Although cats don’t usually beg the way dogs do, it may be hard to resist giving your precious feline a treat from the dinner table. However, as you probably know, not all foods are safe for cats. Examples of foods that are not safe include onion, garlic, kelp, grapes, raisins, sugary snacks, chocolate, alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
Not every human food is off-limits. When it comes to giving cats people food, the general rule is to not let human food make up for more than 15% of a cat’s diet. The first thing to understand is that cats are carnivores that require meat to thrive. Cats need meat protein so that they can have a strong heart, good vision and healthy reproductive system.
This doesn’t mean cats can’t eat vegetables, it just means that they don’t necessarily need them like we do. Not all cats like vegetables, but they are loaded with fiber and water to help with digestion. From time to time you will see a cat eating a plant to get roughage or fiber, but since some plants are poisonous this should never be encouraged.
Serving small portions of veggies to your cat is fine, as long as they are cooked and have been washed thoroughly. Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners suggests several vegetables you can give to your cat.
- Baked carrots
- Steamed asparagus or broccoli
- Green beans
- Winter squash
- Chopped greens
Cheese is a good source of protein for most cats. However, some cats become lactose intolerant as they become older. If a cat is lactose intolerant, any dairy product will cause diarrhea. If you want to try giving your cat dairy products, start by giving her a small amount of cottage cheese, yogurt or sour cream. Low-lactose varieties of cheese and milk can also be given. Dairy may be helpful if you are trying to get your cat to take their medicine. Pills can be ground up and mixed into cream cheese or butter.
Tuna immediately comes to many people’s minds when it comes to giving cats people food. Giving cats a bit of tuna is fine but a diet heavy in tuna runs the risk of vitamin E depletion because of an overload of polyunsaturated acids. However, the omega-3 fatty acids keep your cat’s eyes staying sharp. Some veterinarians say it is okay to give your cat uncooked fish, where others say it is not. Dr. Colleran says that uncooked fish contains too much thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine. In addition to this, uncooked freshwater fish may carry a tapeworm.
Veterinarians agree that cooked eggs make a delicious and nutritious treat for a cat. Eggs are ideal for cats because they are rich in protein. Serving them scrambled or hard-boiled is recommended. With that being said, eggs are rather allergenic so keep your eyes open for any potential allergic reaction. Avoid feeding raw eggs to your cat due to the risk of Salmonella and E. coli poisoning.
When it comes to people food for cats, cooked animal meat is always the best choice. Since cooked poultry makes a great food for a cat, feel free to share your Thanksgiving turkey with your feline (as long as it wasn’t cooked with onions.)
Oats are another protein-filled snack that is appropriate for cats. Brown rice, barley and wheat berries will work, but you may need to mash them. Cats also like smaller grains like millet and couscous. Whichever grain you choose, just make sure that it has been cooked thoroughly.
If you decide to give your cat people food, never let it replace regular meals of high-quality cat food. Be sure that you aren’t overfeeding your cat by giving her people food. This can lead to an overweight kitty with health problems.