Can Cats Eat Tuna? Why It Might Be Harmful To Your Kitty…
Anime fans who watch Axis Powers: Hetalia may recall fondly how much Japan’s little bobtail Tama loved “Dee-rish-us tuna”. The other “Nekotalia” cats would start trade agreements to get their tuna. One of the old Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats cartoons featured a zombified cat moaning “tuna fish!” the way a typical zombie might call for “brains!”
Going further back, there are old adages and fables about cats wanting to eat fish. Many cat foods and treats have tuna as an ingredient. You may have noticed that opening a can of aromatic tuna is the surest way to get a cat to come running to you. Cats love the smell and taste of tuna. Is it OK to feed them some out of the can?
Can cats eat raw tuna?
While there is a popular on-line game called “Sushi Cat” where the goal is to stuff a cat full of sushi while navigating a maze, cats should not eat raw fish of any kind. This is all the more reason to put a lid on the aquarium and for fishing enthusiasts to keep their catch where Kitty can’t get it.
Raw fish can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning. They can even break down thiamine until the poor cat is in a coma. If you must feed your cat fish at all, make sure it’s cooked all the way through first.
Can cats eat canned tuna?
Tuna from the can isn’t always the best option. Canned tuna for human consumption is usually pre-cooked, but it lacks the essential vitamins a cat needs. A canned tuna based cat food is fine to give to a cat because it has all the vitamins they need added.
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If you feed them canned tuna at all it should be sparingly so they don’t get spoiled and refuse to eat anything else.
Can cats eat tuna in oil?
Oil is fattening, pure and simple. You probably shouldn’t be eating oil packed tuna yourself. If a cat is fed tuna it must be tuna preserved in its own natural juices. If your cat needs to be enticed to eat or just really craves tuna, you can pour a little tuna juice on her kibble to make it more palatable.
The juice does have a high salt content so it is not recommended for cats with heart problems or high blood pressure. Even healthy cats only need small quantities as an appetizer.
Why is Tuna Good for Cats?
Cats can eat small quantities of tuna as part of a balanced diet. It is rich in those proteins and amino acids essential for your cat’s growth and development. There’s also the B and C vitamins that improve immunity plus manganese and potassium. Tuna has healthy antioxidants that eradicate free radicals from the blood stream.
The thiamine, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids can give your cat energy. For better blood circulation there’s iron, riboflavin, niacin and other nutrients. Unlike tuna flavored cat food, tuna does not contain fish meal or artificial preservatives and coloring.
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Cats love the smell and taste of tuna, so it’s a good way to tempt them into eating unfamiliar food.
Why is Tuna Bad for Cats?
Some of the things tuna does not have that your cat needs is taurine and Vitamin E. A cat fed more tuna than she really needs will suffer if deprived of these nutrients. A lack of vitamin E can lead to steatitis, also known as yellow fat disease. While a little thiamine is good, an overabundance can lead to thiaminase poisoning, a disease that weakens the immune system.
Because tuna is a fish that’s high on the food chain, it has a tendency to be high in mercury. If your cat seems weak, uncoordinated, mentally disturbed or develops a rash, she may be suffering from mercury poisoning and needs to see a vet right away. A mild case can be flushed out by having Kitty drink more water. A severe case could call for antibiotics.
Can a Kitten Eat Tuna?
Because of all the nutrients that promote growth, it may be tempting to give some tuna to a small kitten. However, the risks seem to outweigh the benefits. A tiny kitten is at even greater risk for steatitis, mercury poisoning and seizures.
A half grown adolescent cat may be able to handle small quantities as an occasional treat and the tiniest squirt of tuna juice might help a recently weaned kitten get used to the idea of eating on their own. Otherwise, a kitten is better off getting their vitamins and nutrients from other sources.
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Tuna should in no case be a regular basis for a cat’s diet. It can make a good treat or occasionally to whet a picky cat’s appetite. There are regular cat foods and treats with the smell and flavor of tuna plus some extra vitamins. In any case, do read that label so you know what Kitty is eating.
Keep all things in moderation and make sure any fish your cat eats is thoroughly cooked. While popular culture exaggerates how much cats need tuna, they certainly do seem to want it. Just make sure she’s eating all the other good things she needs to eat as well.
- Tuna at Word Healthiest Foods
- Canned Tuna at seafoodhealthfacts.org
- Fresh and Frozen Seafood: Selecting and Serving It Safely U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FDA
- Clinical signs, MRI features, and outcomes of two cats with thiamine deficiency secondary to diet change by So-Jeung Moon, Min-Hee Kang, Hee-Myung Parkcorresponding author J Vet Sci. 2013 Dec; 14(4): 499–502. Published online 2013 Dec 19. doi: 10.4142/jvs.2013.14.4.499