Cat in fridge with sausage links, milk, and peppers.

Can My Cat Eat This?: Emergency Food Alternatives

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced most businesses across the country to shut their doors. Grocery stores are still welcoming customers, but there’s no guarantee that pet aisles will remain well stocked.

Even cat owners who’ve planned ahead could find themselves running low before the quarantine is over. Fortunately, there’s no reason to panic. While human food should only make up a small portion of your cat’s diet, many foods are perfectly safe to feed in case of emergency.

Improvising a meal for your cat? Check out our guide to safe cat food alternatives.


Cats are carnivores. They don’t just crave lean protein, but require it to thrive. Whether it’s cooked or canned, meat and fish are great protein-rich options. Take care to remove skin that could add additional calories as well as bones that might pose choking hazards. You should also avoid feeding your cat any processed meats. Remember, anything you’d classify as junk food is just as unhealthy for your cat.

Vegetarian cat owners probably won’t have meat around the house. These pet parents can still cook up a high-protein meal by cracking a few eggs.

Don’t rely on dairy products to provide extra protein. While some cats can process it just fine, many others are lactose intolerant. That’s right — the ubiquitous image of a cat with a saucer of milk was a lie all along.


Cats can’t detect sweet flavors, so vegetables are generally a better choice than fruits. Veggies like asparagus, broccoli, green beans, and carrots provide fiber and extra nutrients without all the sugar you’d find in a piece of fruit. Steer clear of grapes altogether. Both fresh grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure.

Never feed your cat onions, garlic, chives, or other members of the allium family. In all of their forms — raw, cooked, powdered — they contain compounds that can break down your cat’s red blood cells. This can lead to potentially life-threatening anemia.

Other Foods to Avoid

WebMd suggests these human favorites could sicken your cat, too:

Monitor your cat’s health and weight closely throughout quarantine and adjust as necessary and if possible.

Stay Calm and Healthy

Cat owners around the globe are (understandably) concerned about their family and pets’ safety. There is currently no evidence that pets and pet parents can transmit COVID-19 to each other. That doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore common sense health and hygiene tips. Wash your hands often, avoid unnecessary trips out of the house, and regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Stuck at home with a cat and a dog? Check out our guide to emergency dog food alternatives.