If you have cat, it is quite likely that you’ve heard about poisonous plants and have removed them from the house, or at the very least placed them where kitty can never reach them. All safe now! But there may be another source of toxic items for the cat to ingest, and you might never even have considered them. These are found in certain human foods, and provide at least one reason why perhaps it’s best not to feed your cat scraps from your own plate. They aren’t many, but they can still be deadly.
The first you may have heard about already since it gets a lot of press: chocolate. This actually affects dogs much worse than cats most of the time, but it’s still not good for cats. It contains a substance called theobromine, which can produce all sorts of symptoms: excitement or trembling, muscle spasms or even seizures, vomiting or diarrhea, excessive thirst, and in some rare cases, a coma or even death. Clearly the cat should be kept away from chocolate, even small amounts.
Onions and Garlic
Another toxic food, one that most people haven’t heard much about, is onions. A substance found in these can produce anemia in the pet because it destroys red blood cells. Garlic contains the same substance, though not as much.
You may object that your cat is very unlikely even to want to eat onions or garlic. But as Franny Syufy points out, in the About.com article on this subject, if you innocently give your cat a bit of turkey with gravy, you may have had onion flavoring in the broth from which you made the gravy. Even this could compromise your cat’s health.
The problem is that people often don’t know all the ingredients in things they eat, and don’t know what foods might be harmful to cats. Combine these two factors, and when they give human food to a cat, they could be endangering their pet without even realizing it.
Tomatoes and Raw Potatoes
Another surprising problem food is green tomatoes and raw potatoes. You may raise your eyebrows at this, especially if you’ve been buying a healthier brand of cat food which boasts that it contains vegetables and even fruit, as well as meat. Some brands even have tomatoes in certain cans. So are they healthy, or are they dangerous?
The key is that word “green.” Ripe tomatoes do not cause the same problems, while green, unripe ones can create severe gastrointestinal upsets. The culprit in both unripe tomatoes and raw potatoes is the substances these vegetables contain as members of the Nightshade family. In fact, you may have heard nightshade mentioned as a poison in other contexts, such as historical novels, and this is exactly the same substance.
Should you feed your cat the pet food with tomatoes in it, then? In theory, only ripe tomatoes will have been used in the processing, so the cat should be fine. But if you discover that your pet has a tummy upset whenever it eats that particular flavor, it might be wise to feed it different flavors, just in case.
Lastly, although milk isn’t exactly toxic to cats, it still should be given sparingly, if it all. The fact is that once kittens are weaned from their mother’s milk, they don’t actually need it again. Nor are their systems designed to accommodate cow’s milk or goat’s milk to begin with. So having milk can result in stomach upsets. At most, if they really like it, they should be given a little bit of cream (not milk) occasionally, but even this should be avoided if possible.
Having a cat is not a minor responsibility. As well as keeping the home itself secure, cat owners need to guarantee that their pet is not going to eat anything that could make them ill or even kill them.