Q: I just purchased a new kitty and want to know what foods are toxic to cats?
A: There are a number of human foods that can be toxic to cats and cause anything from intestinal obstruction to gastrointestinal upsets and neurologic sign such as seizures. Since cats are carnivores it is best to purchase a pet cat food that is balanced and nutritious. In my opinion you should look for one of the first two ingredients listed to be of meat origin, i.e. chicken, beef, venison, duck, rabbit. This will ensure that your cat gets the meat protein that it requires.
Never give your cat any form of alcoholic beverage. This can cause intoxication, coma and even death. Avoid giving any foods with bones in them because this can cause obstruction, laceration or even perforation of the digestive tract. Canned tuna in oil should totally be avoided. Canned tuna in water should be avoided in large amounts because it can cause malnutrition since it lacks the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals. I see no problem in using a small amount of canned tuna in water if, for example, you need to give your cat medication. It should not be used as a total diet, however.
Chocolate is extremely toxic to cats because it contains theobromine. The type of symptoms exhibited depends on the amount ingested. This can range from an increased heart rate all the way to seizures, coma and death. Coffee and tea should also be avoided as they also adversely affect the cardiac and nervous systems.
Dog food is another substance one needs to be aware of. Small amounts of dog food are not harmful if ingested; however, if given repeatedly it can cause malnutrition and disease. Dog food lacks the proper amount of taurine, an amino acid necessary for heart health in cats. Avoid giving your cat any type of fat trimmings from meat or other foods. Fat given in this manner can cause pancreatitis which can be extremely dangerous and even life threatening in cats. Grapes and raisins contain toxins that are very dangerous to the kidneys. The ASPCA advises “As there are still many unknowns with the toxic potential of grapes and raisins, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises not giving grapes or raisons to pets in any amount.”
One should always be cautious about giving human supplements to their cats. Avoid all human supplements that contain iron as this can cause damage to the intestinal tract and adversely affect the liver and kidneys. Check with your veterinarian regarding any other human supplement you may wish to give your pet.
Even though your cat may enjoy cooked or raw liver, never give large amounts of liver to them. Large amounts of liver can cause Vitamin A toxicity which can affect your pet’s bones and liver.
Milk and other dairy products are not necessarily toxic to cats but they do lack an enzyme called lactase which can cause a number of different symptoms. Milk products can cause diarrhea, cramps, gas and general stomach upset in your cat. There are lactose free products on the pet market that your cat can ingest and enjoy.
Macadamia nuts also contain unknown toxins which have adverse affects on muscle, as well as the digestive and the nervous systems.
Mushrooms contain toxins that affect numerous body systems, particularly the liver. Toxic symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea and jaundice.
Onions or foods (baby food) or gravies containing onions can be very toxic to cats. Onions contain N-propyl disulphide which is a substance that attacks the red blood cells and causes a type of anemia called Heinz body anemia. Garlic contains similar substances and also should be avoided in cats.
If you suspect that your cat has ingested a toxic substance call your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Time is of the essence. The ASPCA also has a National Animal Poison Control Center that you can call at 1-888-426-4435. There is a $ 60 fee for each call. It may be the best $60 you spend if it saves your cat’s life.