Cat food is the best source of nourishment for cats. It is nutritionally balanced and meets all his needs. As a rule of thumb, it is not recommended you give your cat human foods, but if you do, make sure it is safe for your cat to eat and make it an occasional treat only. Cats can be quite fussy when it comes to food and can easily become hooked on one type of food if it is given too often.
So, what human foods can you safely give your cat?
Grated cheese is a great way to add calcium to the diet and most cats love it. You can either give it a small amount on its own or try sprinkling it over their food. Cottage cheese is another type of cheese that's safe for your cat to eat.
Avoid giving your cat soft cheeses such as brie and camembert.
Image WJ van den Eijkhof, Flickr
Plain yoghurt, not the fruity stuff which contains too much sugar. Some cats love it, some cats hate it.
Yoghurt is good to give to a cat who is on a course of antibiotics. These drugs not only kill harmful bacteria, but they also kill good bacteria in the gut, which can lead to diarrhea. Yoghurt can replace the good bacteria. It should be noted that cheese and yoghurt are generally safe for cats to eat even if they are lactose intolerant, but if you are unsure, try your cat on a small amount and see how he goes.
I wouldn't recommend giving your cat large amounts of butter, but it is sometimes recommended that a teaspoon added to food can help with the passage of hairballs. This can be given 2-3 times a week.
Cooked chicken or turkey
This is a great option for a cat who is sick or recovering from a sickness. It is tasty enough to encourage him to eat, but bland enough to not cause an upset tummy. Most cats love small pieces of cooked chicken.
Cats love fish, especially tinned fish. It's a good way to get food into him if he's lost his appetite as it is strong smelling. However, be extremely careful feeding your cat fish. Cats can become "tuna junkies". They can also develop a condition known as yellow fat disease, which is caused by feeding too much fish, which is deficient in vitamin E.
By all means, give your cat a little fish, but keep it for special occasions only.
Cooked or raw. I know the topic of raw food is somewhat controversial and it is entirely up to you if you decide to give your cat raw meat. If you do, make sure it is human grade raw meat, and it is fresh. Don't use your cat as a waste disposal unit. If the meat is too old for you to eat, then it shouldn't be given to your cat.
I like to give our cat chunks of round steak (I buy a bit extra when I'm cooking a casserole), it gives him something to gnaw on and is good for the teeth and jaw. Cut it up into 2cm cubes.
Don't give your cat cured meats such as ham or salami.
Another somewhat controversial one if given raw as there is a small chance of salmonella. I will not debate the pros and cons on this topic. If you would like to give your cat eggs and don't want to take any chances, then scrambled eggs or chopped up hard boiled eggs are recommended.
Note: Some say not to give cats egg whites as they are hard to digest. Other people say they are okay but in moderation.
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This is a popular choice for the sick cat as it is palatable to cats and easy to digest. Just be careful with the ingredients as some can contain onion and garlic both of which are toxic to cats.
There's generally no reason to give your cat rice when he's well, but sometimes a sick cat suffering gastrointestinal problems can benefit from a bland diet. Rice and chicken are often recommended to help your cat recover. Mix together 1 cup cooked chicken breast with 1/2 cup cooked rice. Add a small amount of chicken broth if the mixture is too dry.
Surprisingly, some cats do enjoy eating vegetables. Cooked pumpkin is a great way to add fibre to the diet if your cat suffers from hairballs as well as helping to treat diarrhea and constipation. Other vegetables cats seem to enjoy are broccoli and carrot. Don't give your cat hard vegetables such as broccoli or carrot raw as they can be a choking hazard, the best way to cook vegetables is by boiling or steaming. Don't give your cats anything containing onion, garlic or potatoes.