Whether your cat is curious about what you’re eating, begging for a taste, or snapping up scraps that find their way to the floor, as a cat parent you’re probably wondering if the human food you’re enjoying is safe for your cat to eat. While some foods are dangerous for your cat to eat, other human foods are surprisingly healthy for your cat (in small amounts). Always watch how your cat reacts to new foods and check with your veterinarian first if your cat has any health conditions or is on a prescription diet.
Fruits & Veggies Cats Can Eat
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need meat to survive (or at least thrive). Although they don’t derive as much nutrition from fruits and vegetables as humans do, they can still safely enjoy some types of produce in moderation.
Bananas are safe for cats to eat since they’re not toxic, and they have important nutrients like magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and fiber (both insoluble and soluble). But bananas also have a lot of naturally occurring sugar and starch, which can be hard for cats to digest. Because of all the carbs, bananas aren’t a great idea if you’re trying to manage your cat’s weight.
If your cat is at a healthy weight and seems to love the taste of banana it’s okay to let them have a slice of the fruit from time to time, but it shouldn’t be a daily treat and you shouldn’t let them chew on banana peels, which can’t be digested.
Similar to banana, watermelon is a safe, non-toxic human food that cats can enjoy in small amounts—with the caveat that it’s high in natural sugar (which can pose a problem for diabetic or overweight cats). If your cat likes watermelon you can feed them a small amount as an occasional treat (about an inch square cut into bite-sized pieces is more than enough).
Make sure to remove all seeds and rind first, as those parts of the watermelon present a choking hazard for cats. Watermelon seeds also have trace amounts of cyanide– not enough that one seed would be harmful, but it’s best to avoid the risk altogether. The upside is that watermelon is 92% water, so it’s a hydrating treat for cats who like the taste. Learn more tips for keeping your cat hydrated.
Melon is a safe treat for your cat to eat in moderation, and the high water content is good for their hydration needs. Be careful not to feed them melon seeds or let them eat too much because the high sugar content is not good for your cat. Cut cantaloupe or honeydew into bite-sized pieces appropriate for your cat, and make sure there’s no rind (which is harder to digest).
Cats do not have sweet taste receptors on their tongues and therefore are unable to taste the sweetness in fruit. However, many cats do enjoy cantaloupe and honeydew. One reason is because melon might smell like meat to your cat! Melons have organic compounds called aroma volatiles which is what gives them that “melony” smell. These volatiles come from some of the same amino acids present in meat proteins. Because cats have such a sensitive sense of smell and are instinctively attracted to meat, some cats really love melons.
Strawberries are another hydrating fruit (91% water) that’s safe and non-toxic for cats, but strawberries aren’t a good idea for diabetic or overweight cats due to high levels of naturally occurring sugar (carbs). A small piece of strawberry as a once-in-a-while treat should be fine for most cats, as long as they’re getting complete nutrition from their regular diet.
Some cat parents have noticed that their cat loves strawberries so much they try to rub their face on them, or go wild for strawberries like they do for catnip. Strawberries and catnip aren’t related (they come from different plant families) but strawberry leaves have chemical compounds called iridoids which give them a bitter taste. Catnip leaves also contain iridoids, which might explain the strong attraction strawberries have for some cats.
A small piece of apple or a small amount of unsweetened, unflavored applesauce is safe to give your cat in small amounts on occasion. Apples aren’t toxic to cats, but they also aren’t a good source of nutrition since cats have a hard time digesting carbs. Like most fruit, apples are high in natural sugar. Avoid giving your cat dried apple since it’s had all the water removed, resulting in higher sugar concentration.
Keep apple stems, leaves and seeds away from your cat because they all have small amounts of cyanide. There isn’t enough to be toxic, but it could cause an upset stomach. If your cat is begging for a taste of fresh apple, remove the peel (which is harder for cats to digest) and cut the apple flesh into small pieces that won’t be a choking hazard.
A little bit of pear is safe for cats to eat as a special treat. You should remove the skin before feeding pear to your cat since it’s difficult for them to digest. Because most of a pear’s fiber content is found in the skin, pears don’t offer much nutritional value to cats, though they are around 80-85% water, making them a hydrating treat for cats who love the taste.
Make sure not to let your cat eat the pear stem or seeds, which (just like apples & watermelon seeds) have small amounts of cyanide. All types of pears, including Asian pears (also called nashi, Korean pears, or ‘apple pears’) are non-toxic for cats, and the same precautions apply.
If you accidentally drop a blueberry on the kitchen floor, your cat might be more interested in it as a toy rather than a snack! But if your cat does eat the blueberry there’s no need to worry – blueberries are safe for cats to eat (as are raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and cranberries).
Although not a superfood for cats like they are for humans, the antioxidants in blueberries are still good for cats – as is the fiber and water content (about 85%). While blueberries are non-toxic for cats, they’re still high in sugar and should only be enjoyed in small amounts. Depending on the size of your cat and the size of the blueberries, they could potentially pose a choking risk, so consider cutting one or two blueberries in half, or mashing them into a paste.
