The Maine Coon is a big, strapping, happy cat that loves to play, eat and hang out around humans. So it’s easy after a while for family members, especially younger kids, to think that whatever they eat and dinner leftovers are good for the family pet. But that is not true for most cats and certainly not true for Maine Coons whose dietary needs are particularly sensitive to foods not found in a predatory cat’s diet.
Maine Coons need a lot of meat derivative proteins and hidden water because they rarely drink water directly but instead, find it in the flesh they eat.
It’s easy to peruse the shopping isle and see all your Maine Coon’s favorite treats but let’s turn the tables around and take an opposite view, by looking at what NOT to feed you Maine Coon cat.
We’ll start with what should be the most obvious and move toward what you may think is okay to feed your cat, but really is not. There will, of course, be some grey areas. The grey areas include foods that are not okay to feed your cat but if you give them a little bit in moderation every now and then, it will not harm or kill your cat. Contrarily, there are some food items that you definitely don’t want to feed Mr. Maine Coon ever, not even once. Let’s paw at the list.
This shouldn’t even cross your mind. As little as table spoon of alcohol can lead to severe damage for your Maine Coon. Liver and Brain damage can result if your Maine Coon ingests alcohol. A single teaspoon can give your Maine Coon symptoms of being intoxicated. Over a tablespoon of alcohol and you risk putting your Maine Coon in a coma.
Chocolate contains two substances that are poisonous to your Maine Coon. Theobromine and caffeine. This are highly stimulative to your Maine Coon, which can lead to heart problems, muscle tremors and in dire cases, seizures. Theobromine is a bitter, volatile compound found in cacao seeds and is an essential ingredient in chocolate. Milk chocolate will contain less of these chemicals than dark chocolate but any type of chocolate should be avoided as a food for your Maine Coon.
These foods can cause severe and acute kidney failure in your Maine Coon. The toxic ingredient is unknown but within 24 hours, if your Maine Coon is experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea, or lethargy then it could well be the human equivalent of food poisoning. Seek the assistance of a vet if a severe amount has been ingested. If your Maine Coon eats a small amount of them, then I’d recommend heavy monitoring for 24 to 48 hours.
It’s important to start “thinking like a cat”. Understanding your cat’s overall dietary needs will go a long way toward simplifying in your mind what not to give your pet to eat. For example, since you would not expect your cat to find sugary foods in the wild, it’s not wise to feed it such things as candy treats, chewing gum, or chocolate goodies.
If sugary foods, drinks and juices are not good for humans, then they certainly will not benefit your feline. They cause cavities in our teeth, general obesity, fat around our heart and waistline, and lead to diabetes. They will do the same to your cat. Avoid them for your Maine Coon and for yourself. Ask your cat, it will agree.
Some chewing gums contain a lot of sugar and some contain artificial sweeteners like Aspartame or Xylitol. Ironically, artificial sweeteners were marketed as a way to reduce sugar intake and the prevalence of diabetes in humans. Such sweeteners may have the opposite effect in your Maine Coon and may increase the amount of insulin in its system. Increased insulin means an increase in blood sugar which can ultimately result in liver failure. Other foods that contain a lot of sugar are fruit juices, canned goods and even toothpaste. Maine Coons will most likely reject a solid chunk of chocolate. But avoid giving it other things where the chocolate could be hidden, like chocolate milk or yogurt.
Now that you’re learning to “think like a cat”, you wouldn’t expect your cat while in the wild to be drawn to food seasonings and other flavorings, would you? So be sure to avoid giving your cat substances humans use to make our food taste better like chives, oregano, onions, garlic, thyme, etc., either in the desiccated (dried powders or flakes) or fresh varieties.
Even if you would never feed such flavorings to your cat, you could unwittingly do so in leftover pieces of lamb chop or savory steak, or even hot dogs at the family picnic. These and similar seasoning’s may result in anaemia by breaking down the animal’s red blood cells. So avoid all seasoning’s. Animals don’t just eat food because it tastes good they eat it simply to survive.
Again, there’s no Maine Coon in the wild asking for a frappuccino or a hot latte. Caffeine is toxic to cats in any form, including coffee and coffee beans, tea, and grinds. Even tea bags as well as tea leaves, chocolates, soft drinks, and certain medicinal products are to be shunned. Put all that safely away, not just out of sight but out of reach of your pet.
And don’t spill that Red Bull drink into your cat bowl either.
This is what I call my “surprise” group of foods you shouldn’t feed to your Maine Coon. And the reason for that is not feeding your cat these items invites cognitive dissonance. We’ve been told since childhood that it’s good to feed our cat liver, milk and ice cream as well as fish – sardines and tuna (are the favorites of any self-respecting cat, we were told). We were told similar things about cats and raw meat, and eggs.
While we are on the subject of meats, let’s look at what problems fat and bones can cause. All cats like to maw on a bone and dig the fat and gristle off the bones. Big cats in the wild do it all the time. But your cat is not a lion, tiger or panther. As a Maine Coon he’s big, but he’s still a domesticated cat. Bones; cooked and raw, can split or break off into sharp shards and cause damage to your cat’s mouth, throat and related digestive system organs. Choking on a bone is a distinct possibility. Fat, while delicious to your cat, hides another potential problem, which can lead to pancreatitis. It’s very painful, but since Maine Coons can’t talk English, you may not be aware of the problem until it manifests itself in more serious ways.
