What food is toxic to cats?

What food is toxic to cats?

Food-related toxicities are rare in cats.  Most cats are imprinted with their food preferences as kittens.  This means they will usually only eat foods they were exposed to regularly at a very young age and they tend to be more adventurous with house geckos than human food.  It is, however, worth knowing which human foods need to be kept away from your cat.

Alcohol is an obvious one to avoid.  It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, coma and death.  Raw bread dough containing yeast would be an unlikely food preference for a cat however if eaten, can lead to bloating and also produces alcohol as a by-product which is dangerous.

Chocolate contains theobromine while coffee and tea contain caffeine.  These cause vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, seizures and death if consumed in large enough amounts.

Grapes, sultanas and raisins can cause kidney failure.

Citrus fruits contain citric acid which can cause an upset stomach, or in large amounts leads to diarrhoea, vomiting and central nervous system depression.

Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives can cause gastric irritation, and technically can lead to red blood cell damage although clinical anaemia from consuming these is unlikely.

Xylitol is a common additive in chewing gum, mouth wash and sugar-free foods.  It is well-know to be toxic in dogs and cats should also avoid it to be on the safe side, although they are unlikely to seek out many of these types of foods.

Risks of raw meat consumption and the merits of raw feeding are often debated.  Without imparting an opinion here, it is worth noting that any raw food, including meat, fish and eggs, carries a risk of bacterial contamination which can lead to gastrointestinal upsets and more serious forms of food poisoning, especially in kittens under six months of age.


Dr Felicity Banks is a resident veterinarian at 4Legs

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