Cats, unlike dogs, will not just "wolf down" any foodstuff they happen to chance upon. Nonetheless, for the sake of your cat's health and welfare, it's important to know which foods are dangerous to your cat.
Bread Dough: A Feline No-No.
Because raw bread dough gets its ability to rise from live yeast, it can be highly hazardous to cats. Should a cat eat dough that's raw, the cat's stomach provides a moist, warm environment that invites the yeast to multiply and expand excessively in the cat's stomach, which can impede breathing and decrease blood flow to the stomach lining. Metabolizing sugars in the dough, the yeast produces alcohol which may cause drunkenness, vomiting and in extreme cases, seizures, coma and/or death. If your cat has inadvertently consumed rising yeast dough, put her under a vet's supervision until she recovers. Bottom line, keep all raw/rising yeast dough out of your cat's reach.
Death By Chocolate
Cats, unlike dogs, people and horses, don't have a sweet tooth. Unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily prevent them from chowing down on foods containing chocolate such as: brownies, chocolate covered candies and other treats. The potential result? Chocolate intoxication. Chocolate contains compounds that are toxic to cats, including theobromine and caffeine. These compounds can overly stimulate your cat's heart and nervous system. And, the darker the chocolate, the more potentially dangerous it may be. White Chocolate: fairly low in toxicity. Dark baker's chocolate: highly toxic. Unsweetened cocoa powder: the most toxic chocolate of all. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include: increased thirst, acting vaguely restless to highly agitated, abdominal discomfort, muscle tremors, extreme body temperatures, vomiting, seizures and sometimes death. Cats exhibiting even mild restlessness should be taken to the vet, immediately.
Whether it's drinking or rubbing alcohol, cats and booze do not mix, period. Even the smallest amount of ingested alcohol can have serious consequences for kitty. Holidays are a particularly risky time for cats as they may be tempted to take a taste from drinks containing ice cream or milk, such as Brandy Alexanders, Alcoholic Egg Nog or White Russians. Alcohol intoxication can trigger loss of coordination, disorientation, stupors, vomiting, seizures, coma or death. If your cat gets a nip of the bubbly, it's time to call the vet.
Moldy Food Poisoning
Foods offer molds the perfect place to grow. Certain molds generate toxins known as tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can be deadly if consumed. Yes, cats are finicky, but, should they chance upon some cheese or cream cheese tainted with mold, they may find it too tempting to resist. Tremorgenic Mycotoxin poisoning usually yields symptoms such as fine muscle tremors, which can progress to whole body convulsions and death. If not fatal, untreated tremors can last for weeks. Fortunately, this form of poisoning responds well to veterinary care.
Garlic & Onion Toxicity
Scallions, Garlic, Onions and Shallots are all members of the onion family. As such, they all contain compounds known to damage the cats red blood cells when sufficient quantities are eaten. Garlic is the most toxic. While cats rarely consume enough raw garlic or onions to cause problems, exposure to foodstuffs such as onion soup mix or powdered garlic can create issues. A great example is trying to nurse a sick cat by feeding it baby food. Some baby foods contain onion powder and this can cause feline anemia. The damage caused by these foods can take up to 3 to 5 days to become apparent. Pale gums, weakness, a reluctance to move and orange or red tinged urine are all potential symptoms of onion/garlic poisoning. If you suspect your cat is affected, have her seen by a vet, immediately. Note: blood transfusions may be necessary in severe cases.
Milk: It Doesn't Do A Cat's Body Good.
To this day, people still seem to believe that milk is good for cats. NOT! It's not only fattening, but, it can trigger stomach upset, diarrhea and cramps. Diarrhea isn't just uncomfortable, in kittens it can be fatal. Once your kittens are weaned, they no longer need milk. They quickly lose the ability to properly digest lactose (the sugar found specifically in milk.) However, should kittens require a milk replacement, there are specially formulated milk replacements such as KMR Kitten Milk Replacement and Hartz Milk Replacer.
If you're determined to give your cat milk, first, consult with your vet. If she gives you the green light, you can purchase lactose-free milk from your pet food store. Adult cat milks are available which feature reduced lactose such as Whiskas Cat Milk.
Bear in mind, most cats are lactose intolerant. Cats lack an enzyme called lactase, which helps animals to digest lactose. Undigested lactose tends to draw water from the cat's intestines as it passes through the cat's digestive tract. Since lactose is not able to pass easily into the bloodstream from the intestinal wall, it remains in the cat's intestines.
Once there, the cat's gut bacteria invade, causing fermentation to set in. This triggers undue quantities of gas, potentially resulting in diarrhea and abdominal pain. Remember, once cats are no longer dependent on their mothers, the only liquid they really ever need is fresh water.
*Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club
© Spalding Laboratories. All Rights Reserved.