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Ever bitten into a delicious food and wondered if you could share some with your cat? Depending on the type of food, you can 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. Commercially available cat food is perfectly balanced, but sometimes it’s hard to resist the temptation to share.

👉 Follow your vet’s instructions for introducing the new food to ensure you’re not feeding any unsafe or toxic foods that may be detrimental to your cat’s health.

Foods cats can eat at a glance

  • Wheat
  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Barley
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Peas
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Pumpkin
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Watermelon
  • Salmon (and fish oil)
  • Chicken (and eggs)
  • Turkey
  • Tuna
  • Beef


A closer look at human foods that are safe for cats

As cat lovers, we often think about what foods might be toxic to our feline friends. But there are many foods that your kitty can enjoy safely in moderation. Read on for our comprehensive list of cat-safe people food that they might like to try. You might walk away with some fresh ideas for delicious treats your cat will love!

Moderation is key: Make sure food is prepared in a safe way that does not contain any additional oils or spices, and cooked/cut into small pieces to avoid the risk of choking.

Dr. Liza Cahn

Grains & starches 

The primary concern often associated with grains and starches is if the cat has a true allergy. Grain allergies are very rare, so you should be safe to ditch the grain-free and designer diets unless otherwise instructed by your vet.

Wheat (either in gluten binders, such as what they’d find in kibble or pasta). Wheat is found in many products, like cereal, but it’s also found in many cat foods as a binder to hold everything together, especially in kibble. Pasta, which you might enjoy with tomato sauce, can also contain wheat. It’s safe for cats in small amounts, but remember, cats are carnivores. Their bodies prefer meat over grains, so wheat should only be a tiny part of their diet.

Bread. Bread is safe for cats to nibble on occasionally. However, it doesn’t offer much nutrition. Cats need proteins to stay healthy, and bread is more of a treat than a meal. Also, make sure the bread doesn’t have ingredients like garlic or onions, which are harmful to cats, and never feed your cat raw bread dough as it may contain yeast.

Potatoes (must be cooked). Potatoes are like magic vegetables; you can do a lot with them! But if your cat wants to try some, it has to be cooked with no added butter, salt, or seasonings. Raw potatoes are a no-go because they contain solanine, which is toxic to cats. Once cooked, they’re safe in small portions. Still, potatoes shouldn’t replace the meat cats love and need.

Barley. Barley is a grain, like what might go in your soup. It’s full of fiber and can be okay for your cat in small amounts. Fiber helps with digestion, making everything run smoothly inside. Like wheat, barley isn’t a must-have for your cat, but it won’t hurt them if they try a little bit.

Rice. Rice is a simple food often served with dishes like chicken or beef. It’s safe for cats, too, as long as it’s cooked and plain, without any sauces or spices. Rice, along with a plain, cooked protein source, can be helpful for a cat with an upset stomach. It acts like a bland, comfy blanket for their belly. But, just like humans, not all cats like rice, and it should only be a small part of their diet.

Oatmeal. Oatmeal is not just a warm breakfast for cold mornings; it can also be a little treat for your cat. Full of nutrients and cooked simply with water, oatmeal can be a nice snack for your feline friend. However, because cats are primarily meat-eaters, oatmeal should only be an occasional treat, not a regular part of their diet.

👉You might want to reconsider a starchy snack. Giving your cat too many starches has been 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. Peas offer similar health benefits to cats as 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, and you don’t want to “overdo it” on the minerals and vitamins or cause digestive upset.

Zucchini. 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.

Carrots. Cats enjoy carrots — and many pet owners occasionally use them as a nutritious and tasty snack. They are incredibly high in vitamin C and iron, which contribute to your cat’s immune system and can help with anemia. 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.

Spinach. While you can give your cat spinach raw and cooked, 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 treat and your vet can offer alternatives. However, spinach offers a wide range of health benefits that you won’t want to miss, including high levels of iron and fiber. It’s best to offer this leafy green in moderation, as some cat food recipes may already incorporate spinach — and overdoing it here could lead to tummy troubles or discomfort for your feline.