Feeding liver to your cat can cause a deficiency in Vitamin A. This may result in many bone-related ailments such as bone spurs, osteoporosis, and ultimately death. You won’t be doing your pet any favors by treating it to raw or cooked liver except in tiny amounts and sparingly.
Thiamine is Vitamin B1and is found in liver. A deficiency in humans causes beriberi, a disease that inflames the nerves, followed by heart failure. Enzymes found in raw fish dissipate thiamine, robbing your cat of essential Vitamin B1, which negatively affects your Maine Coon’s neurological system just as it does in humans. Here, again, you must use caution and common sense. Generally speaking, a raw diet for felines is mostly a good thing but take care that all of its meals don’t consist of or contain raw foods. And make sure that the raw meat or fish is fresh. Otherwise, it may contain bacteria which could lead to additional problems.
I’d like to reiterate this point again on this one. While your Maine Coon, can indeed eat some raw meat and dairy products. Make sure it’s not ALL it eats. A good rule would be, if you wouldn’t eat it because it looks off, your cat might not be too keen either.
That brings us to the second surprise: Tuna. Sort Of.
Heaven made Tuna for cats. They love it. Feed it to them, but again, in moderation and sparingly. Think balanced diet. It is possible to eat a lot or even eat too much and still be malnourished. The same is true for your cat. Tuna twice a week is about right. But use your judgment. You know your Maine Coon better than any pundit.
Essentially you should not just be feeding your Maine Coon a tin of tuna for every dinner. It will become severely malnourished.
BBC Focus magazine did an interesting piece recently. With phrases like ‘the cat that got the cream’ and the imagery of a kitten lapping at a bowl of cream or milk it might be difficult for people to get their head round this one. Modern milk is heavily pasteurised and contains little fat, so while a cat may like the taste it can actually cause stomach upsets.
Even many humans can’t tolerate milk and dairy products, so you should not be surprised to learn that dairy products are not good for cats. This is primarily because their digestive systems have not evolved to be tolerant of cow milk and its by-products. Dairy products can cause allergies and diarrhea in Maine Coons. For the record, dairy products also include that melted cheese on top of that juicy leftover hamburger. Finally, avoid raw eggs because of potential E. coli and Salmonella infections. These are killers, and even if neither results in death, either can rob your cat of its ability to absorb biotin, which is part of Vitamin B complex. Biotin helps your cat synthesize fatty acids and glucose and is good for your cat’s skin, its shiny coat and overall radiance.
There are many brands and varieties of cat foods. But there are also tons of dog food brands. So it is not surprising that many cat owners over time can get lazy and start buying a bit more dog food for their cat. This is especially so when owners have both cats and dogs. One brand fits all. This, however, is not true; this is not good, and this is not healthy for your Maine Coon.
The formulations that make up good dog food are scientifically designed to fit a dog’s needs. The nutritional formulations are even tweaked for certain breeds, sizes and shapes, ages, and lifestyles of each class of dog. Remember that at least for Maine Coons, it is better to feed them wet food (in the can, fresh, etc.) because that’s where they get a lot of their water and you want to keep your pet hydrated as much as possible.
Your Maine Coon will need a amino acid compound called ‘taurine’ in its diet. Dogs can create this themselves but your Maine Coon cannot.
You have to make the extra special effort to buy high-quality cat food for your cat and great food for your dog, too. And remember the earlier lesson that no matter how much dog food your cat eats, eventually he or she is going to be malnourished eating dog foods. The emphasis must remain not on how much food, but proper food for your pet. Caring is the bedrock of good parenting.
While it’s not lethal to give your Maine Coon some dog food, should it eat it accidentally or eat some out on the prowl it’s NOT a substitute for proper cat food.
This is another practice that falls into the danger zone but is practiced by almost every family that owns a pet. Your child has a slight accident or injury playing in the backyard. It’s a scrape or a little cut. Oh, Dad bought some XYZ cream last week just for that. You apply the cream and the kid is fine. This morning Maine Coon was playing with Fido in the backyard and the cat got a scrape. XYZ cream worked on Junior before. I’m tired. The vet’s office is across town and traffic is heavy. I’ll just apply some of Junior’s XYZ ointment to the cat’s scratch. Done. Wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels.
Generic, over the counter drugs made for humans are not okay to use on or in your cat, or in your cat’s eyes or ears. I have seen it happen dozens of times. And how about the dosage? The amount used for Junior might just be catastrophic for your Maine Coon. Human medicines are designed for a body mass index way beyond what your Maine Coon will be. Just because its nose is running doesn’t mean it has a cold. So don’t give it ibuprofen or similar generic “aspirin-type” medicines because some may contain ascetic acid (see acetaminophen, for instance) or acetyl-related chemicals that may be deadly to your pet. I would recommend you call your vet and get a clearance or advice after telling him or her about the problem. Alternatively, I would recommend cleaning the scrape with some mild soap and clean water, and bandaging the affected area until tomorrow when help or professional advice is more readily available. It may not be the silver bullet but it beats harming your pet or worse.
These are some of the things you probably didn’t know could harm your cat. You now know why and how certain foods are deleterious to your family’s best friend. Best of all, you can now think like a cat, a Maine Coon. And if ever in doubt, always seek professional advice from your nearest vet. Good luck on keeping your Maine Coon safe and healthy.
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