Can cats eat bacon? Can cats eat avocado toast? What about coffee? These are the questions we ask ourselves as cat owners when we feel guilt for not sharing our favorite breakfast foods with our adorable — and seemingly always hungry — fuzzy friends in the morning. However, not all human food is safe for kitty stomachs, and what may seem appetizing to us can end up sending a pet to the emergency room. We asked some vets about which of our fave breakfast and brunch foods are kitty-safe, and which ones Fluffy is better off skipping. Read on for their answers and how you can keep you cat happy and healthy.
Can cats eat bacon?
Cats are carnivores, so it makes sense that they should be able to have a thick slab of bacon alongside you at breakfast, right? Not necessarily, says Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, veterinary medical advisor for Rover. “Technically speaking, kitty can have some bacon, but with an important caveat: It’s high-fat and fairly nutrient-poor, so it’s best avoided or given in extremely small quantities.”
Dr. Jennifer Power, senior veterinarian for Small Door Vet, adds, “Bacon is high in salt and fat, which can be harmful to cats and lead to digestive issues or even pancreatitis in severe cases.” It’s also full of preservatives and potentially harmful seasonings. In other words, if your cat sneaks a tiny bite of bacon off your breakfast plate when you aren’t looking, she isn’t immediately in serious danger, but it’s really best not to let her have any bacon at all — no matter how badly she meows for it.
Can cats eat avocado?
Another one of our brunch faves is avocado toast. It’s creamy, savory and full of good-for-us fats. You might think the soft green fruit would be fine for kitty since it’s so mild and easy to eat. However, avocado is no-no for cats.
“Avocado contains a substance called persin, which can be toxic to cats and other animals,” says Dr. Power. Persin is a phytochemical that’s not only harmless to humans but has also been studied for its potential to fight off breast cancer cells. While it’s great for us, it could make cats seriously ill. “Consumption of even small amounts of avocado may lead to gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea. It’s essential to keep avocados and dishes containing avocado well out of your cat’s reach.”
Other brunch foods you shouldn’t share with kitties
With the bacon and avocado pushed to the side, you may be wondering what other morning munchies your cat shouldn’t have.
We can’t wait for our first energizing sip of coffee in the morning, but your cat should stick to water. The caffeine found in coffee, teas and chocolate is not safe for cat consumption. The dangers of drinking coffee for cats include rapid breathing, heart palpitations, seizures and even falling into a coma.
2. Citrus fruits
Orange juice might fill us up with crucial vitamins, but it can’t do the same for cats. The fruit contains essential oils that frisky felines can’t metabolize that can lead to gastrointestinal distress. Like oranges (and pretty much every other citrus), grapefruits contain essential oils that are toxic to cats. According to the ASPCA, consuming grapefruits can result in vomiting, diarrhea, depression and potential dermatitis.
For some reason, the idea that cats should drink milk has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. This might tempt you to spill some half-and-half in Fluffy’s bowl while you prepare your morning brew. However, in reality, a lot of cats can’t handle dairy products. “Many cats are lactose intolerant and can develop diarrhea or upset stomach from dairy,” says Dr. Power.
Kitty-safe ‘human’ foods you can share
Keep in mind that cats are not humans, and their digestive systems and nutritional needs are completely different, says Dr. Greenstein. “Feeding them a commercial diet specifically formulated for cats and okayed by your family vet is the best way to ensure they are receiving complete and balanced nutrition.”
And while the following foods are safe for your cat in limited amounts as occasional treats, Dr. Greenstein notes that treats shouldn’t take up more than 10% of her daily caloric intake. “And if you’re unsure about sharing a food item with your cat, don’t!” she adds. “Check with your vet before adding or subtracting anything from your cat’s diet.”
Keep reading for the ‘human’ foods that are safe for your cat in small quantities:
1. Cooked fish
It’s well-accepted that cats love fish. And small amounts of fully cooked, unseasoned and boneless fish makes for a special kitty treat every once in a while. While she’s bound to go crazy for fish, try not to overdo it. Cats in the wild don’t eat fish, meaning domesticated ones are prone to develop allergies if too much of it is introduced into their diets. Slipping some cooked salmon into their plates is fine, as long as it’s not from your eggs Benedict: Like bacon, smoked salmon’s sodium levels are too high for kitties.
2. Some plain vegetables
As it turns out, your cat can enjoy small bits of unsalted, cooked vegetables as a treat, too. Dr. Power suggests cooked carrots and green beans in moderation. Be careful to avoid alliums like onions and garlic, however, as they are toxic for cats.
3. Certain fruits
While citrus and avocado aren’t your kitty’s best friends, she can have the occasional sweet fruity treat. “Some fruits like small amounts of mashed banana or blueberries can be given in moderation,” says Dr. Power. Remember to monitor your cat for any negative reactions when she tries new food, she adds.
What to do if your cat eats something she shouldn’t
No matter how careful you are with your cat’s diet, she may still get into something she shouldn’t. You should always take this seriously though since “cat are more vulnerable to certain toxins due to their smaller size and unique metabolism,” according to Dr. Greenstein. Here’s what you should do if your cat eats something that’s potentially harmful: Even if you aren’t sure whether the food your cat ate is toxic to her, it’s important to call your vet or emergency clinic right away, says Dr. Power. “Provide as much information as possible about what your cat ate and how much.” The more information your vet has about your cat’s situation, the better help they’ll be able to provide.
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