Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy

or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

5 Dangerous Foods for Cats

Image: Nailia Schwarz / via Shutterstock
Image: ruzanna / via Shutterstock
Image: Dmitrij Skorobogatov / via Shutterstock
Image: Gayvoronskaya_Yana / via Shutterstock
Image: JUN KAWAGUCHI / via Shutterstock
Image: Tim UR / via Shutterstock

Dangerous Foods

By Jessica Remitz


While we may consider cats to be members of our family, treating them as such at mealtimes can cause more injury to them than just spoiling their dinners. Here’s a look at the five most dangerous foods for your cat, how they affect their bodies, and what to do in case of an emergency.

1. Onions/Garlic

Onions and garlic can cause the destruction of red blood cells and lead to anemia in cats, Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center says. “Cats tend to be much pickier eaters as opposed to dogs, but we’ve seen cats eat an entire cup of caramelized onions.”


Although the size of the dose determines the level of poisoning, lethargy and a reduced appetite can be symptoms of a toxic reaction. The sooner you diagnose potential poisoning in cats the better, so if they’re acting strangely don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian.

2. Raw Eggs

Similarly to people, consumption of raw eggs can lead to salmonella in cats, according to Dr. Wismer. Symptoms of the disease will vary but can include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Salmonella can also be transmitted to humans from animals, making it even more important to keep your cat away from eggs and to properly wash your hands after baking or cooking with raw eggs.

3. Alcohol

Cats tend to be attracted to drinks with milk or cream in them, Dr. Wismer says, making your holiday White Russian a potentially toxic substance if consumed by your pet. Cocktails aside, alcohol can also be found in desserts and can be created in your cat’s stomach if they ingest homemade or store bought yeast dough used in making bread, rolls, and pizza. Even small amount of alcohol (both ingested through alcoholic beverages and produced in the stomach) can be life threatening, making it important to call your vet before you notice any serious poisoning symptoms like seizures.

4. Raw Fish

Like raw eggs, raw meat and fish can cause food poisoning in cats. Additionally, raw fish contains a compound that breaks down thiamine, an important B1 vitamin for cats that, when missing, can cause serious neurological problems in your cat, Dr. Wismer says.


“Pets aren’t just small, fluffy humans,” says Dr. Wismer. “They have different dietary requirements and metabolize things differently [than people]. Talk to your vet about the things you should or shouldn’t feed your pets.”

5. Tuna

A diet rich in tuna can not only cause mercury poisoning in your cat (just like people) but can also leave them malnourished because it doesn’t contain all of the important vitamins and minerals your cat needs, Dr. Wismer says. A bite now and then won’t hurt them, but it’s best to steer clear of tuna as a main source of your cat’s diet.


If you believe you pet has ingested a toxic substance, call the ASPCA animal poison control center at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-213-6680. Both phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

1 of 6

Comments  17

Leave Comment
  • Tuna and raw meat
    04/02/2014 01:05pm

    While feeding a cat tuna canned for humans on a regular basis is not a good idea, feeding a cat ANY fish/seafood flavored cat food on a regular basis is also not a good idea for the same reasons.
    As for raw meat like chicken or turkey or other poultry, I have to disagree with that one completely. What do cat's eat in the wild? They eat raw meat. No matter if it's a feral (and hopefully fixed) neighborhood cat, or a lion, felines eat raw meat by instinct. That is what they are designed by nature to do, and what their bodies are designed to consume. Obviously you don't want to feed a cat spoiled raw meat. However, there are many, many studies out there that show feeding a cat a RAW chicken diet is the best thing you can do for your cat. Some studies show it can reverse/prevent things such as diabetes in cats. There are not many pet stores that sell the raw chicken food made for cats (and also made for dogs), but there are some. There is a pet store near my home called "Chow Hound" that sells it. You can also make your own RAW chicken or turkey cat food IF you have the proper recipe AND you add the proper ingredients (such as extra taurine) to make sure your cat is getting all the nutrition your cat needs. I have been feeding this to my cats for many years now. They love it, and they are very healthy. If you feed your cat the proper raw food diet for a week or two, you will see a positive difference in your cat. It's the best diet for cats. It's what they need. The standard dry and canned foods most people buy are awful. Most use corn as the one or more of the main ingredients, and the corn and grains they put in the food have been shown to be linked to FLUTD, among other issues.

  • 07/26/2016 12:04am

    Find a Fromm pet food dealer near you. This is one of the best brands of pet food on the market (dogs & cats) and reasonably priced. My cat is allergic to grain and I have fed her the Fromm Game Bird formula for all three years she's been with me. The vet raves about how healthy she is.

    http://frommfamily.com/ - - - this is their website.

  • 08/02/2016 04:15pm

    I hope you take your cat to a veterinarian at least once a year. Eating exclusively wild-caught food will have exposed her to a number of parasites and pathogens that may still be with her. Your vet can advise you about the best diet to meet the appropriate nutritional needs for your cat's age and current health.

  • 08/08/2016 09:18pm

    Dude, in the wild raw meat isn't slaughtered on an assembly line with the intestines busted open and left to grow salmonella on the meat while it is shuffled down an assembly line into bagging and then a freezer. Now I assume with a RAW diet you're providing animals that are slaughtered in more sanitary conditions, but there are reason they recommend humans cook/wash the food we eat before consuming it.

