To stay in tip-top shape, a cat must eat complete and balanced food appropriate for her age, size, weight, and activity levels. Her meals should contain the right levels of animal-derived protein and fat to make her systems function properly. Seafood is technically edible meat that comes from water-dwelling animals, but does this mean that cats can automatically eat them? Read this blog post to discover:
- How does a cat’s body work?
- Which seafood products can your cat eat?
- Other considerations when feeding seafood to your cat
How does a cat’s body work?
Unlike dogs that are omnivores, cats are obligate carnivores that need a daily dose of nutrients such as vitamin A, arginine, and taurine. Cats cannot produce these on their own, so they must obtain them through high-quality meat sources. Without them, cats can suffer from a variety of health conditions such as poor immune system, blindness, and heart failure.
Compared with other mammals, cats have shorter digestive tracts that can sufficiently break down meat and turn them into glucose. They do not have the capacity to digest carbohydrates found in plant-based food, so fruits and vegetables must be given to them occasionally and in limited amounts.
Which seafood products can your cat eat?
Fish and shellfish are two of the most common seafood types eaten by humans. According to a UN report, tuna, salmon, and cod are the top three fish consumed worldwide. Meanwhile, clams, shrimp, oysters, squid, and crab are examples of shellfish caught and sold as edible food. Discover which of these seafood products your cat can safely eat by reviewing our list below. Consult with your veterinarian before giving her any of these options. Adjust the frequency and serving size depending on her age, size, activity levels, as well as her pre-existing health conditions.
Due to the high amount of fatty acids found in it, it is not recommended for cats to eat cooked fish on a daily basis. If you get approval to feed home cooked fish to your cat, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned, deboned, and prepared without any oil, sauce, and seasoning. Try boiling, steaming, grilling, or baking it, then divide the fish into smaller chunks before serving.
Tuna and tilefish are said to be the two types of fish most prone to contaminants, so it’s best to avoid giving these to your cat. Moreover, raw fish must not be served to your cat because of the harmful bacteria that may be found in it. These pathogens may lead to digestive issues, food poisoning, and serious neurological problems.
Tuna is a type of fish known for containing high levels of mercury, metals, and unsaturated fats. As such, it is not advisable to feed it to your cat regularly. Too much tuna may cause mercury poisoning, which can result in loss of balance or coordination, difficulty in walking, and inflammation of the fatty tissue. Similarly, letting her consume canned tuna brined in salt or oil is not recommended since the ingredients used may be harmful for her.
An oily fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12, cooked salmon should only be fed to your cat as an occasional treat. Similar to tuna, this fish contains considerate amounts of mercury that can cause poisoning. Raw or smoked salmon should never be fed to your cat, but canned salmon (particularly ones tinned in spring water) may be given with your vet’s approval.
Cats can enjoy eating fresh shrimp that is prepared and cooked properly. It is a great source of nutrients such as selenium, phosphorus, choline, iodine, copper, and vitamin B12. Remember to rinse the shrimp, remove its shell, tail, and devein, and chop it into smaller pieces before giving it to your cat.
Just like shrimp, prawns can be safely consumed by cats as long as they are fresh and cooked the right way. But since they are high in sodium, they must be given moderately.
Other considerations when feeding seafood to your cat
Always cook the seafood you give to your cat. When preparing it, do not add seasonings such as salt, onion, garlic, and chives as these may trigger gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, and/or poisoning. You should also make sure that the bones, scales, and shells of your chosen seafood have been removed and disposed of properly. This will prevent choking incidents and mouth, throat, or intestinal injuries.
Fish is known to contain histamine—compounds released by the white blood cells that can ward off inflammation or cause allergies. Because of this, some cats with sensitive stomachs may develop an allergy or intolerance after eating fish for the first time. The most common signs include:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Frequent scratching or hair loss
- Chronic ear problems
- Red, inflamed skin
- Coughing, wheezing, and sneezing
- Poor growth in young dogs
When giving your cat seafood for the first time, offer a small piece to her and see what happens in the next 24 hours. If she manifests any of the symptoms mentioned above, do not let her eat it again. Call your veterinarian to get advice on what to do next. He may recommend conducting a test to determine which food or factors (bacterial infection, mites, and yeast infection, to name a few) are triggering your cat’s allergies.
With your veterinarian’s guidance, you can safely provide your cat with seafood options that can support her well-balanced diet. Aside from fish and shellfish, some fruits and vegetables may also be offered to your cat as healthy treats. Discover which human food cats can eat in our blog by exploring our “can cats eat” and “cat feeding” categories.