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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.