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May 8, 2013 at 3:48 PMComments: 19 Faves: 0

Safe, Healthy People Foods Your Cat Can Eat

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Feline 101 Blog Series

Okay, now that we got the naughty list out of the way, we’re ready for the fun list, the list of foods you can give your cat… with just a few more caveats.

Besides pleasing your kitty, real, whole, natural foods can help add healthy vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and fiber they may be missing in their normal cat food.

However, please keep in mind, that just as with people, moderation is key. Cats require a specific balance of nutrients. You should not attempt to replace all your cat’s meals without the assistance of a veterinarian.  You should also be aware that just as some people have food allergies, some cats do as well. Always take caution when introducing a new food to your cat’s diet.  Overall, let’s use common sense people.



As carnivores, your cat probably shouldn't have a large proportion of grains in their diet, however, it is perfectly safe for your cat to eat grains on occasion. Most cat foods and treats use grains as a binding agent, but most prepared cat foods and treats don't use high quality whole grains. Besides, if your cat enjoys it, a little human-grade brown rice, oats, quinoa, or whole grain flour can add healthful fiber to their diet! Just remember - experts recommend  yeast dough products make up no more than 5 to 10% of your cat's diet and you should never feed your cat raw dough.


vegetablesThat’s right!While cats prefer and are healthiest on a primarily protein-based diet, vegetables are good for them too. Vegetables not only offer healthful vitamins and minerals, they add fiber which aids your pet’s digestive systems and promotes the elimination of environmental toxins they encounter. Recommended vegetables include cooked carrots, asparagus, broccoli, green bean, winter squash, and chopped greens.



As with vegetables, fruit provides healthful fiber that helps keep your cat’s digestive system running smoothly. Experts say melons - cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon - are all good choices. Interestingly though, it’s not the sugar content that makes cats like melons. In fact, recent studies show cats (and other carnivores like them) can’t taste sweet at all! They’re completely carb blind. Rather, what they like about melon, is the water content, and what they like about bananas- another expert recommended fruit for cats- is the fat. In both cases, moderation is key. Remember cats are carnivores and should therefore have a diet that is mainly meat-based. When too much of the diet is made up of non-meat foods, cats can develop problems with diarrhea.



While it’s true that grown cats tend to be mildly lactose intolerant, cheese is naturally lower in lactose than milk, and low or lactose-free milk products can be substituted.  Small amounts added to your cats diet can provide them with added calcium and protein.



Fish is a common cat food ingredient and yes, you can feed your cats the same fish you enjoy – within reason. Mercury toxicity caused by a diet heavy in large, carnivorous fish (tuna, salmon, swordfish…) is as much a risk to us, as it is to our cats. To avoid this, offer tuna, salmon, and swordfish in small amounts and only on occasion. A better choice, would be smaller fish which have less exposure to mercury –cod, halibut, trout, whitefish, perch, catfish, and mackerel. In addition to natural protein, fish offer B vitamins and added omega 3 fatty acids which promote heart, skin, and brain health.



Cooked eggs which are high in protein, B vitamins, selenium and phosphorus, are a great sometimes treat for cats.  Notice though, that I say “cooked.” While some knowledgeable people promote raw eggs for cats, the risk of salmonella and other potential diseases, make most veterinarians recommend against their use. While I’ll leave that choice up to you, I don’t feel the risk is worth the little bit of extra nutrients to me. It’s also important to note that some cats are allergic to eggs, so the first time you give your kitty some, offer only a small amount and keep a lookout for any symptoms of digestive upset – vomiting or diarrhea.



As cats are natural carnivores, cooked meat is the natural choice for a special treat. Once again, notice I say cooked.  While I can personally verify cats can and do eat raw wild creatures (such as the moles in my yard), modern meat industry practices make raw meat purchased from your store a risky choice. In many vets and my own opinion, it’s not worth the risk.  Also, because too much fat can lead to digestive issues, lean meat like chicken and turkey are probably best, though red meat can be offered in small amounts. Natural protein, vitamins, and minerals are all benefits of supplementing your cat’s diet with cooked meat!

Read more:

People Foods Your Cats Shouldn't Eat


Simple Homemade Cat Treats Your Kitty's Going to Love


Smart Living Network: People Foods Your Cat Shouldn't Eat

Pawnation: Cats. 10 ‘People Foods’ Cats Can Eat Too

Animal Planet: Pets 101: Cat Guide: 5 Human Foods Cats Can Eat

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  • I have a cat that would live completely on watermelon if I allowed him to. He loves watermelon. Whenever we would get it, we would always end up giving him the rind with some of the pink left on it and he would devour the pink. It was funny to watch, and I'm glad to find out it wasn't bad for him. Of course, he loves grapes too, but that is one I will make sure he doesn't get anymore.

  • That is so cute! And yeah, I think a lot of people would be surprised by this list. Most people know about chocolate being a problem, but they figure foods that are actually good for us, must be good for them too. Not always that case!

  • If Kitty is prone to digestive crystals, is mature, and on a prescription diet, should people food be avoided altogether or are small amounts ok?

  • Hi Kelley!

    First off, I'm not a vet, so while I imagine there are some people foods you can treat your cat with, I would definitely ask your vet to be sure. Don't want to risk a bad reaction in your kitty!

