Sam-I-Am may not be the biggest fan of green eggs and ham, but our feline friends seem to want to try anything we put on our plate. As cute as this may be, pet parents are left wondering: Can cats eat ham? What about eggs? What's safe and unsafe for my fur baby?
You love sharing your home, your life, and maybe even your food with your fur babies, but it's important to know what's safe for them to eat and what isn’t.
Vets use the term “dietary indiscretion” to refer to when a cat eats foods outside of his normal diet, which can give him tummy troubles. Dietary indiscretion also refers to when your cat eats other substances that he shouldn’t - like your medicine, string, or house plants.
Find out what in your home – from tuna to Tylenol – is okay for your cat to ingest and what isn’t. Plus, learn how you’ll know if your kitty has eaten something he shouldn’t have.
Can Cats Eat Ham (and other Human Treats)?
Those big kitty eyes begging for a nibble of your tuna salad sandwich are hard to resist. But before you fork it over, you need to know which “people foods” are safe for your fur baby have a taste of.
Unlike you, your kitty doesn’t get much nutritional value from veggies, so no need to start bargaining with her to eat her broccoli like you may have to with your two-legged children. While veggies usually aren't harmful to your cat, there's really no need for them in her diet.
Cats are primarily carnivores - meaning they thrive on eating meat, just like T-Rex in Jurassic Park. I’m sure you can see the resemblance.
So, can cats eat ham? What about steak, chicken, or fish?
Your cat can safely eat most meats as long as they're cooked (sorry, no sushi for Fluffy) and they have’t gone bad. The same is true for eggs, in most cases. However, some kitties are allergic, so start small if you want to give your kitty a bite of hard boiled egg and keep a watchful eye out for any reactions.
Many kitties love cheese, too. While it can be a good source of protein and fat, it's common for adult cats to become lactose intolerant. If your fur baby develops lactose intolerance, he may have a hard time digesting dairy, which can result in unpleasant indigestion and diarrhea. (aka, no fun for anyone!)
According to Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, “a good rule of thumb is that human food should not make up more than 15 percent of a cat's diet.” Like with most things in life (except for snuggles and love), your cats should only be given human food in moderation, if at all.
What Foods Can’t My Cat Eat?
Now that we've answered the burning question – can cats eat ham and eggs? – let's take a look at the human foods that are off limits for your feline.
According to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, these foods are a big no-no for your little one:
- Anything containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener
- Sugary treats (Our feline friends don't do well with carbs and sugar)
Other foods that are typically sited as bad for your fur baby are alcohol and caffeinated drinks. No beer or coffee. Sorry, Fluffy.
What Else is Unsafe for My Cat to Ingest?
There're plenty of things in your house that your cat may try to snack on that aren't stored in the pantry or refrigerator, but some are worse for your pet than others.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), some of the most frequent causes of feline poisoning are:
- Insecticides, used for your lawns and gardens
- Rodenticides, used to get rid of those unwanted rats or mice
- Household cleaning products like bleach, detergents, and disinfectants
- Lead (thankfully, house paints no longer contain lead but it can be found in other items and substances like plumbing materials, gasoline, and ammunition)
Other items to keep away from your kitty include medications meant for humans – like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen, and vitamins – and flea medicine meant for dogs.
Also, your cat shouldn't be munching on a salad (or floral arrangement) made from plants like poinsettias, lilies, mistletoe, holly, tulips, amaryllises, baby’s breath, and hydrangeas.
How Will I Know If My Cat Ate Something Bad?
No matter how close you watch your fur baby, she will eventually show her naughty side and get into something off limits.
Here's a list of signs that may point to food poisoning:
- Blood in the stool/urine
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
- Inability to urinate
- Difficulty breathing
Depending on what your cat got himself into, it may take just a few minutes or up to several days for your fur baby to start showing symptoms. Of course, it's always better to be safe than sorry with your little one, so if you suspect she's eaten something she shouldn't have, call your vet or take her to an emergency vet clinic near you.