Broccoli. These miniature tree-like veggies can be a beneficial snack for cats. Broccoli is rich in fiber and vitamins and can be given in small, bite-sized pieces that are either steamed or boiled without any seasonings. This method makes it easier for cats to eat and digest. Although some cats might not be interested in broccoli due to its taste, it can be a healthy occasional treat for those who enjoy it, helping to add variety to their diet.

Pumpkin. 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 that has been properly cooked, peeled, and stemmed — including beneficial concentrations of vitamins A, C, and K — all year round. Pumpkin is also high in fiber, which supports your cat’s gut health .

👉 A quick note, though — pumpkin pie filling isn’t safe for cats. Pie filling, particularly the canned variety, is often riddled with chemicals, sugars, 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. This crunchy fruit can be a sweet treat for your cat, too. But remember, the seeds need to be removed because they contain cyanide . Serve the apple in small, peeled, bite-size pieces to avoid choking hazards. Apples are packed with vitamins that can benefit your cat, but because they’re also high in sugar, they should only be given as a rare treat.

Bananas. Bananas are soft, easy to chew, and interesting for cats due to their unique texture and sweetness. However, bananas are more sugary than what cats usually eat, so they should be given in very small portions as an occasional treat. It’s a good idea to mash up a tiny bit of banana or offer a small slice to your cat to see if they’re interested.

Blueberries. Blueberries, especially wild ones, are tiny, tasty, and full of polyphenols — antioxidants that are great for your cat’s gut and heart health. They can be a fun, occasional snack because of their small size, making them perfect for cats to play with before eating. Like other fruits, blueberries should be given in moderation to avoid too much sugar in your cat’s diet.

Strawberries. Strawberries can be another sweet treat for your cat, offering a juicy flavor and hydration. Thoroughly wash and cut each strawberry into small, manageable pieces to prevent any choking risk. Strawberries are high in sugar, so they should be given sparingly as a special treat, not a regular part of their diet.

Pears. When ripe, juicy, and served properly, pears can be a safe snack for cats. Remove the seeds and core (they can be harmful) and cut the pear into small, bite-sized pieces. Pears are another source of vitamins and fiber, but remember to give them in moderation due to their sugar content.

Watermelon. Watermelon is mostly water, making it a hydrating and refreshing treat for cats, especially on hot days. Make sure to remove all seeds and rinds to prevent any digestive issues. The juicy flesh of watermelon can be a fun, occasional snack for your cat. Just be sure to provide it in small amounts to avoid upset stomachs from too much sugar.

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 occasionally enjoy some fruits, vegetables, and certain grains in small amounts.

A handy rule of thumb to consider is that if your cat isn’t curious about it, don’t make them try it. 

Another thing to remember 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. Your cat may be pickier than they let on — they might just be curious about what you’re doing and eating.

Fish & meat

As we’ve mentioned above, cats are obligate carnivores, so they 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 (and fish oils). Salmon and fish oils are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your cat’s skin, coat, and overall health. Offering cooked salmon (without added oils, salt, or seasonings) can be a tasty treat for your cat. Fish oils designed for pets can also be added to ensure they get these essential nutrients. However, it’s important to serve salmon and fish oils in moderation to avoid excess fatty acids and a balanced diet.

Chicken (and eggs). Chicken is a fantastic source of protein for cats and is often a primary ingredient in many commercial cat foods. It should be cooked (boiled or baked) and served without bones, skin, or seasonings. Eggs, similarly, can be a good protein source and are safe for cats when fully cooked. Both chicken and eggs can be part of a healthy, balanced diet for your cat, but remember to introduce them gradually to avoid digestive issues.

Turkey. Turkey, like chicken, is another lean meat beneficial for cats. Turkey should be cooked without added fats, spices, or garlic/onions, and served boneless. Turkey is rich in proteins and nutrients necessary for your cat’s health and can be a delightful treat or part of their regular meal rotation. Always ensure that any turkey you offer is plain and without potentially harmful ingredients.

