Cat owners consider their companions a cherished part of their family, so much so that many of us think of them as our "fur babies," rather than pets. But don't let that term of endearment lull you into thinking that cats can be treated like humans in every way. In fact, there are some things we can do that cats can't, and there are definitely "people" foods that cats should never eat, no matter how innocent they seem to us.
It may seem odd to think that processed cat food would be healthier for a feline companion than a fresh-from-the-market piece of meat or a sample of your mouthwatering slow-cooker stew. But cats' digestive systems are more delicate than you might think, considering that our house kitties are not that far removed from lions, tigers, and other fierce hunters of the wild.
Certain foods that people can eat with no problem are actually toxic to cats and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or an stomach upset, or even lead to organ failure or death. You've probably heard that chocolate is harmful to pets (which it is, according to the ASPCA and other sources), but there are other dangerous treats that might surprise you.
When it comes to feeding anything other than cat food to your fur baby, the best rule to follow is to check with your vet first. But these particular people foods are definitely on the danger list:
All those stories and poems about Fluffy lapping up bowls of milk and cream are way off-base. In fact, a cat's digestive system can't tolerate the lactose in milk, explained the vet experts at WebMD. That drink of half-and-half can give your kitty a bad case of diarrhea.
2. Grapes and Raisins
Great for kids, but definitely not for kitties, even small amounts of raisins or grapes can shut down a cat's kidneys, warned HillsDiet.com. The symptoms of toxicity, such as lethargy or vomiting, may not show up for nearly a day after ingesting, so be alert. If grapes are a regular snack in your home, keep them in your fridge, rather than on your kitchen counter.
The same veggie that makes our soups, stews, and meats so tasty is a one-way ticket to the animal hospital for cats. Whether cooked or raw, onions (and their close relation, chives) contain a compound called allium that cats' bodies can't process, said VetStreet. Even the smallest amount can destroy a cat's red blood cells, so keep that in mind when you're tempted to feed your kitty a scrap of seasoned chicken or beef.
4. Raw Eggs
Despite what Grandma may have told you about raw egg yolk making a cat's coat glossy, it's actually not a good idea. Apart from the salmonella risk, raw eggs may contain parasites that can inflame a cat's pancreas, explained VetStreet. In addition, raw egg whites can cause skin and fur problems in cats, because of a protein that can affect absorption of an essential B vitamin, said WebMD. An occasional bit of cooked egg, however, is fine.
You're careful to keep liquor out of your kids' reach, but it's just as important to do the same for your fur babies. Alcohol can kill a cat, or at the very least cause vomiting, breathing, and motor control problems, warned HillsDiet.com. So if your kitty is the curious type, keep it in a separate room when you're entertaining.
6. Raw Bread Dough
If your feline fur baby is the nosy type who likes to prowl around the kitchen while you're baking bread, don't give in to the temptation to give it a nibble of the uncooked dough. As the ASPCA explained, there are two hazards at work here: First, the dough will swell uncomfortably inside your cat's stomach. Second, the dough actually ferments as it rises, posing the risk of alcohol poisoning.
It might seem cute to give your kitty a saucer of milky latte or let it lap up the dregs of your energy drink, but that could be a dangerous mistake. Caffeine, whether it comes in the form of coffee, chocolate, tea, or another source, contains methylxanthines that can cause everything from stomach upset to arrhythmia to death in cats, warned the ASPCA.
Denying your cat a dinner of raw fish sounds positively unnatural, but it's for kitty's own good. VetStreet explained that sushi-grade fish can block the vitamin thiamine in cats, which can lead to seizures.