Toxic/Unsafe Foods

Alcoholic Beverages – Ethanol is the component in alcoholic beverages that can be toxic when an excessive amount is ingested. Pets are much smaller than us and can be highly affected by small amounts of alcohol. Exercise caution when drinks and pets are together. Toxicity can cause a wide variety of signs, and may even cause death. Signs can include odor of alcohol on the animal’s breath, staggering, behavioral changes, excitement, depression, increased urination, slowed respiratory rate or cardiac arrest and death. Because a cat’s liver cannot filter alcohol prooperly I do not recommend using any kind of homeopathic treatment with alcohol as a base to stabilize it. This may cause toxic buildup in the cat’s liver. There are other options! Please see the supplements page.
Alcohol in pet products is no better or safer than this. Alcohol is alcohol and though they may not get drunk on it, (grain, cane or ethanol alcohol), it’s still toxic as the buildup can and will damage the kidneys and liver.

Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plums – Ingestion of large amounts of stems, seeds and leaves of these fruits can be toxic. They contain a cyanide type compound and signs of toxicity include apprehension, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation and shock.

Avocados contain a toxic substance known as persin. Most parts of the avocado plant including the leaves, stems, fruits and pits may contain persin and damage the muscle of the heart and even your cat’s mammary glands. Symptoms of persin toxicity include congestion, vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, respiratory distress, possible fluid accumulation around the heart, and death. The meat and oils of specific kinds of avocados however do not prove to be toxic or harmful. If you’re going to give your pets avocados it’s best to leave it to the types that are in pet food as they’ve been removed of all toxic elements and are in small quanities:

Baking soda and Baking Powder are both leavening agents, a common ingredient in baked goods that produces a gas causing batter and dough to rise. Baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder actually consists of baking soda and an acid, usually cream of tartar, calcium acid phosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate or a mixture of the three. Ingestion of large amounts of baking soda or baking powder can lead to electrolyte abnormalities (low potassium, low calcium and/or high sodium), congestive heart failure or muscle spasms. If you cat should accidentally ingest some baking soda it’s not cause for alarm and will most likely not harm them.

Broccoli contains isothiocyanate (mustard oils), and in large amounts can cause severe gastrointestinal upset. In extremely large amounts (25% of the diet) it can be fatal. Small amounts of broccoli given in pet food are fine.

While these studies are on human products I wouldn’t chance it with pet food as well as dangerously high levels of arsenic were found in multiple sources including baby food.
Brown rice and arsenic–72683.html
Reported in Juice, Now in Rice; Arsenic is Everywhere
Arsenic and Rice. Yes, again
White rice has less toxic levels than brown rice due to the hulls being removed

Carrageenan – Used as a thickening and stabilizing agent in foods, carrageenans are highly flexible molucules produced by different types of seaweed. The thickness of the agent depends on which seaweed is used to make the finished product. Scientific studies have shown that carrageenan can induce inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in both humans and animals. Unfortunately carrageenan is used in just about every commercial pet food available. But there are many now who are removing it. Please check ingredients when buying pet food.

Citrus fruits and oils of any kind can cause severe vomiting and GI distress. d-Limonene and linalool are citrus oils with insecticidal properties. These are metabolized in the liver resulting in liver damage or failure. If ingested, citrus oils and any essential oils in full strength form, can cause liver or kidney failure. If they’re inhaled they can even cause neurological disorders and brain damage. Cats are more susceptible than dogs. If the product also contains piperonyl butoxide, the toxic effects of citrus oil extracts may be increased. Never treat your cats with dog products, the result may be fatal.

Chocolate/Caffeine – Theobromine and caffeine are the ingredients in chocolate that contribute to the side effect in pets. The combination of these two ingredients can cause problems like vomiting and diarrhea, or severe and potentially fatal effects like heart arrhythmias or cardiac and respiratory arrest. It’s advised that the darker the chocolate is, the more harmful it is to pets. Cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate are the most dangerous, milk and white chocolate have the least amount of theobromine, and dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate lie somewhere in the middle. As a safety measure, it should not be given to your cat or any pet under any circumstances. Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a cat. And there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and fits. In addition to tea and coffee — including beans and grounds — caffeine can be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas, and stimulant drinks such as Red Bull. It’s also in some cold medicines and painkillers.

Cooked Bones from fish, poultry, or other meat sources can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system if the pieces are too large. For cats, a chicken neck or wing bone fed raw is safe and even encouraged by some raw food advocates. Cooking bones greatly reduces their benefits and poses many dangers rendering the natural calcium almost unavailable for absorption. Cooked bones are much tougher and more brittle than raw bones, and will actually blunt an animals teeth after regular chewing. They also break into large chunks more easily, and your pet may swallow a piece too large to digest. Cooked bones are very slow to breakdown in the animals gut and can cause severe gut pain (colic), scarring of the gut lining and bleeding, which can lead to constipation.

