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Can Cats eat Tuna? Is It Good or Bad?

Tuna or tunny belongs is a member of the family Scombridae that has mackerels and bonitos which are popular types of fish consumed as food.

This saltwater fish is a high-quality source of protein. It also has essential fatty acids including EPA and DHA, sodium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, potassium, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, among other minerals and vitamins.

Each of these nutrients has various roles in a cat’s.

Do cats like tuna fish?

Yes. Most cats love tuna so much. In fact, if you love giving it to your feline pal every day, they may be addicted and refuse to eat other foods.

Why they love it may include its unique flavor, strong fishy smell, and high protein level. These factors make it quite palatable.

Can cats eat canned tuna
Can cats eat canned tuna?

In case you feline pal gets addicted to this fish, start introducing a new meat-based food gradually. Do so by adding a small amount of the new meat-based food and decreasing the amount of this fish over a week or two weeks.

If they don’t seem to like the new food you are introducing, go for the various fish-based commercial cat foods because they are nutritionally balanced.

Some of the best brands you can go for include the following:

  • Purina Friskies Canned – Wet
  • Wellness Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food Minced Tuna
  • Trader Joe’s Tuna
  • Natural Value Pate Style Canned Cat Food
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Wet Cat Food, Grain-Free
  • Fussie Cat Premium Tuna with Chicken Canned
  • Hill’s Science Diet Wet Cat Food, Adult.


If given in moderation (small amount) or as a treat a few times a week, tuna is ok for your cat. It is a good source of high-quality protein, but it should be only a small part of their diet and not fully replace their normal diets.

An excessive amount, eating it every day or your kitties relying on human-grade canned brands are not ok because of the following reasons:

1. Has a high amount of fish oil

The high level of fish oil (polyunsaturated fatty acids) common in carnivorous fish of which tuna is one of them may deplete and consequently lead to vitamin E deficiency.

2. It does have all the required nutrients

As 1800PetMeds notes, “commercial canned “tuna” cat foods are not just straight tuna but have other added ingredients. The added vitamins, minerals, and the amino acid taurine (which is essential to cats), make the food nutritionally complete for your cat.”

3. Can potentially cause allergies

Although your kitties will like this fish, like any other, it is associated with allergies. After dairy products and beef, fish is the next most common cause of protein allergies in these animals.

4. Risk of contamination

Most fish have small levels of mercury, however, for the case of tuna, the risk of higher levels is high since it is a carnivorous fish and chances accumulation of mercury that could lead to poisoning is high.

When you compared the light tuna (skipjack) and albacore (white canned tuna), the later has almost three times more mercury than the former.

5. Do I go for tuna in water, oil or brine?

When choosing it, go for one that has no artificial flavorings. Also, go for the light chunk and not white one for reasons already stated.

Additionally, you may not be certain whether to go for the one in water, oil for brine. The best option is tuna in water.

One in brine has a lot of sodium (salt) that may go beyond the required amount leading to hypernatremia while the one in oil will be introducing an extra amount of oil that these pets do not require. You may have to rinse them before feeding them to your kitty.

In fact, according to DMV360.com, “many cats enjoy drinking the water squeezed from cans of tuna,” the so-called tuna juice or clam juice and it may help increase voluntary water intake besides giving unlimited clean, freshwater, beef, and chicken broths as well as wet cat foods for cats that have renal disease.

Can I give my kitten tuna?

Yes. However, you need to fully wean them first. Kittens require a slightly high amount of high-quality proteins when compared to adult cats to help promote growth and development.

We don’t recommend giving your kittens tuna as it is meant for human beings and may not be nutritionally balanced, could be contaminated with mercury and has a high level of unsaturated fatty acids especially the red tuna.

“Unsaturated fatty acids in the diet that leads to a vitamin E deficiency. Diets high in oily tuna and liver – usually those made for human consumption – are typically causative for yellow fat disease,” says Wag!

Can cats eat raw tuna or cooked one?

The most preferable option is going for the cooked one. Most of the canned ones are cooked or smoked before they are stored in water, brine or vegetable oil. You can also cook a fresh one at home and remove bones.

Usually, before preservation, fish are frozen at -20℃ for seven days or frozen at – 35°C and stores at the same temperature 15 hours or frozen at -35°C and stores at -20℃ for a day to get rid of parasites. However, this does not kill bacteria and other germs, making it unsafe.

Therefore, your cats should not eat any raw fish to avoid germs especially bacteria that often cause food poisoning and other diseases.

Secondly, you need to know thiaminase in raw fish may destroy vitamin B1 leading to deficiency signs that may include twitching, loss of appetite and poor coordination.

Finally, if you depend on home-based cat foods, you need your vet to advise you on how to ensure they meet the various nutritional needs of your kitties.


When choosing any fish, especially carnivorous one, always go for those caught from unpolluted water to reduce the risk of mercury and other heavy metal contamination.

Additionally, once you have given some to your kitty, check for any signs such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach upsets or any other signs of allergies.

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