What can kittens eat besides cat food?

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

16 August 2019

Sometimes a small treat of “human food” can be beneficial to your kitten’s health. However, you need to know exactly what they can and can’t eat to make sure that you don’t give your kitten something that they can’t digest or that is poisonous to them by accident.

Foods that your kitten can eat

As you can imagine, meats and fish make up most of the list of foods that your kitten can eat besides their everyday cat food. Please note how each of these foods should be prepared before feeding it to your kitten, though.
  • Cooked salmon — Salmon is a favourite among cats, so it’s no wonder that so many of the available cat foods contain salmon. However, before you give some to your kitten, make sure that it has been properly cooked. Also, be sure to give your kitten salmon that has not been covered with a sauce or has anything added, as the sauce may contain ingredients that is not good for a kitten’s tummy. If they eat a creamy sauce, for instance, they may get diarrhoea from it.
  • Fish oil and oily fish — Oily fish, like salmon, sardines, and anchovies, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Don’t give them the whole tin of fish, though — remember how small a kitten’s stomach is. You need only give them one or two anchovies or a piece of sardines or salmon for a treat.
  • Cooked eggs — Eggs are also a great source of protein for your feline friend. Like salmon, eggs should be cooked instead of giving your kitten raw eggs. You can simply boil or poach an egg, leave it to cool, and then give it to your kitten to eat.
  • If you give your kitten raw egg, you risk giving them food poisoning. There is also a protein in raw egg white, called avidin — this avidin interferes with the absorption of biotin, a type of B-vitamin. Your kitten needs vitamin B for healthy skin and a shiny coat.
  • Cooked chicken and turkey — Lean meats like chicken and turkey are also a great treat for your furry feline every now and then. Lean meat like this also contains iron and vitamin B, which your kitten needs. Don’t give them chicken or turkey that has been prepared with a lot of seasoning or sauces, though, as that can cause an upset stomach. You should also not give them fat trimmings or very fatty pieces of meat, as this can put your kitten at risk for pancreatitis.
  • Cooked tuna — Most cats adore tuna. Next time you make yourself a tuna sandwich, keep a bit of the tuna aside for your kitten as a treat. Don’t give them too much, though, as tuna is also quite rich. Again, you shouldn’t add any seasoning to the tuna before giving it to your kitten.
  • Spinach — Not just good for humans, a little bit of spinach also won’t harm your kitten. And you’d be surprised how many cats enjoy it! As with the salmon, stay away from creamed spinach or spinach with other seasoning or sauces as it may upset your kitten’s stomach.

Foods that you shouldn’t feed to your kitten

  • Chocolate — Chocolate contains the compounds theobromine, which is poisonous to both cats and dogs. Even though they may want to eat some chocolate or share your hot chocolate, don’t let them! Note that white chocolate also contains theobromine, and is also not safe for your pets to eat.
  • Coffee, tea, or drink containing caffeine — Caffeine can have very detrimental affects on your kitten’s health; causing heart palpitations, muscle tremors and rapid breathing. Keep all caffeine-containing liquids away from your kitten, including energy drinks. The latter contains especially high levels of caffeine and is very dangerous for your kitten.
  • Milk and other dairy products — After being weaned, kittens no longer need to have milk and, in fact, most can’t digest it anymore after being weaned. Cow’s milk is also always a bad choice to give to kittens even if they haven’t been weaned. While some cats love cheese, it is actually not a very good idea to give it to them. The same goes for yogurt, other dairy products, and different types of milk.
  • Grapes and raisins — Grapes and raisins are very dangerous to dogs and can cause acute kidney failure. While the same hasn’t been proved when it comes to cats; do you really want to take that chance? We also don’t think it’s a good idea.
  • Onions and garlic — Onions and garlic can both cause stomach upsets when eaten by your kitten. If your kitten does ingest a little bit (in sauce, for example), keep a close eye on them to ensure that they are alright.
  • Xylitol — Xylitol is a sweetener that is used in many foods or used as an everyday sugar substitute. Xylitol is another instance where we’re saying “rather keep it away from your kitten as it’s really, really bad for dogs and can even cause death if too much is ingested”. Rather not take the chance!
  • Raw or undercooked meat or eggs — In the first part of the article we looked at cooked lean meat, eggs, and fish and how they can be good for your kitten’s diet in moderation. Don’t, however, give your kitten raw meat or eggs as they could be contaminated with salmonella and could make your kitten severely ill.
  • Alcohol — Alcohol can be deadly to kittens in even small dosages, so be sure to keep your kitten away from glasses of wine — or the punch bowl — as they may be curious enough to try and drink the alcohol.

We hope that this list has made it easier to know which foods you can and can’t give to your kitten.
If you want to know which plants are safe and which are toxic for cats, be sure to read this article about a cat-friendly garden and cat enclosure.

Photo by Yair Mejía on Unsplash


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