Toxic Foods for Cats

Not everything that the velvet paw wants to lick is also good for her. There is a lot of food that is toxic to cats in our household. The full range of symptoms is possible, from slight stomach rumbling or diarrhea with products containing lactose to life-threatening poisoning from unsuitable foods. The following foods are just an excerpt of common products that often lead to poisoning in cats. However, it by no means gives a complete overview of possible dangers, which is why it can primarily help you as an orientation. If in doubt, please consult your veterinarian if your cat has eaten something or is showing signs of poisoning.

Most Common Symptoms

Regardless of possible poisoning, you should pay attention if your cat shows sudden changes in character or if its activity level suddenly changes significantly. If she’s crouching lethargically in one spot, reacting little or not at all to your speech, or being unusually sensitive when you touch her, you should watch her closely and take her to a vet if necessary. Diarrhea, nausea, and/or vomiting are particularly common symptoms of poisoning, which – is a milder form – can also be attributed to a harmless gastrointestinal upset, food that is too cold, or perhaps hairballs being thrown up. Seizures or movement disorders, on the other hand, should prompt you to take immediate action.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to assess the health of cats. They are masters at disguising symptoms and trying to give those around them the impression that everything is fine. So it’s not easy for us to distinguish whether our cat is just having a bad day or whether something is seriously wrong. Be sure to keep your eyes open to see if there was a piece of chocolate on the table when your cat started having diarrhea or a swollen stomach. Maybe your chocolate cake is suddenly missing a small piece, which your cat could have bitten off. Then your combination skills are in demand – and off you go with your cat to the vet, because chocolate is very poisonous for the mini tiger. The purine alkaloid theobromine contained in cocoa beans is excreted by the animals only very slowly. It accumulates in the blood and shows the first signs of poisoning after about four hours. The following applies: the higher the cocoa content – ​​i.e. the more bitter the chocolate – the higher its theobromine content. Milk chocolate is, therefore, less toxic than 70% dark chocolate – but they are both dangerous for our cats. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, high blood pressure, restless behavior, and cardiovascular problems can also occur. In the worst case, chocolate can even kill the cat.

From Sweet to Hearty: an Overview of Toxic Foods for Cats

There are various foods in the kitchen that can be dangerous for our cats. In addition to the chocolate already mentioned, common foods that are toxic to cats include:

Allium plants

These include above all

  • onions
  • chives
  • garlic

For example, they contain sulfur compounds that damage the red blood cells of velvet paws. Among other things, there is a risk of anemia (low blood count), which you may notice through pale mucous membranes and dark urine. An increased heart rate and diarrhea are other symptoms of this poisoning.

Pork meat

The classification of pork is somewhat confusing. If it is cooked, it is sometimes even found in finished wet food and is not dangerous for the velvet paw. However, when raw, it can contain a virus that is fatal to cats. It is the Aujeszky virus, which is one of the herpes viruses and destroys nerve tissue in the cat’s brain. Restlessness, frequent mewing, salivating, vomiting, aggressive behavior, itching, movement disorders, and paralysis are symptoms of this dangerous poisoning.


Potatoes and the toxin solanine they contain are also only critical when raw. In particular, green spots should be generously removed and the cooking water should be poured away, as the solanine accumulates in it during the cooking process.

Cabbage and legumes

Cabbage and legumes cause flatulence in small doses, lead to abdominal cramps, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and even circulatory collapse due to various toxins such as the phasing in legumes, and should therefore stay away from your house tiger’s little mouth.

Stone fruit

The toxins contained in stone fruit and grapes can develop into hydrocyanic acid and become just as dangerous as present in avocados. It has a toxic effect on cats and, in addition to the symptoms described above, causes palpitations and, in the case of avocados, shortness of breath, coughing, ascites, subcutaneous edema, or cardiac muscle weakness.

Non-Toxic, but Only Safe in Moderation

Although some foods are generally not toxic to cats, they should only be eaten in moderation, as “too much” can be dangerous. Tuna is very popular with most cats. However, the methylmercury it contains can damage the kidneys, trigger fatty liver or heart and eye diseases if consumed regularly or in excess. The vitamin A contained in the liver is just as problematic for the kidneys and eyes. It is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, so it is not excreted through the bladder if too much is consumed. It can lead to bone problems, paralysis, and changes in joints and should therefore only be eaten more rarely as a treat.

Toxic Foods for Cats: is There Protection?

Rule number one, of course, is not to give your cat immediate access to dangerous foods. It is, therefore, better to store onions, potatoes, etc. in a closed pantry, which will make most of the affected foods last longer anyway. You can protect grapes and stone fruit from the curious sweet tooth with a cover. It is best to clear leftovers not only from the table but also into the (closed) organic waste, place used dishes in the dishwasher or rinse them with a strong jet of water before you put them in the sink. You can usually keep toxic food away for cats with these few little things and thus protect them.

My Cat is Showing Signs of Poisoning – What to Do?

If your cat shows the first signs of poisoning, there is only one thing to do: take it to the vet – right away! Refrain from looking for possible home remedies or assessments of other cat owners on the Internet first. You and the patient lose valuable time for treatment. Pack your cat straight into the transport box and quickly check your apartment to see if you can find any food that has been eaten, vomit, or fresh diarrhea from the cat. If so, pack it (separately) in a freezer bag with a zipper, for example, and take everything with you to the doctor. There he can examine which toxin the velvet paw came into contact with and initiate the appropriate countermeasures. In the case of poisoning, the shortest possible period of time between contact with the poison and adequate treatment is particularly important. So do not hesitate and rather take your cat to the emergency room once too often than wait for other, possibly worse, symptoms.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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