    When it comes to crystals in cats, there are two very different types which can develop - the most common, oxalate are ACIDIC and may be aggravated by excess calcium and vitamin C. Less common, but still occurring are struvite which may be aggravated by excess magnesium and are generally caused by a ph balance that is too ALKALINE.

    In both cases, dehydration is a factor and so I would think eating watery foods might be helpful, but since they are aggravated by diets on opposite ends of the ph scale, depending on which type of crystals your cat is prone to the advised foods may be quite different!

  • Erin,

    Thanks for this article, it is really interesting. I didn't realise that cats could eat quinoa. I accidentally fed it to my cat recently and he seemed to like it. I checked a number of cat blogs, to find out whether or not quinoa could be fed to cats. I read, which seemed to agree with your statement around the benefits of fiber for a cat's diet. How do you prepare quinoa for your cat? Do you have any recipes?



  • my cat loves basmati rice and he ate it off my plate once before but it is such a releive to see that its fine for cat to eat it

  • Zoologist here, cats are obligate carnivore (need meat to continue living) as there are certain proteins they can no longer make and so need to obtain from meat, also they are adapted to eat raw meat as their evolution has lead to a diet of exclusivelly raw meat. Just a word of warning please keep this in mind and talk to you're vet not the internet , regardless of our views it's our job as their carers to give them what they need not what we won't them to eat! :)

  • Hi Amy -

    Yes, cats are obligate carnivores, and meat should account for the majority of their diet. However, even wild cats sometimes eat plants like grasses and such.

    This article is not intended as a guide to replace a cat's balanced daily diet. If you want to switch them to a homemade food diet, it's important you consult with a veterinarian to avoid deficiencies.

    All this article is intended for is for occasional snack ideas. Not all human foods are safe for a cat to eat - even in very small amounts. These are things your cat can eat every once in awhile without harmful interactions.

  • Cats should NEVER have grains as a part of their regular diet. They are NOT omnivores, they are carnivores. The only time a cat would naturally ingest grains is if it is in the stomach of the animal they are consuming. Cat food companies that include grains in the kibble or can use it as a cheap filler, and many cats can develop liver and kidney issues after having it as a staple in their diet. You wouldn't feed a cow or a rabbit (herbavores) meat, so why are feeding your cat (a carnivore) grains?

  • "All this article is intended for is for occasional snack ideas. Not all human foods are safe for a cat to eat - even in very small amounts. These are things your cat can eat every once in awhile without harmful interactions."

  • This entire article is wrong. It even states that cats are carnivores, thus why would you feed them grains, starches and vegetables???? I'm not a vet but I've done my fair share of research on the diet/biology of both dogs and cats and this is so wrong. Just think of it this way... If your dog or cat is a stray outdoors, what would they feed themselves? Likely small rodents, birds, maybe a rabbit if they're lucky to catch it. They aren't cooking it either, they're eating it whole and raw. So why would you feed them differently if they live indoors? You're SUPPOSED to feed your dog or cat raw meat. Kibble is unhealthy and unnatural thus pretty much canceling out everything on this entire list except for the meat. Carnivores don't use anything else but meat, bones and organs and if you don't feed them accordingly then they developed health problems like allergies, UTIs, bladder infections, skin problems, ear infections, diabetes, etc the list goes on! If you've never heard of feeding raw, you probably think this is bull. But it's up to what your pet eats that determines how often they go to the vet...

  • "All this article is intended for is for occasional snack ideas. Not all human foods are safe for a cat to eat - even in very small amounts. These are things your cat can eat every once in awhile without harmful interactions."

  • "If your dog or cat is a stray outdoors, what would they feed themselves?" In addition to their primary diet, cats and dogs will both regularly eat grass and vegetation, even in the wild. It helps with digestion. :)

  • I was worried about letting my 9 month old kitten eat honeydew melon. she grabbed a bit one night & devoured it, so I thought I had better check. I'm glad its ok for her, all my other one's haven't given it a second sniff, so I was shocked when she kept on trying to get the plate out of my hand. she seemed pretty pleased with herself when she had some...

  • :) Good read!rnrnrnrnrnrnrn

  • THANK YOU for making it clear that cats MUST eat animal flesh for the majority of their diet. There is so much ignorance out in Feline land. Think a vegetarian diet may be fine for your cat? So so wrong. Doing this will cause your cat to go BLIND. PLEASE pass this knowledge on to every cat parent you know. Ignorance = cruelty when it comes to our Feline babies.

  • Good read thank you

  • Cats are lactose intolerant and should never be fed dairy containing lactose. It may not kill them but it will give them a lot of discomfort due to excess gas and diarrhoea produced.

  • This is so WRONG in terms of grains! The cats digestive system CANNOT metabolize grain! That is why cats on a diet of kibble end up with kidney disease! The really correct diet for felines is raw meat! That's what they would eat in the wild! There are so many benefits for both them and their humans not the least of which is financial. The raw food made at home with the proper supplements is less expensive than the least expensive canned food. It cuts down on disease and tooth problems (with sufficient chunks and raw bone to chew on). They extract all of their needed nutrients out of raw food which results in smaller, dryer feces. And, their coats are healthy, lusturous, and unbelievably soft! rnrnThis isn't to say they should never have anything but meat. I have one who LOVES cantaloupe of all things and who will steal the occasional kernel of popcorn. But, those are the occasional treats (the popcorn VERY infrequent) the cantalope whenever I fix some for myself.

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