It’s International Sushi Day! This got us wondering whether our feline friends can indulge in sushi and its related ingredients. Can cats eat tuna? For that matter, can cats eat raw fish? Like cats and milk, cats and fish aren’t necessarily a winning combination—at least in raw form. Let’s find out what risks are involved with letting your cat consume tuna, raw fish, salmon, and more.
Cats are obligate carnivores
Cats need specific nutrients that can only be supplied through the ingestion of animal meat. The smell of fish alone is likely to entice your cats, as their big, wild cousins—from bobcats to Siberian tigers—are known to catch fish in shallow streams and more.
However, there are some serious risks to your domestic kitty if he or she eats raw fish.
Can cats eat raw fish?
Cats should never eat raw fish. In addition to the very real possibility of getting food poisoning from E. coli or salmonella, raw fish poses a particular threat to felines because it contains the enzyme thiaminase. This enzyme destroys thiamine, an essential B vitamin in cats. Dr. Sally Perea, DVM, explains that “thiamine deficiency can cause neurological problems—and even lead to convulsions” and coma.
Can cats eat sushi?
Thinking of sharing a roll or two with your cat? If your sushi contains raw fish, you should not allow your cat to eat it. There are other common sushi ingredients your cat should avoid, as well, including vegetables or spices from the allium family, cream cheese, and sodium-loaded soy sauce.
The good news is, that’s more sushi for you!
Can cats eat tuna?
Raw tuna poses the same threat to cats as described above, while too much tuna in any form can increase the risk of mercury poisoning in cats. These issues aside, a small treat of cooked tuna here and there is probably safe—just don’t allow a steady diet of the stuff.
Can cats eat canned tuna?
Canned tuna—whether it’s packed for humans or for cats—tends to have a lot of sodium and other chemical stabilizers; in excess, this is not healthy for your cat. However, a bit of a canned tuna as a treat from time to time is likely okay for your kitty.
Can cats eat salmon?
Finally, some good news! Your cat can enjoy salmon—as long as it’s cooked salmon without herbs, spices, or dressings that could upset your cat’s stomach. It’s also best if your cat avoids canned, smoked, and, of course, raw salmon. Don’t let salmon be a staple in your cat’s diet, however, as she needs other nutrients that she can’t get from salmon. Plus, once she gets a taste for salmon all the time, she may not eat anything else!
So why is cooked salmon good for cats? With its abundance of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin B 12, Vitamin B 6, potassium, selenium, and niacin, salmon may benefit felines in a variety of ways:
- Improves immunity
- Discourages obesity (in moderation)
- Fights anemia
- Helps with metabolism
- Improves vision, hair, and skin
- Benefits cats with arthritis, kidney disease, or heart disorders
Can cats eat fish bones?
Absolutely not. Fish bones (and other animal bones) pose a choking hazard with cats and dogs alike. Small bones can also splinter and cause serious damage to the mouth and digestive tract of cats. If you are going to feed your cat cooked fish of any kind, make sure it has no bones.
So, can cats eat tuna, raw fish, or sushi? Now you know that cats should never eat raw fish. Offering your cat cooked salmon from time to time is a safe bet, while canned tuna should just be a once-in-a-while treat.
Learn more about which human foods are safe for cats and which foods to avoid. In the meantime, go enjoy your sushi roll in solitude!
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Cover photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash