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October 13, 2021 |7 min read |Veterinarian Reviewed

8 Human Foods That Are Poisonous For Cats

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There’s nothing wrong with wanting to treat your kitty from time to time, but it’s important to make sure the homemade cat treats or the cat birthday cake you’re giving them aren’t poisonous to cats. Something that might be a delicious snack for you could have serious consequences for your feline friend. 

Let’s look at some of the most common human foods that are poisonous for cats and provide some healthy alternatives to give to your cat instead. 

8 Human Foods That Are Poisonous For Cats

Feeding your cat the appropriate nutrition is super important to their health, and this includes avoiding treats and human foods that are toxic to cats. Here are just a few:

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1. Milk & Dairy

Yes, despite all the old tales about feeding cats milk, dairy products or dairy foods are actually toxic to cats and can lead to digestive problems. Cats can’t digest milk the same way humans can. So these dairy products or dairy foods can really upset the cat’s stomach. In fact, cats become more lactose intolerant as they age so kittens are a little less sensitive to milk than adult cats. 

If you do want to give your cats a milk treat, look for milk made specifically for cats to avoid an upset stomach. 

2. Onions

Onions can cause some serious gastrointestinal issues for your kitty and can even cause anemia because they can lead to red blood cell damage. Cats are more sensitive to onions than dogs, but onions are toxic to dogs as well. 

3. Garlic

Garlic is in the same family as onions and is therefore also toxic to cats. The oxidant in both onions and garlic can cause oxidative damage to your kitty’s red blood cells. 

4. Grapes

Grapes and raisins are both extremely toxic to cats and can even lead to kidney failure if ingested. Experts don’t know exactly what makes grapes so poisonous for cats, but the hypothesis is that they aren’t able to metabolize the tannins in the grapes, which then causes kidney failure.

5. Raw Eggs

While cooked eggs (especially egg whites) are healthy for cats on occasion, raw eggs can contain Salmonella and E. coli, both of which are dangerous to cats. Immunocompromised kitties are at an especially high risk of falling victim to a foodborne illness. 

In addition to potentially harboring a foodborne disease, raw eggs also contain an enzyme that decreases your cat’s ability to absorb biotin. Biotin is an important protein for healthy skin and a healthy coat, and feeding your cat raw eggs may cause skin and coat problems. 

6. Raw Meat

Just like raw egg, raw meat or raw fish can contain parasites like Salmonella and E.coli, which are really dangerous for your kitty. Meat is an important part of a well-balanced cat’s diet since they should get most of their calories from protein, but just make sure it’s cooked well first. 

With that being said, there is a way to safely feed your cat raw meat or raw fish. There has been an increase in raw diet for both cats and dogs. If you are going to switch to a raw diet, talk to your vet about the safe way to incorporate raw meat into your cat’s diet. Meanwhile, raw fish carries bacteria that causes food poisoning as well.

7. Avocado

Avocado, while delicious on toast in the morning or on top of your taco, is toxic to cats. Avocados can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which if severe, can cause dehydration and more health issues. While not immediately life-threatening, Perin (a toxin found in avocados) can cause these symptoms in both dogs and cats. 

8. Citrus

The last human food on our list of foods that are poisonous to cats is citrus, which can include oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit. These citrus fruits can cause a cat’s stomach gastrointestinal problems, including vomiting and diarrhea. 

The fruits are toxic because they contain limonene and linalool, two essential oil extracts. Speaking of essential oils, while not a cat food, we wanted to include a note that most essential oils are not safe for cats. Even “cat-safe” essential oils can be dangerous, so be mindful if you have an essential oil diffuser in your home and keep your kitty far away from it. 

We hope this list of toxic foods for cats is helpful for the next time you’re cooking in the kitchen and wonder if you can give your kitty a little nibble of what you’re making. No matter how cute they look, say no to these toxic human foods!

But on the plus side, there are many foods that are safe for cats in moderation that you can treat them to. 

Human Foods That Are Safe for Cats

Now that we covered some of the scary foods, let’s share some of the yummy foods you can give your cat here and there:

  • Cooked meat
  • Cooked eggs, especially egg whites (limit the yolk)
  • Fish 
  • Berries, including blueberries and strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Rice
  • Pumpkin (PS - pumpkin has a lot of fiber and is a great natural remedy if your cat is constipated)
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Spinach

You can totally treat your cat as long as you know what are the safe human foods and what are the poisonous human foods. We listed a couple here, but check out the ASPCA’s extensive list before sneaking your kitty a tidbit from the table! 

Avoid having to worry about which food is toxic to your cat or not. There are many foods that are definitely safe for cats that you can treat them with instead like our PrettyPlease Ultra-Premium cat food. So, avoid upset tummies and get a treat that’s formulated to give your cats a long and healthy life. 

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Christina Scamporrino is a lifelong animal lover and began working in the petcare space in 2019. Christina’s passion for the community of feline owners and enthusiasts have led her to designing premium packaging for PrettyLitter cat litter, PrettyPlease dry food, wet food, and treats, and a litter box designed to solve common litter box issues.

Outside of her professional work in the petcare space, Christina is a longtime kitten foster and has worked with several cat rescues throughout Southern California. When given the option, she favors orange cats, but loves all cats equally.


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Sara Ochoa

Sara Ochoa, DVM graduated from St. George's University Veterinary School in 2015. Since then, she has been at a small and exotic animal practice in Texas. In her free time, she loves making quilts and spending time with her husband Greg and their 4 fur kids. Two dogs, Ruby a schnoodle, and Bug a Japanese Chin, one cat named OJ and a leopard tortoise named Monkey.

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