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Cat looking at bread

The essentials

  • Plain white or wheat bread is generally OK — Just skip the jam and avocado toast. If you slip your cat a little piece of bread, make sure it’s plain without any seasonings.
  • Raw bread dough is deadly — The fermented yeast in unbaked bread dough can cause your cat’s stomach to swell and possibly twist. Plus, the alcohol in the fermentation process can quickly result in alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.
  • Cats don’t need many carbohydrates — While it might be OK to let your cat nibble on a piece of toast, they should only eat carbs sparingly and save their calories for food with more nutritional value.

For reasons we don’t completely understand, some cats run to the sound of French bread cracking or go scurrying into the kitchen when they hear the toaster ding. Other cats could care less. If you have a bread enthusiast in your house, you’ll be relieved to know that cats may eat bread as long as it’s plain and thoroughly cooked. However, carbohydrates aren’t a dietary requirement for cats. You should only feed your cat a small amount of bread as an occasional treat so that they can save room in their tummies for their main course (aka their cat food).

Why cats should limit their carb consumption

Cats are obligate carnivores that need a mostly meat-based diet to survive. In the wild, cats don’t eat many fruits or vegetables, which results in a low-carb diet. However, the domestic cat’s digestive system has adapted so that it can process some carbohydrates. Still, though, carbs don’t hold much nutritional value for them, so they’ll need to mostly eat their cat food to receive a well-balanced diet of animal proteins and fats.

Potential dangers of feeding cats bread

In theory, felines can eat some bread in moderation. You still shouldn’t allow your cat to chow down on ciabatta or lick the spoon of raw dough, though. Some breads can be dangerous to your cat, depending on the ingredients.

Garlic bread

While the bread itself might be OK, garlic is toxic to cats. Most members of the Liliaceae family are poisonous to pets, including onions, chives, and even bulbed flowers such as lilies. Plus, the generous amount of butter on garlic bread may hurt your cat’s tummy since a large percentage of felines are lactose intolerant. As a fat, it can also increase their risk of pancreatitis.


Never feed raw dough to your cat. Yeast produces carbon dioxide as a result of the fermentation process. If your cat eats raw dough, this excessive amount of gas gets painfully trapped in their stomach. This results in uncomfortable bloating, and in rare cases it can also cause gastric torsion, a potentially fatal condition where the stomach twists. More frequently, raw dough poses the threat of alcohol poisoning since the yeast produces alcohol as a byproduct. Symptoms often appear within 30 minutes after ingestion. Signs include:

  • Tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Respiratory distress
  • Hypothermia

🚨 If your pet shows any signs of alcohol poisoning, take them to the veterinarian immediately. Alcohol is toxic to pets, and can quickly kill them without fast medical intervention.  

Even if your recipe doesn’t use yeast, chances are good that it includes other ingredients that can be risky when raw, such as eggs or flour.

Toppings and seasonings

Between toxic herbs and sugary spreads, it’s safe to say that most toppings and seasonings are off-limits for your cat. You should also keep them away from bread with added ingredients or flavors, just in case. For example, a slice of raisin bread or a chunk of a chocolate chip bagel can harm your cat since raisins and chocolate are toxic ingredients.

How to safely feed your cat bread 

If you decide to let them have a bite, tear them off a small chunk of plain bread. Toasted or untoasted is up to your feline’s preference. Always check the ingredients list first to make sure there’s nothing harmful to your pet.

A nibble of plain white or wheat toast without added toppings or seasonings isn’t likely to hurt your cat. However, carbohydrates that come from grains aren’t a necessary part of their diet. Plus, most bread contains a rather generous amount of calories and fat, so it’s best to save their calories for more nutritious food.

Alternatives to feeding your cat bread 

While your cat’s main dish should be their regular food, you can also give them commercially-produced kitty treats or a few feline-friendly finds from your pantry or refrigerator such as:

  • Low-sodium deli meat. Lunch meat such as turkey or chicken provides an excellent source of protein for your carnivorous cat. Just make sure it doesn’t contain artificial preservatives or an abundance of salt. While it’s unlikely that your cat would eat enough to cause sodium poisoning, you want to stay on the safe side just in case.
  • Goat’s milk. Dairy milk isn’t a good idea because of the high amount of lactose and fat. Goat’s milk however can be an excellent alternative. It contains a lower amount of lactose and gives your cat a boost of probiotics.
  • Strawberries. Sliced strawberries make a refreshing snack for your cat. They still contain a lot of natural sugar, though, so it’s important not to overdo it.
  • Plain cooked meat. A bite of baked chicken, roasted turkey, or thoroughly cooked lean beef is safe for your cat as long as it’s unseasoned and well done.

Frequently asked questions

Can cats eat all types of bread?

Cats can eat a bite of plain toast. They don’t need carbs like we do, so don’t give them a whole slice. Skip the seasonings, jams, jellies, and specialty breads that contain added ingredients. Most of these aren’t healthy, and some may even be toxic for cats.

What about other carbohydrates?

Cats can eat plain cooked rice. In fact, it’s a common ingredient in commercial cat foods because it’s nutritious and inexpensive. Even so, cats should only eat rice sparingly outside of their typical food. Felines are obligate carnivores that mostly need to eat meat to survive. Too many carbs can lead to excessive weight gain since they still must receive most of their nutritional requirements from other sources.

Can cats eat cheese?

Despite popular depictions of cats lapping out of saucers, most felines are lactose intolerant. Small amounts of cheese are OK but, in general, giving dairy products to a cat that can’t process lactose will likely result in discomfort, including bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea. To stay on the safe side, you should opt for cat treats or a smidgen of a snack like low-sodium deli meat instead.

What human foods can cats eat?

Cat foods that meet guidelines set by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) give your cat a well-balanced diet.  If they’re eating high-quality food, they don’t need empty calories. However, sometimes we simply want to spoil our cats. A tiny bite of plain bread, a sip of goat’s milk, or a sample of thoroughly cooked, unseasoned meat will please your cat’s palate and remind them of your love.

What should I do if my cat ingests raw dough?

Raw dough is extremely dangerous to your cat because of the gasses and alcohol produced as byproducts of yeast. Bakers, keep your cat away from the dough as you wait for it to rise. Call your vet immediately if you suspect your cat ate raw dough or you notice signs such as seizures, lethargy, collapse, high blood pressure, hypothermia, or respiratory distress.