Human Foods Toxic to Cats

It’s not uncommon to let your cat have table scraps or a bite of your sandwich. But it’s good to remember that your cat is very different from you. What’s healthy for you might be exactly the opposite for your cat. As a cat owner, you need to know foods that are healthy or toxic to cats. So that next time you feed your hungry feline something from the dining table, you’ll be making a mindful choice.

Your cat’s diet need not be boring. Humans and cats can share food. In fact, we’ve written an article about what cats can eat apart from cat food. You should check it out!

Here are some of the foods toxic to cats:

Garlic and onion  

Garlic and onions are both members of the allium family and have high concentrations of thiosulphates and disulfides that cause the red blood cells in the cat to undergo erythrocyte fragility, a condition that could leave the cells rupturing under stress. A lack of these cells in any animal’s body will lead to anemia. 

Symptoms of toxicity may fail to appear before 4 days and may never will for asymptomatic cats. When they do appear though, they may include fatigue, vomiting, pale gums, an increased respiratory rate, lethargy, and discoloured urine.


Alcohol is found in alcoholic drinks, uncooked bread, and pizza dough and its poisoning occurs from oral intake by the cat. The ethanol gets easily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and goes to the brain. 

This has the effect of blocking messages between brain cells. Ethanol poisoning also has a few other undesirable consequences for the cat: it could become comatose and have respiratory depression, the abdomen could swell if there was ingestion of uncooked bread dough, it could also cause depression of the central nervous system, resulting in symptoms like lethargy, hypothermia, ataxia, dehydration, metabolic acidosis, and vomiting.

Raw eggs and raw meat

It would be wise to keep cats away from uncooked meat and eggs, for reasons rather obvious: they are harmful to them. Raw eggs could harbour bacteria salmonella or E.coli. Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tract of the cat and this will lead to inflammation of the intestine, cause septicaemia (a disease) and cause an inflection of the blood as there will be the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream. A raw enzyme from these foods could cause skin and coat issues. Symptoms of a cat experiencing a salmonella/ E.coli infection include mucus in stool, diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting, dehydration, lethargy, a lack of appetite, and depression.

Chocolate and caffeine

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, two compounds harmful to cats. Theobromine, a bitter alkaloid found in the cocoa plant, can be metabolized naturally and easily in the human body but unfortunately is not the same case for cats. They are much more sensitive to the two compounds meaning that they require more time to metabolize them; this would result in a build-up of by-product waste that is toxic to their bodies.

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity occur within six to twelve hours of ingestion and may include diarrhoea, muscle tremors, hyper-excitability, seizures, and rapid breathing.


Table scraps are the main source of bones that cats will simply carry away to go and gnaw on. They will not know that ingesting it will cause health problems sometimes too severe to bear with. A bone splinter, be it from fish or poultry could easily get stuck somewhere in its digestive tract, leading to obstruction and effectively choking it. It could also puncture the oesophagus and cause internal bleeding. Symptoms may include a loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhoea, unwillingness to lie down, difficulty breathing, and a distended abdomen.


When a cat ingests a type of citrus fruit like oranges or limes, it will show symptoms of drooling, weakness, and depression. When in contact with these fruits, they will experience allergic dermatitis, a type of skin irritation. This is because these citrus fruits contain oil extracts like linalool and limonene.


Nuts are very dangerous to dogs but not as much so for cats. This however does not mean that cats are in the clear. Nuts can be just as hazardous when taken in large amounts. Here are ways nuts can be harmful to your cat:

  • Cyanogenic glycosides are natural toxins found in almonds that when in high amounts will cause your cat to suffer a type of cyanide poisoning. This will likely be fatal.
  • Too much fat from nuts can cause weight gain and increase the risk of pancreatic together with diabetes.
  • Excessive salt intake from nuts can lead to sodium ion poisoning which could result in seizures and potentially death.

Frequently asked questions

 What should I do when my cat has any of these symptoms?

It is important to stay calm and ensure your cat is in a comfortable enough position that will either ease its pain or not bring up more for it. Do this as you contact your veterinary doctor. If the cat has just ingested any of the toxic material, you can safely induce vomiting or encourage urination of the animal.

Final Thoughts on Foods Toxic to Cats

I know you like to share your food with your furry friend, but it is important to know what kind of foods might not be safe for cat consumption. Otherwise, you can share with your cat all the other foods not mentioned in this article.

If you are interested in knowing more about cats, you can begin here: Does Cat Toilet Training Work, Unique Male Cat Names, Coolest Boy Cat Names, Cutest Male Cat Names, Black Girl Cat Names, Names For Orange Cats, Siamese Cat Names, Best Anime Names For Cats, Male Cat Names In French, Female Cat Names In French, Male Dog Names In French, Halloween Names For Cats. If you are a dog mom, you can read our post on Dog Mom Mother’s Day Gifts.

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