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Can cats eat raw fish?


A stereotypical image we tend to have of cats is eating fish and drinking milk. It can therefore be tempting to give your feline friend a piece of fish every now and again as a treat. However, should you be feeding your pet raw fish? In this article, Whiskas investigates what to feed cats when it comes to raw fish.

Can cats eat raw fish?

Unfortunately, raw fish can contain bacteria that could give your cat food poisoning. Although the ‘fresh fish’ in the supermarket may seem like a tasty treat for your pet, you should avoid feeding them raw fish just to be on the safe side. If you are going to give your cat some fish, it is very important to ensure that it has been properly cooked and does not contain any potentially harmful additives, seasonings or flavourings. 

Also, a nutritional factor to consider is that the enzymes in raw fish can destroy the vitamins present in the fish. This means, your cat will be able to absorb more vitamins from properly cooked fish rather than raw fish. 

Can cats eat tuna?

Cats are well-known for loving tuna, and even the act of opening a tin might cause your cat to appear by your side with a hungry look in their eyes. However, you need to be careful with what type of tuna and the quantity you are planning to feed your cat.

Foremost, it is not advised to give kittens tuna because they are much smaller and therefore at higher risk of steatitis (a feline intestinal disease) or mercury poisoning from consuming the fish.

Tuna contains proteins, amino acids, antioxidants and vitamins that are good for your cat and therefore healthy to eat in small quantities. But before you feed your cat tuna, check these important precautions: 

  • the tuna should be cooked, never feed your cat raw tuna 
  • canned tuna is not the best option, as although it is already cooked, it will not contain the essential nutrients your cat needs 
  • choose tuna in water or brine rather than oil, as oil is fattening and not healthy for your cat to eat
  • feed tuna in very small quantities and monitor your cat closely when they eat it to check for any adverse reactions

Can cats eat salmon?

Salmon is another type of fish that contains plenty of protein, omega 3 fatty acids and nutrients that are good for cats, but similarly to tuna, it should not be the main portion of your cat’s diet. Cats can actually become addicted to salmon (and tuna) and may start to refuse their normal food in favour of these more exotic treats. Therefore, salmon should only be given to your cat as an occasional treat.

Feeding your cat salmon also depends on how it is prepared. If the salmon has been deep-fried or cooked at a high temperature, its nutritional quality is likely to be reduced. Roasted, grilled or poached salmon is a healthier option for your cat. Never season the salmon or add other flavourings, dressings or ingredients, as these can be toxic to cats.

It’s also important that you do not give your cat canned, smoked or cured salmon because these contain high levels of sodium that can be dangerous for cats, and potentially cause death. If you suspect your cat may have eaten this type of fish, take them to see a vet immediately. 

Can cats eat sardines?

Sardines are smaller fish that can also make a delicious snack for your cat. They contain protein, vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids, which can be good for keeping your cat in a healthy condition. Again, like tuna and salmon, sardines should only be fed occasionally.

If you would like to give your cat sardines, take care to choose the right sort. Sardines that come in sauces could contain sodium, unhealthy fats, or toxic ingredients such as onions or garlic that can cause your cat harm. Go for sardines in water instead. You can also freeze fresh sardines to thaw, cook and chop up for your cat as a tasty treat. One sardine per week is enough, but if you are unsure how much to give your cat, always consult a vet. 

If you want to give your cat some fish, it is important to ensure that it has been properly cooked.

Read on to learn more about how to correctly prepare and cook fish so that your cat can safely eat it.

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