If you have one of these wonderful animals I am sure that you, just like myself have asked yourself this question many times.
The question being, that is, about what foods cats can and can’t eat.
It is very common for people to not feel completely sure about this, and as a result they turn to the all knowing internet to guide them.
We all know cats can be sneaky little things and they do love to try out the curious foods their humans often like to feast upon, so it is always a good idea to know which ones are safe for them to try out…
What about tuna?
This article is steered towards tuna fish, and if cats can eat it…and if they should!
The simplest answer here is yes, cats can eat tuna.
Now, the broader question is also, should they eat it? And if so, should it be something we will be adding to our regular shopping basket along with their normal cat food?
Let’s find out…
Table of Contents
Tuna And Cats
Unless you live under a rock, or make a conscious effort to stay away from anything related to these animals, you have probably witnessed their cries of sheer joy when you crack open a tin of tuna fish.
It is adorable to witness them running around happy or meowing excited at you when you are doing something as mundane as opening a metal can.
It kindles joy into see how much they love this little simple thing most of us keep hidden in our cupboards.
In most cases I barely have to touch the tin of tuna and they are already running around my ankles like bees around a honeypot.
Cats are indeed carnivores, and them being natural hunters, it is safe to say they need meat in order to survive.
It is commonly depicted in cartoons and media that they do love any types of fish though. While this is indeed true in of itself, the question that remains is, is tuna safe for cats to eat?
Let’s begin by looking at some of the benefits of this tasty little fish treat:
Good Effects For Cats
Tuna itself is very high in protein, very low in carbohydrates, and contains high amounts of omega 3, specifically DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid).
These are essential fatty acids, and they could be very beneficial to your kitty, especially their coats. You know what they say, a healthy coat means a healthy cat.
It could also help prevent skin disease, and it is also believed to help with any allergies your kitty might have.
You may have noticed how some cat foods you find for sale in your local shop states that it contains tuna, and it will mainly be for these specific reasons alone.
Sounds great, right?
While these things are all great to hear, let’s look at the more negative effects of tuna and it’s effect on cats…
Negative Effects for Cats
While this fish does indeed have some good benefits for our feline friends, there are also some negative aspects to consider when it comes to feeding your cat tuna.
Fish in general and especially tuna contains mercury.
High amounts of mercury can lead to mercury poisoning which is unpleasant.
While it would take large amounts of tuna and fish in your cats diet to cause mercury poisoning, it is always a potential risk than cannot be ignored.
While tuna does have its place in a cats diet, tuna alone will not provide your furry friend with all the nutrients that it needs to be as healthy as it can be.
Cat food is scientifically “engineered” to be a balanced meal for them, packed with the right amount of nutrients and minerals a cat needs. Tuna on it’s own is not a good substitute or alternative.
One other point to consider is the affordability.
Tuna can be rather pricey, and due to the fact it tastes so good, cats can indeed become rather fond of it just like we humans can
Too much of this good thing, and you might just find your cat turning their nose up at their regular dry or canned food, and instead favoring the delicious fish only.
My cat is very good at this, enjoying a certain type of food for a while, then suddenly starting to ignore it, giving me the old “just what is this?” look of pure judgement…
It can become a pricey habit to have if you want to continue giving your cat tuna too often.
Now that we have talked about both the positives and negatives, let’s return again to the question at hand…
So, Can They Have It?
To answer the burning question of, can cats eat tuna, the simplest way to answer is: Yes, they can indeed eat it.
However, it should not be considered a staple part of their diet, nor a replacement for a balanced and varied diet of a good quality cat food.
Cats are carnivores and need a lot of protein, but they also need a versatile diet that is intended for them specifically.
AKA: cat food.
It is best to think of this fish as an occasional treat, or perhaps even a good way to sneak them their worming tablet without them making too big of a deal of it. (don’t tell my cat I do this though, it is a well kept secret…)
Please do bear in mind as well though, it will depend also on your cats genetics, their overall health, age and such things how they react to the tuna.
Some “owners” can feed their cats almost anything and have no issues at all, while others can find themselves rushing to the vet after having been a little too careless and left their cupboard open at the wrong time.
You know your cat better than anyone so it is also a matter of good quality judgement and some common sense as well.
Before you rush to the store to grab a couple of tins, let’s look at what ways you should be prepping and feeding them their new occasional tasty treat so we get it just right.
Also read: Do male cats have nipples?
Giving Your Cat Tuna
While it is widely believed that cats can and should eat raw meat, is that actually correct?
Well, I suppose the easiest way to look at it is, is it good or safe for humans to eat raw meat?
While it does depend greatly on the type, freshness, and overall quality of the meat, it is always the best bet to cook meat before consuming it, and this rule does of course cross over to cats.
While a little raw meat in their diet is not the end of the world and shouldn’t cause any major problems if it is a one off, uncooked meat can potentially have many negative side effects for them.
It is also of note, that raw fish especially has an enzyme called Thiaminase, which can be deadly to cats, due to it breaking down the B vitamin thiamine in your cats bloodstream.
Thiamine is essential for your cat, and feeding them uncooked tuna can lead to a thiamine deficiency, which can be fatal.
The best way to avoid this happening, is by choosing the right type of tuna, and by preparing it in the correct way, which we will talk about next.
Best Types of Tuna for Cats
If you feel like your little friend has earned themselves a delicious treat, then you have a couple of options to choose from. These are from fresh to canned tuna.
Both of these types will no doubt be wolfed down by your kitty, however, it is best to look for tuna that is not stored in sunflower oil, or highly salted water/brine. Neither of those are good for them.
Too much salt can lead to sodium poisoning, and this can indeed be deadly.
It is also worth considering that fresh tuna can be very expensive and hard on your wallet.
Canned tuna is definitely the wallet friendlier option, and look for light chunk canned tuna, instead of albacore.
Albacore contains more mercury than light chunk tuna does, so it is better to avoid that as much as possible if you can.
Preparing Tuna for your Cat
As I mentioned above, the best way to give your cat tuna is to make sure it is cooked beforehand.
Cooking the fish will remove the vast majority of potentially harmful bacteria, and will also be much easier for your pet to digest, plus the smell will be irresistible to them!
You can even add small amounts of some cooked broccoli, green beans or carrots for an extra health boost. Don’t make this an everyday thing though, since cats don’t need as much veggies as human do and give these in low quantities.
Never give your cat garlic or onions!
It is best to make sure it is thoroughly cooked though and cooled down well before serving it. Your cat will not be happy with a burnt tongue, no matter how delicious the tuna fish is!
So, to break it down in the simplest way possible…
Also read: Can cats eat tomatoes?
Can Cats Eat Tuna?
Yes, they can eat tuna.
Just make sure that it is correctly prepared, of a low salt, oil and mercury content, and only on occasion, not every single day.
This sums up the question at hand and is the simplest answer I can provide.
If you have any concerns or more questions regarding this, it is always best to call your vet for a better idea on whether or not your pet can enjoy some yummy cooked tuna every now and then.
If you have been given the green light, I am sure your cat will be most appreciative, and if it becomes a bit of a treat at the same time each week, you will no doubt start getting some regular happy meows in anticipation.
Then your cat will most likely reward you with purring and joyful nose bumps once they have had their fill of tuna.
Let us know what you think it the comments below, and feel free to tell us if your cat likes tuna as well.