Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

14 Harmful Foods Your Cat Should Never Eat

Dean Eby

By Dean Eby

cat waiting for food

It’s common for cat owners to enjoy sharing their food with their pets. For many, it feels like they’re rewarding their pets’ good behavior, or showing them extra love. While this is fine with many foods, some foods that people commonly eat should never be fed to your cats. These foods can be harmful to your beloved feline, even though you might think you’re doing something nice for them. Ironically, some of these are foods commonly thought of as appropriate for cats, and often portrayed in movies. A few of the foods on this list might surprise you.

The 14 Harmful or Toxic Foods Your Cat Should Never Eat:

1. Alcohol

Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Let’s face it, alcohol isn’t healthy for anyone. It’s toxic for humans, though we can withstand substantial amounts of it. Cats, on the other hand, are much smaller. Therefore, their tolerance is far lower than a person’s. In fact, it takes just three teaspoons of whisky to kill a 5-pound feline.

2. Bones

chicken bones
Image Credit: Pixabay

The problem with bones isn’t that they’re toxic to your cat. Rather, they’re dangerous. Bones can splinter, and certain types of bones, such as chicken bones, are more likely to than others. If the bone splinters inside of your cat, it could cut or cause an injury in any part of their digestive system. This can result in death. And the bone may not even make it that far into your cat. It’s also possible for the bone to get lodged in your cat’s throat, choking them.

3. Caffeine

coffee beans
Image Credit: Pixabay

Caffeine is a stimulant and people use it to help them stay awake. If you overconsume caffeine, you’ll be jittery, unable to sleep, and restless. Your heart might even skip a beat and you can get muscle twitches. The same can happen to your cat, but if it consumes too much caffeine, it could even result in death.

4. Chocolate

Image Credit: Pixabay

Everyone knows that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but fewer people realize that it’s just as bad for cats. Chocolate is full of theobromine, which can cause health problems for cats, including tremors, seizures, arrhythmias, and even death. Cats generally won’t eat chocolate on their own, though some are goaded into it by owners who believe they’re offering their cat a tasty treat.

5. Dairy

Image Credit: Pixabay

Milk is a drink commonly given to cats. It’s even portrayed in television and movies as a suitable food for felines quite often, though this is not the case. Almost all cats are lactose intolerant. It’s not healthy for them to drink milk or consume any type of dairy product as their digestive systems aren’t capable of processing them. This can result in upset stomachs, diarrhea, and even vomiting.

6. Dog Food

dog food
Image Credit: Pixabay

We want to start by clarifying that dog food is not toxic or poisonous for cats; it’s just not nutritious for them either. Dog food contains completely different nutrients from what cats need, including taurine, arachidonic acid, and vitamin A. Without these vital nutrients, cats are at risk of developing multiple health issues like heart disease or vision and dental problems.

7. Garlic, chives, or onions

garlics and onions
Image Credit: Pixabay

Garlic, chives, and onions are all part of the Allium group. Eating them can result in anemia in your cat. This result can come from eating these foods in any manner, whether it’s fresh, cooked, raw, dehydrated, powder, or some other form.

In the best-case scenario, these foods can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. In the worst-case scenario these foods can cause damage to your cat’s red blood cells causing hemolytic anemia that could lead to death.

8. Grapes, Raisins, Currants

Image Credit: Pixabay

The reason why is somewhat unknown, but feeding grapes, raisins, or currants to your cat can spell disaster. Many cats will display hyperactivity or repeated vomiting following ingestion. Worse, these foods can even cause kidney failure in cats, though some cats will exhibit no negative effects at all.

9. Raw Dough

raw dough
Image Credit: Pixabay

Raw dough can rise and expand in a cat’s stomach. This can result in dangerous digestive issues that are hard to cure. Plus, the yeast can create alcohol in your cat’s stomach, which can result in digestive problems, diarrhea, tremors, vomiting, and more.

10. Raw Eggs

raw eggs
Image Credit: Pixabay

Nobody should be eating raw eggs; not humans and not cats either. Well, snakes might be able to get away with it, but your cat definitely can’t. Raw eggs pose two major threats for your cat. The first is the possibility of food poisoning from bacteria like E. coli or salmonella. Second, egg whites contain a protein called avidin. For cats, this can interfere with their ability to absorb biotin, an important B vitamin.

11. Liver

pork liver
Image Credit: Pixabay

Liver is another food commonly fed to housecats that can actually be detrimental for them. Small amounts of liver won’t hurt your cat, and, in fact, can be healthy for it. It’s when you feed them liver as a regular part of their diet that issues can occur. Liver is very high in vitamin A. So high that it can cause vitamin A toxicity when eaten regularly. This can result in bone growths, osteoporosis, and bone deformities. In extreme cases, it can even be fatal.

12. Raw Meat

raw meat
Image Credit: Pixabay

Raw meat can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning like E. coli and salmonella, the same as raw eggs. This can result in symptoms like lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting. Worse, these bacteria can also be transferred to humans, and you don’t want to deal with E. coli or salmonella poisoning!

13. Raw Seafood

raw seafood
Image Credit: Pixabay

Just like raw meat and raw eggs, raw seafood has the potential to cause food poisoning due to bacteria. But raw seafood poses another special problem. Raw fish contains an enzyme that destroys thiamine; a B vitamin that’s essential for your cat. If your cat becomes thiamine deficient, it can result in convulsions, comas, and neurological issues.

14. Tuna

tuna fishes
Image Credit: Pixabay

Tuna is a food that’s commonly associated with cats and many people feed this to their felines unaware that it’s not a good idea. Granted, it’s not going to cause your cat harm if it eats tuna once in a while. That said, tuna can hurt your cat in several ways with continued feeding.

First, it can cause mercury poisoning because of the high levels of mercury found in tuna. Second, feeding tuna to your cat too often can lead to malnutrition as it doesn’t contain all the nutrients that your cat needs. And finally, your cat can become addicted to tuna, in which case it will not want to eat other foods, and malnutrition will result.

What to Do If Your Cat Eats Any of These Foods

If you walk in to find that your cat has ingested one of the foods on this list, don’t panic. Try to determine how much of the food your cat ate. Some of these foods won’t pose your cat any real harm in small amounts. Others could be toxic in low amounts though, so you’ll need to judge your next action on the food that your cat ate and how poisonous it is to cats.

For foods that aren’t entirely toxic to felines, you can wait for a few hours and see how your cat reacts. If you start to see symptoms of illness, then contact your vet for advice. On the other hand, if your cat has eaten something that’s toxic or poisonous, then you should immediately contact your veterinarian and you might need to be ready to make a trip to the animal hospital.


Many foods should be on the “never feed this to your cat” list, though they’re not all toxic. Some of these foods pose risks for other reasons, including malnutrition or they’re a choking hazard. Try your best to keep the foods on this list out of your cat’s reach so you don’t have any accidents happening. But if your cat does manage to consume one of these foods, keep calm, contact your vet, and with luck, your cat will pull through just fine.

Featured Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database