A cat looking up at a bird, jumping up at a bird.
A cat looking up at a bird, jumping up at a bird. Photography ©bazilfoto | Thinkstock.

Let’s Look at Some Weird Things Cats Eat

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The first time a slice of apple fell on the kitchen floor and Casey, my orange tabby, outraced my dogs, Kona, Cleo and Bujeau, to consume it with seemingly wonderful joy, I realized that the finicky moniker often placed on all felines is not deserved — nor accurate. In fact, in taking a simple poll of my Facebook pet friends, I received an immediate avalanche of examples of unexpected cuisine preferences by their healthy and happy cats.

Weird things cats eat — food

A cat licking or eating a watermelon.
A cat licking or eating a watermelon. Photography ©fotojagodka | Thinkstock.

Wait a minute. Cats are obligate carnivores. They’re supposed to be hardwired to seek meat, to consume a majority of protein in their diets to stay healthy. So, why the attraction to corn on the cob or a slice of watermelon? “There are many cats who are attracted to what we would conventionally consider ‘odd’ foods for cats,” says Michele Forbes, D.V.M., a veterinarian and co-owner of Compassionate Care Animal Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Yes, they are obligate carnivores, which means they need protein in their diets to survive. The sense of smell is really big for catsl, but we now know that cats are also attracted to shapes and textures.”

Veterinarians surmise that some cats are drawn to that buttered corn on the cob left unprotected on your plate because of the fun texture the kernels do on their teeth. And even though it’s highly theorized that cats lack sweet taste receptors, the lure to the watermelon slice may be for the fruit’s high water content, not for its sweetness. (Note: keep kitty away from the seeds as they aren’t so good for your cat.)

Weird things cats eat that aren’t food

Some cats, however, are attracted to non-foods, like plastic bags and paper. Jessica Dwyer, who operates a cat-only Whiskers At Home professional pet sitting business in Bellevue, Washington, discloses that Leo, her orange tabby who lived for 17 years, maintained a lifetime attraction to paper and plastic.

“For 17 years, I didn’t have a single paper out anywhere in the house,” Dwyer says. “I had to give a list of do’s and don’ts to my family when they stayed with us, and I always gave them a special little box to lock their papers up. He still managed to get in their suitcases and eat their papers. I had to always hide plastic, but he managed to always find a way to open drawers and closets to get to the plastic to eat it.”

Dr. Forbes offers this explanation to cats like Leo: “Cats like the crinkle sound that plastic bags make and may be drawn to the animal protein used in the making of plastic bags. For some cats, chewing on or eating inedible items like paper (a condition called pica) … could be due to a neurological condition, an underlying medical condition or a possible lack of environmental enrichment. Because there is a possibility of intestinal obstruction due to a cat ingesting a non-food item, I definitely recommend you call your veterinarian and seek their advice.”

Cats who eat bugs, rodents or other animals

For cats with outdoor access or indoor cats “lucky” enough to encounter a bird, mouse, rat or lizard trespassing in the house, their hunting skills go into overdrive. These critters represent hunting prizes for your feline. But they also may be carriers of disease, such as avian flu, or have eaten poison left by pest control companies that your cat has now also ingested. Contact your veterinarian immediately (and bring in the killed prey to be tested) at the earliest signs of ill health in your cat.

Some indoor cats, like my cat, Casey, delight when a wayward moth, fly or lightning bug soars inside. The aerial hunt ensues with Casey flying on counters and leaping on the sofa in pursuit of stalking, capturing and (yuck) eating any winged trespasser.

The occasion “meal” of unlucky bugs by your cat is usually harmless. However, if your cat shows any signs of ill health after eating a bug, such as vomiting, drooling or staggering, call your veterinarian pronto.

“Don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian and say, ‘My cat just ate a lightning bug or killed and ate part of a mouse. Is that OK?’” Dr. Forbes says. “It’s important to have a good relationship with your veterinarian. A fly in the house is highly entertaining for your cat to hunt. But if a cat pursues a wasp in the house and gets stung in the mouth and his tongue starts to swell, this is a medical emergency that definitely warrants immediate veterinary attention.”

