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Human food cats can’t eat

A helpful list of what not to feed your cat and why

Our feline friends are renowned for their hungry habits – but rather than feed your cat leftovers or share your dinner with them, it’s far safer to invest in a good quality cat food and stick to that. Cat owners, take note of this list of popular human foods that you should never feed to your cat.

1. Alcohol

Did you know that alcohol is an extremely toxic substance for cats? As little as a tablespoon of alcohol can lead to serious problems, potentially causing severe liver and brain damage as well as placing them into a coma.

2. Chocolate

It's a well-known fact that dogs and chocolate don't mix, but can cats eat chocolate? In short, no – chocolate can be incredibly poisonous to cats. Although most cats won't scavenge out chocolate on their own, they can be coaxed to eat it by humans who think they are giving the cat a treat. The toxic agent in chocolate is theobromine – it's in all kinds of chocolate, even white chocolate. The most dangerous kinds, though, are dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate. Eating chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death.

3. Coffee, tea, and energy drinks

Caffeine should never be a part of your cat's diet – it can cause them to become restless, suffer from rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and seizures. In addition to tea and coffee, including beans and grounds, caffeine can be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas, and stimulant drinks such as Red Bull. It's also in some cold medicines and painkillers. It's advisable to keep all everything that contain caffeine out of the reach of your feline friends.

4. Dairy products

Like dogs, most cats are lactose intolerant – if they eat dairy products, it can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Unfortunately, this includes giving your cat a saucer of milk, which could lead to a nasty stomach upset.

5. Fat trimmings, raw meat, raw eggs, and raw fish

If your cat consumes any of these foods, it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, or a painful condition called pancreatitis (from excessive fat). There is also a risk of Salmonella or E. coli associated with these foods. In addition, raw fish contains an enzyme called thiaminase that breaks down thiamine, an essential B vitamin for your cat; lack of thiamine can cause serious neurological problems such as seizures and even a coma.

6. Grapes and raisins

Dogs can suffer acute kidney failure from eating grapes or raisins — and, although toxicity in cats is only anecdotal, we would strongly advise that you keep these foods out of reach of your cat as well.

7. Onions, garlic, and chives

All members of the onion family can cause problems, even in powder form, if eaten in sufficient quantities. A little bit of onion or garlic in some sauce is not likely to cause any problems – however, eating a clove of garlic or a green onion may cause digestive upset. They could even cause life threatening anaemia because compounds in the food can make the red blood cells to break down.

8. Xylitol

This is a sweetener used in a lot of sugar-free foods, especially chewing gum. There are no records of cats becoming ill from xylitol, but in dogs it can cause a severe drop in blood sugar – which can cause seizures and convulsions or even death – followed by liver failure. It's better to be safe and not let your cat eat foods that contain this ingredient.

9. Bones

Bones should always be avoided, as they can cause obstructions in your cat's throat, stomach, or intestines. All bones should be avoided because of these risks, but cooked bones are particularly dangerous because they are prone to splintering, which can cause serious internal injuries.

10. Liver

Some people love to fry this up and have it as a meal – however, excessively feeding liver to cats can cause vitamin A toxicity, which can lead to abnormal bony growth, osteoporosis, and, in some cases, can be fatal.

11. Human medicines

While not technically a food, cats should never be given any human medication – even if you are trying to help them. Products containing ibruprofen or acetaminophen (paracetamol), which are common in pain relief or cold medicines, are extremely dangerous to cats. If you are concerned about your cat's health, always seek advice from your vet rather than taking matters into your own hands.

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