunter instincts. Leftover food and trash maybe their food option for the day as well as small reptiles and mice.
Of course, this bad, unbalanced and often insufficient nutrition not only increases the health problems of stray cats but can sometimes lead to poisoning and death.
I would still like to share a little observation with you;
Stray cats who are born under unsanitary conditions and can somehow still survive can become more immune to poisoning or starving for longer periods compared to home cats.
Cat Poisoning Symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive water consumption
- Loss of direction
- Excess saliva
- Shortness in breath
- Swelling of the skin or abdomen
- Yellowing of the skin
A cat can get poisoning from eating a certain food, as well as chemical cleaners, pesticides or some houseplants (lilies, cyclamen, etc.) in your home.
It will be useful to organize your kitchen as well as your home environment so as not to put your little friend at risk.
The symptoms, some of which I have listed below, may be the harbinger of other diseases.
However, if you notice one or more of these symptoms, I recommend that you go to your vet immediately, whether or not you suspect poisoning.
Whatever the problem is, being proactive makes it easier to diagnose and start the treatment faster.
What Should I Do?
- Timing is very valuable in poisoning. Because the sooner the poisonous substance is prevented from spreading throughout the body, the easier it is for your cat to recover.
- Contact your vet immediately after checking the content of your cat’s vomit, the condition of his stool, and whether there is any blood in it.
- If you notice any suspicious material in or near your cat’s food such as a foreign body, plant, medicine box, chemical cleaning agent, etc. transfer this information to your vet.
- Do not attempt to intervene yourself. Wrap your cat in a towel with her head left outside and deliver her to the vet as soon as possible.
Your vet may order some tests (blood, urine, etc.) or x-rays to find the source of poisoning.
Intravenous fluid therapy, muscle relaxants to control potential tremors and the appropriate medication will control your cat’s condition and guide the healing process.
If the correct diagnosis and treatment can be provided quickly, the poisoned cat will recover in a few days and return to her former daily routine.
Some Measures That Can Be Taken at Home Against Poisoning
- Do not let anyone else feed your cat outside of your watch!
- If you are preparing food for your cat at home, it may be useful to prepare a list of human food that can be dangerous and put it in a visible place in your kitchen.
- Canned wet food spoils very quickly. Store in a refrigerator after opening the can and consume it within 1 month.
- Be sure to tightly close the packages of semi-moist readymade food after each use.
- Do not keep Homemade and Wet readymade cat food in the food container for hours even if your cat is not finished with them. They dry quickly and can spoil very easily.
- Wash your cat’s food container and water bowl separately from your own dishes and dry them well.
- Do not place the food and water containers near her litterbox.
- When you are not in your kitchen, avoid keeping food that may be harmful to your cat in an easily accessible spot.
- Keep your trash can shut off and out of reach from your cat.
- Keep medicines that may be toxic to your cat, plants, cleaning agents containing chemicals, and pesticides in areas that your cat cannot reach.
Why Do Cats Eat Grass?
Cat’s digestive systems cannot produce enough enzymes to break down the protein in plants and digest fiber.
However, every once in a while, you can see your cat vomiting after tearing away the leaves of a plant in the house or the grass in the garden to chew on them.
A cat is not able to digest plants, but eating some grass will not harm her unless it is too often and in excess amounts. In fact, sometimes it is considered to be good for cats.
Experts do not always agree on the reasons why a cat eats grass.
However, information centers around some theories.
Here are some of them:
- Plants, especially those with dark green leaves, contain folic acid, similar to the protein in meat. Folic acid also helps the digestion of some amino acids. A cat can sometimes eat grass for folic acid intake.
- Cats swallow a lot of their hair while cleaning themselves, and these accumulate as lumps in the stomach which cannot pass through the digestive system and cause blockages. Undigested fibers in the grass can create a certain lubricant effect on the intestinal tract that help in vomiting the lumps of hair.
- Your cat may have swallowed a foreign body, or a small rodent, such as a mouse, at home or outside. Large pieces that are hard to swallow or digest may have caused problems in her digestive system. The cat, who instinctively wants to get rid of this mass, may resort to eating grass in order to vomit.
- She may be experiencing a major problem with her digestive system.
When is It Dangerous for Your Cat to Eat Grass and What Can You Do?
- If your cat eats and vomits grass several times during the day, and if this situation lasts more than a day, I recommend you consult your vet. She may be experiencing a serious digestive problem or disease.
