You share everything with your cat: your favorite chair, your home and your heart. Sometimes, you even share food from your own plate. But is it really okay to give your cat tidbits from your meals? Lets face it: Its a rare human companion who can resist her cats pleading eyes and leg-rubbing near your chair at the dinner table. So if you sneak a bit of your own food to your cat once in a while, dont feel guilty. Just follow some guidelines to ensure that your cat does not eat too many table scraps at the cost of her health.
Scraps as Treats Only
If youre feeding your cat a high quality commercially prepared cat food, your feline companion is already getting all she needs for good nutrition. Its natural to want to please your cat – but you must be careful not to over feed foods that will add calories to your cats balanced diet.
As long as you feed scraps sparingly, your cats nutrition or health should not be adversely affected, says Francis Kallfelz, DVM, PhD, board certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. Make sure that the amount you feed does not exceed five to ten percent of your cats total diet. In other words, most of your cats diet should be from regular commercial cat food – and only a small amount should be from the table.
Best Tidbits to Choose
The best foods to treat your cat are those that are low in fat and calories. It would be great if your cat enjoyed celery or lettuce, but most dont go for that, says Dr. Kallfelz. Instead, you can offer small amounts of lean or low-fat meats or tuna packed in water. High-fat meats can add excess calories to your cats diet, paving the way for obesity, says Dr. Kallfelz. Make sure pieces of meat or fish are cooked – and without bones. In small amounts, you can give your cat low-fat yogurt, oatmeal, cheese and maybe cream – but just for special occasions. Some cats even crave cantaloupe, and thats okay, too, in small amounts.
What to Avoid
Besides fatty meats or excessive amounts of meat, there are some foods you should not give your cat.
Be careful of raw fish. It may contain parasites and other harmful organisms as well as induce vitamin deficiencies.
Dont give raw eggs. The whites contain the protein avidin, which binds biotin – considered an essential vitamin – making it unavailable.
If you want to feed your cat liver, make sure that its cooked. Liver in large quantities can be toxic to cats because it contains excessive vitamin A.
As much as humans love chocolate, its too high in fat and calories for your cat. More importantly, chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to cats.
Dont offer meat or fish that contains bones. Small soft bones – such as from pork chops or chicken – are particularly dangerous because they can splinter and lodge themselves in a cats throat.
You may be tempted to treat your cat with commercial baby foods. Although baby food is often used as a way to stimulate a cats appetite, you need to avoid flavors that contain onion powder because this ingredient is dangerous for cats.
Dont Feed at the Table
Something else to consider when treating your cat is that its best to feed her after you eat. Unless, of course, you want your cat pestering you every time you eat dinner, says Dr. Kallfelz. Save the scraps and give them to your cat in her dish away from the table.
Remember that your cats commercial food is especially prepared to be nutritionally balanced for and appealing to your cat. Your cat does not need human foods, says Dr. Kallfelz. But if you want to give human foods as an occasional treat, follow the guidelines to make sure it really ends up being a treat – and not an unhealthy habit.