So you sit down at the dining table and what do you see? A pair of eager cat eyes. Your cat might even meow to say, “hey favorite human, that food sure smells good… can I have some?”
How can a pet parent resist? But before sharing food with your feline friend, you need to make sure that what you’re about to give is safe for cat consumption. You can even go a step further and make sure to only give delicious cat treats that come with the most health benefits.
Whether you’d like to prepare cat treats at home or you’re wondering which food items on your table are best for sharing with your cat, this list goes over the 10 healthiest human food that cats can eat.
What’s in this Guide?
- A Note About Cats as Obligate Carnivores & Common Cat Allergies
- Cooked, Unseasoned Chicken or Turkey
- Cooked, Unseasoned Beef
- Cooked, Unseasoned Fish
- Cooked, Unseasoned Eggs
- Cooked, Pureed Pumpkin
- Cooked, Pureed Broccoli
- Cooked, Pureed Green Beans
- Cooked, Pureed Peas
- Cooked, Pureed Carrots
- Cooked, Pureed Spinach
A Note About Cats as Obligate Carnivores & Common Cat Allergies
Before diving into our list of the healthiest human food that cats can eat, the following is must-know information about a cat’s feeding behavior and the possibility of feline food allergies.
Cats are Obligate Carnivores
Cats fall under the category of true or obligate carnivores. As obligate carnivores, cats require nutrients that are only found in animal flesh. Obligate carnivores are also unable to process raw plant matter because they are unable to break down plant cellulose.
Because cats are obligate carnivores, it means that…
- Cats don’t naturally eat fruits or vegetables. Many cats will actually flat out reject fruits and vegetables — especially raw ones.
- Cats only get health benefits from vegetables or fruits if they are properly prepared. In fact, some brands of cat food contain vegetables as ingredients.
Note: The best way to prepare plant-based items on this list of healthiest treats for cats is to cook and puree the vegetables. These processes help break apart cellulose. This recommendation also applies to fruits like pumpkin and peas.
In addition, it is advisable for pet parents to keep pureed treats for cats as bland as possible. Sploot Veterinarian, Dr. Elana Spiegel, DVM, states, “Cooked or pureed veggies should not contain seasonings (especially because some pet parents may give pets baby-food since it's pureed — but some baby foods contain garlic/onions which are a no-no for both cats and dogs.“
Food Allergies in Cats
Although all meaty treats may seem safe for cats, some cats have food allergies to certain types of meat. In fact, the most common feline food allergens include the following:
- Fish (or seafood)
- Chicken or turkey
- Dairy (feline allergy to dairy is a different condition from feline lactose intolerance)
Note: If you would like to learn more about testing a cat for allergies (in a safe and controlled clinic environment,) consult your local veterinarian.
With the knowledge that cats are obligate carnivores and that some cats may have specific allergies, pet parents can make the best possible choices when it comes to selecting cat treats. As a reference, here are our top recommended cat treats that pack the most health benefits.
1. Cooked, Unseasoned Chicken or Turkey
To kick off this list of healthy human food that cats can eat, we’re starting with the best types of meat for cats: chicken and turkey.
Cooked, unseasoned chicken or turkey are excellent sources of protein for your cat. Aside from protein, cats also derive vitamin B6, selenium, phosphorus, and Omega-6 from chicken and turkey.
Chicken and turkey are considered the best meaty treats for cats because they are lean meats with a lower calorie content than beef. For this reason, chicken is one of the most popular ingredients in commercial cat food.
Turkey is usually seen as an alternative to chicken. Even though the nutritional difference between the two is very minimal, chicken has slightly more protein per ounce than turkey.
2. Cooked, Unseasoned Beef
Cooked, unseasoned beef is a rich source of protein for cats. Beef is also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C. Thanks to the health benefits it provides, beef is sometimes included as an ingredient in commercial cat food.
3. Cooked, Unseasoned Fish
Cooked, unseasoned fish is a delicious treat for cats. Fish provides protein and omega-3 fatty acids which are great for a cat’s coat and skin. Fish treats are also a favorite of many felines.
4. Cooked, Unseasoned Eggs
Whether hard boiled or scrambled, cooked eggs can be great for sharing with your cat. Eggs made it to this list of the healthiest human food that cats can eat because eggs are a great source of protein, vitamin D, selenium, and riboflavin.
5. Cooked, Pureed Pumpkin
On this list of the healthiest people food that cats can eat, let’s talk about our first fruit: the pumpkin. When fed to cats in moderation, cooked pureed pumpkin helps with digestion. In fact, pumpkin is particularly helpful for cats with constipation or diarrhea.
6. Cooked, Pureed Broccoli
Next on our list of the most healthy food for cats is broccoli. Cooked pureed broccoli is a safe and healthy treat for cats thanks to its vitamin C, carotenoids, and dietary fiber. Broccoli is also an excellent source of antioxidants for cats.
7. Cooked, Pureed Green Beans
Most cats aren’t really interested in eating greens — but if your cat likes green beans, let them have some. Cooked pureed green beans are low in calories and are a good source of fiber for cats. The high fiber content of green beans means that this vegetable assists with certain digestive issues. Cooked pureed green beans are also an excellent source of calcium, potassium, and iron.
8. Cooked, Pureed Peas
Next on our list of the healthiest human food that cats can eat is pureed peas. Cooked, pureed peas are a rich source of vitamins and minerals for cats, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium.
9. Cooked, Pureed Carrots
Cooked and pureed carrots are a good source of fiber, vitamin A, and beta-carotene for cats. As one of the healthiest vegetable treats for cats, cooked and pureed carrots are great for a cat's vision, skin, and digestive system.
10. Cooked, Pureed Spinach
Cooked and pureed spinach is a safe and healthy treat for cats. Your cat may not end up as strong as Popeye — but all the same, this vegetable is a great source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium.
Final Thoughts on the Healthiest Food for Cats
We hope you enjoyed our list of the healthiest human food that cats can eat. To conclude this article, pet parents need to be mindful that cats are obligate carnivores. Though they may like the healthy vegetables on this list, the focus of a cat’s diet should always be animal protein.
In addition, the treats on this list are not meant to replace high-quality commercially available cat food that is nutritionally complete.
If you have specific questions or concerns about your cat’s diet and nutrition, consult with your local vet. For Denver pet parents, Sploot Veterinary Care is always here to help. Our Denver vet clinics are open 10am - 10pm, 365 days a year. Give us a call or book an appointment here. We also welcome same-day appointments and walk-ins.