Most of us know that there are some human foods our pets should not eat. Keeping our cats away from alcohol, for example, is a no-brainer. But did you know that onion powder can cause anemia in cats and dogs? Because of their different metabolisms, many common foods that are safe for human consumption are not safe for your cat. Reactions can range from upset stomachs to severe illness or death.
To help keep your kitty safe you need to know which foods to avoid. The following list spotlights eight common foods your cat should never eat:
It's hard to imagine that a food that's safe enough for a baby's tender tummy would hurt our fur-kids. But what makes baby food so dangerous for cats is that it might contain onion powder (see below) which could lead to anemia. Also, baby food does not meet your cat's nutritional needs, and could result in malnutrition if she eats too much of it.
Most people know that chocolate is bad for dogs, but many of us do not realize that it's harmful for cats as well. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical compound that humans can eat safely. But cats and dogs metabolize theobromine more slowly; as a result, even small amounts of the compound can lead to theobromine poisoning, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excitability, panting, abnormal heart rate, tremors, seizures – and even death. Theobromine poisoning is treatable if caught early enough. But to be safe, keep chocolate away from your kitty.
Coffee and Tea
Caffeine is toxic to both cats and dogs, and there's no antidote. According to ProVet Healthcare, it only takes about 8 teaspoons of coffee to potentially fatally poison a cat that weighs 3 kilograms (that's about 6.6 lbs). Signs of caffeine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, restlessness, muscle tremors, increased or decreased heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, increased body temperature. But most scary of all: caffeine poisoning can lead to seizures, coma and death.
Grapes and Raisins
Scientists are not sure exactly just what substance is in grapes and raisins that make them so toxic for our pets, but according to the ASPCA Poison Control Center, dogs who've eaten large amounts of grapes and raisins have suffered renal (kidney) failure . Although it's unclear what effect grapes have on cats, to be on the safe side the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center "advises not giving grapes or raisins to any pets in any amount."
Onions and Garlic
Raw, powdered and uncooked onions and garlic are especially harmful to cats because they damage red blood cells, which could cause anemia. Not only does anemia make your kitty pale and lethargic, it can be a life threatening illness.
The jury's still out on whether or not spinach is bad for cats, but scientists do know that spinach leaves contain a small amount of calcium oxalates (a chemical compound that makes needle-shaped crystals), which is a major component in kidney stones. If your cat eats enough spinach, it could lead to crystals in her urine. Cats with a history of urinary problems such as infections, crystaluria and kidney disease, should definitely avoid eating spinach.
Everyone knows that tomatoes are good for humans. But did you know that they can be toxic to cats? Tomatoes are a member of the deadly nightshade plant family and contain a poisonous alkaloid called, solanine. Solanine is toxic to humans too. But you have to eat it in large amounts for it to hurt you. That's why you should not eat green potatoes – a potato that has gone green has higher levels of solanine inside it. And it can make you sick, causing a bevy of symptoms that range from nausea, diarrhea and vomiting to hallucinations, paralysis and in the worst cases, death. Unlike humans, however, only a small amount of solanine can hurt your cat. According to FelineFuture.com, "traces of Solanin, like those found in just a 100g of cherry tomatoes, can be fatal!"
Raw or uncooked yeast dough should never be fed to your cat. What makes it so dangerous? Yeast (the single-celled fungi that causes bread to rise) is not toxic per se, but if your cat eats the raw dough, it might continue to rise inside your kitty's stomach. And you can imagine what that could lead to: painful bloating, gas, and in the worst-case-scenario, possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.
Remember, the information in this article is for informative purposes only. If you suspect your cat has eaten something that is harmful, or needs medical attention, contact your veterinarian immediately! For more information about other harmful foods or toxins found in your home, check out these great references: ASPCA Animal Control Archives and PetEducation.com.