Last Updated on: November 16, 2020
It’s a cat owner’s worst nightmare: coming home from a long day at work to find that your cat’s supplies of food have run out and they’re hungrily demanding to be fed, right now! So, what do you do? If you have the time and energy, a quick trip to the grocery store is the best solution. But if you have urgent things to attend to at home, you might have something in your pantry that you can use as an emergency substitute.
Of course, the best diet for your cat is always going to be their own cat food! But for when you’re in a bind, we’ve rounded up 17 different types of human foods that you can safely feed to your cat. You’ve probably got at least a few of these ingredients in your pantry right now.
Ideally, you’ll want to make sure that whatever you’re going to feed your cat, an obligate carnivore, is made up primarily of meat-based protein, especially if this is a substitute for their main meal. If you don’t have enough meat to make up a full portion, then you can substitute in fruits, grains, or vegetables to make up the difference. Adding a supplement is a good idea if you have them at hand, but they’re not crucial for the occasional meal.
Any of these foods can also be fed safely to your cat as a treat on their own! You can have fun experimenting and seeing which ones your cat likes the best.
As with any new food, including cat food, make sure to introduce new ingredients to your cat slowly. Start off feeding small amounts slowly, and check your cat to see if they seem to have any sort of negative reactions. If they don’t, then you can safely increase the quantities that you’re feeding your cat.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and high in protein, salmon is as good for our cats as it is for us. Plenty of commercial brand cat foods use salmon as an ingredient, so there’s no reason that you can’t feed this to your cat as well. Make sure any salmon you feed your cat is well cooked, though, without any butter or seasonings.
This is a great choice for cats with allergies, as it’s one of the least likely meats to trigger a reaction. It contains lean protein, which will help your cat develop healthy muscle without piling on the pounds. Turkey should be cooked without any seasonings and the skin removed before feeding to your cat.
A classic ingredient in plenty of cat food brands, chicken is one ingredient that you’re likely to have in your pantry already. Make sure to remove the fatty skin and thoroughly cook any chicken before feeding to your cat. The lean protein within chicken can help your cat build muscle and stay active.
4. Canned tuna
A small amount of canned light tuna isn’t going to harm your cat, but the meats we’ve listed above are preferable if you have them available. Tuna is high in protein and healthy fatty acids, but it’s certainly not a balanced diet on its own. Tuna also contains traces of mercury, which can become harmful if your cat eats too much tuna on a regular basis.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains
As well as being loved for being part of porridge for us humans, oatmeal can be a good addition to your cat’s diet. You might want to break up whole rolled oats in your blender to make them a little easier for your cat to eat. Oats are a great source of B vitamins and provide slow-burn energy.
Spinach is packed full of minerals and vitamins, including calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, and K. This can be an excellent addition to a homemade meal for your cat, with a few caveats. If your cat has had calcium oxalate bladder stones, then you should not give them any spinach.
7. Cantaloupe melon
Cantaloupe contains plenty of beneficial beta-carotene and antioxidants, both of which can help make sure your cat’s eyes and skin stay healthy and bright.
Not only does it make great pies for us, but pumpkin can also be a healthy addition to your cat’s diet. Pumpkin is high in fiber and low in calories. You can add a small amount of unsweetened canned pumpkin into your cat’s diet or even use it to bake healthy treats for them! Pumpkin can also be used to help improve your cat’s poop, so if they’re constipated or suffer from diarrhea, then it might be worth a try!
A small amount of hard cheese can add more protein and calcium to your cat’s diet. Cheeses like cheddar or Gouda can be made into baked treats or sprinkled over your cat’s dinner.
While too much bread will add excessive carbohydrates to your cat’s diet, a small amount like breadcrumbs mixed in with cooked meat can help bulk out an emergency meal! Bread does contain fiber and protein, so it is somewhat beneficial.
Remove the skin and pips of apples, and they can be a part of your cat’s diet. Apples contain fiber and high amounts of Vitamins K and C, so they can be a good addition to whatever meat you’re feeding.
Blueberries are packed full of antioxidants, including vitamins C and A. You’ll even find them in some commercial cat food blends. You can chop up blueberries and add them to your cat’s food, although some cats also love to chomp on a frozen berry in the summer. They do contain sugar, so don’t feed too many berries too often.
Peas are frequently found in plenty of cat foods, including both kibble and wet food. They’re high in protein, vitamins A and C, and fiber! Some cats love eating a couple of frozen peas as a treat, while others will enjoy them cooked, cooled, and mixed with their meat.
14. Brown rice
Brown rice is sometimes used to bulk out commercial cat foods, and it can serve the same purpose if you’re looking to add something to the meat that you’re planning to feed your cat. Brown rice is healthier than white and can be used to help your cat recover from a gastrointestinal upset, as it’s quite bland.
This might sound like a surprise, but the high fiber and potassium content of bananas make them a good option for your cat. They’re also high in sugar, so make sure to only feed your cat a small amount of mashed banana.
16. Fish oils
If you have any fish-oil capsules at home for your own use, then these can be a good addition to your cat’s diet too. Cod or salmon liver oil can both safely be added to your cat’s dinner. Fish oils can help keep your cat’s skin and coat in great condition, shining from the inside out.
Eggs contain a great deal of protein, as well as being high in B vitamins. Make sure you cook eggs very well before feeding them to your cat. You can try sprinkling hard-boiled egg over your cat’s dinner to see if they like it.
If you’re looking to give your cat a treat or even make them a full meal using cupboard ingredients as a stand-in, there are plenty of options to choose from. Remember that if your cat shows any signs of an upset stomach or allergy flare-up after eating any of these foods, don’t give them any more. Similarly, if you’ve been giving your cat a few extra treats that may contain more sugar than you thought and they seem to be putting on weight, it might be time to reduce their rations! If you’re unsure about feeding your cat something different, be sure to chat with your veterinarian before making any radical changes to your cat’s diet.
We hope that you enjoyed finding out about different human foods that your cat can eat. Did we miss any of your cat’s favorites off our list? Let us know!
Featured Image Credit: Okssi, Shutterstock
Roland has been an animal lover all his life, with cats holding a special place in his heart. He is owned by three felines: Wheely, KitzKitz, and Nugget (all rescues) who bring all the laughter and mischievousness one can expect from the feline master race. As the creator of ExcitedCats, his mission is to assist in the search for the best gear to help improve the health and wellbeing of cats everywhere.