Can Cats Eat Cheese? Our Kitty Feeding Guide
It’s usually dogs who beg for scraps, but sometimes your cat will also try to scoff your dinner if you leave it unattended! Some human foods can be ok for cats, others not so much. If you’d like to treat your cat to leftovers like cheese, eggs, or porridge, read on to find out if it’s safe for them to eat first.
Remember: This is general guidance only and should not be considered medical or vet advice. Please always seek your vet's advice on nutritional matters, especially if your cat has any underlying health issues.
Cheese – UNSAFE – It can surprise people to learn this, but cats are actually lactose intolerant. Feeding them milk, yoghurt, or cheese can upset their stomachs, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Even dairy free cheese is a bad idea – it’s very high in fat and salt.
Eggs – GREAT – Eggs are fantastically healthy for dogs and cats! They’re even considered something of a superfood. Eggs are full of protein, vitamins, and other nutrients that help keep fur and claws healthy. Cook them first to avoid any salmonella risk.
Raw Meat – SAFE – Raw meat is, of course, generally safe for cats – they don’t cook their prey in the wild, after all! Cats evolved to digest their food much faster than humans, meaning that parasites in raw meat usually don’t hang around long enough to be a problem. If you’re feeding your cat raw meat though, you should still keep an eye out for digestive problems. Always choose a reliable source for your meat, and remove bones before feeding.
Bacon – SAFE – There’s nothing like the smell of bacon frying in the morning, and your cat probably feels the same way. Treat them to small amounts only, though, as bacon is high in sodium and fat, like all processed meats.
Honey – SAFE – A little honey won’t harm your cat, and some owners would like to feed it for the potential health benefits. However, honey is so high in calories that the risk of obesity almost certainly outweighs those benefits.
FRUIT AND VEG
Watermelon – SAFE – Some owners may be tempted to give their cats a little watermelon as a sweet treat to help with hydration in summer. While it likely won’t harm your cat - although avoid the seeds and rind – your cat probably won’t enjoy it that much. Cats can’t actually taste sweet food, which means fruit isn't something they'll be that keen to eat.
Apples – SAFE – Just. While the flesh and skin of apples are fine, the stems, leaves, and seeds all contain cyanide. Apples are also very high in sugar, like all fruits, which is unhealthy for your cat - especially if they have a health condition like diabetes.
Avocado – UNSAFE – The vegetable favoured by Millenials everywhere should never be given to your cat. Avocados contain persin, which is toxic. The pit can also be a choking hazard.
Broccoli & Green Vegetables – GREAT – Broccoli, green beans, peas, cucumber, and lettuce are all really healthy for your cat as part of a balanced diet! They’re full of antioxidants, nutrients, and lots of fibre to help your cat’s digestion.
Carrots – GREAT – Also absolutely fine for your cat, and even recommended! Carrots can provide a good source of vitamin A for your cat. Cook them first though, and remember that cats are obligate carnivores, so vegetables should only be a small treat!
Pasta – SAFE – There are no health issues associated with plain pasta, but pasta sauces are usually full of things that aren’t safe for your cat – from fattening butter, lactose-loaded cream, or potentially fatal onions and garlic.
Porridge – SAFE – Oatmeal itself is fine for your cat. It’s even found in some cat foods, as it's a good source of vitamin B. If your morning porridge Is prepared with milk or anything sugary like honey or jam, however, these could pose problems for your cat.
Dog Food – SAFE – A little bit of dog food won’t harm your cat, just don’t try to use it as a long-term diet – it doesn’t contain the right nutrients to keep them healthy. Also, cats evolved differently to dogs and don’t chew their food, so avoid dog foods that are hard or chewy.
Rice – SAFE - We don't recommend giving your cat large amounts of rice, but a small amount shouldn't cause any harm. It may even be used, with your vet's advice, to help with digestive issues.
Bread – SAFE - Bread itself is safe for cats and can provide them with extra fibre in their diets. However, always avoid raw bread dough. According to the ASPCA, if the raw dough contains yeast it will continue fermenting in your cat's stomach leading to bloating, disorientation, and even alcohol poisoning. (Yes, really.)
THE BIG NO'S
These five foods are absolutely unsafe for your cat in all amounts. Make sure they’re kept safely out of kitty’s way, and clear up leftovers quickly.
Chocolate and Coffee – UNSAFE – You probably already know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, and the same applies to cats. Chocolate and also coffee contain methylxanthine caffeine and theobromine, two chemicals which can cause severe digestive issues, tremors, and seizures. Small amounts can be fatal, and dark chocolate is even more toxic than milk or white.
Onion and Garlic – UNSAFE – Onions, garlic, shallots, and chives all contain thiosulphate, which can cause anemia which attacks your cat's red blood cells. While you probably wouldn’t chop up an onion for your cat's dinner, onion and garlic are added to many pre-prepared human foods, sauces, and broths.
Grapes and Raisins – UNSAFE – Even a few grapes or raisins can lead to kitty kidney failure. Vomiting and hyperactivity are early signs.
Artificial Sweeteners – UNSAFE – If you’ve heard it recommended to avoid artificial sweeteners for your dog – for example, sticking to doggy-safe peanut butter to avoid xylitold – you should know you need to do the same for your cat. Artificial sweeteners can cause liver failure.
Alcohol – UNSAFE – You’re probably not planning to get your cat drunk, but make sure you clear up any unfinished glasses of wine at the end of the evening. Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and breathing problems for your cat; it can even lead to a coma or death.
What if my cat eats something bad?
If you notice any of the following signs, your cat may have eaten something toxic:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Blood in their poo/vomit/saliva
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive thirst
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale gums
- Abnormal heart rate
If you’re absolutely certain you know what your cat has eaten, and it’s a food that causes only mild effects, give your vet a call – they may be able to help you treat your cat at home, or advise you to bring them in.
If you’re uncertain what your cat has eaten, or it’s a serious poison like chocolate or alcohol – take them to your vet immediately. The effects of unsafe human foods can be fatal for cats, so treatment needs to be administered quickly. Remember how small cats are compared to humans – it could take a smaller amount than you’d expect to seriously harm or even kill them.