My Seren-Kitty never met a meal she didn’t like—including my own. Once she even decided to taste the hot mustard dip from my plate. Have you ever seen a cat LEVITATE?! Kitty foaming at the mouth is no laughing matter <snort> except the little squirt came back for seconds!
In the past year, I’ve created a monster because at age 18, I figure Seren should get to eat ANYTHING she wants. So now she believes it’s cool to graze from my plate. And then Karma-Kat thinks HE should do the same. Yikes! (BAD Amy…)
The first week we had Karma, he conducted a snatch-and-grab, swiped a kabob from my husband’s plate and took off with it. (10 second rule…hubby chased him down and “rescued” the kabob.) These days, the fur-kids aren’t allowed in the kitchen until AFTER we’ve finished our meal. And yes…they still get the occasional healthy treat from the table.
The key, of course, is that word “healthy.”
We love to indulge our kitties but people food can carry risks. Fortunately our cats appear less likely than dogs to taste-test toxic treats like chocolate, macadamia nuts, avocados, or raisons/grapes. Artificial sweeteners keep owners lean but any goodies sweetened with Xylitol could cause kitty liver failure. Thank goodness cats don’t easily detect or care about sweet flavors. Instead, their kitty taste buds are attuned to “meaty” flavors. Makes sense, knowing they’re carnivores. But that doesn’t mean they don’t at times want to nosh non-meat treats.
Seren manages to keep her svelt 6-pound figure even when the aroma of baking and roasting turns her purrs to begging. Responsible pet parents can offer healthy choices from the table. In fact, many holistic veterinarians recommend these foods as a natural way to treat your feline friend.
Treats typically shouldn’t make up more than about 10 percent of the pet’s total diet. So if you plan to offer table food, reduce the cat’s regular ration. Tiny amounts offered very gradually work best to avoid upset tummies. Here’s my go-to list of people foods for cats.
- Lean Meats. Lean chicken is a feline favorite. A hunk of firm beef means your cat must chew rather than gulp, which can scrub teeth for dental health. Turkey contains tryptophan, a natural sleep aid that works to calm excited pets during holiday visits.
- Fish. Many cats adore fish. Salmon, shrimp and oysters may be a holiday favorite for both humans and pets. Seren has never liked shrimp–that’s more for me! But both Karma and Seren can’t get enough of fish, especially salmon. Be careful of tuna (offer only the water-packed variety) because the strong flavor can almost be addictive.
- Organ meats. Don’t toss out the giblets when you roast your holiday bird. Heart, liver and gizzards are power-packed with vitamins and minerals that cats relish.
- Green garnish. Cats are carnivores but often enjoy grazing on such things as fresh wheat grass and catnip. A few enjoy green beans—but hold the too-rich mushroom sauce. Serving olives? Your cat may not eat them, but many felines react to olives like catnip. Offer some parsley for greens munching felines—it will also freshen kitty breath. Seren loves wheat grass.
- Stew. Leftover turkey soup cooked with spinach, green beans, mushrooms and slivers of beets (for liver health) makes a great treat and top dressing for regular food. A bit of garlic for flavor is fine, too, as it contains vitamin B—just don’t overdo as too much of onion or garlic can cause anemia. At our house, we eat a lot of stew-type dishes as a side to Iranian rice, and all the fur-kids love a spoonful of the broth.
- Sweet potatoes. High fiber sweet potato soothes upset tummies, and can be a tasty treat for cats. Cats don’t have much of a sweet tooth, though, so hold the sugary marshmallow—that’s not healthy for them.
- Canned pumpkin. Cats seem to love pumpkin. The high fiber also works as a great natural remedy for hairballs, diarrhea or constipation. Use the canned (plain nonflavored) version, divide servings into ice cube trays and freeze—and thaw only the amount needed.
- Yogurt. You’d think milk would be on the treat list, but many cats develop diarrhea from more than a tiny taste. A better milk-based treat is plain unflavored yogurt. Yogurt also helps maintain the beneficial bacteria in the stomach that keeps digestion healthy. Karma could care less but Seren ADORES plain yogurt. Whisker-licking good!
- Fruit. Not all cats like fruit but those that do can benefit from the vitamins. Kitties often enjoy cantaloupe and strawberries or bananas. Most cats HATE the smell of citrus and you’ll risk hissing the cat off by offering such things.
- Ginger. Ginger is a natural remedy that counters nausea, in case Kitty has car sick problems from the trip to Grandma’s house. But most cats won’t be interested in gingerbread or ginger cookies. Try offering a tiny taste of no-sugar whipped cream mixed with ginger as a special treat that soothes the tummy troubles. Every time I fix whipped cream, both cats (and the Magical-Dawg) line up to lick any errant splatters.
Every cat has different tastes—and nutritional needs. Be sure to ask your veterinarian before “treating” your fur-kids. Some cats doing extraordinarily well with home prepared foods or even “raw” rations, but any change requires knowledge and a slow transition. Remember you wouldn’t allow your human kid to munch exclusively on rich desserts or gravy, so balance your table-love with healthy moderation.
What table foods do your cats love? Do they counter-surf and serve themselves from the human smorgasbord? How do you foil the refrigerator raiders? Do tell!
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