Cats might perk up every time you open a can of tuna, but plenty of pet owners are unsure whether fishy foods are safe for their animals. After all, tuna packaged for people might have ingredients that aren’t good for cats, just like people shouldn’t eat foods designed for cats.
Of course, there are also two versions of this question. One asks whether it’s safe to feed cats food based on or containing fish, and the other asks if it’s okay to give cats food meant for the fish in your fish tank.
Those two questions have wildly different answers, but we’ll tackle both.
First, giving your cat a little fish (unseasoned and fully cooked) is usually okay as a treat. Canned fish is slightly more problematic since it usually has more salt, but again, a small treat now and again usually won’t cause problems. Fish-flavored cat foods are perfectly fine and can even be a good way to keep your cat interested in their diet. Lastly, food designed for the fish in your tank isn’t a suitable option for your cat, but it probably won’t hurt them if they accidentally get a lick or two before you catch them.
Let’s look at whether cats can eat fish food and how and when it’s okay to give your cat different kinds of fish-based foods.
Do Cats Like Fish Food?
First things first, do cats like fish food? Well, yes! Cats have strong instincts that tell them that the smell of fish is the smell of food. Some feral cats also fish in shallow streams and ponds for smaller fish.
That means that your cats are likely to come calling when you open a fresh bag of fish-flavored kibble, a can of tuna, or even a package of fresh fish for yourself.
But, that doesn’t mean that all cats like fish food, and cats can be notoriously picky when it comes to their food.
It’s good to experiment with a few different flavors, including various types of fish and chicken, if your cat is refusing food or only eating when they’re particularly hungry.
Is It Safe To Feed Fish To Cats?
Feeding fish to cats might feel natural, given cats eat fish when they can get it in the wild, but that doesn’t mean you should feed them fish at home.
There are a few problems with feeding fish to your cat. The tiny bones in most fish can cause issues for cats that aren’t used to eating around them. If you choose to feed your cat fish anyway, you need to shred it thoroughly and make sure you have removed all of the tiny bones.
In terms of canned fish, there are still some problems. For one thing, while canned fish is fully cooked and usually fully de-boned, many fish are packed in either brine or oil. Both can be a problem for your cat.
You also cannot guarantee that canned fish is bone-free. Packaging accidents happen, and it’s difficult to process all the tiny bones out of fish, even with tried and true techniques.
It’s also essential to make sure any fish you feed your cat is fully cooked. Fish of all kinds are known to carry many bacterial and parasitic illnesses, which can be dangerous for your cat if they catch them.
Cooking helps reduce the odds of your cat getting a food-borne illness but does not eliminate it.
Can Cats Eat Too Much Fish?
Even when fish is completely safe and prepared well for cats, they can still have too much of it.
There are a few reasons why fish can be too much for cats. Fish does not offer the supplements and other nutrients contained in regular cat food from a pet store.
Fish is also a bit lower in protein than red meat and even chicken in some cases, which means your cat may not be getting enough protein if you only give them fish or even give them mostly or 50/50 fish and other meats.
Your feline friend might love fish, but their health needs to come first.
Is Chicken Or Fish Better For Cats?
In most cases, chicken is a little better for your cats than fish, especially when it’s prepared in a safe way for your cat. It’s low fat and high protein and contains many of the nutrients your cat needs most.
However, that doesn’t mean that chicken is a complete food any more than fish is, and you still need to make sure your cat is getting a balanced diet, even if you occasionally give them chicken.
Can You Cook Fish To Feed Your Cat?
Any fresh fish you feed your cat should be fully cooked, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea to feed fish to your cat.
Fish is nutritionally incomplete, which means it should be limited to an occasional treat rather than a large part of your cat’s diet.
You should also avoid all seasoning when you cook fish for your cat and give them small portions to supplement their everyday food, not a replacement.
Is Canned Salmon Okay For Cats?
Canned salmon usually isn’t safe for cats. It’s typically salted, packed in brine or oil, and may contain other harmful preservatives as well.
However, if you find salmon that has been packed in plain water or its own juices, that might be a safer option. However, you need to double-check that there are no harmful components and may want to consult a vet even if you find a safe seem can of salmon.
My Cat Ate Some Of My Fish’s Food – Will They Be Okay?
In most cases, fish food is mainly made of fish, which means it’s not likely to harm your cat if they get a little.
However, fish food isn’t as nutritionally dense, often contains filler ingredients with little nutritional value, and has far fewer calories than your cat needs.
A few mouthfuls likely isn’t going to be dangerous for your cat, but you should never intentionally feed your cat fish food. If you notice that your cat shows any odd symptoms or behavior after eating fish food, you should immediately contact your vet.
Can Cats Eat Goldfish Food?
Goldfish food isn’t as nutritious for your cat, so we can’t recommend it to anyone as cat food or cat food supplement.
Instead, stick to foods designed for your cat with enough nutrients and calories to meet their needs.
Things To Consider
Your vet is almost certainly the best resource you have for designing a safe and healthy diet for your cat. You should listen to their recommendations, whether they’re recommending a specific food or type of food, a prescription diet, or even helping you craft a homemade recipe for your cats.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your cat’s dietary needs are taken care of over time. What seems to work fine for your cat for a while might not work for them as they get older or if their health status changes.
My name is James, and welcome to FAQCats!
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