- Cats can eat many different foods outside of their traditional diets — While cats are considered obligate carnivores, there are some plant-based foods they can safely digest.
- Cats aren’t usually interested in eating fruit or veggies by themselves — Since cats don’t have the taste buds necessary to taste sweetness, they aren’t typically interested in foods like fruit or veggies that are naturally sweet or textured.
- Only feed cats “people food” in moderation — Never feed your cat more than a few bites of your food, and make sure the bulk of their nutrition comes from a veterinarian-approved kibble blend or other form of meat-based diet.
Ever bite into a delicious food and wondered if you could share some with your cat? Depending on the type of food, you may be able to treat your kitty to an edible experience outside their usual cat kibble and treats. But just because cats can safely eat some foods doesn’t mean they necessarily should, or that they’d even enjoy the experience.
Read on for our comprehensive list of cat-safe people food that they might like to try. You might just walk away with some fresh ideas for delicious treats your cat will love!
👉 Make sure to follow your vet’s instructions for introducing the new food to make sure you’re not doing anything or feeding any unsafe or toxic foods that may be detrimental to your cat’s health.
Grains & starches
The primary concern that often comes with grains and starches is if the cat has a true allergy. This is very rare to see , meaning that you should be safe to ditch the grain-free and designer diets for your cat unless otherwise instructed by your vet.
Certain grains and starches that your cat may enjoy in moderation include:
- Wheat (either in gluten binders, such as what they’d find in kibble or pasta)
- Potatoes (must be cooked)
You might want to reconsider a starchy snack if your pet is diagnosed with celiac disease or other allergies, as certain properties of many grain sources can trigger inflammation. If you’re worried about cat allergies, please speak with your vet before pursuing a grain-free diet. Doing so without cause can actually be linked to a higher rate of heart disease in cats (and even higher rates in dogs).
There are many veggies that your cats can try in moderation. Some of our favorite vet-approved options include:
Peas offer similar health benefits to cats as they do humans, providing them with a powerful punch of vitamins C, B1, B6, and K — which contribute to the function of your cat’s neuromusculoskeletal system and immune system. They are also high in potassium, iron and copper, vital trace minerals for your cat’s health.
While a healthy option in moderation, it’s best to keep peas as a treat-only occasion for your cat. They may or may not already have peas in their cat food already, and you don’t want to “overdo it” on the minerals and vitamins.
This veggie is both liquid- and nutrient-dense, offering low-calorie snacking and high fiber content, which can help your cat’s gut health and regularity. It’s high in vitamins A and C, which can contribute to your cat’s immune system.
Zucchini is a great treat for your cat. Just be sure not to feed them more than a bite or two, as this can lead to diarrhea or constipation due to the high fiber content.
Cats enjoy carrots — and many pet owners use them as a nutritious and tasty snack on occasion. They are incredibly high in both vitamin C and iron, which contributes directly to your cat’s immune system and blood cell oxygenation.
With carrots, it’s important to offer them in moderation due to the high sugar content, and be sure to soften and steam them first. The crunchiness of the carrots and the signature hard texture can pose a higher choking risk than other veggies.
Some cats have a taste for leaves — prompting pet owners to wonder if spinach really is safe for them. While you can give spinach to your cat in both raw and cooked forms, it’s best to run the choice by your vet first. For example: If your cat has kidney issues or oxalate sensitivities, it’s not the best choice of treat and your vet can offer alternatives.
Spinach does offer a wide range of health benefits that you won’t want to miss, however, including high levels of iron and fiber.
It’s best to offer this leafy green in moderation, as many cat food recipes may already incorporate spinach into them — and overdoing it here could lead to tummy troubles or discomfort for your feline.
Maybe your cat got a whiff of your pumpkin pie, or maybe they simply want to celebrate the change of season with you. Whether it’s fall or not, your cat can safely enjoy pumpkin all year round, enjoying the high concentration of vitamins A, C, and K within. Pumpkin is also high in fiber, which can support your cat’s gut health.
👉 A quick note though — pumpkin pie filling (which also comes in a can) is not safe for cats, as it can be riddled with chemicals and fake sweeteners like xylitol that can be very dangerous for your feline friend.
When served correctly, these are a few of the fruits safe for cats to enjoy in moderation. Pet parents interested in treating their cat to a little fruit can use this list as a good jumping-off point!
Apples are rich in fibers and essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and pectin. To safely feed apples to your cat, wash, peel, and core the fruit before cutting the remaining flesh up into bite-size pieces. Peeled apples are easier to digest and pose less of a choking hazard.
You should also avoid feeding your cat the seeds, stem, or leaves of an apple, as these parts contain a toxic substance called amygdalin , which releases a small amount of cyanide into the bloodstream when ingested.
Bananas are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and fibers that promote a well-functioning digestive system. As is the case with all plant-based foods, cats don’t need bananas in their diet — but a small piece every now and then won’t hurt them.
