What Foods are Toxic or Poisonous to Cats? (Must Read!)

Cat Feeding

Cats are sensitive creatures, so it’s never shocking to find out that there is a myriad of human foods that can be toxic or poisonous to them.

While cats are less likely to swipe food from the counter when you’re not looking compared to dogs, they are certainly not exempt from stealing things that can be dangerous to them.

Now that you’re wondering about what could be toxic to cats, here is the list of the most common problem foods and even a few house plants to avoid as well.

Top 8 Foods That Are Toxic or Poisonous to Cats

Many of these foods are commonly found in households every day and pet owners should do their best to keep unhealthy and dangerous foods put away in cabinets or pantries.

If you think that your cat has ingested potentially toxic or poisonous food, then call your veterinarian right away so they can assist you on what to do next.

Foods that are toxic to cats are:

1. Grapes and Raisins

Cats are very sensitive to the effects of ingesting grapes or raisins. Even if it is a piece of raisin bread, they could still be at a big risk. These poppable fruity snacks can cause acute kidney failure in our feline friends.

Unfortunately, even with years of studies and the knowledge of what happens, doctors are still unsure what it is about grapes that make them so dangerous.

If your cat eats even a small amount of a grape or a single raisin, you need to call your veterinarian right away as a tiny bit can cause harm to your pet.

2. Onions and Garlic – Even Chives

This includes onions in all forms – powder, dehydrated, cooked, or raw – they pose a huge risk of hemolytic anemia because of the breakdown of red blood cells in their body. Garlic is even scarier, being five times as strong as onions and chives.

This toxicity can come from a long-term level of small exposures to onion and garlic, or it can be from one large ingestion. Symptoms of garlic or onion toxicity are lethargy, orange to dark red urine, weakness, pale gums, and reduced appetite.

3. Chocolate

Dogs aren’t the only ones that are in trouble if they eat chocolate. Cats are also affected by the same ingredient in chocolate that is toxic to dogs; theobromine. This ingredient when ingested can cause tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rate, and cardiac arrhythmias.

The worst and most dangerous types of chocolate are baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is also an issue but is less potent when it comes to theobromine content.

White chocolate is not actually made from cocoa but is entirely of sugar, butter and cream, so this is just likely to upset their tummy.

4. Caffeine

Humans love caffeine, but it’s full of methylxanthines, which can be harmful to cats when ingested. Methylxanthines can cause symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, fever, muscle tremors, heart palpitations, and seizures.

Any form of coffee, from the beans to the grounds – even tea – is composed of this difficult to pronounce ingredient.

Chocolate also contains this ingredient, which is another reason that cats should really avoid it!

5. Milk And Dairy

What a bummer! Cats love to drink milk, and cream and eat fat heavy foods, but did you know it’s not good for them? As a matter of fact, most cats cannot digest dairy and lactose the way that you would expect.

It is best to avoid giving your cat these indulgent foods, not because they are necessarily toxic, but because they can certainly cause stomach upset like vomiting, gas, and diarrhea.

6. Alcohol

Let’s just say that cats can’t hold their liquor, or at least they shouldn’t! Alcohol is actually quite dangerous for not only cats but most animals too. When it comes to our pets and booze, it doesn’t take much for their bodies to reach toxic levels of alcohol.

When a cat has consumed alcohol they will display signs of vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, disorientation, coma, and sometimes even death.

Raw dough can also be a problem associated with alcohol toxicity because as the yeast breaks down in their stomach it converts to ethanol. Not only should the cat not eat raw dough, but also will cause severe abdominal pain and stomach distension.

7. Raw Meat and Eggs

Even though cats are carnivorous animals, raw meat and eggs can cause a lot of chaos in your pet’s stomach. E. coli and salmonella are one of the first concerns when it comes to ingesting uncooked meat or eggs. These illnesses can also be transmitted to humans.

Symptoms of E. coli and salmonella are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and general stomach upset.

8. Liver

The liver can be quite healthy and rich in several nutrients, but eating too much can lead to the toxicity of vitamin A in your feline friend. This type of vitamin toxicity can affect their bones, including deformed bones, bone growth on the elbows and spine, osteoporosis, and in some cases, death.

Foods Aren’t The Only Danger – Poisonous and Toxic Plants

Not only are there several food items that can harm our felines, but there are also many different plants that pose a tremendous risk to their health when ingested. It’s important to always check before bringing a new potted plant into your home as there are several that can be fatal when eaten.

Some of the most common house plants that are toxic to cats are:

  • Lilies
  • Sago palm
  • Azaleas/Rhododendron
  • Oleander
  • Dumb cane
  • Cannabis


Lilies have earned themselves a bad rap among the cat community for having a hand at so many toxicity cases. These beautiful but toxic plants cause acute kidney failure.

This includes nearly every kind of lily, with the Tiger, Easter, and Daylily being the most dangerous. Other types of lilies such as Cala and Peacelily will still cause irritations to the mouth and stomach but not kidney failure.

Sago Palm

The sago palm is a common leafy, ornamental plant that is highly toxic to cats. The entire plant is potentially dangerous if ingested because of cycasin. This agent can cause major gastrointestinal distress and eventually damage the liver and nervous system.

Azaleas and Rhododendron

Another very commonly seen a pair of plants are the Azaleas and Rhododendron. These shrub’s roots, leaves, and stems are all considered toxic due to grayanotoxins, which will cause seizures, tremors, vomiting, and cardiac arrhythmias.


While this plant is mainly found outdoors, it is still a risk to cats that don’t stay only inside. That also means you cannot keep as close an eye on them.

These plants contain glycosides, which is a gastrointestinal irritant. If a cat were to bite or eat any part of this plant, they could suffer symptoms such as drooling, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmias, and neurological issues.

Dumb Cane or Dieffenbachia

These are quite beautiful plants that also have a bite. Their leaves are composed of tiny, need-like, insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. When ingested, these sharp crystals will cause major irritation to the eyes and mouth. In the worst cases, the cat has had difficulty breathing due to airway irritation.


CBD products are all the rage for people and pets, but did you know that the plant can be toxic if ingested? Cats are not necessarily at risk when it comes to using CBD products. The big issue with cannabis is the inclusion of THC. THC will cause vomiting, low blood pressure, lethargy, disorientation, seizures, and in rare cases, coma and death.

It is best to avoid giving your cat cannabis or any CBD unless it is a trustworthy and reputable animal-specific product.

Conclusion: Foods (and Some Plants) That are Toxic to Cats

Even with all the potentially dangerous, toxic plants and foods, many of our cats manage to live long and healthy lives.

It’s just imperative that we keep these known foods and plants out of their reach and contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat has eaten any item on this list.

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