Pure pumpkin is safe for cats to eat in small amounts. Pumpkin is naturally high in dietary fiber and can be a helpful supplement to your cat’s diet if they have a digestive issue. Most cats enjoy a bit of pumpkin purée mixed in with their food. If you’re using canned pumpkin as a cat treat, make sure it doesn’t have any added sugar or spices. Learn more about how to safely feed your cat pumpkin, and check out our Carnivore Cravings Tuna & Pumpkin Recipe that provides complete and balanced nutrition with a taste cats love!
Green beans are safe for cats to eat and high in fiber, which can be beneficial. Cooked green beans are easier for cats to digest, but some cats prefer the texture of raw green beans. If feeding green beans to your cat, make sure to wash them well, cut them into small pieces, and don’t add any salt, butter or seasonings. Humans often enjoy some onion and garlic with green beans, but everything in the onion family is toxic to cats.
You can safely give your cat a couple of green peas on occasion – they’re low in calories, high in fiber and non-toxic for cats. While snap peas are also safe, you should avoid giving your cat the pod, which is more difficult for them to digest. And steer clear of black-eyed peas because they’re too high in sodium for cats.
Cats can enjoy peas whether they’re raw or cooked—canned peas can also be safe if there’s no added salt, sugar or preservatives. Peas prepared with butter, oil, salt, onions, or garlic are not safe for your cat to eat.
Green beans and peas are both legumes, which are a great source of plant protein for humans, but not for cats. Cats haven’t evolved to be able to digest plan protein effectively, so they require animal protein to support overall health. If your cat enjoys a legume treat, make sure it’s limited to small amounts, only once in a while.
Cooked carrots cut into small pieces are safe for cats to eat, but raw carrots are more difficult for cats to chew and digest. Never give your cat carrots that have been cooked with butter, oil, salt, or any other seasonings.
Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, fiber and beta-carotene, an antioxidant. But remember cats don’t absorb nutrients from fruits and vegetables as well as we do, so you should always make sure your cat is getting the nutrition they need from their regular diet, and not go overboard with treats—even whole foods like carrots.
Broccoli is safe for cats to eat, and it’s also high in fiber and antioxidants. If your cat expresses an interest in broccoli, you can try feeding them a small amount of plain cooked broccoli. As with most vegetables, raw broccoli is difficult for cats to chew and digest.
You can steam or boil broccoli for your cat, and cut into small pieces so they don’t choke. Never add any butter, oil, salt or seasonings, and don’t give your cat broccoli that was prepared as part of a dish for humans.
Spinach is safe for most cats to eat, but it’s not safe if your cat has ever had any issues with urinary or kidney health. Spinach has high levels of calcium and also has naturally occurring oxalic acid. Together they create calcium oxalate, which can cause crystals to form in a cat’s urinary tract, and can also lead to bladder stones.
But for cats without urinary health concerns, it’s fine to feed them a small amount of plain cooked spinach once in a while. Raw spinach is pretty fibrous and could be hard for your cat to chew—it’s also higher in calcium oxalate compared to steamed or boiled spinach. As always with veggie treats for cats, make sure any spinach your cat eats is unsalted and unseasoned.
Healthy Proteins for Cats
As obligate carnivores, it’s imperative for cats to get plenty of animal protein in their diet. But feeding them proteins meant for humans won’t provide your cat with complete and balanced nutrition like high-protein cat food. Make sure any extra protein snacks are accounted for in your cat’s overall daily calorie intake, and rely on their regular diet to provide most of their protein.
Eggs are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals and can be a healthy supplement to your cat’s diet. They should always be cooked, as raw eggs carry the risk of food-borne illnesses. Learn more tips for safely sharing eggs with your cat.
Game meats, like duck or rabbit, are a great source of alternative protein. Some cats that are allergic to chicken or turkey may tolerate these less-common proteins. Check out our Duck Duck Goose Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels or Absolutely Rabbit Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels to add game meats to your cat’s diet.
If you hunt deer or wild turkey you might wonder if it’s safe to share some venison or turkey meat with your cat. It’s generally safe to share some cooked venison or turkey with your cat, as long as it’s prepared without any salt, oils or seasonings. Avoid giving your cat turkey skin which is very high in fat and could upset their stomach.
Never feed raw game meat to your cat because it could have harmful bacteria. The raw meat in our raw cat foods has undergone HPP (high pressure processing) to destroy pathogens.
Most cats love tuna, but canned tuna meant for humans should never be served as a substitute for cat food. While it’s safe for cats to eat, it doesn’t have all the nutrients your cat needs. The same goes for other types of canned fish, including sardines and salmon.
If your cat begs for a taste when you open up a can of fish for your salad or sandwich, it’s fine to share a little bit as a special treat, as long as the fish is packed in water (not oil) with no added salt or seasonings. And be careful about sharing canned fish with your cat too often—you don’t want them to develop a preference for it and stop eating their own cat food. If your cat is obsessed with your canned tuna, try our Carnivore Cravings Minced Morsels Tuna Recipe made with vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced meal!
Shrimp is low in fat and a good source of protein, B12, vitamin E, omega 3s and minerals. Shrimp is safe for cats to eat if it’s cooked without oil or seasonings, and only in small amounts. Never feed your cat raw shrimp, and always remove the shell, head and tail before sharing a small taste with your feline friend.
