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25 Human Foods Cats Should Never Eat

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Some foods can be poisonous or even deadly for cats. Anyone who suspects their pet has ingested any harmful foods should note the amount consumed and contact their veterinarian or the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.

Here are some common human foods that cats should not eat.

Coffee and tea

Both drinks, as well as coffee grounds and even used tea bags, are unsafe for cats due to their caffeine content.

Within one to two hours of exposure to caffeine, cats and other pets can experience “mild to severe hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), hypertension (elevated blood pressure), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) seizures, and collapse,” according to the Pet Poison Helpline, a national licensed animal poison center.

Energy drinks

Many energy drinks also contain caffeine, which contains methylxanthines (toxic substances found in cacao seeds).

“When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death,” the ASPCA explains.

Chocolate

Chocolate also contains methylxanthines. “Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest,” the ASPCA says.

Meat

Raw meat can be harmful to cats because it may contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.

Coconut

Fresh coconuts and coconut milk contain oils that can cause upset stomach, loose stools or diarrhea for cats, but small amounts are not likely to be harmful. “Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet,” the ASPCA says.

Candy

Candy products containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can be dangerous for cats. Ingestion of xylitol can cause a spike in insulin levels, which can lead to liver failure. “The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days,” the ASPCA says.

Gum

In addition to containing xylitol, chewing gum can potentially cause blockages in the throat if ingested by cats and other pets.

Salty snacks

Snacks such as potato chips, pretzels, popcorn and other foods with high salt content, should be avoided because too much salt consumption can “produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets,” the ASPCA notes.

Human medicine

Medication used by humans should not be given to cats unless advised by a veterinarian, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

“For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for people, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, may not be right for your pet and may even be harmful,” the FDA says.

Acetaminophen, the ingredient found in Tylenol, an over-the-counter pain killer, is also harmful to cats. The Pet Poison Helpline advises: “Cats have a decreased ability to metabolize acetaminophen in their liver, making them much more susceptible to poisoning than most other species. Just one dose of this medication when given to your cat could possibly cause concern for toxicity!”

Grapes pictured at a market in Monterey Park, California on July 25, 2014.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

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