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Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?

Est. read time: 4 min.

Can cats eat chicken? They sure can—with caveats, which we’ll discuss in this post. But can cats eat raw chicken? That one is trickier to answer. Many cat parents advocate for a raw meat diet. However, this diet requires extreme caution and a lot of prep work. If not prepared correctly, raw chicken is apt to make your cat (and possibly you) quite ill.

smoke black cat eating chicken

Can cats eat chicken?

Cats are obligate carnivores: They require a diet high in animal protein. Indeed, cats reportedly eat 3 million chickens every year in the U.S. alone. So it’s not a question of can cats eat chicken, but should they eat chicken?

The good news is that chicken is an ideal animal protein source for your cat—provided that it is served with your cat’s safety in mind. As opposed to processed meats, chicken offers cats lean animal protein that’s low in sodium and fat, and high in important vitamins and minerals like selenium, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. 

A balanced and complete commercial diet is best

Research and diet trials have demonstrated that a commercial diet that is crafted and reviewed by veterinarians is best. Dr. Laria Herod explains that there are many discussions surrounding raw diets, and the bottom line is that there is a large margin of error when it comes to safety. Additionally, incorporating the other nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids that cat diets need to have to thrive can prove challenging. 

Some cats have medical reasons that require a special diet and there are many prescription veterinary options to address this. In some situations, your veterinarian may recommend a bland diet that includes cooked chicken. It is important to follow the recipe instructions and to follow up with your veterinarian to confirm when to transition your pet back to their normal diet. 

Cooked, skinless chicken is an option

Although your cat’s diet should not wholly consist of chicken, a small amount of plain cooked chicken is fine for your cat. (We recommend talking to your vet beforehand in case of dietary restrictions specific to your cat.) 

Can cats eat chicken nuggets or other fried snacks? Yes, they can, but it is not recommended. If you must do this, it is recommended to leave off the breading and fat trimmings (including the skin) if you’re going to feed your cat chicken. Boiling the chicken is probably your best bet when it comes to your cat’s health.

Hold the seasoning

Do NOT serve your cat chicken that has been seasoned, particularly with spices like garlic and onions

If you’re wondering whether cats can eat chicken that’s been seasoned with garlic or onions, the answer is always absolutely not.” - Laria Herod, DVM

Many herbs, spices, and oils that are healthy for humans will upset your cat’s stomach—and some, like garlic and onions, are toxic to your cat. Keep this in mind if you’re offering your cat cooked chicken. That includes chicken broth, which often contains these “toxic” seasonings and too much salt

Can cats eat raw chicken?

We’ve already discussed why cats should not eat raw fish, but what about raw chicken?

The raw food diet for cats is controversial, to say the least. Proponents say it is the “biologically appropriate diet” for cats, since it closely mimics what a cat would eat in the wild. However, this diet requires extensive prep work by cat parents, including lots of sanitizing. Why? Raw meat containing E. coli, salmonella, or listeria will sicken a cat, just as it does people. And by extension, you and your human family members are potentially more exposed to these dangerous types of bacteria. Raw meat consumption can also cause your cat to contract parasitic infections like toxoplasmosis.  

Finally, raw food diets aren’t nutritionally balanced for cats. Talk to your veterinarian before offering your cat raw chicken or deciding to embark on the raw food diet. 

Can cats eat chicken bones?

Absolutely NOT. This is a hard no. Chicken bones—or any animal bones—are a choking hazard for cats and dogs. Furthermore, small bones can also splinter and cause serious damage to the mouth and digestive tract of cats.  

So, there you have it: Don’t serve your cat raw chicken without talking to your vet first.  Never give your cat chicken bones or chicken that is seasoned with spices like garlic and onions. Learn more about human food that is (and is not) safe for cats.


Tiger-striped cat sitting on a wooden dining table - can cats eat raw chicken?