What can’t cats eat? Top 23 toxic foods for cats that you should avoid

By Cami
Updated on
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What can't cats eat? toxic foods for cats

Here are 23 toxic foods for cats & 5 foods you shouldn’t give your cat all the time.

I spent the whole day researching many veterinary websites on toxic foods for cats. Then, I compiled them all here for you. 

I find that no sites list all the toxic and poisonous foods for cats. I had to jump back and forth from different sites to get them. So, I set out to put all those foods in one place for easier access. 

I put them into 2 categories: Must Avoid & Moderate Amounts.

Always check with your vet if you are not sure what you should not feed your cat.
Keep reading to find out 22 toxic foods for cats!

Must Avoid

I suggest avoiding these foods completely. They do more harm to your cat than good (if any). You can find your cat’s needed nutrients in other foods that are safer. There shouldn’t be any reason to feed foods that contain these to your cat unless your vet says otherwise.

Alcohol & Alcohol Products

Alcohol is very toxic to our feline friends. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, breathing problems, tremors, severe liver and brain damage, or other complications. Other alcohol exposure can occur from ingesting hand sanitizer, mouthwash, fermenting fruits, and bread dough that contains yeast. Small amounts as little as a tablespoon can put a cat into a coma and even be fatal. So be careful next time at your party! 


Cocoa beans are the culprit that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, heart arrhythmias, or even death. It has 2 types of methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) that are toxic to cats. The higher concentration of cocoa, such as cocoa powder or dark chocolate, the more toxic it is for our cat. 

Caffeinated Products

Like chocolate, caffeinated products contain caffeine. Coffee, tea, and energy drinks are some good examples. Cats can experience the same symptoms as above. They can also experience restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, agitation, and even muscle spasms, like you!

Grapes & Raisins

Grapes and raisins are toxic foods for cats. According to ASPCA, we are not sure what toxic substances are causing kidney failure in cats. But, let’s keep this one away from our furry friends too.

Milk & Dairy Products

Don’t let cute cartoons fool you! Cats become lactose intolerant as they age. The only milk they should drink is from their mom when they were kittens. Milk and cheese can lead to diarrhea and gastrointestinal pain for your kitty.

That being said, depending on your kitty’s tolerance, they may be able to have little bits of cheese or yogurt as a snack. But, never feed your cat non-dairy products, especially cheese. These products are usually too high in sodium and fats for your cat.

Raw/Undercooked Eggs

Raw or undercooked eggs can be contaminated with the bacteria Salmonella. This can cause salmonella infection in cats. Your furry friend can experience vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Raw eggs contain the enzyme Aviden which reduces the absorption of biotin (a Vitamin B) in your cat. This can lead to coat and skin issues. But, cooked eggs are a nutritious food for cats. So, make sure to cook eggs thoroughly before feeding them to your furry friend!

Raw/Undercooked Meats & Fish

Raw or undercooked meats and fish can contain Salmonella and E. Coli bacteria. These bacteria can cause symptoms like vomiting, weakness, depression, and diarrhea. Raw fish contains an enzyme that damages thiamine (a Vitamin B). Cats need thiamine to prevent neurological problems. Without thiamine, cats can lead to convulsions or a coma. 

Uncooked/Green Potatoes & Tomatoes

Uncooked potatoes and tomatoes can cause gastrointestinal distress in your cats. Green potatoes are toxic foods for cats, whether cooked or not. Eating green potatoes can cause hallucinations, cardiac issues, and paralysis. Since green potatoes are quite bitter, it’s unusual cats would like to eat them anyways. But, cooked (not green) potatoes and tomatoes are good to go!

Raw Yeast Dough

Raw yeast causes dough to rise. Your kitty’s warm body temperature will help the dough to rise inside them. It will stretch their little stomach, which can cause a lot of pain. Their stomach can bloat and twist in the wrong way. Yeast also produces ethanol (alcohol) as a by-product, which can also be toxic to cats.

Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Scallions, Shallots, And Chives

This group of root vegetables (powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated) are foods poisonous to cats. Onions have a substance N-propyl disulfide that breaks down red blood cells. This can cause Heinz body anemia in your cat. Garlic, chives, and other related root vegetables have the same effect on cats.

Fat Trimmings

Don’t give in to those cute kitten eyes! This may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of toxic foods for cats. But, cooked or not, fat trimmings of meat are too high in fat for your cat. It can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis.


Domesticated cats may not have developed the ability to properly chew and break down bones like their ancestors. Bones are not exactly a part of “toxic foods for cats”, but they are dangerous. Your cat can choke on them or the bones can shatter and splinter inside of their digestive tract. The sharp pieces can cut them from the inside, which can be painful for them.    

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits have high levels of citric acid and essential oils that can irritate your furry friend’s nervous system. That means in high amounts, your cat can experience tremors, seizures, or death. Stems, leaves, seeds, and peels of citrus fruits are all toxic foods for cats.


