Taos Bark: Foods to keep away from feline friends


Just to show you how much I care for cats - feral and pet kitties - my column today is for you, all the cat lovers in our community. As devoted, loving cat owners, hopefully you feed your kitty a well-balanced diet. Cats are carnivores and need meat. Here is a list of foods to keep away from your cat, according to information on the WebMD website.

• Tuna: Cats can be addicted to tuna. Some tuna now and then probably won't hurt, but a steady diet of tuna prepared for humans can lead to malnutrition because it won't have all the nutrients a cat needs.

• Onions, garlic chives: Onion in all forms - powdered, raw, cooked or dehydrated - can break down a cat's red blood cells, leading to anemia. That is true even for the onion powder that's found in some baby foods. An occasional small dose probably won't hurt, but eating a large quantity once or eating smaller amounts regularly can cause onion poisoning.

• Milk and other dairy products: Although kittens are able to tolerate milk, most adult cats cannot. Their digestive system cannot process dairy foods. The result can be digestive upset with diarrhea.

• Alcohol: Beer, liquor, wine and foods containing liquor are obviously not good for your cat or any other animal, for that matter. Alcohol has the same effect on a cat's liver and brain that it has on humans, but it takes far less to do its damage. Just two teaspoons of whiskey can cause a coma in a 5-pound cat and one more teaspoon could kill it.

• Grapes and raisins: Grapes and raisins have often been used as treats for pets, but it is not a good idea. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in cats. Even a small amount can make a cat ill.

• Caffeine: Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a cat and there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors and fits. In addition to tea and coffee, caffeine can be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas and stimulant drinks.

• Chocolate can be lethal to cats. Although most cats would not eat it on their own, they can be coaxed by owners who think they are giving the cat a treat. The toxic agent in chocolate is theobromine. Eating chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and death in cats.

• Candy and gum: Candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods and some diet foods are sweetened with xylitol, which can cause an increase in the insulin circulating through your cat's body and cause the cat's blood sugar to fall. Xylitol can also lead to liver failure.

• Fat trimmings and bones: Fat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause intestinal upset with vomiting and diarrhea. Bones can cause choking and splinters, leading to obstruction or lacerations of your cat's digestive system.

• Raw eggs can make your cat ill with salmonella or E. coli bacteria.

• Raw meat and fish: Bacteria can cause food poisoning and a fish enzyme that destroys thiamine can cause serious neurological convulsions and coma.

Always keep your veterinarian's number and that of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Animal Poison Control Center, (888) 426-4435, at hand.

Contact Hernandez at taosbark@gmail.com or (575) 613-3448.