Is a Cat Eating Fish Good or Bad?

Why do cats like fish?

Fish is not a cat’s natural part of their diet. These pets depended on rodents especially rats and mice with a few reptiles, birds and invertebrates. However, when given to most cats, like it very much.

Why do cats like it so much? Perhaps, it because is something new and away from their normal foods, i.e., it has a new flavor, or it is delicious with a great taste.

These pets also love milk yet most of them are lactose intolerant. This implies that liking something does not always mean it is safe for your feline pal.

Best fish for cats

To begin with, cats can eat fish in moderation. It is not poisonous to these animals. However, it should be a small part of their diet or an occasional treat, whether your kitties like it so much or not.

Secondly, all fish are not equal. Therefore, you need to carefully select the ones you give to your kitties. There is an inclination towards going for tuna, salmon, and tilefish especially the Ocean Whitefish as well as sardines, mackerels among others.

Can cats eat fish
Can cats eat fish

In fact, if you check on most fish-based cat foods, you will notice they are the commonly used ones.

Nutritional profile

Types such as tuna, salmon, sardine, mackerel, trout, and so on have a lot of nutrients, a reason why you will notice time and again people looking for them.

They are high-quality source of protein with most of the essential amino acids and taurine, fats including omega 3 fatty acids, carbs, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium,  vitamin B, vitamin E, B, E, iodine, phosphorus, among other vitamins and minerals.

As one of the Veterinary surgeons from Hill Pets notes, “DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid, that we know is involved in neurological development – that’s the development of the brain and its connections. Although some of that development occurs while the kitten is still in its mother’s womb, it’s clear that some changes are still occurring after birth.”

Furthermore, supplementation of fine diets with DHA can make kittens more alert, and adaptable. Therefore, being a source of DHA, fish is good for kittens.

Fish in commercial cat diets

If your cats love fish, you can go for some of the high-quality commercial diets that have it. They have all the nutrients that your felines need for optimum health.

If you go for such feline foods, there should not no problem feeding them to your feline friend he or she does not have allergies.

Additionally, some pet food manufacturers extract some vital nutrients from fish and add them to various cat foods making them nutritionally balanced.

Finally, you are looking for snacks or cat foods with fish some of the brands you should consider include the following:

  • Purina Fancy Feast Adult Canned – Wet
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Dry with Salmon
  • Hill’s Science Diet Wet – Adult, Savory Salmon
  • ORIJEN Dry Cat Food, Six Fish, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
  • Tiki Cat Dash Smoked Fish Treat or Dry Food Topper, Grain-Free Feline Snack

Is fish bad for cats or good?

We have already noted that giving your cat some occasionally is not bad. However, there are a few issues often fronted concerning it which we feel worth mentioning.

1. Some cats are allergic to fish

After beef and dairy, it is the third most common cause of protein allergic in cats. Therefore, be sure your feline is not allergic too.

In case of allergic reactions, some of the symptoms you may note include vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal disturbances, among other symptoms.

Finally, these reactions may be mild or severe. In case of severe ones, you need to see your vet further treatment.

2. May lead to renal and urinary tract issues

According to Darwin’s Pets, fish-based diets made bones, guts, feces or parts that cannot be used by human beings are high in phosphorus and magnesium and they may “present problems for cats, especially those with kidney or urinary tract disease. In some cases, sensitive cats can develop cystitis and even urinary blockages if they eat any fish at all.”

However, this issue is mainly associated with their byproducts that humans cannot use.

3. Harmful contaminants

Depending on their source, there is a possibility of having harmful contaminants such as Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) which raise the possibility of feline hyperthyroidism.

Also, as  Animal Planet says, “carnivorous fish like tuna, salmon, and swordfish are more likely to contain higher levels of mercury than cod, halibut, and flounder.” Therefore, they present a risk of mercury poisoning as well as poisoning from other heavy metals including lead.

To ensure it is free from these contaminants, always consider its source and choose sources from unpolluted and clean water only. Usually, wild-caught sardines, anchovies, and salmons can be a good choice if from unpolluted cold waters.

4. Vitamin E deficiency

To avoid chances of vitamin E deficiency AAFCO recommends that extra vitamin E must be added, i.e., about 10 IU per kg of diets that have one gram of fish oil. Most types have it.

However, this oil is a good source of essential fatty acids and a little amount is not bad. However, an excessive amount may lead to vomiting diarrhea and pancreatitis in cats and dogs notes research on “Potential Adverse Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids in Dogs and Cats

How much fish can my cats have?

PetMD recommends giving your kitty only as treat a few times a week but it should not the main part of their diet. Therefore, it should only be a small part of your feline diet.

However, for the case of fish-based commercial diets, they are totally safe as well as nutritionally balance for optimum health.

Can cats eat fish bones

Cats should not have fish bones (especially cooked or as bones alone) as they are sharp and may pierce their mouth, throat or gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to obstruction and internal bleeding. Removing these bones may be quite challenging even for small ones.

However, if you give them while it is still raw with bones in them, your fluffy friend will be able to eat it well including its bones without any problems. However, is a raw one safe?

Cooked vs. raw

It is highly recommended that you give your kitties only cooked fish and never raw one.

Furthermore, it should be free from preservatives. For instance, sulfur-based preservatives as they hamper the absorption of thiamine, trigger asthma in your kitty.

Therefore, when buying it, check the label to ensure they do not have any sulfur-based preservatives or any other preservatives that may be harmful to your feline friend.

For home-based diets, ensure they are nutritionally balanced, i.e., if your kitty depends on homemade foods, a part of which can be fish, ensure the diets meet a cat’s nutritional needs.

To do so, work with your vet or an animal nutritionist in coming up with your recipes. This will avoid instances of any allergic reactions.

a). Can my kitties eat raw fish?

Is raw fish for cats good or bad? Will your feline friend eat it, or will they just ignore? The truth is that your feline friend will eat it and like it very much. However, raw fish is not safe for cats. Why?

Although Feline Nutrition notes that before, “feeding fresh-caught fish, you should freeze it to an internal temperature of -20°C (-4°F) for at least seven days to kill any parasites that may be present.” This will not kill any germs including bacteria present.

Furthermore, whereas most of the ones caught for commercial use are often frozen at the above-recommended temperatures, your ordinary home freezer may only be able to freeze yours at temperature ranges between -17°C and -12°C  which may not be enough to kill any parasites present.

Therefore, do not feed your cat any raw fish including the freshly caught ones because of the above reasons.

Always cook it fast. If thoroughly cooked, all the germs and parasites will die making it very safe for your fluffy friend.

Secondly, when raw, it may present a high risk of your felines being thiamine deficiency (vitamin B1) since it has the thiaminase enzyme that may destroy or breakdown down thiamine.

Fortunately, in commercial food manufacturers add thiamine. However, this is not the case for human canned tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardine food, a reason why you shouldn’t give it to your feline.

Finally, Vetstreet.com warns of gastrointestinal disturbances if you feed your cat with raw fish.

b). What about cooked and smoked fish?

Always you grill or cook fish before giving it to your feline friend. This will kill any parasites or germs it might. Also, it will degrade thiaminase. Smoked one is not safe as it often has a lot of salt used during the curing process making it not suitable for your kitties.

Excessive salt is not good for your fluffy friends especially if they have renal failure or heart diseases.

Finally, before serving it, ensure you remove bones. We have already looked at why bones may not be good.

See also

We are passionate pet and animal enthusiasts bringing insightful information to ensure your furry, flying or finned friends are happy and in good health. Feed them well and love them always.

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