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Dangerous Foods for Cats, from Will Draper, DVM

11/19/2010

  • Anne Wingo:

    Dr. Will, I’m wondering too, what foods are toxic for cats? What should we really try to avoid?

  • Will Draper, DVM:

    The things you want to avoid are things like candy. You know, chocolate is a really, really big one for cats and dogs. They actually don’t do well with grapes or onions. Those types of things will affect their system and cause them to go into shock. So a good rule of thumb is feed cats cat food and feed kittens kitten food. They don’t need people food because they are not people.

  • Jamie Albright:

    A friend of mine last night told me she adopted two kittens and we had a brief conversation. And she said the rescuer told her it was fine to give them raw chicken or even giblets for them, because they have a hunting instinct. And I had just never heard of that. So I’m wondering if that’s true.

  • Will:

    There are advocates for raw diets and there are reasons to do it and reasons not to. When you start feeding raw diets, there are certain nutrients they may not get. Some of the chicken and giblets and thing of that nature, canned tuna, are prepared in a way that they lose a lot of the benefits that cats need, such as taurine. They need that, and you are not necessarily going to get that in some of the raw diets.

    Another thing with the raw diets are worry about things like salmonella and those sorts of bacterial infections that people worry about with raw diets, that are also a danger to pets.

    So you know, trying to design your own diet for your cat can essentially harm them. So hands down, the best thing to do is feed them a high-quality, good feline diet.

  • Otto Ojevarr:

    Isn’t the milk question kind of like, everybody wants to give the cat a bowl of milk?

  • Will:

    Well, thanks to cartoons and things like that, yeah, everybody wants to give their cat milk. But cats are lactose intolerant, and if you have ever been around anybody that’s lactose intolerant, that’s not fun for the cat or anybody around. So they don’t need milk at all. There’s no nutritional benefit for cats having milk. Water and a high-quality diet is fine.

  • Otto:

    Dr. Will, my cats, they tend to go after the plants.

  • Will:

    Well, the recommendation is to try your best to keep the plants in an area where cats can't eat them, and there are some plants that you want to definitely keep away from cats. While they aren’t as toxic as they were years ago because they have been bred differently, poinsettias are a big no-no for cats. Like with grass and things of that nature, cats cannot digest the plant material. So more often than not, they are just going to throw it up anyway and you will be cleaning up a mess. So again, it's just best to try to keep it out of their reach. It generally is not going to harm them, but doesn’t do them any good.

  • Jamie:

    And what about catnip? How often? Too often? Make them sick?

  • Will:

    In moderation. They like it, but they shouldn’t necessarily eat it in really large amounts, because it makes them a little loopy. But it's pretty harmless.

  • Anne:

    I solved that problem at my house. I went with artificial plants.

  • Will:

    That’s a great alternative. And if they eat those, they’ll throw those up, too.

Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
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