You can try mashing the banana and putting a small amount on top of their normal cat food. Just be careful not to give your cat too much banana, as the fruit’s high sugar content can contribute to long-term issues like weight gain and diabetes.
Blueberries make a healthy treat for both cats and humans, with high concentrations of essential antioxidants, flavonoids (which lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease), fibers, and vitamins A, C, K, and E.
To treat your cat to a blueberry, cut each berry in half, giving your cat a nice long opportunity to smell and inspect it. You can then feed them as a slice or mash on their favorite wet or dry food.
Pears are a safe fruit for cats, loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, and copper, which promotes increased energy and blood circulation. Pear is also a low-calorie fruit, which makes it an excellent substitute for standard treats for cats that need to lose weight.
One tablespoon is usually more than enough for an average-sized cat, and you can feed it to them either fresh or cooked.
Watermelon is a good source of potassium, vitamin C, dietary fibers that support a healthy digestive system, and of course, water! On a hot summer day, the high water content in watermelon can be a great way to keep your cat cool, hydrated, and happy. Healthy adult cats usually have no trouble digesting the occasional piece of watermelon or two, so long as you avoid feeding them the rind or seeds, which can trigger diarrhea and other intestinal distress if eaten in large quantities.
Should cats eat fruit?
Cats are obligate carnivores whose bodies require the nutrients found in meat to function properly. Their digestive systems cannot process many plant-based human foods, but they can enjoy some fruits and vegetables in small amounts on occasion, as well as certain grains.
A handy rule of thumb to consider in your search for cat-safe people food is to only feed your cat food if they seem curious about trying it. (You’ll know when they are. They’ll act feral for it — like this viral video of a cat stealing a pizza slice).
Another thing to keep in mind is that cats don’t have the taste bud receptors required to taste the sweetness in foods like fruit, and many won’t be interested in the savory or earthy flavors of other foods. This means that your cat may be pickier than they let on — they might just be curious about what you’re doing and eating.
Meats your cat can eat
As we’ve mentioned above, cats are obligate carnivores — which means that they’ll rarely turn down a delicious piece of meat. Here are some pet-safe meat options you can treat your cat to on occasion — many of which your cat may already have in their food blend:
Salmon is safe to feed your cat, and it’s often a featured protein in many cat foods and treats. Many cats love the taste of salmon as well — which can be a good thing and a bad thing. Many pet parents report that their cat poo-poos the normal cat food after getting a taste of the “good stuff,” which can be problematic and lead to picky eaters over time. That’s why it’s best to give salmon in small doses (or on a treat basis only).
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as selenium and vitamin D — which directly impact the nervous system and energy regulation systems in your pet.
Chicken is safe, and is included in many different cat food blends. Your cat can eat it cooked or raw often. The catch? Some cats may be sensitive , resulting in itchy skin, patchy fur, and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Chicken is a lean protein that can benefit your cat, supporting them with a heavy-duty dose of B vitamins, choline, and selenium for a higher degree of muscular function and growth.
A classic staple in many cat dishes, tuna is perfectly safe in moderation for cats. Just be sure to be aware of mercury levels and farming practices to give your pet the highest quality dish possible.
Your furry friend might have the same issue here as they do with salmon — the decadence of the fish may spoil your cat’s taste for regular kibble, possibly forcing your grocery bill to grow over time.
The good news? This fish is high in Omegas, potassium, and vitamin B — all of which are needed for healthy neuromusculoskeletal function.
Beef is rich in iron and omegas, and it also has a rich profile of amino acids to support healthy muscular function in your cat. As with the rest of the entries on this list, it’s okay to feed in moderation. In fact, your cat may have some beef protein or solids in their current choice of kibble! Just be careful not to spoil their appetites for the regular stuff.
⚠️ All of the meat entries on our list are recommended based on their lack of seasoning. Seasoned food is not generally safe to feed your cat, as it often has herbs that can be toxic to your feline, and may also be overly salted, which can lead to kidney issues.
Importance of moderation
As a general rule, fruit should only be given as an occasional treat and be no more than 10% of a cat’s total diet. Fruits are high in sugar, which can cause mild to severe vomiting, diarrhea, and discomfort in cats if eaten in excess. If it becomes a recurring problem, sugar consumption can lead to long-term issues like dental erosion, weight gain, and feline diabetes.
👉 Speak with your vet to determine the best diet for your cat’s specific health needs.
Risks of feeding people food to your cat
While the foods on this list are all technically safe for cats to eat, none of them are essential to a cat’s well-being, and should only be given as treats (at most!)
Eating any food intended for humans can expose cats to potential hazards including:
- Sugar — Cats have trouble digesting sugars and other carbohydrates since their digestive systems are specifically designed to break down animal proteins. The sugars in certain human foods can trigger upset stomachs, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues in cats.
- Toxins — The seeds, stems, and leaves of many fruits and veggies contain small amounts of cyanide .
