Common Christmas Foods That Are Dangerous for Cats

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As Christmas day draws closer, many of us will already be sneaking a taste of our favourite festive snacks. 

And with a lot of food thrown away over the Christmas period, you may be tempted to treat your cat to some of the leftovers.  

However, some common Christmas foods can actually make cats seriously ill, so it is important to know which ones should be avoided. 

Animal health specialists at OurFitPets have put together a list of common Christmas foods that can cause serious health problems for cats, as well as advice on what you should do if your furry friend accidentally eats any of these foods. 

Christmas foods you should not give to cats 

  • Christmas pudding
  • Mince pies
  • Sage and onion stuffing
  • Onion gravy
  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Blue cheese
  • Alcohol
  • Turkey bones and fat
  • Mouldy foods 

Christmas pudding and mince pies 

These common Christmas treats contain dried fruits such as raisins, sultanas and currents, all of which are particularly toxic for cats and can cause kidney failure if consumed. 

Signs that your pet has poisoning from these foods include vomiting, increased thirst and urinating less frequently than normal. 

SaGe and onion stuffing and onion gravy 

Any foods that contain vegetables of the allium variety should be off the menu for cats. This includes fresh and powered forms of aromatics such as onions, garlic, shallots, leeks and chives, which are frequently found in Christmas stuffing and gravy. 

These vegetables all contain a compound called N-propyl disulfide which is damaging to your pet’s red blood cells and can cause them to develop anaemia. 

Signs of allium poisoning in cats includes diarrhoea, stomach pain, as well as presenting as fatigued, weak or off their regular food. 

Chocolate 

Chocolate can be particularly toxic for cats as it contains a compound called theobromine, which animals can’t metabolise easily, and causes overstimulation of their muscles, including their heart. 

Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the worst offenders as they contain the highest levels of theobromine, while white chocolate is the least harmful as it contains only a small amount of the compound. Although it’s still not recommended giving your cats white chocolate, as the high levels of fat and sugar are still likely to upset their stomach.  

Signs of chocolate poisoning in cats includes; vomiting, a more excitable mood or muscle twitching, elevated heart rate or breathing, tremors or twitching. 

Macadamia nuts 

While it’s not fully understood why Macadamia nuts are unsafe for domestic animals, consuming them can cause your cat or dog to appear weak or sleepy and can cause painful or stiff joints that may make it difficult for them to walk. 

This variety of nut can also induce vomiting, tremors and raised body temperature for up to two days. 

Blue cheese and mouldy foods 

Blue cheese such as Roquefort contain a compound called roquefortine C, which is known to cause muscle tremors and seizures in cats for up to two days. 

Like blue cheese, gone off dairy or bread products contain fungi and mould which produce mycotoxins that can produce similar negative effects for cats when ingested. 

Alcohol 

Animals are more sensitive to the ethanol present in alcohol than humans are. Consumption of alcohol will cause your pet to become drowsy and unstable on their feet and at worst can cause a drop in body temperature and blood sugar, which can lead to seizures or a coma. 

Turkey bones and fat 

While not necessarily toxic to cats, turkey bones can be brittle which means there is a high chance of them splintering and lodging in your pet’s throat or stomach. 

Turkey fat and fatty foods in general, shouldn’t be given to cats in large quantities either, as they can cause stomach discomfort and diarrhoea.  

Tips to prevent your cats from eating unsafe foods 

Keep chocolate out of reach 

It may sound obvious, but tubs of chocolate and advent calendars should be kept out of your dog’s reach or in the fridge where possible.  

Remove chocolate decorations from your Christmas tree as your cats can still knock these off, even if these are hung high up.

Keep cats in another room while eating 

Try to keep your cats in a separate room of the house during Christmas dinner, to avoid them eating unsafe foods that might have dropped on the floor. 

Always check the ingredients 

Always check the list of ingredients in any food before feeding to your pet. Many products will contain onion or garlic powder as flavouring, which is just as harmful for your pet as the real thing. 

What to do if your pet has eaten something it shouldn’t have 

Even if your cat or dog has only eaten a small amount of these foods, it’s important to do the following:  

  1. Call the vet straight away – Don’t wait for your pet to start showing symptoms. A vet will be able to offer advice, and the quicker you act, the better chance your pet will have of recovery.
  2. Note the time and quantity of food ingested – Provide the vet with as much information as you can. This includes the time your pet ate the unsafe food, brand names, the ingredient list and how much you think they consumed
  3. Don’t try to make your pet sick – Attempting this can cause further health complications. Leave this to your vet, as they are trained to do this in a safe manner.
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