Foods to keep away from kitty
It is a common misconception that you should give your cat milk, yet we are all used to seeing images of a kitten lapping it up from a saucer. In reality, the majority of cats are lactose intolerant! Cats do not possess significant amounts of lactase – the enzyme that breaks down the sugar lactose in milk – which means any milk-based product can lead to diarrhoea or other digestive upsets.
Onions and Garlic
Thiosulphate is found in foods such as onions, garlic, shallots and chives. This compound can cause serious problems if your cat eats enough of it. The thiosulphate causes destruction of red blood cells, a devastating condition called heamolytic anaemia. For the most part, your cat probably won’t seek out bits of onion or garlic, but they might take a few nibbles of your dinner that contains onion, garlic or both. These ingredients are also found in commercial chicken or broths that you might add to their food. Typically, it’s OK to give your cat a bit of chicken or broth, just check the ingredients to make sure it doesn’t include onions or garlic (or too much salt).
Remember that cats are relatively small, so even little amounts of alcohol can cause a host of problems if your cat gets even one small sip. These issues range from digestive upsets to breathing difficulty, disorientation, coma and in the worst cases, death. Be sure not to leave drinks unattended or anywhere within reach of your feline friend and clean up spills before your cat gets a chance to have a little taste. It really doesn’t take much more than a lap or two of alcohol to cause major issues in cats.
Although a human superfood, avocado can cause digestive upsets and increase the risk of pancreatitis in cats. In addition, the leaves, fruit and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause serious problems in your cat.
Chocolate, Coffee and some Soft Drinks
These products all contain methylxanthines (caffeine and related substances like theobromine), a compound found naturally in cacao seeds, coffee beans and in a nut extract that is used in some sodas. Methylxanthines can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death in cats. While plain or dark chocolate is the most dangerous to cats, all varieties of chocolate (plain, milk and white) should be avoided.
The occasional mouthful of dog food will not hurt your cat, but a steady diet of dog food can cause your cat to be severely malnourished. Cat foods are specially-formulated to address all your cat’s needs. They contain taurine, an amino acid that is essential for cats, which is found in animal-based protein. Taurine is essential for a normal healthy immune system, vision, heart muscle function and digestion in cats. Dog food does not contain enough taurine to address cats’ needs.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in cats although the toxic substance within them is still unknown. The effects may be even worse in elderly and sick animals.
Potatoes and Tomatoes
Potatoes and tomatoes are members of the solanaceae family of plants which can be toxic to cats. Raw potatoes (including potato peelings) and green tomatoes also contain solanine, a bitter, poisonous glycoalkaloid, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. The leaves and stems are particularly toxic. Cooked potato, sweet potato and ripe tomatoes do not contain solanine. Some cat foods do contain tomatoes but these are ripe and should not cause concern because they are generally used in relatively small amounts)
Liver and Cod Liver Oil
You may remember your grandmother giving raw livers to her cat but it has been shown that eating too much organ meat, especially liver from any animal, or supplements containing high levels of cod liver oil, can cause vitamin A toxicity, a serious condition that can affect your cat’s joints and bones. Signs of toxicity include stiffness and immobility of joints, pain and discomfort and there may even be deformed bones and fractures as well as gastrointestinal signs.
These nuts are commonly-used in many cookies and chocolates and they can cause significant problems for your feline friend. Vomiting, increased body temperature (hyperthermia), lethargy and tremors are the initial signs that can progress to ataxia or hind-limb paresis.
Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
One would think that feeding raw meat and bones is beneficial to felines. The truth is raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli ( coli) that are harmful to cats. Additionally, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Your cat could choke on bones or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your cat’s digestive tract.
Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium poisoning in cats. Signs that your cat may have eaten too much salt include vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death. Check commercial foods for sodium content.
Xylitol and Sugary foods
Used as a sweetener in many products including gum, sweets, baked goods and toothpaste, xylitol can cause a release of insulin which causes blood sugar levels to drop and can also cause vomiting, fatigue and loss of coordination. These maladies progress rapidly (within a few days) to liver failure. Sugary foods are also not good for cats and can lead to dental problems, obesity and diabetes.
The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and, if ingested in significant amounts, possibly affect your cat’s central nervous system. Small doses are not likely to present significant problems beyond minor stomach upsets.
Yeast in dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive tract leading to pain due to distension of the stomach and intestines, which could rupture in severe cases. Additionally, as dough rises alcohol is produced which can be toxic to your cat.
Foreign objects such as toys, soft rubber objects, string (including thread, wool and tinsel), coins and medicine also pose a risk to cats if ingested. A number of common over-the-counter medicines (including aspirin and acetaminophen or paracetamol and ibuprofen-containing medications) are also dangerous for cats so make sure they are out of kitty’s reach.