Surprising Foods Cats Love

By Elisa Black-Taylor

I got the idea for this story as Furby fought me claw and paw over a piece of iceberg lettuce in a garden salad! There are a lot of surprising foods cats love out there. The trick is in being informed on which foods are toxic to cats and which are safe to feed as an occasional snack. At the end of this article, I’d love to hear what the readers here give their cats as a healthy treat.

I’d first like to start with foods NEVER to be fed a cat. There is a list on PoC of things, including foods, that are toxic to cats. ASPCA  confirms the list which includes: chocolate, caffeine, coffee, alcohol, avocado, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, yeast dough (it blows up in the belly), undercooked meat, xylitol (an artificial sweetener), onions, garlic, chives, milk and salt. Undercooked eggs and bones are also on the no-no list. One food I’ve found very conflicting data on is the avocado. I’ve read of a few people feeding it to their cats as a treat. Several websites have also stated it’s a myth that avocado is toxic to cats. So please use your own judgment on that one.

Strange foods cat eat
Strange foods cat eat. Collage by Michael from images by (MacDonald’s counter) by and cat by lizzerW
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I’ve been surprised at the foods a cat will eat since I found my first cat back in 1982. I was pregnant with Laura and there was at least half a foot of snow and ice on the ground. While walking in my yard, I heard a pitiful meowing coming from the fence that ran around our property separating it from a huge field.

There stood this tiny little gray kitten. I called to it and it acted as though it wanted to come to me, but was too weak to climb the fencepost to get to me. I went over and helped it over the fence. This tiny kitten became our first Smoky.

We ran into a problem about what to feed the kitten that first day, as I had no cat food on hand because I didn’t have any cats. The weather was too bad for me to attempt a visit to the grocery store. So Smokey was fed a bowl of cornflakes and some popcorn that first day. Not exactly a healthy meal, but she seemed to enjoy it. The next day I was able to get out and purchase some real cat food.

I discovered Smoky’s first official favorite unusual food when I dropped an English pea on the floor during dinner. Smoky went over and ate it right up. I then gave her a few in a bowl and she was very happy with this new treat. I turned to Laura’s daddy and said “she digs into that better than into canned food.” I decided to try an experiment. I placed a spoonful of Smoky’s wet food in one dish and a few English peas in another. Smoky preferred the peas to canned food! I was shocked. I realize a cat does not live by peas alone, but it was nice to know she enjoyed them as an occasional treat.

Mandy, Smoky and Furby and Their Tastes
Mandy, Smoky and Furby and Their Tastes. Collage by Elisa.

Over the years we’ve had many cats. We’ve stuck mostly to commercial cat foods, except when I would whip up a batch of homemade cat food using chicken, a can of mixed vegetables and a tad of olive oil.

I did have one cat named Muffy, who was a long haired orange Maine Coon, who would sit behind me to steal French fries. Mandy, our tortie, will try to secretly rake a fry off of my plate every now and then. She’ll sit on the floor and all I see if that paw coming up over the top of my plate. She has pretty good aim, not to see what she’s going after.

The cats we have now act like mini-piranhas at mealtime. First it was Furby and his love of spinach from a spinach pizza. He went NUTS to get a bite. On one occasion I wasn’t fast enough and Furby bit clear through my finger. One of us isn’t very bright at times….

Laura also has a mob around her when she prepared a simple garden salad using a prepackaged mix of iceberg lettuce, carrots and cabbage. The cat all think the need a piece of lettuce as a treat. Laura may as well throw a good handful on the feeding bar to prevent being attacked. Some of the cats have been known to work together to knock an entire bowl onto the floor. Usually Sammy and Furby are involved in that trick.

I’ve seen YouTube videos of cats going crazy over cantaloupe and watermelon. Furby loves cantaloupe. I’ve never offered watermelon as a treat. I love watermelon too much to share it with the cats.

Here’s one of the YouTube videos. For more, just type in “cat eating watermelon.”

I’ve learned through trial and error and food snatched from my dinner plate that my cats tend to prefer green vegetables. I’m surprised they enjoy iceberg lettuce, as it doesn’t have much of a flavor to it. They also love broccoli, spinach, English peas, asparagus and green beans. All in moderation, of course.