Dog Food if a cat eats dog food accidentally once or twice it shouldn’t be a problem, but if fed repeatedly it can result in malnutrition and diseases affecting the heart. Cats need taurine, vitamin A and higher levels of protein.

Fruit pits and cores contain trace amounts of cyanide that are naturally derived from nature. They aren’t toxic to humans in these small amounts but they are toxic to pets.

Milk – Cats are unable to produce the enzyme lactase and can’t break down the lactose, or milk sugar in dairy products. They’re usually lactose-intolerant and the lactose in milk and milk products can cause stomach upset, cramps, gassiness, leading to diarrhea or vomiting.

Mushrooms of any kind can contain toxins, can affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock and result in death. Depending on the type/species of mushroom ingested, several general organ systems can be affected.

Nuts of any kind are harmful but Walnuts and their hulls and Macadamia Nuts are especially toxic. Effects can be anything from vomiting and paralysis to death. Pets can start to develop symptoms such as an inability to stand or walk, vomiting, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), weakness, and an elevated heart rate within 12 hours of eating nuts. Nuts of any kind are high in fat and can cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and their high phosphorous levels can possibly lead to bladder stones. Walnuts and most nuts can develop a fungus called alfatoxin. It can cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as respiratory issues such as sneezing, breathing and coughing. Aflatoxins – a naturally occurring fungus on grains and legumes – is a carcinogenic fungus. Avoid all animal-feed grade nuts.

Onions, Garlic, Chives & Related Root Vegetables (raw, cooked or powdered): Onions contain a
substance known as N-propyl disulphide, that deform red blood cells in many species of animals and can cause the cells to burst. These changes in red cells can lead to jaundice, anemia, weakness or collapse, as well as kidney and liver dysfunction.

Pork as a whole is fine but avoid any Pork products, especially bacon, which contain the hazardous preservative, sodium nitrate.

Raisins and Grapes can cause kidney failure in some dogs, but not all dogs are susceptible to the toxic effects of these foods. Some dogs have died after eating a few grapes while it doesn’t seem to bother others. There have only been occasional reports of cats developing problems after eating raisins and it’s not yet known why the fruits may be toxic. It’s unknown if it is a mycotoxin (produced by a fungus), pesticide, heavy metal, or a yet-unidentified toxin.

Raw Eggs whites contain an enzyme called avidin, that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Cooking the egg whites neutralizes the avidin, therefore raw egg yolks are safe to feed when feeding a raw diet, whereas raw egg whites are not.

Feeding Raw Fish can result in a thiamine (B1 vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. Raw fish contains an enzyme called thiaminase, which can destroy vitamin B1. This enzyme can be destroyed by cooking the food.

Rhubarb leaves contain oxalates. Eating rhubarb leaves leads to oxalic acid poisoning which can cause kidney failure. The cooked rhubarb stem is safe to eat, but is very high fibre and may cause indigestion, intestinal discomfort and diarrhea.

If Salt is eaten in large quantities it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Soy is found in various forms in many products and acts as a hormone. It contains compounds called phytoestrogens that may negatively affect cats by interfering with nutrient absorption, normal growth, thyroid function, and hormonal development. Hyperthyroidism is extremely common in cats so soy should not be in cat food even in small amounts. Unfortunately, soy is a common ingredient used by pet food manufacturers.

Spinach does not belong in pet food! Spinach has one of the highest calcium oxalate levels of any food. Cooking does NOT diminish the oxalates much at all, very minimally. The oxalates in spinach are very sturdy, binding and are around 600-750 content milligrams per 100 gram serving. You’d have to boil or blanch it to reduce it even 5-15% and then you’ve lost all the nutrients in it. 1/2 a cup of cooked spinach contains 755 mgs of oxalates and 1 cup of raw spinach contains 656 mgs. Because spinach is now being added in a lot of pet food brands, you may want to make sure to feed other foods and rotate that food so it’s not fed every day. Or if your cat suffers from kidney, gallbladder or thyroid issues, you should forgo feeding it to them altogether! They should not be eating any foods with those levels as it can do severe damage. Spinach can cause crystal formation in the urinary tract and kidneys in cats. Calcium oxalate stones are EXTREMELY painful and once formed in the kidneys, cannot be removed. Whether cooked or raw, spinach should be completely avoided in cats and has been shown to cause such major damage it can result in hospitalization and in some circumstances, death. I personally know someone who’s cat died from being fed raw spinach. I recommend writing to the pet food companies that do include spinach and request that they remove it completely from their products. NEVER feed raw spinach to your pet, whether they are ill or healthy!