  • 08/13/2016 06:16am

    When my cats got a little older (20 yrs) my Vet had me put them on a boiled chicken and tuna (in water, not oil). Up to that point we were feeding them chicken and fish cat food, also recommended by our vet. We have never fed out cats raw meat due to the e-coli and salmonella that can be found in raw meat that has gone through a slaughter house, and again, our Vet agrees. Best to boil meat first if giving it to your cats. It's safer and they like it just as much.

  • Agree to disagree
    10/11/2014 08:39pm

    I have to kindly disagree to some of the above foods. I come from a long line of farmers with animals and I myself grew up with pets. Pet food was not readily available until the 70's in rural areas and it was very expensive when it did come in. Cats were fed raw eggs mixed with milk/cream and dogs were fed dinner scraps. Unless they met an unfortunate accident, they lived a very ripe old age. I feed my animals actual pet food now but I have fed my cats a little tuna as a treat their whole lives and they have all lived until late teens, early 20's.

  • Uncooked eggs are bad
    05/05/2016 04:59pm

    I'm very careful when it comes to the food I feed my furry. Someone once told me that raw eggs are not good for my cat
    , now I have seen the reason he said that. Nice article.

  • 07/27/2016 12:13pm

    Keeping Chicken one can and does see the problem with raw eggs... it is not that the egg is bad it is the processes the poultry industry does to them -- ie scrubs the shell of it natural barrier to samonilia and such bad germs thus allowing these nastiness access to the goodness of the egg. It's what starts from the outside of the egg thats bad. my house the Cleaning takes place just before and after using the container (eggshell) that fresh eggs require
    being blessed with good health is a commitment to you and your animals that needs attention to be payed if you don't want problems
    Eggs are not dangerous it's the way most folk get them
    my eggs never made any one or any thing sick- just healthy
    and happy
    By the way... yes my girls are free ranging 8 hours a day or more and eat mostly fresh bugs and grubs

  • Corn is deadly!
    07/26/2016 12:00am

    CORN is also VERY dangerous. NEVER feed your cat or dog corn! Read your labels!

  • Raw Diet with Eggs
    07/27/2016 04:11am

    I have been feeding my 2 cats a totally raw diet, with my homeopathic vet's supervision and encouragement, since they were 3 months old. They are the healthiest cats I've ever had. Their fur is shiny and thick and they don't shed as much as other cats I've had, and their teeth are very healthy. Their diet includes raw eggs, which I get from a local farmer. They will get diarrhea if they eat too many, so they get one or two a week and their fur is silky and shiny. The other 4 foods I do avoid. Their favorites are dark meat raw chicken and raw pork chops.

  • Nonsense!
    08/02/2016 02:20pm

    I have had at least 8 cats. All have lived from 17 to 21 yrs. They have all been fed canned food including tuna, chicken, beef, turkey, cheese, whitefish. Only 1 female (the cat who made it to 21 yrs) got a urinary tract infection and it was easily taken care of by my vet. None of my other cats ever had any kind of illness. I don't get all this hoopla about feeding cats.

  • 08/02/2016 04:17pm

    I knew a guy who never wore a motorcycle helmet. "I've never been in a crash," he said. "I don't understand all the fuss about helmets. I'm fine, so I must be doing something right."

    He's dead now.

  • Tuna cat food
    08/05/2016 02:21am

    I disagree with the comments regarding tuna and seafood cat food. My cat was diagnosed with allergy to turkey, eggs and lamb and she would only eat flaked tuna and flaked seafood cat canned food since she was little. She is now 7 and still has no problems. Maybe the problems that cats have with tuna are also due to allergy - allergy to seafood. The allergy tests are pricy but are worth every penny to make sure that you are not giving your cat(s) foods that cause they problems. In my case, since turkey is included in poultry, I had to research dry cat foods too to eliminate any traces of it. My vet knows that she has been eating flaked tuna and seafood cans for over 7 years and I have never ever been told that I should stop feeding her those cans. My vet is certified in feline care and has been in practice for many years.

    I agree with the comment that they should add chocolate to the list. Also, every Easter my vet has flyers about lily and its toxicity for cats, same with misletoe for Christmas.

  • Disagree with Article
    02/06/2017 12:38pm

    I see this article mostly as a fear tactic to get people to buy overly priced cat food such as Science Diet(which my cats won't touch, btw ages 15,6 and -1)

    While it's surely a bad idea to feed your cat ONLY canned tuna, mixing it into their diets is a cheap and enjoyable meal for them. Steatitis is a rare condition and unlikely to develop in, say, a twice a week tuna meal. Also, skipjack is used in canned light tuna and has less mercury than albacore. Again, don't get crazy and your cat will be fine. The same with an occasional raw egg YOLK(keep it separated).

    It's fine to suggest that these foods could pose a danger if given on a regular basis, but this article clearly states "NEVER" which is simply untrue with raw meats, tuna and egg yolk. Stop the fear.

  • Incomplete Misleading BS?
    02/07/2017 12:20pm

    Read, Read, Read the labels of your pet food. The first three ingredients always tell you the primary stuff that your pet is eating. Corn, chicken by-products or various meal ingredients are what I avoid. So to avoid them one has to pay an incredible amount per pound of pet food product. Ridiculous. Raw 80% hamburger, turkey, & chicken are much cheaper. Just cook it before feeding it to you pets. Ask you vet to recommend supplements to ensure you cat or dog is getting proper vitamins. If you can't afford anything but the cheap "junk" food sold for cats or dogs , table scraps are probably better for them.