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What Food Is Dangerous for Cats (Top 11 Toxic Human Foods)

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Have you ever wondered what food is dangerous for cats? 

Are all the foods in your home safe and harmless to your animals? 

Should you give your pets chocolate, grapes, currants, and other goodies – they ask for them so “tearfully”?

As a cat owner, one of your most important responsibilities is to provide your feline friend with a healthy and nutritious diet. 

While sharing your food with your pet may be tempting, not all human foods are safe for cats to eat. In fact, some common foods can be highly toxic and even fatal to cats. 

As such, it’s important to be aware of the foods that can harm your cat and to avoid feeding them altogether.

In our research article, we’ll outline the TOP 11 foods that cats should never eat, backed by official studies and reputable sources. E.g. ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), etc.

So, by following this guide, you can help ensure that your cat remains healthy and happy for years to come.

Top 11 Dangerous Foods for Cats (Infographics)

This infographic is designed to provide a quick and visually appealing reference guide to help you keep your cat healthy and happy.

From chocolate and caffeine to onions and garlic, we’ll cover the top 11 foods that can be harmful to your cat’s health.

For additional information on each product, please refer to the accompanying details below the infographics!

So let’s dive in and learn more about the foods that are best left off your cat’s menu.

Top 11 Dangerous Foods for Cats (Infographics)
Top 11 Dangerous Foods for Cats (Infographics)
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Explanation of the importance of feeding cats a healthy diet

Like humans, cats need a balanced and nutritious diet to maintain good health.

A healthy diet can help support a cat’s immune system, promote strong bones and muscles. Also to prevent various health problems such as obesity and dental issues. 

In contrast, a diet that is deficient in certain nutrients or contains toxic substances can have serious negative consequences for your cat’s health. 

Some foods can even be fatal if ingested in large enough quantities. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to be aware of the foods that cats should avoid and to ensure that your cat’s diet is comprised of high-quality, nutritionally balanced cat food that meets their specific dietary needs. 

By feeding your cat a healthy and appropriate diet, you can help them live a longer, happier life.

A brief overview of the dangers of feeding cats certain foods

Feeding cats certain foods can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. Some foods can cause immediate symptoms of poisoning, while others can have more gradual adverse effects on a cat’s health over time. 

Additionally, cats have unique dietary requirements and metabolisms, and they are not able to process certain substances in the same way that humans and other animals can. 

Therefore, even foods safe for humans or other animals to consume may be harmful or toxic to cats. 

Many cases of food poisoning are known when an animal has deliberately or accidentally eaten certain foods.

These have included, for example, chocolate, nuts, onions, fruits (raisins, grapes), and xylitol and ethanol. And that’s just in the last few decades. And before that, no records of similar facts were kept at all.

Food is known to account for about 14.8% of the negative impact on animals (according to the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, USA).

Let’s start with our list of foods that are dangerous for cats.

Onions and Garlic

Onion plants are dangerous for cats

Onions and garlic are common ingredients in many human foods, but they can be extremely toxic to cats.

These foods contain compounds called thiosulphates, which can cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells and lead to anemia.

According to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, even small amounts of onion or garlic can be harmful to cats.

Symptoms of onion or garlic poisoning in cats can include lethargy, weakness, pale gums, and difficulty breathing.

Toxic elements in onions are organic sulfides. And chewing these plants transforms their organic sulfides into a complex mixture of sulfur compounds.

Here it is important to realize that boiling, drying, and other processing do not eliminate the toxic effects of onions.

Cats and dogs are very susceptible to onion toxicity. Ingestion of even a small amount will be enough to cause clinical hematologic changes. The following limits are spoken of:

  • for cats: 5 g per 1 kg of weight;
  • for dogs: 15-30 g per 1 kg weight.

What Signs of Onion Poisoning

Symptoms of onion poisoning may appear 1 or a couple of days after consumption. In most cases, it depends on the amount taken.

General signs may appear as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and depression.

