Human foods that are safe for your cat to eat

kitten looking up at camera
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You sit down on the sofa to relax and enjoy a scrumptious snack. Moments later, your cat coils around your legs and plops down, begging for a tidbit of your treat with a sweet meow. Although you would be happy to share a taste, you guiltily say no, knowing your munchies are bad for your kitty.

Or are they?

Not only can “human food” be perfectly safe for cats, but some of your groceries could actually be good for them. Discover some harmless staples you can share with your favorite feline:

Infographic showing foods safe for cats
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Fish

While you don’t want your kitty eating straight from the aquarium, feeding him fish such as tuna or salmon can help his eyesight, joints and brain. However, there are a few stipulations: Never feed your cat raw fish, and be sure the fish you feed your cat is de-boned.

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Shrimp

Cooked shrimp can be an appropriate treat for your cat — in moderation. Shrimp is rich in phosphorus, calcium, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, is heart healthy and can help keep your cat’s fur in tip-top shape.

Meat

Poultry, beef, turkey, liver and lamb are all natural options for your little carnivore. As with fish, never feed your feline raw meat — to be safe for cat consumption, all meats must be cooked through and free of all skin and bones. Skip processed meats high in sodium, such as cold cuts, ham and bacon, as too much salt can be toxic to cats.

Fruits and Vegetables

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they don’t naturally eat fruits and veggies — their tummies can’t break down the cellulose found in raw fruits and vegetables. Therefore, our furry friends only get health benefits from these foods when they’re properly prepared, which for cats means cooked and pureed with no seasonings added. This includes flavor enhancers like garlic, onions, shallots and scallions, all of which are not safe for cats.

So which fruits and veggies are safe for your precious pet?

Fruits:

  • Apples, deseeded and peeled
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cranberries
  • Honeydew melon
  • Pumpkin, deseeded
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon, seedless varieties only

Vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli, steamed only
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Spinach

Remember to cook and puree any fruit or veggie you’re planning to serve your cat in order to break down that naturally occurring cellulose. Also, fruits and veggies should never be treated as a replacement for your pet’s high-quality, meat-based diet — cats are carnivores, after all!

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Rice

Although not a necessary part of their diet, a little bit of cooked brown rice won’t harm your cat. In fact, it might be helpful if she’s having digestive issues.

Oatmeal

Oats are high in fiber and iron, good for energy and often found listed in the ingredients of commercial cat foods, so feeding your feline friend a little bit of cooked, unflavored (no added sugar) plain oatmeal is perfectly safe.

Eggs

Protein-rich eggs are another healthy food you can share with your cat. As with all other foods on this list, opt for cooked (in this case, scrambled or boiled), as raw eggs may carry salmonella or E. coli.

a beautiful, fluffy cat sitting on a refrigerator shelf alongside illustrations of foods safe for cats to eat
Simplemost | Taylor Kuether

Foods To Avoid

We’ve already mentioned raw food of any kind is a no-no and garlic and onions are also off limits. But that’s not all you should avoid feeding your cat.

Contrary to popular belief, dairy isn’t actually something cats should eat — yes, even a saucer of milk — so avoid cheese, milk and other dairy products.

And while cats can have the fruits and veggies mentioned above, grapes (and their dried counterparts, raisins) are not safe for cats. Speaking of grapes, cats also cannot have alcohol or other human vices including chocolate, coffee, tea and energy drinks.

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Final Thoughts

Before giving them to your cat, be sure all of the above treats are skinned/deseeded/deboned, cooked through and cut into bite-size pieces for your cat (roughly the size of their dry food).

All of these foods should be given only as occasional treats within a balanced diet. Talk to your vet about the best food to feed your cat daily or if you have any concerns about what your kitty should or should not be eating.

Animals, Food, Health, Pets, Science & Nature
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About the Author
Taylor Kuether
Taylor Kuether is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years’ experience writing and editing content, designing and implementing digital strategy, leading teams and executing production. She's written for The Washington Post, National Geographic, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times and more.

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