Q: What is the strangest human food your cat has eaten?

Here are some responses from feline friends all over North America:

Holly Cook, of Seattle, reveals that Chrissy Cat is a big fan of butter and potato chips.

Jeanne Kudich, of Jackson, Michigan, has two cats with strange eating habits. “Mozart likes green olives. Tommy likes anything dairy … yogurt, cheese, ice cream. Oh, and he has eaten part of a Peep (the sugary Easter treat in a shape of a chick) and seemed to like it.”

Melissa Boesch, of Dallas, Texas, definitely bonded with her late cat, Tex, at mealtime. “He loved asparagus. I could put one end of  a spear in my mouth, and he would eat from the other end, á la Lady and The Tramp with spaghetti.”

Kat-Renee Kittel, of Wichita, Kansas, shares: “When one of my fosters was a kitten, he loved to eat peanut butter. My Katie Too, now 13 years old, used to lick strawberries as a kitten and played with celery.”

Nicole Sours Larson, of San Diego, California, writes: “Amy loves lettuce, especially romaine. Alexander loved tamales, but only if made at home with lard. He also loved smoked salmon and carne asada.”

Cindy Vet, of Decatur, Georgia, has a big list of weird food favorites for her cats, Tigger and Oso: “Pizza crust, tuna fish juice from the can, yogurt, pecans, bread, cheese and Doritos. Tigger would go head first into the bag of Doritos. Oso destroyed the bag to get it open and then used his paw to scoop out the chips.”

Tell us: What is the weirdest thing your cat has ever eaten? Did it result in a trip to the vet?

Thumbnail: Photography ©bazilfoto | Thinkstock.

Arden Moore is a pet behavior consultant, author and master pet first aid instructor who often teaches hands-on classes with her cool cat, Casey, and very tolerant dog, Kona. Each week, she hosts the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio. Learn more at ardenmoore.com and follow Arden on Facebook and on Twitter at @ArdenKnowsPets.

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35 thoughts on “Let’s Look at Some Weird Things Cats Eat”

  1. We’ve had 53 cats in our almost 53 years of married life (all rescues) and have witnessed many unusual “feasts”. One cat loved brussels sprouts, another banana bread and one cream corn in addition to the more “normal” ice cream, cheese and chicken. Tatters would frequently bring home pieces of pizza from the neighbors. One day he brought home an unopened bag of noodles, but I don’t think he ate any. The worst was the night Bruce ate a whole onion that I had cooked with my chicken. I had left it in a pot on the stove to cool while I did something else. That did require an emergency room visit at midnight, and a blood transfusion the next day. I no longer cook onion with my chicken.

  2. I have four cats. They are two pairs of siblings. The first pair we got about 3 years ago love to eat human food. The second pair could not be bothered. I try and offer them some food but they never take it. My cat Cole absolutely loves spiral ham. Anytime we make it he follows us around wanting some. His sister will also eat it but is not as obsessed with it as he is. They also like potato chips, goldfish, French fries, turkey, chicken, cheese, lettuce, and cucumbers. If it’s not toxic (chocolate, garlic, etc.) I offer them some, and most of the time they take it.

  3. I have multiple cats. They Do not eat from table. But one five pound little girl will attack for biscuits, doughnuts and flour tortillas. She doesn’t eat a lot but she can figure out a Krispy Cream doughnut box. She is only one of my 6 and the smallest of all that eats people food.

  4. Delphi goes after a few human foods but one of the most unusual is probably coconut. She has stolen the bag of flaked coconut from my pantry to eat it. I’ve also caught her trying to steal a nature valley oats&honey granola bar from a box in my pantry. I figured the oils in these foods excited her but it could be texture. She also goes nuts when I bake cornbread- we are Southerners so this is good old white buttermilk cornbread. I worked with her a lot as a kitten on manners – I was strict about no table scraps, cleaning up plates and so on, so it wasn’t counter cruising either- but the cornbread is one food she’ll actually try to take away from Me.