- You may need to be even more careful if you have a cat that goes out, or if you are growing plants at home that are poisonous to your cats, such as daffodils or cyclamen. It is better to put such plants out of your cat’s reach.
- Your cat may be poisoned if she tries to eat from plants grown in a soil containing pesticides.
- The simplest measures to take in this regard are planting grass in a flower pot and taking care of your garden regularly for your curious cat who wants to get rid of the hair lumps that she occasionally swallows at home. You can also add wheat and oat seeds which are cat-friendly to the pots you will prepare for your cat.
I have devoted the last part of my article to some frequently asked questions by most animal lovers and cat owners. Personally, I think that the answers to such questions are quite useful and some of them contain very entertaining information.
Can Cats Eat Catnip?
Yes, they can.
Catnip is a flowering plant from the peppermint family belonging to the bush group which has the Latin name of Nepeta Cataria.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not considered an addictive drug. But it produces a substance that affects the areas that regulate movement and emotions in the brain.
This substance found in the microscopic bulbs on the leaves, stems, and flowers is called nepetalactone, and when the bulbs rupture this chemical is released into the air.
Cats’ nose is extremely sensitive to the scent released by nepetalactone. This smell is connected to the receptors in the nose and transmitted to the neurons in the brain.
And it affects the areas of the brain that regulate behavior.
A cat that sniffs, chews, eats, or just plays and rolls over a part of catnip can suddenly show unusual behaviors. She can suddenly become very active and energetic when she was calm just a minute before, or she can become very still shortly after being very animate.
In some studies, it has been observed that the effect of Catnip, which is effective in 70-80% of cats, does not change and causes the same behavior each time.
Catnip, which does not create this effect in kittens, becomes effective shortly after the cat is three months old. It does not have any proven harm, on the contrary, it will also be a good opportunity for your cat to exercise if you put some catnip in her toys or on some parts of her playground to cheer her up.
While the stems of these bushes, which stray cats can easily find in open areas, do not create the same effect, the chemicals in their leaves and flowers are effective.
You can give your cat catnips, which you can buy fresh or dry, up to one tablespoon per day.
By the way, if your cat does not react to catnip when it smells it for the first time, she will not care for it anytime soon, if she immediately likes it, she will cheer up every other time.
Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
Similar to the food prepared for cats, there are also readymade foods that are prepared in wet and dry forms for dogs.
And sometimes my friends who own both cats and dogs wonder if they can give dog food to their cat.
Dog food is produced according to a dog’s nutritional needs and cat-dog diets differ in content. The amount of protein in dog food is not enough for an adult cat. Do not give your cat dog food!
Can Adult Cats Eat Kitten Foods?
Because unlike dog food, readymade foods for kittens contain a very high amount of protein for an adult cat. This might damage your cat’s kidneys.
Can Humans Eat Cat Foods?
It is joyous that cats can share some, if not all, human food with us.
What if we, instead of thinking ‘What should I eat?’ in front of the refrigerator at night, sneak in the food closet of our little friend?
I must confess that many years ago I tasted dry cat food and promised myself that it would never happen again! For me, it was a terrible experience, like chewing on a tiny piece of wood covered in salt.
Moreover, the intense aroma that made my cat lose herself when it was time for her to eat, left a bad taste in my mouth. Also, the taste did not feel close to the content written on the package (I think it was chicken with vegetables).
Yes, if we put aside this experience, if a person tastes cat food it does not put her in danger.
Of course, unless you eat a big bowl of it!
Although most cat food seems to be suitable for human consumption in terms of its low carbohydrate and high fiber content, its content was created according to the needs of your cat’s body, not your own.
Long-term consumption can cause insufficient nutrition and negative effects on the human digestive system. But if you are as curious as your little friend, you can try it once to see what it tastes like!
In this article, I tried to share with you the most current information about what kinds of diet options cats have, what kind of human foods they can eat, and what foods they should avoid.
It seems that ready-made foods are promising for a more proper diet, but supplementing them with human foods, is both ideal for adding variety to your cat’s diet and for more adequate and balanced meals.
On the other hand, human food alone does not contain ingredients to meet your cat’s needs. In addition, it should be learned well what may be beneficial for your cat and what can cause a poisonous effect on her body.
Raw nutrition is another option that I still don’t feel very close to due to its potential dangers.
In short, we can make many combinations for our furry little roommates. Getting suggestions from our vet, we can prepare wonderful menus keeping her food taste in mind.
Not fat or weak, but fit; not sick or unhappy but healthy and joyful. Living with a friend like this will also affect us positively in many ways.