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Our feline friends to like fish! However, with so many fish in the sea, you might be wondering about a particularly popular favorite: tuna. This brings us to the question: can cats eat tuna?
If you’ve opened a can of tuna, you probably heard little legs pushing your way immediately after. It’s an aroma and a taste! most cats can’t resist. But while your furry friend is pushing your hand, begging for the delicious fish, should you share?
Although tuna is not toxic to cats, which makes it safe to eat, it is not recommended as a staple in your cat’s daily diet.
Is tuna good or bad for cats?
Tuna is a low-calorie, high-protein food rich in nutrients such as vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. These are known to support healthy blood and nerve cells, cardiovascular health, and strong bones and muscles, respectively.
But is this salty saltwater fish as nutritious for cats as it is for us? Or is tuna bad for cats?
Tuna undoubtedly has its nutritional benefits. But if fed too often, it can lead to potential health problems in cats.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, fish is one of the foods to which cats are most often allergic. (In fact, it’s the first food mentioned!)
Signs of food allergies in cats include:
Small crispy bumps
If your cat starts showing these signs after introducing tuna (or any other type of fish) to their diet, it is very possible that they are allergic.
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Another concern is mercury poisoning. Mercury is a toxic metal found in water, air and soil. All fish contain mercury, but tuna has higher levels than other types of fish. Cats and humans can poison themselves with mercury if they eat too much tuna over a long period of time.
Signs of mercury poisoning in cats include:
Loss of coordination
Tremors or convulsions
Involuntary movements of the body and eyes
Central nervous system depression
Loss of vision
To note: Before you start throwing away your cans of tuna, it’s important to mention that mercury poisoning cases have thankfully declined in recent years. (Phew!)
Finally, too much tuna can cause your cat to gain weight. Tuna is a relatively healthy food for us humans, but those calories carry a lot more weight on our four-legged friends, literally. And while chonky kittens are absolutely adorable, being overweight can lead to chronic inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
By following the 10 percent rule with snacks and treats for our cats, we can help keep our beloved felines at a healthy weight so they can live longer.
Can cats ever eat tuna?
On the one hand (or paw), tuna can pose health risks if overfed and too often, while on the other hand, cats can technically eat it because it is not toxic. So, you might be wondering if you can – and should – feed your cat their favorite fish.
The good news?
“Tuna can be fed to cats, but in moderation. It is best used to flavor food or for a cat that does not eat it temporarily,” says Debra Eldredge, DVM at Senior Tail Waggers and award-winning author of Cat Owner’s House Veterinary Manual.
If your cat just can’t get enough of the flavorful tuna, look for the different types of tuna because they can have different levels of nutrients – and mercury – depending on what type you get, Eldredge explains.
“Pure tuna is high in unsaturated fat and doesn’t have antioxidants, such as vitamin E, to balance that out. It is also not balanced,” she says. “Tuna, especially the albacore variety, can be high in mercury. (This is why tuna is also not recommended as a daily meal for people.) Because it is a protein food, there are always has a risk of allergic reactions. “
Similar to other fish, like salmon, it is recommended that you cook tuna before serving it to your kitten to ensure safe feeding. Enjoy your lunch!
How much tuna can I feed my cat?
Our cats would eat tuna all day, every day if they could. But we know that as much as they want, it’s in their best interests that they don’t eat too much tuna. As the saying goes, “Everything in moderation”.
“Putting canned tuna juice in water in your cat’s water bowl can encourage drinking sometimes, it’s always a good thing. Tuna flavored cat food (make sure the label says balanced and complete) is popular with many cats, ”Eldredge says.“ Bottom line: don’t think of tuna as a meal for your cat. Instead, it can be a rare treat or an aroma / ingredient in a balanced food. “
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