Tuna. Because of its strong smell and taste, tuna can be a tempting treat for many cats. While it’s okay to give cats tuna occasionally, it should not become a staple of their diet. It’s also worth noting that tuna intended for humans may contain higher sodium levels (and mercury), which isn’t ideal for cats.

Beef. Beef is another protein-rich food that can be safe for cats when cooked without seasoning. When given in moderation, it can be a good source of iron and B vitamins, contributing to a healthy diet. Ensure the beef is cooked thoroughly (boiled or lightly grilled) and offered in small pieces to prevent choking and promote easy digestion.

⚠️ All meat entries on our list are recommended based on their lack of seasoning and thoroughly cooked. Seasoned food is not generally safe to feed your cat, as it often has herbs that can be toxic and may also be overly salted, which can lead to kidney issues.

Tips for feeding your cat human food

When sharing your food with your feline friends, a little precaution and knowledge can go a long way. Here are some tips to ensure that both you and your cat have a positive experience:

  • Moderation is key. Remember, human food should only be an occasional treat for your cat, making up no more than 10% of their total diet. Fruits, though safe in small amounts, are high in sugar and can lead to health issues like vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, and even diabetes if consumed excessively.
  • Consult your vet. Before making any significant changes to your cat’s diet or introducing new human foods, it’s crucial to speak with your veterinarian to determine the best dietary strategy for your cat’s specific health needs.
  • Be aware of risks. Although certain human foods are safe for cats, they are not essential for their well-being. Feeding human food can expose your cat to risks such as:
    • Sugar — Cats have difficulty digesting sugars and carbohydrates, which can cause gastrointestinal upset.
    • Toxins — Seeds, stems, and leaves of many fruits and vegetables contain cyanide, which can be toxic.
    • Choking hazards — Bones in meats and seeds or fruit pits can pose choking hazards. Rinds and hard parts may lead to digestive blockages.
  • Emergency care. If your cat is choking, seek immediate veterinary care. Knowing how to perform CPR on your cat in emergencies can also be lifesaving.
  • Precautionary measures. Taking steps to feed your cat human food safely includes:
  • Doing your research. Consult your vet and credible sources (like to ensure the food is safe.
  • Washing produce. Always rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove dirt and pesticides.
  • Prepping food properly. Cut any treats into small, bite-sized pieces to prevent choking. Also, remove any harmful parts like stems, seeds, or bones.

Symptoms of poisoning or toxicity in cats

Regardless of what your cat has eaten, most cases of toxicity tend to produce similar symptoms. Be on the lookout for these signs if you suspect your cat has eaten an unsafe food:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Refusal of food
  • Pale gums and tongue
  • Swollen tongue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Convulsions

Other common poisoning symptoms may include dilated eyes, excessive salivation, lethargy, shaking, and an unsteady walk. Note that there is a difference between irritation or gastrointestinal upset and toxicity. If you believe your cat has eaten something toxic, contact your vet or the ASPCA poison helpline immediately at (888) 426-4435 (expect a fee).

Frequently asked questions

What is a cat’s favorite fruit?

Since cats lack the receptors necessary to taste sweetness, they don’t usually 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. These fruits are high in antioxidants,  fiber, and other essential vitamins, including vitamins 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 cause gastrointestinal upset. Fat trimmings, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, onions, chives, and alcohol are similarly unsuitable and can result in serious conditions like kidney disease and organ failure in severe cases. Raw food, like raw chicken (and uncooked eggs) 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. However, they may eat prey with undigested fruit in their stomachs. In rare cases, a starving wild cat may attempt to eat a piece of fruit if no suitable food sources are within reach.

Can cats have seasoning?

You may think that cats would enjoy the extra taste that seasoning can bring to a meal. However, seasoning is always dangerous. Many herbs we enjoy are poisonous to cats (like oregano, garlic, or high sodium) and can cause severe reactions or life-threatening illnesses.