List of Human Foods that Cats Can and Can’t Eat


Andy Chang

- Updated March 4, 2024

Key Takeaways

  1. Even foods that are generally safe should be limited as they could be dangerous in higher quantities.
  2. While some fruits like apples, watermelon, and berries can be an occasional treat for cats, be cautious due to their high sugar content, which may increase diabetes risk.
  3. Cats are obligate carnivores, not efficient at processing carbs or sugar, so fruits shouldn't be a significant part of their diet.
  4. Avoid toxic fruits (grapes, citrus), and foods with onion, garlic, leeks, or raw eggplant, as they can harm or even kill cats.
  5. Opt for meats like chicken, turkey, fish, and red meat; avoid processed or deli meats.
List of Human Foods that Cats Can and Can’t Eat

As adoring pet owners, we often find ourselves inclined to share our culinary experiences with our beloved feline companions. Their curious stares and incessant meows can leave us wondering whether they, too, might enjoy a taste of our flavorful human delicacies. However, before we share a bite from our plate, we must recognize that feline digestive systems and nutritional needs differ from ours. What may delight our taste buds could pose serious health risks to our feline friends.

Fruits Cats Can Eat

When it comes to fruits, there are many you can give your cats as a special treat from time to time. However, since fruits are high in natural sugars, it's best to provide them with caution, as giving them too often can increase the risk of your pet developing diabetes. Cats are obligate carnivores (which means they MUST eat meat), and their organs aren't efficient at processing carbohydrates or sugar.

In addition, seeds in fruits like melons and apples can be a choking hazard, and the skins could be difficult to digest.


Cats can enjoy a small piece of apple flesh now and again, but you shouldn't make it a part of their routine diet. Avoid the skin, seeds, and stems, though, since apple skins often have pesticides, and the seeds and stem contain trace amounts of cyanide, all of which can be bad for cats.


Sharing a piece of watermelon with your cat now and then won’t harm them, but it shouldn't be a part of their daily diet. It’s mostly water and sugar, offering little to no health benefits. One to two kitty-sized mouthfuls on occasion won’t hurt them.


While cats can have a little banana occasionally, keep the amounts small. Bananas have natural fruit sugar but lack nutritional value for cats.


There are several berries cats can eat and benefit from nutritionally, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and strawberries. These are high in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. However, break them into small pieces to prevent a choking hazard.


Believe it or not, pure pumpkin, like most types of squash, is good for cats. While it should never exceed more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily diet, half a teaspoon to a full teaspoon of pumpkin per day can be good for them and may even help alleviate gastrointestinal issues. However, the pumpkin should be cooked and plain. Watch out, because some canned pumpkin contains spices and extra sugar that may be toxic to cats.


Fruits Cats Can’t Eat

While many types of fruit are okay for cats to eat or may even benefit their health, there are also many fruits cats shouldn't be allowed to eat. Before giving your pet any human food, you should always double-check that it’s okay for them to consume.

Grapes and Raisins

If you’re a fan of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, you may know that grapes are toxic to cats. According to Ben Cohen, one of the company's founders, they have no grape flavor because while it was in development, he gave some to his girlfriend at the time, who was a fan of grapes. She fed some to her cat, which she often shared food with, and the cat got ill. This is because grapes can be toxic to cats, possibly because they contain tannins, and can cause kidney failure.

Citrus Fruits

void citrus fruits (e.g., oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes) when looking for a fruity treat for your cats. The acidity of the fruit's flesh can cause upset stomachs, and the stems, leaves, seeds, and peels are toxic and irritate a cat’s nervous system. Large enough quantities can even cause feline tremors, seizures, or death.

Vegetables Cats Can Eat

Vegetables contain less sugar than fruits, so feeding them to your cat is less likely to increase the risk of them developing diabetes. However, as with anything, they should be offered in moderation.


Cats can have carrots, which may benefit their skin and eyes due to their vitamin content. They also have fiber, which can aid in digestion. However, carrots are also high in sugar, so keep servings under two ounces. More than that can cause symptoms like bloating, gas, diabetes, or obesity.


Garden peas and snap peas are safe for cats to eat. You can serve them fresh, frozen, or cooked. When providing cats cooked peas, don’t prepare them using oil or any seasonings. Although peas are a healthy choice and have high vitamin levels, they and other treats shouldn't make up more than 10% of your cat’s diet.


Boiled or grilled sweet corn is a safe choice for adult cats. However, canned corn may contain harmful preservatives, flavorings, or added salt or sugar, so avoid those. The corn should also be unseasoned, as most seasonings are toxic to cats. Kittens should not eat corn, as their digestive system isn't yet strong enough to digest it properly.


Broccoli is safe for cats of any age. If it doesn't make up more than 10 percent of their daily food intake, feel free to treat your cat to some bite-sized broccoli florets. As usual, make sure it has no seasoning or other extras.


Vegetable Cats Can’t Eat

While many vegetables are safe and healthy for cats, some can pose a severe health risk. We discuss these below.


Onions are poisonous to cats. Keep your feline friend away from anything containing onions, onion powder, or onion-based ingredients, as well as chives. While dogs can have trace amounts of onion and be fine, cats are much more susceptible and will get sick and even die. If you believe your cat may have consumed onion or an onion product, take them to the vet.


Even more than onions, garlic is highly toxic to cats. For the average 10-12 pound cat, as little as half of a clove of garlic can be enough to cause fatal toxicity levels. Less than ½ a teaspoon of minced garlic or ⅛ of a teaspoon of garlic powder is toxic enough to make a cat ill.


Cats should not be allowed to eat leeks under any circumstances. Any foods containing organosulfates, which includes leeks, can poison a cat. They have a substance that damages hemoglobin in felines, decreasing the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. As little as 0.5% of their body weight can cause severe illness and potential death.