    I’ve never fed her table scraps and I’ve raised her from a baby- adopted from a local HS at eleven weeks. She’s a fascinating and unique little cat and I think that Certain food just looks and/or smells interesting. But I find the list of what she steals fascinating. I am strictly vegetarian so her food Is the only meat we have! Lol ????

    Ps she’s never been harmed or had to see her vet for any of her people-food shenanigans.

  5. Pingback: Here’s a List of Non-Toxic Flowers That Are Safe for Your Furry Friend – My blog

  6. My ten-month old kitten, Autumn, LOVES ear plugs. I occasionally wear them at night to sleep. She can smell them a mile away and wakes me up trying to get them out of my ear (ewww!). I have to hide my head under the sheets, and keep the top to the jar of ear plugs securely screwed on, and hidden in a drawer. And by the way, she has figured out how to open dresser drawers. She has dug through the garbage to find them, has had family members pull them out of her mouth half-chewed and we’ve found them all over the house. I know these things can’t be safe and they’re not safely hidden from her.

  7. Sheryl Lynne Thompson

    I have a cat who is around 18 years old, and the only ‘people food’ that I have ever seen her refuse to eat is raw onion. Bread, crackers, chips? Yummy. Fruits and vegetables? Please gimme! Meats? Of course. Spaghetti? Watermelon? Cantalope? You weren’t going to eat ALL of that, were you?

    We do make sure to not let her have these things very often, but there is a reason we call her Mittens, the goat-cat.

    1. It is good to read that other cats eat various things that are not considered acceptable. My Adrianne who past away last year would sit in the empty chair at the dinner table and accept and eat any small bits served to her. If we were having chicken she was right there in the kitchen waiting for it to come out of the oven. My Chloe loves plastic. I do not leave any around for her to get at. My Dante loves Italian cheese like provolone or asaigo. He has also started sitting by the table at dinner to see if something will be fed to him. My Kitten Erinn is the worst. I have sent paperwork to my Insurance Agent that have teeth marks. We were just able to save the tax documents from her teeth. I have a number of books she chewed and boxes cannot be left in the house. What surprises me is she does not chew her toy box. Cats are the most amazing animals imaginable. They get into the strangest places, do the strangest things and keep us very entertained.
      Everyone have a wonderful time with your kitties.

  8. Please, fellow cat lovers get a thorough list of what foods are bad for, even toxic, for cats. There are some scary things I’ve read going to cats here!

  9. My girl Boop is a very fussy eater – seafood flavored dry and canned food only, please. She doesn’t care for any people food but whenever I’m eating she has to check out what I’m eating. I think she’s making sure my food is safe for me. LOL!!

  10. My young lady loves black bean water from the can (no salt fortunately), avocado, butter (even vegan butter), milk, and cheese. She loves to steal cherries and play soccer with them. I’m not sure if it’s the smell or the round shape.

  11. I have these algae tablets for my snails in my fish tank. My cat goes nuts for them. I once spilt them and found him eating them and since then whenever I feed my snails he begs for one

  12. I had a cat that loved olive “juice” He would smell it and would roll in it if some spilled. Right now, we have a cat that will do anything to get a grocery bag and chew pieces off and swallow it. We have to twist and tie up the bag and hide it away from her.

  13. My Maine Coon mix, Aslan, likes lettuce, cucumber, and cantaloupe. Oh, and coconut oil.
    Our big girl, Hope, doesn’t like much in the way of people food, but will sit and stare holes through us if we have ice cream.

  14. I had two cats that were litter mates. They both liked the flowerets of cooked broccoli, cantalope rinds (I found one dragged from the garbage and chewed up), corn on the cob w/o butter, AND avocado.

  15. I have a cat named Stump he loves spaghetti, pinto beans and manwich. Every time you open a can of manwich he goes crazy doesn’t care if it’s cold and meatless out the can just loves it. He even ate pesto once surprisingly he didn’t get sick from it.

  16. My recently departed tabby, travel buddy RC, loved hot/spicy foods. The spicier the better. He liked Chinese food that was even too hot/spicy for me.