- Choking hazards — Seeds and pits in fruits and veggies, as well as bones in meats, can pose a potential choking hazard for cats. Additionally, rinds and other hard-to-digest parts of a fruit can block up a cat’s digestive system and trigger stomach upset and other gastrointestinal issues.
🚨 Seek immediate veterinary care if your cat is choking. In emergency situations, you can also try performing CPR.
If you are thinking of feeding human food to your cat, it’s important to take the necessary precautions beforehand to make sure you’re doing so as safely as possible. These include:
- Doing your research — Before feeding anything to your cat, you need to make sure it’s safe for them to eat. The best way to do this is by consulting your vet, but lots of articles online (like this one!) can give you a good idea of what is and isn’t safe to feed your pets.
- Washing the fruit or veggies before eating — Whether you’re preparing it for yourself or your cat, it’s a good idea to thoroughly rinse off a piece of fruit or veggie before consuming it. This washes off the dirt and any potentially harmful pesticides on the surface.
- Cutting it up — Always cut the treat of choice into small, bite-sized pieces before feeding it to your cat to eliminate the risk of potential choking hazards. You should also use this opportunity to remove any stems, seeds, or bones from the item (if applicable).
Humans foods to avoid feeding your cat
The following fruits are generally considered unsafe for feline consumption. While some fruits like cherries and tomatoes may be safe for cats to eat under the right circumstances, we still advise against them given the risks they pose versus any potential benefits.
Citrus fruits. Fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes contain high levels of citric acid, as well as essential oils like limonene and linalool, all of which are known irritants to a cat’s digestive system. While citrus poisoning is rarely fatal, affected cats may still experience symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and weakness.
Grapes and raisins. Every variety of grape or raisin is poisonous to cats, as is grape juice. Not only can grapes and raisins trigger serious gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, but they can also lead to life-threatening conditions like kidney failure. Scientists don’t exactly know why grapes are toxic to cats, though some speculate their toxicity is tied to their tartaric acid content.
Avocados. Avocados contain a known toxin to cats called persin, a fungal compound that can cause fluids to accumulate in the lungs, chest, heart, pancreas, and abdomen, resulting in difficulty breathing and other health problems. Avocados also contain high levels of fat that can contribute to conditions like pancreatitis in cats.
Cherries. The ripened flesh of a cherry is technically safe for cats to eat, but unripe cherries, as well as cherry pits, stems, and leaves, are toxic to cats. This is largely due to the presence of cyanide in cherries (especially in the pit). Adverse reactions to cherry consumption typically result in symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, muscle spasms, shock, and collapse.
Tomatoes. While cats can technically eat small amounts of ripe, red tomatoes, they can’t consume unripe green tomatoes or the leaves and stems of tomato plants. Cats who eat unripe tomatoes may experience gastrointestinal upset characterized by vomiting and diarrhea, as well as lack of energy (lethargy), weakness, and confusion.
Symptoms of poisoning or toxicity in cats
Regardless of which fruit your cat has eaten, most cases of poisoning tend to produce a similar set of symptoms. Be on the lookout for these signs if you suspect your cat has eaten an unsafe fruit, and contact your vet immediately if you spot any.
- Refusal of food
- Pale gums and tongue
- Swollen tongue
- Abdominal pain
Other common symptoms you may see if a cat has ingested a toxic fruit may include dilated eyes, excessive salivation, lethargy, vomiting, shaking, and an unsteady walk.
Frequently asked questions
What is a cat’s favorite fruit?
Since cats lack the receptors necessary to taste sweetness, they don’t normally have one “favorite” fruit. However, many cats prefer the texture of fruits like melon, banana, and berries over other fruits.
Can cats eat berries?
In most cases, yes. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries are all safe for cats to eat in moderation. All of these fruits are high in antioxidants, fiber, and other essential vitamins including vitamin A, C, K, and E. However, they’re all pretty high in sugar, too — so make sure you don’t give your cat too many.
Are there any foods that are potentially harmful or toxic to cats?
Yes. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are mildly toxic to cats and can result in gastrointestinal upset consumed in even small amounts. Grapes, raisins, avocados, cherries, and tomatoes are similarly unsuitable for feline consumption, and can result in serious conditions like kidney disease and organ failure in severe cases. Raw food, like raw chicken or beef, can also pose more of a risk than their cooked counterparts when it comes to foodborne illness.
Do cats in the wild ever eat fruit or vegetables?
SInce all cats are obligate carnivores, wild cats aren’t generally known to eat anything other than animal proteins. In rare cases, an extremely hungry wild cat may attempt eating a piece of fruit if there are no suitable food sources within reach.
Can cats have seasoning?
You may think that cats would enjoy the extra tastes that seasoning can bring to a meal. However, seasoning is always almost more dangerous than its worth. Many herbs that we enjoy are poisonous to cats (like oregano or high levels of salt) and can cause severe reactions or life threatening illness.