15 Poisonous Holiday Foods for Cats

15 Poisonous Holiday Foods for Cats

The holidays are here, and with them, the year's tastiest eats that tempt even our four-legged family members.

While it's difficult to deny those begging kitty eyes from underneath the dinner table (or on a counter top), not sharing your 'people food' is often in the best interest of your pet's health. 

We worked with Dr. Julien from PAZ, a local, trusted Vet Clinic, to answer your big questions like: Are onions safe for my cat to eat? What is xylitol poisoning? Can my cat have a bite of turkey? 

Cat & Dog staring at plated of loaded thanksgiving food. Licking lips at dinner table waiting for food

Holiday Foods: Toxic or Non Toxic?

Let’s start with the no-no foods. These foods and ingredients range from mild to highly poisonous to cats, depending on the amounts ingested. We do not recommend these items for your dog or cat. 

If you notice symptoms of lower or higher body temperature, difficulty breathing, incoordination, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, trembling in your cat - these could be signs of severe food toxicity and could be life threatening. Please contact your veterinarian immediately - PAZ has four locations in Austin. 

15 Toxic Human Foods for Your cat

kale, spinach, chard, and collard greens

Leafy Greens

Toxicity level: Mild

When prepared properly in the right measurements, leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard, and collard greens can have positive effects. However, these foods are not necessarily beneficial to your cats diet. Eating leafy green might induce vomiting.

Peach Icon

Peaches 

Toxicity level: High

The inner kernel of peach pits contain cyanide - yes, cyanide. If you have cleanly pitted, skinned, and cooked down your peaches, you won’t need to call the vet if they stole a few nibbles. But be advised that ingesting and chewing even one to two peach pits could be dangerous for your cat. Not only because of the toxicity, but these could require emergency surgery if ingested and lodged in the GI tract. 

Grape Icon

Grapes and Raisins

Toxicity level: Medium

According to Dr. Julien, Chief Medical Officer at PAZ, the toxin in grapes is believed to be potassium bitartrate (same thing as cream of tartar) and is found in grapes (concentrated in raisins) at varying levels depending on multiple factors. Grape toxicity can lead to severe kidney failure! Dr. Julien advises to avoid grapes for both dogs and cats as a dangerous dosage varies based on size and breed. Symptoms include vomiting, stomach pain, and in severe cases, kidney failure. 

Pomegranate Icon

Pomegranate

Toxicity level: Mild

The pomegranate is not toxic and is found in many pet foods. However, whenever not properly prepared and handled, this fruit has been known to make cats sick. Just a few seeds could start a vomiting spell! While your pup is in no real danger, keeping this exotic fruit away is a good rule of thumb for paw-rents. Your carpets, and cat, will thank you later.

Cranberry Icon

Cranberry

Toxicity level: Mild

Like the pomegranate, this holiday fruit isn’t exactly toxic and in general aren't a terrible treat. Feeding in moderation is generally okay. Dr. Julien says the biggest issues arise when well-intentioned pet owners aim to treat or prevent urinary tract infections with cranberries. Overfeeding cranberries to your cat could cause a stomach upset and lead to diarrhea or vomiting. To avoid this and keep your pet safe, we are labeling this tart fruit as a no-no food. It’s best practice to keep cranberries out of their food bowl.

Citrus Icon

Citrus: Limes, Oranges, Grapefruit

Toxicity level: High

The high oil content in the peels of many citrus fruits will cause irritation in your pet's digestive tract and skin. While this might be a mild reaction, the seeds of some citrus fruits may contain very small traces of cyanide - a dangerous toxin. Steer clear of grapefruits and limes and beware of symptoms including drooling, sensitivity to light, trembling, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and depression.

Onion and Garlic

Onions/Garlic

Toxicity level: High

While your pet will most likely experience gastrointestinal irritation, your pet's red blood cells may also be damaged after ingesting onions, chives, or fresh garlic - ultimately leading to anemia. Cats are most at risk. Weakness, vomiting, and trouble breathing are typical symptoms. Typically, the effects on red blood cells occur several days after exposure according to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Julien.