What surprising foods do your cats enjoy as a treat? Do any of you know which is correct on the avocado debate? Have I missed any foods on the forbidden list? With the holidays approaching, many of us will have a variety of different foods on hand that we may not purchase except during the season. We all need to be aware of what’s safe and what’s not.

I can hardly wait to see the comments on this one.


16 thoughts on “Surprising Foods Cats Love”

  1. Our blue calico (cream, light grey & tan) loved chunks of iceberg lettuce but only if it was topped with Thousand Island dressing.

  2. I just picked up a homeless Turkish van kitten a couple days ago. Strange cats these ones. So far, she ate my pretzels, crackers, rice, chicken, and spaghettios. surprisingly though, she has no interest in my pet rat. They’ve actually made good friends 🙂

  3. Our cats also LOVE plain old yellow squash. Laura steams it and chops it up for them. But then Sealy would eat all day long if we kept putting different food in front of him.

  4. A cat called The Dood who features on a blog called Covered in Cat Hair is a broccoli freak. He gets really excited when he smells it warming up in the microwave and he will eat a whole bowl of warm broccoli. I wish I like broccoli since its a ‘super’ food – anti cancer etc etc. I’m jealous of Dood. Red used to want to try everything, no matter what he had to try it and he often liked bizarre things. His little sister Molly who I have now has the same thing where she must try what I’m eating (Lilly just wants to play with what I’m eating) – and I notice she particularly likes toast with butter. I only give her tiny tiny amounts but she asks for more. Very strange in my opinion. As always – great article and another great picture!

    • I think the broccoli “thing” is the need for cats to eat plant material. If you look at manufactured cat food ingredients there is some plant material. Does “The Dood” like his broccoli buttered with some roast chicken and gravy while watching afternoon television 🙂 ? Oh and a glass of best Chardonnay on the side.

      • Perhaps he does, and I think that would make an excellent picture for your new series of pictures 🙂 ….it’s true, they like grass and grass is quite strong smelling. I have cat grass growing in little tubs and they love that. I think you are right, they do have a thing for plant material in some sense and especially for indoor cats (Dood is an indoor cat btw) who don’t get to be surrounded by the smells and touch of nature and plants. Its only natural that it might lead to a craving for odd things like lettuce and broccoli. It makes perfect sense actually if you look at it as a balance for strictly indoor cats at least. I will try some veggies on my cats at some point. I’m not the biggest veggie eater myself which is why I am rather jealous that Dood eats a super food like broccoli which I don’t like the taste of but feel it would benefit my health. Perhaps a little vegetable is good for cats since they need vitamins. I’m sure cats that hunt to eat must benefit from the plants their prey has eaten as a source of vitamins perhaps. I’m just guessing here but it might be logical (?)

      • I guess I’m trying to say that naturally deep down cats maybe do have a taste or craving for the flavour of vegetables, in a round about sort of way which in certan conditions will lead them to want to actually eat pure vegetables to find some sort of balance they require. I know vitamins help a load. My ‘friend’ with the cats and kittens every year finally headed my advice to at least give her cat vitamins after she suffered from mastitis and had to be rushed to the vet. I was saying beforehand that even for a mother with kittens still feeding from her she looked very run down and her fur looked terrible and I was worried about it She shortly became infected and swollen in one of her mammaries and after all was dealt with I suggested vitamins (since she wont feed her cats decent food – only cheap dry) and she said her cat is noticeably happier. She is noticeably healthier andher fur is better. Don’t alot of these essential vitamins come from vegetables and plants in the ‘wild’ cat context?

  5. I am haunted and harassed by my Charlie’s desire for best quality roast breast of chicken. Mind you, that is not a strange food for a cat. Iceberg lettuce is strange though.

    Although in the wild cats eat a bit of plant material. Sometimes it is deliberate and direct eating such as a bush (snow leopard) and sometimes it is in the gut and stomach of the prey they have eaten.

    Cats need some plant material despite being described by that often used phrase “obligate carnivores”.


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