Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: January 25, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Pet food manufacturers would like you to believe that the only food your cat should ever eat is a “balanced” food coming out of a bag or can. These commercial, often highly processed, foods are labeled as “100% complete,” and pet guardians are cautioned against feeding table scraps.
However, if you’re eating a reasonably healthy diet of lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and fresh fruit and vegetables, an occasional table scrap for your cat is not going to be a problem and may actually enhance her nutrition.
Cats are obligate carnivores
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they need meat not only to survive, but to thrive. The ideal feline diet should be made up of no more than 5% vegetable matter (the equivalent to what a cat would eat in the wild in the stomach content of her prey) and 95% protein. So while the veggies and fruit you eat at the dinner table should be off limits to your cat, an occasional treat of meat, poultry or egg will not do any harm, as long as you observe the following cautions:
Onions and garlic are toxic to cats
Onions and garlic damage red blood cells & can cause hemolytic anaemia. If you’ve used onions and garlic when preparing your meals, table scraps are off limits for kitty.
Other toxic foods for cats
Cats shouldn’t eat veggies anyway, but if you’re giving table scraps as treats, make sure they don’t contain raw potatoes, unripe tomatoes apricots, cherries, apple seeds, avocado, grapes, and certain nuts.
Table scraps may cause digestive problems
Depending on how sensitive your cat’s digestive system is, table scraps may cause mild gastrointestinal upset and/or vomiting and diarrhea.
Cats are creatures of habit and will quickly get used to being fed tasty morsels from the table, which will most likely lead to begging and stealing food. In extreme cases, this begging behavior can turn dangerous if cats develop the habit of jumping on the stove to steal food.
Don’t overfeed your cat
If you are going to give your cat the occasional table scrap, be sure to adjust her overall food intake accordingly. Obesity among cats has reached epidemic proportions, and cat guardians need to understand that food does not equal love.
Don’t create a picky eater
Cats who are fed table scraps may inadvertently become picky eaters, especially if they’re less than thrilled with their regular diet to begin with.
The commonplace advice of “never feed table food” is the result of pet food company marketing. There is nothing wrong with a few table scraps, as long as they’re species-appropriate for your obligate carnivore.
This article was previously published on Answers.com, and is republished with permission
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.