Avocado

Avocado

Toxicity level: Medium

Though healthy for people, avocados contain a toxin called persin that can be moderately poisonous to cats and lethal to other small pets (like birds). Also, the high fat content can potentially lead to diarrhea or even pancreatitis in prone pets. Symptoms can include vomiting or diarrhea, but the biggest danger is obstruction of the intestinal tract should your pet swallow a portion of the avocado seed.

xylitol

Candy

Toxicity level: High

Chewing gum and other artificially flavored candies often contain a sweetener known as xylitol, or "Birch Sugar", which is extremely dangerous to pets. If ingested even in small amounts, xylitol can cause seizures, liver failure, and even death. Symptoms appear rapidly within 15-30 minutes of ingestion and include vomiting, lethargy, incoordination, tremors, seizures, and coma. If you suspect your cat has consumed xylitol, seek emergency vet care immediately.

Potato

Potatoes

Toxicity level: Medium

Everyone loves potatoes. But, raw potato skins could contain solanine, a toxic compound that can cause GI upset and pain. If a cat were to eat enough green potato peels, it could lead to coma and death. Even though toxicity is a rare occurrence, pets who are prone to stones might be susceptible to its toxins. Just make sure when skinning raw taters to not let Garfield grab the scraps off the ground. 

xylitol

Cinnamon/Nutmeg

Toxicity level: Mild

Cinnamon isn't toxic to cats but high quantities will sure result in an upset stomach. However, nutmeg contains a substance called myristicin and is thought to cause hallucinations 🔮 Large dosages of nutmeg could even be fatal to cats. Foods like pie, sweet potato casserole, and baked squash might have a higher concentration of cinnamon and nutmeg. It is advised to keep holiday spiced foods and baked goods out of paws reach.

Chocolate

Cocoa

Toxicity level: High

Chocolate contains two toxins -- theobromine and theophylline -- that are stimulants which can cause vomiting, seizures, and heart trouble in cats if ingested in large amounts. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is: it takes only 0.2oz of unsweetened baking chocolate for a 15lb cat to exhibit signs of poisoning. Symptoms may take a few hours to manifest and could include incoordination, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, and fever. 

Chocolate

Bread Dough

Toxicity level: High

Rising bread dough that contains yeast is very dangerous for pets for two reasons: 1. The mass of dough in the stomach continues to rise and expand, causing distended abdomen. 2. The warm environment of the stomach (like an oven) promotes ongoing fermentation of the yeast in the dough, which can result in ethanol toxicosis (aka alcohol poisoning) Symptoms take 30 minutes to 2 hours to appear and begin with distended abdomen and gassiness (from the rising dough ball), followed by signs of alcohol poisoning like vomiting, loss of coordination, incontinence, and central nervous system depression.

Salt

Salt

Toxicity level: Medium

Extreme thirst and dehydration are signs of mild salt consumption. However, sodium ion poisoning is possible if your pet ingests large amounts of salt. They may be at risk if you notice symptoms like vomiting, depression, diarrhea, tremors, or seizures.

Alcohol

Alcohol

Toxicity level: High

Just like humans, pets can suffer from alcohol poisoning if their blood alcohol level is too high. But because pets are smaller, it takes far less alcohol to induce poisoning than it would for humans. Never give your pets alcohol on purpose. While there may not be cause to panic should they get a few laps of spilt beer, consumption of hard liquor or more than a small amount of beer or wine can lead to poisoning and you should seek vet help.

 

14 Non-Toxic Foods for Your Cat

Grey cat with yellow eyes staring at plate of food on the dining room table sitting in chair

We can't let you go home without a list of foods that are safe your your pets!

These below items are safe for your cat to taste. However, cat's are carnivores. That means 90% of their meal should be animal protein. While a few chomps of squash is great for their gut, limit their consumption.

Another prot tip is to make sure whatever they consume is not over seasoned with a salty brine or Holiday spice mix, this could upset your pet’s stomach. 

All of these items should be cooked or gently cooked as they could pose a choking hazard.

  • Turkey (skin off)
  • Radishes
  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut Squash
  • Acorn Squash
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel Sprouts (shaven)
  • Apples (no seeds)
  • Pears (no seeds)
  • Watermelon (no seeds)

 

Looking for more Pet Parenting tips?

Tomlinson's is your go-to pet supply store for natural, healthy pet products in Austin and the Central Texas region. Come shop in-store and we will help you create the perfect diet specifically for your dog or cat!

Visit our shop full of products sold through team members trained in animal nutrition.

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