NutriSource Blogs

Which People Foods Make Safe Snacks for Cats?

September 21, 2022

Is kitty craving what you’re having? Before you share, make sure it’s safe. Keep this list handy and be aware of processed foods that have toxic ingredients so you know what’s safe for kitty to snack on.

What human foods can I feed my cat?


Can cats eat cheese? It depends! You can offer the occasional dice-sized bite of low-lactose cheese, such as cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, cottage cheese as well as goat and sheep cheeses. But cream cheese, brie, and mozzarella are high in lactose and can cause stomach upset.


Cats can eat eggs, preferably fully cooked.

Fruits and veggies

Most cats are put off by produce, particularly the textures and scents. If your cat wants to try a bite, keep in mind that just about everything is safe for cats, with the exception of citrus, garlic, and onions.

Meats and fish

Meats are a staple in a feline diet, and if you want to share some of your entree with your cat, make sure it’s cooked through, always. It would be even better if the meat were unseasoned. What about deli meats? Can cats have some of that? For lean cuts like turkey or ham, keep it to a bite or two, because their salt content skews high, which can leave cats feeling ill.

Peanut butter

Share only a taste of peanut butter with your cat, and on rare occasions. The fats and oils in peanuts can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, and in rare situations, pancreatitis.

Whole grains

Oats, brown rice, farro, quinoa, and other whole grains are safe for cat consumption. Mix with lean meat and fish to make it extra appetizing.

Which people foods are bad for cats?

A cat’s reputation for pickiness can keep us from accidentally feeding them something they shouldn’t eat. In fact, toxicosis is far less common in cats compared to dogs. Nonetheless, when treating your pet, make sure the food doesn’t have anything that can sicken them.

Bread dough

Don’t give your cat a sample of raw dough, because the yeast releases ethanol and carbon dioxide in the digestive system, causing bloating and potentially fatal stomach twisting.


As with dogs, the methylxanthine found in the cacao bean can poison and even kill cats. The toxicity will also depend on how much they ingest (dark and baking chocolates have higher concentrations of methylxanthines), your cat’s weight, and their sensitivity to the poison.

Citrus fruits

Oranges, limes, and lemons (both peel and pulp) are toxic to cats. Not that it’s a worry for most pet parents, because cats have been known to show fear and repulsion to oranges. Why is that? The intense aroma of citrus oil is a likely culprit.


Despite what popular culture would have you believe, kitty does not want a saucer of milk or cream for a treat. Once they reach adulthood, they lose the digestive enzyme that processes lactose, meaning most dairy products will leave your cat feeling ill.

Garlic and onion

Be aware of these ingredients, which are highly common in savory snacks and entrees. Whether it’s a dab of ranch dressing or a taste of your lunchtime salami, garlic and onion can leave kitty with an irritated digestive tract, or, in the worst-case scenario, cause damage to red blood cells. Also, be on guard for leeks, shallots, chives, and scallions.

Grapes and raisins

Most fruits are safe for cats, but grapes and raisins are poisonous, causing vomiting and (worst case) kidney failure.

Raw meat and fish

Just like with humans, salmonella and E.coli can sicken pets with a foodborne illness. No matter how much kitty meows for a bite, just say no.

Xylitol (sweetener)

This common sweetener in foods including gum, candy, and baked goods can cause insulin release, and in serious cases, it can lead to liver failure.

Can cats eat dog food?

Dog food doesn’t have all the key ingredients and nutrients kitties need, not to mention the balance of proteins and fats in dog food isn’t suited for feline health. If your cat will eat it, you could use dog food as a feline meal substitute in a pinch.

Is it OK if your cat steals bites of your dog’s kibble? Samples of dog food won’t harm the cat if it’s not destroying their appetite. It’s a concern if your cat needs to shed weight. If either is the case in your household, it’s time to phase out free feeding and condition your dog to finish their food when it’s served — preferably in a room with the door closed to the cat.

Unlike dogs, cats are not known for being super-snackers of people food. But since there’s always a willing cat to provide an exception to the rules, be prepared for those times when kitty sidles up for a sample.

What’s the best food for cats?

When in doubt, or if your cat has a medical condition, consult with your vet before letting your cat sample people food. In the meantime, NutriSource for Cats is the purrfect choice for any pet parent who wants to help their feline friend look and feel their best. Every bag and can comes with Good 4 Life, a unique blend of supplements that offers your cat all the minerals and nutrients they need to build a healthy body from the inside out, along with probiotics to optimize gut health.

Good for Life is just one of the ways that NutriSource is a family like no other. Find NutriSource at your local, independent pet supply retailer.