Anemia may also develop. And as a consequence, pale mucous membranes, weakness, rapid breathing, and heart palpitations are noted. Yellowing of the skin and darkening of the urine (from reddish to brown) may occur.

It is known that some cases of onion poisoning in animals have also been described in the literature. It is mentioned that poisoning occurred after eating green onions, roasted garlic, onion souffle, onions fried in oil, and Chinese dumplings.


Unfortunately, there is no special antidote for onion toxicity – treatment is symptomatic. There is a possibility of extraction by artificial vomiting of the animal.

However, this can be effective if no more than 2 hours have passed since the ingestion. After that, it is acceptable to take activated charcoal.

After clinical signs appear, treatment should include supportive therapy. However, animals with severe anemia may require blood transfusions.

Alcohol – Why Cats Should Avoid It

Alcohol is dangerous for pets

Alcohol is a substance that is commonly found in many human beverages, including beer, wine, and liquor.

It is created through the fermentation and distillation of sugars and grains.

When ingested, alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can have a depressant effect on the central nervous system.

Ethanol toxicity in small animals usually results from the accidental consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Ethanol intoxication has also been reported in dogs after eating rotten apples, thorn berries used to make thorn gin, and raw bread and pizza dough.

When ingested, ethanol is quickly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and enters the bloodstream. However, the mechanism of ethanol’s effect on animals is not completely clear.

Here we say unequivocally that under no circumstances and categorically should alcohol be allowed to get into the animal’s food.

Foods and Products That Contain Alcohol

In addition to alcoholic beverages, cats may also be exposed to alcohol through other sources. Some common foods and products that may contain alcohol include:

  • Certain medications, such as cough syrups and antifreeze products
  • Some mouthwashes and perfumes
  • Fermented foods, such as bread dough or rotting fruit

It’s important to keep these items out of your cat’s reach to prevent accidental ingestion. Additionally, if you’re hosting a party or gathering where alcohol will be served, make sure to keep your cat in a safe, alcohol-free area to avoid accidental exposure.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning in Cats

Cats that have ingested alcohol may exhibit a range of symptoms, depending on the amount and type of alcohol consumed. Some common signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning in cats include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Seizures
  • Coma

If you suspect that your cat has ingested alcohol, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately. Prompt treatment can help minimize the risk of serious health complications.


Vomiting should be induced with extreme caution. It is relevant to do so in cases where symptoms have not yet manifested and if the case has occurred recently.

Recently it has been shown that hemodialysis may be indicated for the rapid elimination of ethanol in patients with severe toxemia.

Yohimbine has also been recommended as a treatment for ethanol intoxication. It easily penetrates the blood-brain barrier. In this case, supportive therapy is mandatory.

Grapes and Raisins – The Hidden Danger to Cats

Grapes and Raisins - The Hidden Danger to Cats

While many fruits are healthy for cats to eat, grapes and raisins are two types of fruits that can be toxic to felines.

Grapes and raisins are two common types of fruit that are often included in human diets as healthy snacks.

However, when it comes to cats, these fruits can be extremely dangerous. Studies have found that even small amounts of grapes or raisins can cause acute kidney failure in cats.

The specific toxic substance in grapes and raisins is not yet known, but it is believed to be a chemical compound that is found naturally in the fruit.

Published case reports have also shown renal failure in dogs. It was diagnosed after ingestion of estimated doses of 2.8 mg/kg raisins and four to five berries of grapes in an 8.2 kg dog.

Consequently, ingestion of any amount of these fruits should be considered a potential clinical problem.

So, “grapes” also fall into the category of “absolutely not to eat” for either dogs or cats.

Foods and Products That Contain Grapes or Raisins

In addition to fresh grapes and raisins, cats may also be exposed to these toxic fruits through other sources. Some common foods and products that may contain grapes or raisins include:

  • Certain types of trail mix and granola bars
  • Raisin bread and other baked goods
  • Grape juice and grape-flavored products

It’s important to carefully read ingredient labels and avoid giving your cat any foods or products that contain grapes or raisins.

