What Foods Can Cats Not Eat: A Helpful Guide in 2021

What foods can cats not eat? That’s the question of this article.

Many foods are toxic to cats. These include common foods such as onions, garlic, avocado, chocolate, and citrus fruit. This is due to differences in a cat’s digestive system. A lot of humans foods contain small amounts of ingredients that aren’t good to feed cats.

You cannot feed your cat dog food. Dog food is made for a dog’s digestive system and contains ingredients not suited for cats.

Cat’s need to eat high-quality animal protein-based foods. These are best provided commercially from wet canned cat food. Your cat may also benefit from a raw homemade diet, but you should consult with a vet before attempting to make your own cat food.

What foods can cats not eat

My name is Derrick and I am a writer for Simply Cat Care. This is a website dedicated to provided easy-to-read, helpful articles on all things related to cats. I have written this article based on research to give you advice for your cat’s problem so that you can seek the appropriate action.

A vet is the main resource needed to manage health problems in your pet. Vets diagnose and treat issues in cats, and are the best point of contact if you are unsure of what to do.

In this article I will cover the following:

Let’s get into the article.

What Human Foods Can Cats Not Eat?

In my previous article on poisonous foods, I discussed some common human foods cats are not able to eat.

Here is a list of foods that cats can not eat.

  • Avocado
  • Alcohol
  • Chewing gum
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Apples
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions and garlic
  • Nuts
  • Yeast
  • Raw eggs
  • Citrus fruit

Many of these foods are not metabolized by a cat’s liver. This leads to toxicity.

Why is some Human Food Toxic to Cats?

Cat’s have evolved to adapt to a carnivorous diet.

Consequently, they tend to have lower amounts of enzymes needed to detoxify a range of compounds found in food [1].

Many plants contain ingredients that can lead to toxicity in high amounts without conjugating and excreting them.

In basic terms, foods contain chemicals that build up if your liver doesn’t detoxify them. In small amounts, they don’t harm you (or your cat), but they do if the levels build up.

This means foods that are fine for humans can be dangerous for cats.

Can You Give Cats Table Scraps?

You cannot give your cat table scraps.

A lot of human food contains ingredients that are harmful to a cat. That can include onion or garlic, dairy, yeast, citrus, chocolate, and nuts. Humans love to eat onions, but cats can experience toxicity symptoms at a small dose of 5g/kg [2].

All plants of the allium family (e.g. garlic and onions) contain organosulphurated compounds [2].

The metabolization of these foods leads to an increase in oxidative species that damage red blood cells [2]. A small amount of onion or garlic is enough to cause serious harm to your cat’s health.

Since there are so many human foods that contain ubiquitous ingredients that may be harmful to your cat it is better to avoid human leftover foods.

In addition, the macronutrient composition of human foods is too high in carbohydrates, and lower in protein. This is not appropriate for your cat.

Check out my article on setting the right diet for your cat over here.

Are Raw Eggs Toxic to Cats?

Raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin which binds to an essential nutrient called biotin [3].

Cats need biotin for a variety of metabolic processes that involve the maintenance of your cat’s body. This includes gluconeogenesis, which converts amino acids and glycerol (from fat) into glucose for energy [4]. As such, too many raw eggs will result in a biotin deficiency and impaired health (this can result in poor skin quality).

Moreover, giving eggs raw may be a source of food poisoning from salmonella and e coli.

If you want to give eggs to your cat you need to cook them first.

Can Cats Drink Milk?

Cats are lactose intolerant and milk causes digestive upset. The lactose in milk is a sugar that requires the enzyme lactase to break down and digest.

A cat’s diet in evolution didn’t involve consuming milk for calcium, but rather edible portions of bones.

Since cats cannot digest lactose due to a lack of enzymes, they will get an upset stomach. This may end up leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Cat’s may only tolerate small amounts of milk.

Check out my article on whether milk is dangerous for more.

Can Cats Eat Chocolate?


Chocolate contains theobromine (3,7-dimethlyxanthine), which blocks the central nervous system [5].

This can lead to muscle tremors or cause vomiting.

Can Cats Eat Onions or Garlic?

All plants of the allium family (e.g. garlic and onions) contain organosulphurated compounds [5].

The metabolization of these foods leads to an increase in oxidative species that damage red blood cells [5].

A small amount of onions or garlic is toxic to cats. Avoid giving them to your pet.

Can my Cat Eat Raw Dough?


The raw dough contains yeast which ferments into ethanol. This can lead to bloating and cause digestive distress [6]. Ethanol can lead to alcohol poisoning.

If you suspect your cat has consumed raw dough and needs help call a poison helpline.

What Human Foods Can Cats Eat?

Cats are obligate carnivores.

They thrive off a diet of whole animal-based foods and products. This includes muscle meat, bones, and organs of various animals such as duck and turkey.

Whilst they may be able to tolerate small amounts of rice and other common human foods, they are difficult to digest at high amounts. Generally, it is ok to provide your cat with unseasoned meat-based products.

What Foods Are Not Appropriate for Use as Cat Food?

Most food is not appropriate for your cat.

Feeding your cat requires a lot of care. This is because a cat is an obligate carnivore and thrives off an animal-based diet.

An improper diet can lead to digestive issues, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some foods are outright dangerous for your cat.

I wrote an article on finding good foods for your cat over here which can help with those issues.

If you think your cat’s eating pattern is leading to issues speak with a vet for more support.

Can I Feed My Cat a Raw Diet?

A raw foods diet seems like a good idea since it matches the natural diet of cats.

Indeed, there are many advantages to raw foods over commercial cat food. Most dry cat food contains large amounts of cheap grains and fillers that can lead to kidney failure if overconsumed.

The source of raw food will affect the chance of food poisoning. Freeze-dried raw cat food is available which might give peace of mind.

A cat’s digestive system might be better suited to digesting raw foods, as they contain more stomach acid and have a shorter transit time [6]. This gives the raw food less chance to harm your cat.

Discuss your cat’s nutritional needs and raw food suitable with a vet.

What should I do if I want to change my cat’s diet?

If you have been feeding your cat a range of foods that you think are causing harm, then speak with a vet for support.

There is a wide range of dangerous foods that are toxic for cats. Whilst this article attempts to provide an overview of some likely suspects, your vet is best equipped to identify dietary problems that are giving your cat a hard time.

Toxic foods can are in a myriad of people’s food, which makes it difficult to identify. If you have a serious issue, call a poison control hotline to get immediate help.

Generally, a dietary shift involves a gradual introduction of new foods. This may or may not involve an elimination diet if the goal is to identify food allergens and/or intolerances.

Consult a vet for help with this.

Conclusion: What Foods Can Cats Not Eat

In this article, I have covered what foods cats can not eat.

In summary, you should exercise caution before you let your cat consume human foods. Many foods are toxic to cats which include onions, garlic, raisins, grapes, chocolate, and avocado. Cats have difficulty digesting milk due to lactose intolerance.

Other foods to avoid include raw dough, other dairy products, raw eggs, and general human leftovers.

If what you feed your cat results in vomiting diarrhea or any other issues then speak with a vet.

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