Most cats are picky eaters, and as such, less likely to be interested in some human foods than dogs, but because a cat’s digestive system is different from a human’s, some human foods can be highly toxic and even deadly to cats.

The following seven foods should never be given to cats. If your cat accidentally ingests any of these foods, emergency veterinary treatment may be necessary and an immediate visit to the veterinarian is essential.

Onions and garlic

All members of the onion family (shallots, onions, garlic, scallions, etc.) contain a compound that can damage cats’ red blood cells if eaten in sufficient quantities. Some of these are more toxic than others, and cooking does not destroy the toxin. While most cats probably wouldn’t eat raw onions or garlic, even products that contain small traces can be dangerous. A particular caution applies to baby food, which is often used to entice sick cats to eat: some brands contain onion powder to add flavoring. Read labels carefully before feeding.


Alcohol can be extremely dangerous for cats, leading to intoxication, coma and even death. Due to their small size, cats are far more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than humans. Cats are often attracted to mixed drinks containing cream or milk, such as eggnog.


Even though cats don’t have a sweet tooth, some cats will eat chocolate as part of nibbling on a cookie, candy or other baked treats. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine. The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine levels.

Moldy or spoiled food

Some molds can produce multiple toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and neurological symptoms.

Raw fish

Eating raw fish can result in a thiamine deficiency, which can lead to of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death.

Raw bread dough

Dough made with live yeast can be extremely dangerous for cats. The stomach provides an ideal environment for yeast to multiply. This will lead to the dough expanding in the stomach, which can be severe enough to cut off blood flow to the stomach wall and affect breathing. It can also cause the stomach to rupture. As yeast metabolizes the sugar in the dough, alcohol is produced, which can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Cooked bones

Gnawing on Raw bones can be a great way for kitty to keep her teeth clean, but never give cooked bones to your cat. Cooked bones can splinter and cause intestinal perforations.

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This article was previously published on and is republished with permission.

21 Comments on 7 Foods You Should Never Feed Your Cat

  1. Ingrid, this was SO timely. Someone gave me a jar of gefilte fish. The last ingredient was onion. Mostly fish though, so I was inclined to give it. Your column gave me pause. I verified with our vet, Dr. Levy, who confirmed it! Even small quantities can be toxic. Then we had a big laugh at how unappetizing it can be even for we humans, but if you are going to have it, accompany with something spicy, fyi. So, my Tigger also is banned from sharing my people tuna salad, which I make with chopped onion, but I can make a special cat recipe. Thanks Ingrid.

  2. Last night my stinker of a new baby tried getting in a cocktail that I was drinking. Of course I didn’t let her have any (I knew better), but it made me and my husband laugh at how persistent she was.

      • We just got her Saturday and she has been making us laugh ever since. She is so sweet and funny. I’m leaving in a few minutes to take her to my vet for a kitten checkup. the rescue said they did a lot of stuff, but I want her to meet my vet too since he is who she will be seeing. She needs her spay stitches removed too.

  3. Always excellent reminders. I’ve used baby food in the past as per my vet’s instructions. My Blazie is going in for dental work in a few weeks so I will be very alert to any ingredients. I see all of your recommendations on above comments and I’ll be looking into those. Thank you again.

  4. My 18 year old Clyde has had 3 teeth pulled in the last 2 months. I’ve been giving him wet food. And trying to get him to eat the kittens’ kibble. Any suggestions? He doesn’t eat much people food. He never has.

  5. I have a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia. He is ALWAYS hungry, and extremely thin. I feed him Weruva, or BFF, anywhere from 10-15 ounces a day. He is small. No matter how much I feed him he is always hungry and will run to the kitchen and start screaming if he sees me heading anywhere in that direction. He also eats very quickly (and throws food everywhere, I am constantly cleaning it out of the non CH cats long fur because she sits with him while he eats). So I only feed him 3 ounces max at a time and spread it out through the day or he will throw up from gorging himself. My question is two fold. Is it ok to just give him 10 ounces? I do not see any physical or behavioral changes when I feed him more. I was told that CH cats are ravenous and have faster metabolisms. My second question is, he is financially killing me with the amount he eats! Is there a food that may be more economical that would be acceptable to feed him?

  6. My cat is not gaining weight at all ,I feed him canned food ,and dry food ,but doesn’t gain weight ,he is 6months old ,he pukes his food out sometimes, please help

    • My cat was the same , he would eat but his weight would never increase! He would lose weight more than put it on. I read a book about this and i tried what i read,, watch how your cat/kitten eats if he/she is eating to fast take it away and feed them with a fork, this is just to teach them to eat at a normal speed, it took alot of time and effort as my cat would cry for his meal but trust me it worked, he eats at a normal speed and i get him weighed once every 3 months at the vets and every time him weight is spot on. I hope this helps

  7. I had two cats that loved garlicky/onion foods. In a Jewish/Kosher home, those are in almost everything.

    Another one loved Chocolate milk. No matter how I tried, she would get to my cup. When I left it in the bottle, she tipped that too.

    With raw fish, both loved it. When prepping fish, they both tried to trip me. They were both fish eaters. Boychick would wait for the ‘gefilte fish’ every Friday night dinner. If we had Salmon, my husband had to keep his plate covered if he walked away for a second.

  8. Never knew that about raw bones. Of course mine don’t get any kind of bones. Bad experience with my childhood. Good to know about what foods they shouldn’t have and can harm them.

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