Signs and Symptoms of Grape and Raisin Poisoning in Cats

A typical observed clinical sign is vomiting, which appears within 24 hours of ingestion. Diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, and abdominal pain have also been reported.

Signs of grape poisoning may be traces of grape in vomit as well as in feces. Later, signs of renal failure may occur. In dogs with oliguria or anuria, the prognosis is usually poor.


After ingestion, disinfection with vomiting agents and supporting doses of activated charcoal are recommended.

In the case of dogs, they are given intravenous infusion therapy for a minimum of 48-72 hours. Renal function should also be monitored for 3 days.

The Dangers of Caffeine for Cats (Chocolate, Coffee, Tea, Guarana, Cocoa)

Chocolate is not good for cats

Caffeine is a common stimulant found in many human foods and beverages.

While caffeine can provide a quick energy boost for people, it can have serious negative effects on cats.

In this chapter, we’ll explore why caffeine is dangerous for cats and the potential dangers of ingestion.

What Is Caffeine and Why Is It Dangerous for Cats?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is found in many foods and beverages, including chocolate, coffee, tea, guarana, and cocoa.

When consumed by cats, caffeine can cause a range of negative effects on the body, including hyperactivity, tremors, and even seizures. In some cases, caffeine ingestion can be fatal.

Cats are particularly sensitive to caffeine due to their small size and unique metabolism. Even a small amount of caffeine can have a significant negative impact on a cat’s health.

Foods and Products That Contain Caffeine

In addition to the obvious sources of caffeine like coffee and tea, cats may also be exposed to this toxic substance through other sources. Some common foods and products that may contain caffeine include:

  • Chocolate and cocoa products
  • Some types of energy drinks and soda
  • Certain types of medications and supplements

It’s important to carefully read ingredient labels and avoid giving your cat any foods or products that contain caffeine.

Signs and Symptoms of Caffeine Poisoning in Cats

Initial clinical signs are usually seen within 2-4 hours after ingestion. These may include restlessness, polydipsia, urinary incontinence, vomiting, and possibly diarrhea.

Dogs may be agitated and exhibit marked hyperthermia and tachycardia.

As intoxication progresses, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, premature ventricular contractions, muscle rigidity, ataxia, seizures, and coma may occur.

Death may occur from cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory failure.


Treatment by inducing vomiting or gastric lavage is used. Several doses of activated charcoal and careful supportive therapy are also recommended.

The prognosis is usually favorable if effective decontamination is achieved within 2-4 hours of ingestion.

Xylitol – A Sweetener That Can Be Deadly for Cats

Xylitol is unsafe for pets

And so, xylitol.

This is a five-carbon sugar alcohol. It is mainly used as an artificial sweetener in many products, including sugar-free chewing gum, candy, bread, cookies, and other baked goods.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in many human foods and products, including sugar-free gum, candy, and baked goods.

It is usually derived from plants rich in the polysaccharide xylan. These can be birch, almond husk, straw, corn cob, oat husk, or from byproducts of cellulose production (according to Wikipedia).

It can also be purchased as a granulated powder for cooking and baking.

Xylitol is also included in drinking water supplements designed to maintain the dental health of dogs and cats.

The increased use of xylitol as a sweetener in recent years has led to an increased risk of pets coming into contact with this ingredient.

When ingested by cats, xylitol can cause a rapid insulin release, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In severe cases, xylitol ingestion can also cause liver failure, which can be life-threatening.

Cats are particularly susceptible to xylitol poisoning due to their unique metabolism. Even small amounts of xylitol can have a significant negative impact on a cat’s health.

Signs and Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning in Cats

The signs and symptoms of xylitol poisoning in cats can vary depending on the amount of xylitol ingested and the individual cat’s sensitivity to the toxin. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination and difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Collapse and coma

Clinical signs or biochemistry parameters corresponding to hepatic insufficiency in pets do not manifest themselves.


Vomiting should be induced only in the early stages and in asymptomatic animals. Activated charcoal is not recommended because of its poor ability to bind xylitol.