You can safely feed plain cooked chicken to your cat as a special treat. Make sure it doesn’t have any oils, salt or seasonings added, and don’t feed your cat chicken skin or trimmings, which are too high in fat for your cat.
Just like with canned fish, it’s important to keep in mind that chicken-based cat food is nutritionally complete, and should be the main source of protein in your cat’s diet. The chicken you buy for yourself should only be shared once in a while, in small amounts. Never give your cat a chicken bone to chew on because it could lead to choking or a digestive tract injury.
Other Healthy Foods for Cats
Besides produce and proteins, there are many other types of human foods that are technically safe for cats to eat, meaning they aren’t toxic. It’s fine to indulge your cat with a small taste now and then, but the best way for your cat to benefit from the nutrition found in these foods is by eating them as part of nutritionally complete cat food.
Chia seeds are full of omega 3 fatty acids to promote skin and coat health. Our Stella’s Solutions Skin & Coat Support cat food mixer includes chia seeds as a source of omega 3s. Chia seeds are also high in protein, fiber, and important minerals like iron and zinc. If you want to add some chia seed to your cat’s food, it’s best to grind up around a quarter teaspoon of chia seeds and soak them in water before mixing into your cat’s food.
Grinding the chia seed helps your cat absorb the nutrients better (otherwise most of the whole seeds will pass right through). Soaking them in water is important because chia seeds are highly absorbent. If you feed dry ground chia seed to your cat it will soak up water in your cat’s digestive tract, which could cause constipation or possibly an obstruction.
Pumpkin seeds are safe for cats to eat, and they contain fiber, protein, magnesium and other essential nutrients. To feed pumpkin seeds as a treat, roast or bake them first (without oil, salt, or seasonings) and then crush or grind them before mixing into your cat’s food.
Lentils are a human superfood high in protein, fiber, folate (vitamin B9), iron and more. While lentils are safe for your cat to eat, they won’t derive the same nutritional benefits since cats have evolved to digest animal protein rather than plant-based food. If your cat has a taste for lentils, it’s fine to give them a small amount (a half teaspoon or so) of plain cooked lentils prepared without any oil, salt or seasoning.
You should soak the lentils in plain water overnight before cooking them because this will deactivate the naturally occurring compounds that cause gas. Don’t feed your cat canned lentils, which usually contain sea salt and additives.
Alfalfa sprouts are safe for cats to eat in small amounts. Alfalfa sprouts are low in calories and a good source of fiber. If your cat enjoys the taste or texture of alfalfa, it’s fine to let them enjoy a little bit sometimes. As you would for yourself, make sure the alfalfa sprouts pass the “sniff test” before serving them to your cat.
Our Raw Blend Kibble Wild Caught Recipe cat food includes lentils and sun cured alfalfa, and provides complete and balanced nutrition for cats of all ages!
Salmon oil is rich in linoleic acid and helps promote a shiny coat in cats. Many of our cat food recipes include salmon oil, including our Raw Blend Cage Free Recipe, our Raw Coated Kibble Cage-Free Chicken Recipe, and our Raw Coated Kibble Kitten Cage-Free Chicken Recipe.
Our Stella’s Solutions Skin & Coat Boost also contains salmon oil, and can be used as a delicious topper to your cat’s bowl or served as a complete and balanced meal.
Why Does My Cat Beg for Human Food?
A cat’s natural instincts are to always be on the lookout for their next meal, so begging for a taste of what you’re eating is a natural behavior! Cats might also beg for human food if they’re bored, want some attention from you, or have learned that they’ll rewarded for begging.
If your cat never used to beg for human foods but suddenly started, it could possibly signal a nutrient deficiency, parasite, or an imbalance in thyroid hormones — so as with any other sudden change in your cat’s behavior, discuss it with your vet to be on the safe side.
Can Cats Eat Human Foods Every Day?
Technically it’s safe to feed a small amount of safe human food to your cat on a daily basis, but it’s not a good idea. You might create a situation where your cat will constantly beg for tastes of your food or even stop eating their own food. It’s best for cats to eat high-quality cat food formulated to provide the complete and balanced nutrition they need for optimum health.
Are Human Foods OK for Cats with a Sensitive Stomach?
Some types of human food can be good for cats that have a sensitive stomach, if fed safely (no oils or seasonings) and in small amounts. Easily digestible proteins like chicken and fish are good examples. Learn more about what to feed a cat with a sensitive stomach.
Can Feeding Human Foods Help My Cat Gain Weight?
Providing extra protein and calories from safe human foods can definitely promote weight gain in cats, but if your cat is underweight you should follow your veterinarian’s recommends to help them gain weight.
If you decide to share any human foods with your cat, they should be viewed as treats and make up no more of 10% of your cat’s daily calories in order to avoid unwanted weight gain. Your cat should always be getting the majority of their calories from nutritionally complete cat food.
Keep Learning About Foods for Cats
It’s important for cat parents to understand what foods are good for cats in order to help them thrive and live their best life! Keep reading to learn about the benefits of introducing your cat to a raw food diet.
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