Skip to main content

Can cats eat tomatoes? 5 common foods you should avoid feeding your pet

We’ve all been there: you’re enjoying your dinner when your cat appears beside you, begging for a bite of what’s on your plate. While the food might be nutritious for you, certain human foods can be highly toxic to cats. It’s best to avoid feeding your cat from your plate to be safe, but if you do want to share a bit of food from your kitchen with your cat, double-check first to make sure that what you’re feeding isn’t toxic. And, if your cat ever helps himself to some treats from your plate, you’ll need to know whether you’re dealing with a veterinary emergency so you can take the right steps. Can cats eat tomatoes, and what about other common foods in your kitchen? Some of the answers may surprise you.

Can cats have tomatoes?

The answer here is, it depends. According to the ASPCA, tomato plants, including the fruit, are toxic to cats (and dogs and horses) when they’re not ripe. Ingesting the plant or the fruit could lead to loss of appetite, a severely upset digestive system, excessive salivation, depression, weakness, dilated pupils, and a slow heart rate. Interestingly, when the tomato is ripe, it is non-toxic to cats.

Cat sitting and eating a treat
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Are cooked tomatoes safe for cats?

Potentially. Presuming that the cooked tomatoes were ripe, they’re not necessarily toxic, but it’s important to consider if other foods were added to the cooked tomatoes, like when making a pasta sauce. The ASPCA notes that salt can lead to problems like excessive thirst and urination. In extreme cases, cats who ate too much salt might experience vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures, and potentially death.

Other common ingredients, like onions and garlic, can also cause digestive upset. They can cause damage to your cat’s red blood cells and even anemia.

Cat climbing up onto a picnic table filled with food
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What other foods are toxic to cats?

According to PetsMD, there are many other foods that are toxic to cats. Some of these foods are commonly found in your kitchen, so it’s important to know their risks and keep them away from your cat.


Alcohol of any sort is dangerous to your cat. Just like alcohol affects our livers and brains, it can affect your cat’s liver and brain. Unfortunately, cats need to digest only minimal amounts of alcohol to withstand serious damage, and two teaspoons of whiskey are enough to put a five-pound cat into a coma. Higher-proof alcohols are even more dangerous, so keep all alcoholic beverages well away from your cat.


Yeast dough swells as it rises, and if your cat ingests raw dough, it will swell in your cat’s abdomen. The fermenting yeast can also produce alcohol, leading to potential alcohol poisoning. If your cat has ingested enough yeast to produce substantial alcohol, that alcohol poisoning can lead to a coma or death.


Caffeine in larger amounts can also be fatal for your cat, and caffeine is in all sorts of foods like coffee, tea, chocolate, and stimulant drinks. Caffeine poisoning can cause rapid breathing, heart palpitations, and muscle tremors, and you might notice that your cat is unusually restless. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for caffeine poisoning.


It’s also important to be aware of the dangers of xylitol. According to the ASPCA, xylitol is a sweetener that you’ll find in many common products like candy, toothpaste, and gum. Xylitol is extremely dangerous because it can cause your cat to release insulin, which then lowers his blood sugar levels. That can lead to liver failure. You might notice your cat vomiting, losing coordination, and becoming unusually lethargic. He might also experience seizures.

If your cat ingests any of these foods, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian right away. Call your regular vet’s office for help, but if it’s after hours or on the weekend, you may need to contact your local emergency veterinary hospital. Try to be prepared with the specific food your cat ingested, including the product label if it was a packaged product. Provide an estimate of how much of the food your cat ate, when he ate it, and any symptoms that you’re seeing. It’s also important to share any health issues your cat has, as well as his age and weight. Getting your cat help right away might save his life, but it’s important to act quickly in these emergencies.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
How you can communicate with your cat by blinking slowly
Why do cats slowly blink? It communicates a very specific message
Cat lying on its side with soft, sleepy eyes

It happens almost daily -- you're binge-watching your favorite show with your cat on your lap, and she gazes up at you, blinking slowly. Maybe she even squints her eyes or looks at you through half-closed eyes. While you've undoubtedly seen this behavior before, you may wonder, "Why do cats blink slowly?"

As it turns out, cats slowly blinking is a behavior you don't want to overlook. It could actually mean something! Not only will understanding the reason for your cat's lazy blinks help you understand her, it may even help you learn how to communicate back.

Read more
Wondering why cats chirp? Fascinating reasons why your cat chirps at birds (and you)
Cat chirping: What it is and the reasons behind this cute sound
Orange and white cat looking up and chirping

If bird-watching is your cat's idea of a good time, it's possible you've heard him chirping. Tail swishing, eyes wide and trained on his potential prey, a series of strangely adorable sounds emits from your furry companion. Chirping, also known as chattering, sounds nothing like your cat's usual meow. But don't be alarmed if you've never heard your cat chirp before.

While some frisky felines are chatterboxes, others are silent and stealthy. So, what's the cause of this unusual sound? Why do cats chirp? And more importantly, what do these unusual noises mean?

Read more
How to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon mix (and why you should care)
Should you consider a Maine Coon mix? Here's what you need to know
Closeup of a Maine Coon's face

There are plenty of big and fluffy cats out there, but one of the best-known breeds fitting this description is the Maine Coon. These cats are not only impressive in size, but they also tend to have fantastic personalities that make them beloved family pets. While purebred Maine Coons are a little more uncommon in rescues and shelters, it's possible to adopt a Maine Coon mix that still has some of the breed's distinctive characteristics.

While telling exactly which breeds your cat is can be a little tricky, it's worth doing some investigative work to better understand your feline's background and what that might mean for the care he needs during his life.
Where do Maine Coon cats come from?
You may have heard that the Maine Coon Cate originated from a fantastical cross between a feline and a raccoon. Of course, this didn't really happen, but it could be where they get the name. (Another option, from a ship's captain who brought the first of these kitties ashore.)

Read more