  17. My oldest cat loves pop-corn and chips.. as soon as he smells it he comes running.. and as soon as he hears the bag he’s right there..

  18. Kale or Romaine lettuce. As soon as I make a salad my torbie is on the counter stealing a piece or two. She’s also there for cottage cheese and yogurt.

  19. My old cat, Joey, absolutely loved tomatoes! The first time I cut into a tomato with him around I heard this very loud meow at my feet; there he was and he wouldn’t shut up until I shared. I was quite surprised about that and to eventually learn that he loved cantaloupe and cucumbers as well. I swear he may have been a vegetarian in a former life!

  20. My Tripod would occaisonally sample my meals. Once she tasted some iced tea I’d made from teabags. Another time, I would give her the lid of my ice cream pint–usually Ben & Jerry’s–until she came down with pancreatitis; after treatment, no more ice cream, doctor’s orders! She still begged for it, but I never gave in. But above all, the oddest thing she ever ate would be SPIDERWEBS! She’d eat the cobwebs in the corner or wherever she could find them. They didn’t hurt her but then I’d have to clean the “leftovers” out of her whiskers!

  21. I have a cat that was OBSESSED with bread. We never gave it to him, rather he would jump onto the counter and just make a huge mess of the loaf still in the bag! We remedied the situation briefly by keeping it on top of the refrigerator, which he figured out how to get to! Eventually we started keeping it in the microwave, and now he’s too old to jump onto the counters and wreak havok.

  22. I used to have a habit, when a cat showed an interest in a non-protein food, of offering them a bit while saying “you don’t want this, this is X!”. Needless to say, cats have always been willing to show me I was wrong. But this is how I discovered that one cat loved cantaloupe (he was allowed to finish off whatever was left on the rind when we had them), and another loved canned white shoepeg corn (straight from the can). Both cats lived to a good age, as did the one who refused to eat anything except canned (for humans) jack mackerel (no idea why we even had such a thing in the house) .

  23. *laughs* Chili con carne. Yes, really. And piccalilli. Both favourites of my very first cat, Misty, a silver tabby tom we hand-raised from a tiny kitten (he was the runt of a litter of thirteen!) — he was very silly about food, but he loved it. And he lived to a good old age, too – 18.

    My little Gem, who passed away from abdominal cancer a few months ago, loved anything dairy except for actual milk and was not, thankfully, lactose-intolerant, and if I had a tub of Ben & Jerry’s out I could never let it sit even for a moment without the lid secured, or else I’d wind up with a little kitty head in the tub!

  24. My cat Sasha loves refried beans and pasta sauce. Fionnlach likes olive wood (he licks it), potato chips, french fries. My other 3 cats are “normal.”

  25. When my cat Frito was a kitten he would try anything and everything. We used to keep a list of things he’d nibbled on stuck to our refrigerator and it was very, very long! These items included sunflower seeds, pudding, pasta sauce, green beans, biscuits, jambalaya, veggie burgers, mashed potatoes, french fries, yogurt, broccoli, peanuts and uncooked spaghetti. As he got older he got less adventurous; he only likes his regular dry cat food but he ONLY eats Temptations snacks!

    1. Haha, my cats love some Temptations!! What flavor is not important, they know the bag and will go bonkers when they see it.

  26. Weird things cats eat – McDonald’s fries .!! lol mine and my husbands cat kanga loves to eat them and can smell them through the bag . He will help himself to a fry before I even give him one .! I learned he likes the soft ones but not the over cooked ones . My parents cat loves to eat bananas which I find very unusual also

  27. Marshmallows.

    He would eat them when we placed some in front of him or threw one near him. On the other hand, he never seemed to be enamored of them to the point of seeming to demand or cry for more. Rather he’d just eat them if we gave him some.

  28. Coffee beans. Really.
    Yes, he got an immediate trip to the emergency vet, where he was treated for a caffeine overdose. He adores the scent of coffee to this day, and I don’t allow it in my home in any form.

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