When you have breast cancer, you want to boost your body’s resources as best you can. This includes giving it nutritious, cancer-curbing foods.
But if your personal treatment plan includes the cuddles from your family cat, you want to be sure you’re munching on feline-friendly fare, too. Luckily, your furry couch companion has some built-in snack smarts.
“Cats are discerning consumers,” says Nora Badal, DVM, an emergency vet in Ventura, CA.
“When it comes to foods, they won’t eat things they think won’t taste good. Those things that don’t taste good to them are often the foods that are harmful, so they generally stay away from them.”
When you’re managing cancer, the stress and treatment can wreak havoc on your appetite. Still, it’s important to get the nutrients you need.
As a rule, it’s best to keep your snacks for yourself when snuggling with your feline friend. People food tends to trouble cats’ tummies. But they’ll likely fare OK if they get a few nibbles of these foods:
1. Bite-sized veggies.
Eating the rainbow — foods of different colors — is great for your health. Those colorful veggies (and fruits too) are high in antioxidants.
Get your orange from baby carrots and your green and yellow from peppers and squash. Most veggies are safe for cats.
To be sure, check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic and nontoxic plants before you let your cat try a new vegetable.
2. A bowl of cereal.
Cancer (and some treatments) can cause constipation. Getting more fiber can help.
A bowl of cereal is one of the easiest snacks to fix. Skip the sugary kind and instead pour yourself a bowl of high-fiber cereal with 5 grams or more per serving.
Try adding a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran for an extra fiber boost.
If you take your cereal with milk, don’t be quick to share with your cat. Despite what you may have seen in cartoons, a bowl of milk isn’t the best bet for a cat. Many cats are lactose intolerant and too much dairy can bother their tummies.
4. Cheese and crackers.
Pairing a carb like crackers with a protein such as cheese can help you stay fuller longer and prevent frequent food prep when your energy is drained.
Find a cracker you like and add your favorite cheese — or peanut butter — for a little energy boost.
Go light on the crackers for your cat. Nibbling’s OK, but noshing on foods high in carbs too often can lead to obesity.
But skip the cheese for cats. Dairy isn’t their friend. Also, cats are “obligate carnivores.” That means their bodies work best with protein that comes from animals.
4. Sliced tomatoes.
If you don’t have a lot of energy, snacking on something easy like a sliced tomato can work as a quick fix. Some studies point to the chemical compound lycopene in red and pink veggies as a potential cancer fighter as part of a healthy diet.
Tomatoes are safe for cats, but watch the stems and leaves, which can be toxic.
5. A custom smoothie.
You may not always have the appetite for solid food. If that’s the case, fill up on your fruits and veggies in liquid form.
Add yogurt, ice cream, milk, or a milk substitute like almond, oat, or coconut to your drink. Most blender sizes will let you make enough for two drinks so you can drink one now and save one for later.
Just be sure to drink your smoothie at least 24 hours after making it so it doesn’t go bad.
Also, keep any smoothie with dairy out of cats’ reach so it doesn’t cause an upset stomach.
Eggs are an easy protein snack that will keep you full for a while. Even better, you can make a bunch at once and eat them throughout the week.
You’re probably not tempted to feast on raw eggs, but it’s good to be aware that uncooked eggs pose a salmonella risk for kitties. They have a protein called avidin that can cause digestive issues for cats.
Safe snacking with your family cat is possible. But Badal says there’s something else to know. If friends and family send you flowers or bring you a houseplant while you recover, there are some kinds that your cat shouldn’t nibble on.
“Lilies can be very toxic to cats,” Badal says. “Make sure they can’t get to these at all.”