It’s also not good for cats or people with any kind of bowel disease due to acidic urine: In bowel disease, fatty acids and bile that are normally absorbed by the small intestine reach the colon. When fatty acids and bile reach the colon, they can damage the colon lining allowing oxalates to pass through the damaged lining into the blood, and then into the urine via the kidneys. When calcium and oxalates are together in the kidney, they can bind together to form crystals. These crystals can join together to form calcium oxalate kidney stones.

Spoiled Food, Mold and Bacteria: Spoiled foods and molds that grow on food harbor harmful bacteria and may also contain toxins. Unless starving, cats will generally avoid stale or spoiled foods. If they do ingest it, their first line of defense is to vomit it back up again. If the food smells or looks bad to you, throw it out. Don’t feed it to your cat or yourself. (I really don’t think I need to include a link for this one, I’d hope people would have common sense to know this is true).

Sweeteners: Sorbitol falls within the same chemical category as the sweeteners xylitol and mannitol. Because it’s especially hard for them to digest, large amounts of sorbitol can affect pets in an adverse way. Sorbitol is used in a multitude of pet foods for moisture retention, is less vulnerable to mold and may be bacteria resistant. It is also used as a plastic making agent. Sorbitol and mannitol for a pet can lead to severe diarrhea, GI irritation and malabsorption issues. Although not toxic like xylitol, sorbitol used in anything other than pet food may be best avoided, especially with cats already experiencing GI upset like an IBD kitty, or one with a compromised immune system. Most pet toothpaste brands contain up to 50% sorbitol and states clearly on their literature that it can give them very bad stomach upset and diarrhea; which is what happened to my cats.

Other names for sweeteners and sweetening agents include dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, etc. The list is lengthy and when buying any product for your kitty including supplements, check the label for these products and stay away from them. This article is from a science magazine website and explains why cats shouldn’t consume anything sweet. Very informative on the inner workings of the cat’s digestive tract in regards to sweets of any kind:

Tomatoes are members of the solanaceae family of plants and are related to deadly nightshade. They contain a bitter, poisonous alkaloid called glycoalkaloid solanine that can cause violent lower gastrointestinal symptoms. Cooking will destroy that toxin. Green tomatoes, the leaves and stems of the green and red tomatoes are all toxic.

Like tomatoes, Potatoes are members of the solanaceae family of plants and are also related to deadly nightshade. They also contain glycoalkaloid solanine and any uncooked or green potatoes and potato peelings are all toxic. Once cooked, the alkaloid is destroyed making the potato safe.

Tuna if fed in excess, can lead to steatitis (yellow fat disease, pansteatitis). Tuna flavoured cat foods are not the cause of this condition, feeding your cat human tuna is the cause. This painful inflammatory condition results from a diet high in unsaturated fatty acids, over-consumption of oily fish and a Vitamin E deficiency. Tuna is very addictive to cats, but contains little vitamin E and the excessive unsaturated fatty acids further deplete vitamin E in the body. Cats with steatitis develop flaky skin and a greasy, dull coat, show signs of severe pain when touched and are reluctant to move. They also lose their appetites and develop fever. If untreated, it results in death. Besides pansteatitis, feeding human grade tuna to your cat risks giving them mercury poisoning and other harmful toxins. Cats’ livers are especially sensitive and cannot process these metals like humans can. There is also new research pointing to a diet high in fish causing thyroid disease in cats:

Yeast/Bread Dough – Bread dough can quickly expand in a cat’s stomach, causing it to swell beyond its capacity, cutting off its blood supply. The expanding dough can produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Also, ethanol produced by the fermenting yeast is absorbed into the blood stream causing effects such as being uncoordinated and disorientation. Brewer’s yeast and dried yeast can cause a whole host of other problems such as allergies, skin conditions, GI irritation, etc.

Xylitol, a common sweetener found in some diet products, chewing gum, candy, etc., may cause a sudden drop in an animal’s blood sugar, loss of coordination and seizures. Xylitol has been linked to liver failure in dogs and death within hours of ingestion. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, xylitol is toxic to animals. In cats it can prompt a sudden release of insulin, resulting in low blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycemia. Signs that your cat may have swallowed a product containing xylitol include a sudden lack of coordination, vomiting, lethargy and, eventually, seizures and possibly coma. Ultimately a cat that eats xylitol may end up with liver failure, resulting in death.

Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Cats

Plants toxic to cats

Here is a great youtube video from the ASPCA that tells you about poisonous plants.

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