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Things you should never feed your cat

cat holding coffee

Cats are a part of our families and our lives. They are often a part of everything we do, even if we would never admit it. It’s normal to want to share with your pet, and food is no exception. However, some human foods can be quite dangerous for cats. The following nine things are among the top culprits for feline overdoses and should be avoided.


This one really should go without saying, but people have been known to give their cats alcohol, either as a joke or as an attempt to relax the cat. But even one tablespoon of alcohol can cause severe liver and brain damage and can be fatal for a cat.


Chocolate contains chemicals that function as stimulants, most notably theobromine and caffeine. The higher the cacao percentage, the more likely the chocolate is to cause damage, including heart problems, tremors, and seizures.

Caffeine (Coffee, Tea, Energy Drinks, etc)

Symptoms of caffeine toxicity include restlessness, muscle spasms, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to make a cat sick - a couple teaspoons of instant coffee can be fatal.


It’s true that cats love milk. But, for the majority of cats, milk does not love them. Most cats are lactose intolerant, so drinking milk can cause a variety of different digestive ailments, none of which are pleasant for either you or your cat.

Garlic, Onions, and Chives

Anything in this family can be problematic, especially in high doses. A clove of garlic can cause severe stomach problems, and even small amounts of onions, chives, or garlic on a regular basis can cause anemia.

Grapes and Raisins

Although it has not been studied at length, anecdotal evidence suggests that grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in cats, much like they do in dogs.

Human Medications

Many cats have been poisoned as a result of well-meaning owners who give their pet medication in hopes that it will help them get through a minor illness. However, cats metabolize medications differently than we do, and often can only tolerate a much lower dose than the accepted range for humans.

One example is Tylenol: the toxic dose is one-tenth of the toxic dose for humans, so 15 mg/kg (2.2 lbs.) A teaspoon of infant’s Tylenol contains 160 mg per teaspoon - over ten times the toxic dose for cats.


Liver is okay in small quantities; in the wild, cats would consume livers of animals on occasion after all. But, be careful adding it to your pet’s diet. Liver is high in vitamin A, which can quickly become toxic, causing blindness, painful growths on the bones, and osteoporosis.


Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in candies, gums, and other sweets. It can increase insulin in your cat’s body, causing blood sugar to drop. More serious effects can also occur, including vomiting, coordination problems, lethargy, seizures, and liver failure.

Even heeding the above list, your cat still may find a way to get into something it shouldn’t. There are reasons, after all, that we have adages like “curiosity killed the cat,” or “cats have nine lives.”

If you suspect that your cat has gotten ahold of something that may be poisonous, whether on this list or not, immediately call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435, and your vet, as well as an emergency vet if your vet is not close by or available.

Cats are pretty resilient and as long as the problem is caught early on, they more than likely will survive with minimal damage.

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