Human food that cats can eat and what to avoid

15 August 2023 - 5 min read
Cat eating raw meat

As a pet parent, you've probably found yourself wondering whether cat’s can eat human food. It's a common question, especially when your cat gives you those irresistible eyes as you're enjoying your meal.

At ManyPets, we understand the bond between you and your pet, so we’re here to provide you with a friendly guide on human food cats can eat and those they should avoid.

Remember, every cat is unique and what works for one might not work for another. Always consult with your vet before introducing new foods into your cat's diet, and to ensure your cat's diet is complete and balanced.

What human foods can cats eat?

Cat eating strawberries


Believe it or not, cat’s can eat a variety of fruits. Cat’s lack taste receptors that detect sweetness, so won’t be able to taste fruits quite like humans do, however, apples, bananas, pears, and even watermelon can be a delightful treat for your kitty. They provide an interesting texture as well as vitamins and water.

Remember, though moderation is key and your cat should only have a few bites. Fruit is high in sugar and fructose which can be detrimental to your cat and it shouldn’t replace your pet’s regular diet.

Always remove any seeds, stems or skin as they can be harmful.

The fruit your cat can eat includes:

  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Pears

  • Blueberries

  • Strawberries

  • Raspberries

  • Cranberries

  • Watermelons (seedless)

  • Pineapple

  • Pumpkin

  • Vegetables

While cats are obligate carnivores and have a harder time digesting vegetables, certain vegetables can be a healthy addition to their diet. Carrots, cucumbers, celery, and green beans are all human foods that cats can eat, providing vitamins, minerals and water. Make sure these are cooked and cut into small pieces or mashed to prevent choking.

Here are some vegetables that are safe for cats:

  • Carrots

  • Cucumbers

  • Celery

  • Green beans

  • Lettuce

  • Steamed broccoli

Remember, vegetables should only be given in small quantities.

Cat trying to eat raw meat

Meat and fish

Meat is a cat staple and forms a large part of their specially designed complete diet. On its own, it should only be fed as a treat in small amounts, as cat’s need more than meat alone to meet their nutritional needs.

Any cooked meat or fish should not contain any spices, salt or butters and should only be steamed or grilled. If you are buying canned meat or fish, be sure to purchase one in water rather than brine or oil. Lean protein such as plain boiled chicken breast or fish is often less likely to cause an upset stomach.

If you’re interested in providing a raw food diet you should do plenty of research first and speak to your vet, as there are potential risks associated.

Cat’s can eat:

  • Beef

  • Chicken

  • Turkey

  • Liver

  • Lamb

  • Sardines

  • Tuna

  • Salmon

  • Shrimp

Cat licking yogurt on a spoon


Generally speaking, cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they don’t have the ability to break down dairy within the gut. This means that oftentimes when cats receive dairy like milk or cheese, vomiting or diarrhoea are a common outcome.

However, one dairy food they can eat is plain, unsweetened yoghurt. This is because the yoghurt contains bacteria, which during fermentation breaks down the lactase, a naturally occurring sugar in milk, to lactic acid. This not only gives it that distinct flavour but also makes it more digestible for cats. Remember that only very small amounts should be offered and if you are unsure about a product, consult your vet.

Cereals and grains

While not a natural part of a cat's diet, certain cereals and grains can be given in small quantities as a source of fibre or minerals. These should be cooked and served without any added sugar, flavourings or milk. Here are some cereals and grains that are safe for cats:

What foods can’t cats eat?

Just as there are human foods cats can eat, there are also foods that should never be given to cats.

Certain fruits like grapes and cherries, vegetables like onions and garlic and other foods like chocolate and alcohol can be harmful or even fatal to cats. Always keep these foods out of reach of your cat. Here are some foods that are not safe for cats:

  • Grapes

  • Raisins

  • Oranges

  • Cherries

  • Plums

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Mushrooms

  • Raw fish or meat unless you’ve done your research and spoken with your vet

  • Cooked bones

  • Milk

  • Cheese

  • Ice Cream

  • Xylitol* a sweetener

  • Nuts

  • Alcohol

  • Caffeine

  • Chocolate

  • Raw dough

To give more context as to why some of these food items can’t be given to cats:

Onions and garlic are part of the Allium family, and can be toxic to cats in a high enough dose. These plants contain a compound that will cause pets to destroy their own red blood cells and can lead to a potentially dangerous level of anaemia.

Milk and cheese are always a surprising one. However, as cats lack the enzyme to digest lactose, they often have trouble with milk or cheese. Both will likely give them an upset tummy.

*Xylitol. This is a sweetener found in human foods like peanut butter or baked goods and it’s highly toxic for cats. If eaten it can result in hypoglycaemia, which is low blood sugar. Xylitol also poses the risk of liver issues in our pets. These effects can be very serious for cats and potentially fatal.

What human food can kittens eat?

If you're wondering what human food kittens can eat, it’s important to remember that they have different dietary requirements than adult cats.

While they can eat some of the same foods, their primary diet should be kitten food to help them grow strong and healthy. You can learn more about feeding kittens here.

Here are some foods that are safe for kittens as small treats:

  • Scrambled eggs

  • Cooked meat and fish

  • Pumpkin (cooked, seedless)

You can feed the same plain, lean meat and fish as you would for an adult cat, but in smaller amounts. However, try to avoid raw meat unless you’ve spoken to your vet. This is because kitten’s immunities are still developing meaning they have less resilience to any harmful bacteria or parasites potentially found in raw food.

Key takeaways (excuse the pun)

Understanding what human food is safe for cats is crucial for any pet parent. It's important to remember that while there are many human foods cats can eat, there are just as many that can be extremely toxic. Treats should never replace a nutritionally balanced cat diet. Always consult with your vet if you're unsure about introducing new foods to your cat's routine.

Remember, your cat's health and wellbeing is always the top priority.

Cat insurance can help protect you against the financial shock of unexpected vet bills leaving you to focus on what your cat needs without worrying so much about the cost.

At ManyPets we offer up to £15,000 of lifetime vet fee cover for cats There’s unlimited, 24/7 online vet advice included as part of your policy, plus a range of pet perks, including discounts on Flea, Tick and Worm treatment.

Learn more about the ins and outs of food for your cat on our pet food safety hub.