Some human foods are a potential risk to pets, although severe poisoning in cats is rarely reported. Cats may eat human foodstuffs through inquisitiveness or by being fed inappropriate food by owners and, of course, food is often readily available in the home or left unattended
or improperly stored. Cats also investigate shopping bags, fruit bowls or waste bins. Children too can try feeding all sorts of food to cats!
Here is a list of some of the foods that are a risk;
- Alcohol - The alcohol in beers, wines and spirits is ethanol, and ethanol is also found in surgical spirit and alcohol hand gel. Cases of ethanol poisoning in cats and even dogs are rarely reported. The effects of ethanol are the same in animals as they are in humans.
- Chocolate - Theobromine is found in chocolate and is toxic to most animals, but there is limited information on the toxic dose of chocolate in cats. The lethal dose of milk chocolate for an average sized (4 kg) cat would be around 560 g and for dark/plain chocolate, it would be around 140g; however, lower doses can still cause signs of poisoning.
- Allium species - The allium group of plants includes leek, garlic, onion, spring onions and chives.Allium poisoning in cats is relatively rare and it may be that cats do not find onions palatable.This can result in anaemia in the cat. Effects can occur from a single large dose or smaller repeated dosing.
- Grapes and their dried fruits - Although renal failure from grapes and their dried fruits (sultanas, raisins and currants) is well recognised in dogs, there are also anecdotal cases of poisoning in cats. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, bloody faeces, anorexia, tender abdomen, weakness and lethargy.
- Mouldy food - Some mouldy foods (including dairy products, bread, rice and fallen fruits and nuts), silage and compost contain mycotoxins from fungi that are toxic, but poisoning is rarely reported in cats and is much more common in dogs. Signs include vomiting, irritability, whole-body muscle tremors, panting, rapid heart rate and breathing, and, in severe cases, convulsions.
Potentially harmful foods are present in all households, although severe cases of toxicity in cats are rare.
For more information contact International Cat Care at https://icatcare.org