Author: Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG
All of the cats that I have been privileged to live with have tested me at some time or another, wanting some of my food. While you certainly do not want to encourage begging, it is useful to know what foods are healthy for cats and what foods may harm them. Here are some foods that you may safely feed your cat:
Some of the best meats for kitty are chicken thighs and rabbit meat, but they may be given any lean cut of meat, including minimally processed deli meats such as turkey. Some people like to make their own pet foods. Opinions differ as to whether cooked or raw meats are better for kitty. If ground meat is used, it should be ground fresh, by you, right before serving the meat to your cat. Commercially ground meat may have too much bacteria and make kitty ill. Another area of controversy is whether to include bones in homemade cat food mixes. The bones provide needed minerals. Be sure not to give bones that may splinter. Some people recommend only using bones ground up in cat food.
In cartoons, cats always seem to be eating a mouse or a fish. Fish provide high quality protein for cats. Small amounts are best. Deep water fish, such as tuna and mackerel, are rich in omega fatty acids which have multiple health benefits for kitty. Essential fatty acids make a shiny coat, reduce inflammation and benefit the heart and blood vessels. Brain function is enhanced as well.
Give tiny amounts only. Steamed broccoli or spinach may be given if your cat likes them. Avoid the spinach if your cat has frequent urinary tract infections or a history of kidney stones. The oxalic acid in spinach will irritate these conditions.
Like vegetables, give tiny amounts of fruit only. You do not want your pet to get diarrhea. Melon and bananas are tolerated the best, according to cat experts.
Most cats like eggs. These provide high quality protein and fat which makes kitty’s coat shiny. Eggs should be cooked in a minimal amount of fat or none at all.
Many cats like milk and cheese. Try small amounts of mild dairy products like cottage cheese. Start slowly as some cats are lactose intolerant and develop loose stools if given dairy products.
Meat-based baby foods are fine for cats, in small amounts. They may be helpful for an older cat with chewing difficulties.
Always start slow and give in small amounts when introducing new foods to your pet. Introduce only one type of food at a time until you know how well kitty tolerates it.
There are some foods that should never be given to kitty. These include: grapes, raisins, chocolate and macadamia nuts. Garlic and onions can damage a feline’s red blood cells, making them anemic. Also, do not share alcoholic or caffeinated beverages with cats.
Always check with your veterinarian if you are considering adding people foods to your cat’s diet.