Cherry stems, leaves, and seeds contain cyanide, which can cause cyanide poisoning in cats. Your cat can experience dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, panting, shock, and brick-red mucous membranes and gums. 


Avocados have a toxin called persin, which is toxic to cats. Combined with its high-fat content, your cat can experience vomiting, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis. Avocado peel, leaves, and pit have the highest amount of persin. Avocado flesh has less persin, so some vets say they are safe to eat in small amounts for cats. We would suggest against giving avocados to your cat. Your cat can get their fats and nutrition somewhere else in their diet without these dangers. 


Macadamia nuts specifically are toxic to cats. But like grapes, the reason is still unknown. Other nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc) are high in fats and oils, which can cause upset stomachs, vomiting, or pancreatitis.

Coconut Flesh & Water & Oil

Coconut water has a high potassium content and is dangerous to your cat. Other coconut products contain oils that can cause digestive problems for them.    

Nutmeg, Cinnamon & Spices

Nutmeg contains a toxin called myristicin, which is an irritant to cats. When ingested in high amounts, it can cause upset stomach, digestive problems, abdominal pain, and other symptoms. Large amounts of cinnamon can cause low blood sugar, vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in heart rate. There are long lists of spices we eat as humans that our furry friend’s body may not like. Consult your vet when in doubt!


Xylitol is a sweetener used in gum, candy, and some toothpaste. Xylitol does not seem to have the same detrimental effects on cats as dogs. But, there is a possibility that your cat can experience vomiting, lethargy, seizures, and liver failure too! It is better to avoid it on the safe side. Note: Xylitol is also known as wood sugar, birch sugar, and birch bark extract.

Your Medicine

Cat bodies and human bodies are built differently. The ingredients in human medication might not be compatible with kitty bodies. Never give your cat any medicine, unless their vet prescribed it! 

Wild Animals

Your cat can start hunting down little rodents in your home. As much as it’s a fun game for your feline friend, they shouldn’t be eating the animal. Wild animals contain toxins, bacteria, or viruses that can be deadly to you and your cat. You can try distracting your cat with some catnip, then dispose of the prey.

Super Hot Food Right Off The Stove Or Microwave

The food you feed your little furry one shouldn’t be burning hot. It should feel warm at most when you test it out on your wrist or the back of your hand.

Things That You Will Not Eat

Rule of thumb is to not give your cat anything you wouldn’t eat. From spoiled food to rat poison. But I’m sure that’s not a problem! 

Moderate Amounts

These are not toxic foods for cats per se. You can feed them to your cats if you must but only in moderate amounts. Your vet would be able to tell you specific measurements for your cat.

Dog Food

The ingredients in dog food and cat food are mainly the same. A bite here and there shouldn’t be a big problem. But, never substitute cat food with dog food. Cats’ nutritional needs are different from dogs. Cats need high amounts of protein, vitamins, and fatty acids, and cat foods meet that need. A steady dog food diet will cause severe malnourishment in cats.


Eating liver as a treat is fine, but eating too much will cause Vitamin A toxicity in your cat. This can deform their bones and bone growth. The worst-case scenario is death.

Canned Tuna

Whether it is packaged for humans or for cats, tuna shouldn’t be their main source of diet. Tuna is not a food toxic to cats, but it doesn’t have all the nutrients your furry friend needs. Make sure the tuna is packed in water and unseasoned. Tuna packed in oil is too high in fat content for your cat. Consistently eating lots of tuna can lead to mercury poisoning.

Salty Foods

Like humans, a large amount of salt can cause excessive thirst and urination or sodium ion (salt) poisoning. Too much salt can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, or even death. Some dangerous examples are pepperoni, bacon, ham, and other processed meats. Not only are they high in salt, but they are also high in fats. That’s a double whammy for our furry friend!

Too Many Treats

I know it’s hard not to reward your kitty for being cute, but cats should eat treats occasionally. Too many treats can lead to obesity and diabetes. Also, the ingredients do not meet your cat’s nutritional needs. It definitely should not replace a proper diet and cat food. 

What to do next?

Now you might ask, what foods can I feed my cat then? Check out 18 human foods cats can share with you.

How to Prevent my Cat from eating something toxic?

Here are some tips for you to keep your cat safe from foods poisonous to cats:
1. Store foods out of your cat’s reach and install cat-proof locks on cabinet doors.
2. Don’t forget the higher cabinets too!
3. Train your cat to not be on the counter at all or when you are cooking and eating.
4. Don’t feed your cat your food or table scraps.
5. Be more alert during the holidays when there is more food and people around.
6. Don’t let your sneaky kitty get something they shouldn’t!
7. Don’t leave food unattended.
It is very important to keep these out of your cat’s reach because their life depends on it. 

My Cat Ate Something Toxic, What do I do?

If you suspect your feline friend ate something poisonous or toxic foods for cats, take them to your local vet or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at +1 (888) 426-4435. Don’t wait!

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Cami spends a lot of her time researching cat care backed up by scientific studies. With a passion for cute kittens, she shares her insights and tips to help you provide the best possible care for your beloved feline friend.