Should Cats Eat Raw Fish? I think so but i’m not sure!

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Should cats eat raw fish? A diet heavily weighted towards raw fresh fish will eventually mean that the cat will become deficient in Thiamine (Vitamin B1). We assume that cats can eat raw fish as fish is protein and protein should form the bulk of a cat’s diet. This very good article explains clearly what happens when a cat becomes deficient in Thiamine or Vitamin B1.

Cats Love To Eat Raw Fish

When a family member had been fishing and arrived home with fresh fish, the cat knew.

In fact the cat put two and two together when he heard the knives being sharpened, ready for the filleting of the fish. There would be no question that the cat was lining up for his share of fresh, raw fish.

As freshly caught raw fish wasn’t the main source of the cat’s diet there was no need to worry. We all know how much cats love fish. How often do we see an image of a cat with a fish nearby?

should cats eat raw fish

Feeding Your cat small Amounts Of Raw Fish

If you decide to feed your cat raw fish, it should be done sparingly and as a treat.

To be on the safe side, you can freeze the fish for at least a week before feeding it to your cat to kill any parasites that may be present.

Avoid feeding your cat raw fish that are high in thiaminase and heavy metals.

Certain fish are known to contain higher levels of thiaminase, an enzyme that breaks down thiamine (vitamin B1), which can lead to thiamine deficiency if consumed in large quantities. Fish that are commonly known to contain thiaminase include:

  • Carp
  • Goldfish
  • Alewife
  • Smelt
  • Herring
  • Pike
  • Mackerel
  • Bream

It’s important to note that not all fish within these species will have high levels of thiaminase, as it can vary based on their diet and environment.

Regarding heavy metals, fish can accumulate heavy metals from their environment, particularly from water contaminated by industrial, agricultural, or urban sources. The heavy metals of concern in fish typically include mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic. Fish that are known to accumulate higher levels of mercury and other heavy metals include:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna (especially larger species like bluefin and bigeye)
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy

These fish tend to be larger, longer-lived predators, which accumulate more heavy metals in their tissues over time.

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What Fish Can Cats Eat?

We know that cats like fish and the good news is that you can feed your cat canned cat food, containing fish. Raw fish needs to remain a treat.

Canned fish for cats has been specially formulated to contain thiamine and other vitamins and minerals that are essential for good cat health.

Read the label of canned cat food and you will see that thiamine is included.

So providing the your cat doesn’t have an allergy to fish, canned cat food that is fish should be fine for your cat.

Checking the labels on the can or packet when you are buying canned fish cat food, particularly if your cat has allergies.

Related: Growing cat grass for your cat to nibble on.

Can Cats Eat Tuna?

What about that tin of tuna or salmon you have in the cupboard? Is that okay for the cat to eat?

Not not really. It isn’t okay for the cat to eat the can of tuna in your kitchen cupboard.

Canned tuna for humans does not contain the vitamins and minerals that cats need which are added to commercially produced cat food.

A diet of canned tuna meant for humans would eventually lead to ill health in the cat.

Tuna contains mercury and there would be a risk that your cat could get mercury poisoning.

Caitlin Heinze, a veterinary nutritionist explains the dangers of mercury poisoning and the signs of mercury poisoning in a cat.

In addition eating canned tuna meant for humans will mean that the cat is consuming far more calories that he needs. Eating canned tuna for human consumption on a regular basis will lead to weight gain in the cat.

The canned tuna that is packed in oil it will also contain salt which is not good for the cat.

The variety of canned tuna that is canned in brine or water, is a better option, however it should just be an emergency option and not form part of the cat’s diet.

The best option for the cat nutritionally, is to stick to the canned cat food that contains fish and avoid canned tuna meant for human consumption.

vector - a cat holding a lot of fish
Lunch! Not all for me, for the whole office!

Balance In The Cat’s diet – Forms of protein

Yes cats do like fresh fish but should cats eat raw fish? It is fine from time to time but make sure the diet is balanced, by providing other good sources of protein such as chicken, turkey, beef and lamb.

It is widely believed that cats evolved in the desert regions of the world so suffice to say that fish wouldn’t have been a regular part of the diet.

Cats are obligate carnivores which means that the majority of a cat’s diet should be meat and in fact they need meat to survive. Protein needs, make up a large percentage of a cat’s diet.

Cats in the wild hunt for small prey such as birds, reptiles and rodents to fulfil their need for protein.

Related: Are you looking for food suitable for an old cat with bad teeth.

Fish For Dinner – For Cats

There are some excellent fish based cat foods that are commercially produced.

This article examines what you should look for in cat food that contains fish and which food our cat adored.

In fact he loved it so much we jokingly thought it must have had some addictive properties.

So should cats eat raw fish? The advice is occasionally but raw fish should not form the bulk of the cat’s diet.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:
vector - two cats reading
No more raw fish for us dear, maybe just occasionally!

Related Reading…

What Food Is Not Okay For Cats?

For a comprehensive list of food that cats should not eat and why, read what cats should not eat which examines 30 different types of food and the suitability for cats.

You may be surprised by some of the food that cats should not eat. What about milk? In folklore, it has been accepted that cats like milk and cream.

Everyone knows the saying – The cat that swallowed the cream. Most people would assume that milk is good for cats. Is milk good for cats? Read the article to find out more.

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