Cats are notoriously fussy eaters, but that doesn’t stop them occasionally eating something they shouldn’t. Any foodstuffs that are not designed especially for a cat’s digestive system can cause them damage. However, there are some foods that you need to take special care of around the festive season.
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is poisonous to cats. Although this chemical is found in all chocolate, it is more concentrated in dark chocolate and cooking chocolate. When cats ingest chocolate, it can cause heart problems, muscle tremors, or seizures. As it contains the stimulant caffeine, chocolate can also make your cat hyperactive, causing conditions such as hypertension, tremors, hyperthermia and seizures.
Many cats are lactose intolerant. Contrary to popular belief, this means their digestive system is not capable of processing dairy products – including milk. If ingested, this means dairy products can cause cats to suffer vomiting and diarrhoea.
Grapes and Raisins
Although no one knows why, grapes and raisins are toxic to cats. Eating these fruits won’t affect all cats, but a small amount will make others very ill and can even lead to kidney failure. Symptoms of grape and raisin-related poisoning in cats includes vomiting and hyperactivity
Onions and Garlic
All members of the onion family, including garlic, chives, leeks and shallots, can cause cats health problems. While a little bit of onion or garlic contained in a sauce is unlikely to do much harm, eating a larger quantity could cause a cat digestive problems and diarrhoea. Eating onions over a sustained period can also cause anaemia.
Cats love tuna, so you might be tempted to treat your pet to some this Christmas. Feeding your cat tuna every now and again is unlikely to do any harm, but too much can be dangerous. Canned tuna prepared for humans does not contain all the nutrients cats need for a balanced diet so can cause malnutrition. Overfeeding a cat tuna can also lead to mercury poisoning.
As little as a tablespoon of alcohol can cause problems for cats. Alcohol has the same effect on a cat’s liver and brain as it does on a human. However, because of a cat’s size, the effects are much more serious. The higher the proof of the alcohol, the more severe the consequences, which can include inducing a coma. If you spill your drink over Christmas, just make sure you clean it up before your cat can take a lick. Cats also shouldn’t eat foods containing alcohol.
Meat and Fatty Trimmings
Eating raw meat and fatty trimmings causes intestinal problems for cats, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. When cooked, bones in Christmas meats become brittle and can therefore easily splinter. As such, eating leftover meats that have not been deboned can cause cats to choke. Ingesting smaller shards of bone can also irritate a cat’s gut and cause lacerations or punctures in the gut.
What Should You Do in an Emergency?
It doesn’t matter how careful you are, it’s still possible that your cat could eat something it shouldn’t, especially around Christmas when there is lots of food in the house. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to have the number of your vet saved in your phone. If you think your cat has eaten something it will find toxic, ring for help immediately.