While some sources claim cats can eat eggplant, raw eggplant has been shown to cause illness in cats. While it's high in fiber and vitamins, it also contains the chemical solanine, which is poisonous to cats. Solanine is also found in uncooked potatoes and unripe tomatoes. In addition, the seeds, stems, and leaves of eggplant contain trace amounts of cyanide, which isn’t enough to harm a human but is enough to cause cyanide poisoning in cats.


While avocado isn't as toxic for cats as some other vegetables, it can still be toxic. If they consume a small portion of it, they may not experience negative side effects. However, the skin, leaves and pit of the avocado contain persin, which can cause adverse reactions in cats. Additionally, too much fat from this fruit can cause pancreatitis.


Meat and Fish

Since cats are predatory, their digestive systems are built to handle many types of meat and fish. Meat contains protein, a vital component of a cat’s diet.


Chicken is a main ingredient in many types of cat food and offers many health benefits. Not only that, but it is a flavor favorite for many felines. You can feed chicken to cats as long as their stomachs tolerate it and they haven’t developed any sensitivities. You can provide cooked chicken as a treat. Cats can’t eat protein as 100% of their diets, as they also require calcium (ideally from uncooked bones) and a moderate amount of animal fat, among other nutrients. (Cooked bones splinter more easily and can cause injury or obstruction.) Don’t use spices, since cats don’t appreciate them, and some (like onion and garlic) are bad for them.


Much like chicken, turkey is a safe choice for cats. Cooked turkey and turkey parts are a common component of many canned foods. Most vets don't recommend raw meats because of the risk of salmonella and E. coli. As mentioned above, feeding your cat only lean meat can lead to nutritional imbalances, so feed bits of cooked turkey as a treat but never as 100 percent of their diet.


We all know how much most cats love fish! Tuna, salmon, shrimp, and other seafood blends are a popular addition to dry and wet cat foods. Almost all cats go crazy for even a little taste of fish, and it can be a tasty treat to add to your cat’s diet. It's high in protein, which is essential for cats, and omega-3, which promotes healthy skin and fur. However, fish can be addictive to cats, and they may soon refuse to eat anything not fish-flavored. Also, don't make canned tuna a significant portion of your cat's diet, since that can cause a painful vitamin E deficiency known as steatitis or a thiamine deficiency, in addition to the risk of mercury poisoning. Too much tuna packed in oil can also cause pancreatitis.

Red Meat

Red meats like beef, lamb, and venison are often core components of many cat food blends.

Many cats love the flavor of beef, and unseasoned bits make great cat treats. However, feeding cats food blends based on red meat may not be beneficial. Try mixing up your food brands and meat blends to give your cat variety and lower the risk of them developing sensitivities. Since red meat is high in protein like other meats, it’s a reasonable basis for a feline diet if your cat tolerates it well.

Meat Cats Can’t Eat

Although they're natural carnivores, there are some types of meat that cats can’t eat for various reasons.

Processed Meat

Of the types of meat that cats can’t have, the vast majority of them are heavily processed. These include salami, pepperoni, Spam, bologna, and smoked meats. The preservatives, spices, and salt contained in processed meats can be harmful to cats, and most of the nutrients these meats would naturally contain are removed during processing.

Deli Meats

While things like chicken, turkey, and other types of meat are typically okay or even good for cats, it’s often best to avoid deli meats unless they're all-natural and unpreserved.

Caution: Raw Meats

Just like humans, cats should never consume mishandled raw meat. The average cat’s stomach is acidic and designed to handle the typical bacterial load in raw meat. Cats rarely get food poisoning from bacteria because their average stomach pH is between 1 and 2. After all, they evolved to eat raw prey on a daily basis. Still, raw meat isn't recommended. Especially if your cat is old, has weak stomach acid, or is prone to upset stomach, take precautions to reduce the bacterial load of your cat’s food. Handling it correctly, keeping it refrigerated when needed, and avoiding unnecessary contamination will go a long way.

Cereals and Grains

When it comes to cereals and grains, exercise extreme moderation. While some can be all right for cats, too much can make them sick or lead to diabetes.

Cereals and Grains Cats Can Have - In Small Amounts

Basic, unprocessed grains and cereals are usually okay for cats. Cereals and grains, including oats, brown rice, farro, quinoa, and bran flakes, won’t poison cats. Still, they don’t provide many nutrients per serving, and the carbohydrate load stresses a cat’s digestive system, which is designed to process meat.

Cereals and Grains Cats Can’t Have

Most natural cereals that have undergone little to no processing are okay for cats as a small treat. However, look at the ingredients list before feeding any to your pet, since many cereals have ingredients you may not expect, like sugar, cinnamon, flavoring, and preservatives.

In addition, avoid processed cereals like Captain Crunch, Trix, and other sugary options, since they often have preservatives and filler ingredients that are hazardous to a cat’s health. In addition, avoid any products with the following ingredients:

  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee/caffeine
  • Milk/dairy (lactose intolerant)
  • Raisins
  • Xylitol (often contained in “sugar-free” sweet foods)
  • Artificial sweeteners and fruit flavors
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts

Keep Treats as Treats

We all want to keep our cats healthy and happy, and that requires attention to their diets. Treats are okay in moderation, just like they are for humans. At the end of the day, a balanced, consistent diet is the best way to keep our feline friends happy and healthy.

About The Author

Andy Chang

Andy Chang

Founder of InsuranceRanked

Andy Chang is the founder of InsuranceRanked, a review site dedicated to helping consumers find the best companies in financial services. Andy is passionate about financial education and wellness, and helping others reach financial freedom. He consistently writes about topics ranging from credit to banking and lending.

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