Blood glucose levels and liver function should be monitored. If hypoglycemia develops, intravenous dextrose should be administered.

Tip! We would also like to point out that cats may also be interested in houseplants in addition to food. Be vigilant, because some houseplants can be really poisonous or dangerous for cats.

Other Toxic Foods for Cats (Milk, Citrus Fruits, Nuts, Salty Snacks)

Milk – is Not the Best Option for Cats

Milk is not recommended for cats

It would seem that there is nothing wrong with pouring milk into a saucer for your cat.

But did you know that milk and other dairy products can cause diarrhea or other side diseases and digestive disorders?

The main reason is that cats lack a special enzyme, lactase. For reference, lactase is a special enzyme that breaks down the lactose in milk.

Citrus fruits – Will Your Cat Run Away?

Citrus fruits - Will Your Cat Run Away?

Cats are definitely not big fans of citrus – try giving them an orange peel 😎.

Your pet is very likely to run away at the speed of the wind into another room. But I would still like to mention this.

Oranges, tangerines, and other Christmas goodies contain citric acid and essential oils.

As a result, they can irritate the central nervous system. An additional sign can also be an upset stomach.

Nuts – Hazards for Cats

Nuts - Hazards for Cats

Nuts contain high levels of fats and oils that can cause digestive upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis, in cats.

Additionally, certain types of nuts contain toxins that can be harmful or even deadly to cats.

For example, macadamia nuts contain a toxin that can cause muscle weakness, tremors, and hyperthermia in cats.

Similarly, walnuts contain a toxin called juglone that can cause gastrointestinal irritation and neurological symptoms such as seizures and tremors in cats.

Salt and Salty Snacks

Соль опасна для кошек

Salt is definitely not a necessary ingredient in a cat’s diet.

We don’t think that a mouse in nature runs around already “salted,” if you get what we’re pointing to.

Foods like salted chips and popcorn should be avoided. Here we sin when we give the cat a piece of shrimp-flavored chips.

So, the excess salt in the pet’s body will definitely cause an unhealthy interest in water. And the signs of poisoning will already be such consequences as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.


Pork is not the best option for cats

The main danger of this product is Aujeszky’s disease virus. It is also called porcine herpes virus or pseudorabies virus.

Signs of the disease can be fever, cramps, and painful spasms in the animal. It should be noted that there is no specific vaccine for this disease.

In addition to everything else, this product is very fatty for our pets. Overeating can result in diarrhea as well as indigestion.

We say “overeating” because we ourselves sometimes give a small piece of meat to eat – solely from frozen pork.

Also, raw pork can contain worms as well as viral infections.

Dangers of Feeding Dog Food to Cats

Dog food is not desirable for cats

Again, this product is in the “can do, but not much” category.

Veterinarians say that if you do not consume it often and in small amounts, there should be no problems.

We ourselves also like to indulge in junk food like chips and coke.

The fundamental difference in dog food is that it may contain considerably less protein. There will be mostly carbohydrates, which means that your cat is not getting the right amount of amino acids, such as taurine.

Cats have different nutritional requirements than dogs. For example, cats require more protein, taurine, and certain vitamins and minerals that are not found in sufficient quantities in dog food. Dog food may also contain ingredients that are harmful to cats, such as garlic and onion powder.

The result can be various negative tendencies like stunted growth, vision problems, or hair loss.

Summing Up

Of course, the above list may not be definitive. To the list of prohibited products for cats, you must understand for yourself and establish your own.

You need to know the main thing that pet nutrition is your area of responsibility. Always feed your pets only tested and quality products.

And in case you notice his strange behavior or signs of poisoning – immediately run to the veterinarian. Remember that self-medication can be life-threatening for your pet. And this is indeed an emergency situation!

We hope we’ve broadened your mind about dangerous foods. Cheers and good health to all!

Frequently Asked Questions

This article partly uses materials from:

1. Cristina Cortinovis  / Francesca Caloni (Department of Health, Zootechnics, and Food Safety, Universitá degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy)

2. Research by the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, USA

Murmeo link to the article: