Although cats love to eat foods that have rich smells with savory, meaty textures the regular consumption of tuna fish can cause health problems. Cats can begin to crave tuna while neglecting their traditional meals and dietary requirements. Health problems can occur if your cat overindulges.
Are there any safe alternatives? While raw tuna and tuna prepared for human consumption are definitely bad for cats, cooked tuna and tuna found in cat food are significantly better choices.
Why Do Cats Like Tuna?
The smell of tuna is intoxicating to most cats. When that smell is combined with savory chunks of meat, the appeal is substantial.
Compared to many other types of fish, cats often prefer tuna (and salmon) over many others.
Although cats can often fall victim to eating the wrong foods, many times, those foods are given to them by the owner. With tuna, it is a bit different due to a cat’s natural desire to eat it.
Tuna can become a dangerous food if owners make the mistake of thinking that regular consumption equates to a healthy and filling meal.
Is Tuna Healthy for Cats?
Tuna contains proteins and amino acids that can be beneficial. Complete with vitamins B and C, tuna also has antioxidants that can increase blood flow and eliminate harmful free radicals.
Tuna can also give your cat energy. Thiamine, B vitamins, and critical omega-3 fatty acids can keep your cat alert and vibrant. However, all of these qualities come at a cost.
If consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet, tuna can be beneficial. However, moderation is the key. These qualities are only worthy if tuna is fed to your cat occasionally.
Using thiamine as the example, the occasional intake can be beneficial. However, too much tuna can lead to a severely weakened immune system.
Why is Too Much Tuna Toxic for Cats?
When tuna is served regularly, it can lead to malnutrition. Because tuna does not have the proper amount of vitamin E that cats need, this can lead to steatitis (yellow fat disease). This involves the development of lumps under the skin that are caused by the inflammation of fatty tissue.
Tuna is also classified as a toxic food because of its appeal. Due to its strong taste and smell, cats can become addicted to tuna, so any health concerns are more magnified. A steady diet of tuna can cause mercury poisoning. It is not uncommon for cats to develop a tuna addiction.
Can Cats Eat Tuna?
Cats can eat tuna, but it should never be served as a meal. The best way to view tuna is that of a snack treat. This is true for raw, canned tuna and tuna that has been prepared with mayonnaise, pickles, etc. The “adult meal” version of tuna, with all of the additives, should always be off limits.
Cats may like fish, but that does not mean that they should eat it. The desire of humans to give cats tuna is based on the belief that they enjoy it. However, cats should not always be allowed to eat what they like. It is for this reason that tuna is considered a risky meal.
The core ingredients and lack of nutritional value are why you shouldn’t feed your cats tuna.
How Much Tuna Fish is Safe for Cats to Eat?
Everything in moderation. Freshly cooked or canned tuna is okay in small amounts. Cats can eat tuna fish in water as long as the water is fresh and free of salt and other additives.
- A single spoonful is fine. This is a safe amount yet also enough to make your cat happy. Tuna, served in this way once or twice per month, is perfectly safe for most healthy adult cats.
- Never prepare tuna for your cat. The only time a cat should eat tuna is during your preparation before additives such as mayo and pickles have been added. Giving your cat a tiny amount of tuna in fresh water is okay. You don’t want to create any bad habits for your cat.
- Using tuna as a food topper is okay. If your cat is refusing to eat healthy cat food, entice your cat with tiny amounts of tuna. Not enough to cause any harm, the scent of tuna may lead to the consumption of healthy cat food that has lost its appeal. Even tiny tuna shavings can be enough to gain the interest of your cat and get it to start eating again.
Can a Kitten Eat Tuna?
Because kittens require foods that promote healthy growth, tuna should be completely off-limits. This also includes occasional feeding.
Kittens lack proper immune health because of their tender age so every negative that tuna poses can result in a much outcome for a kitten. The risk of steatitis, mercury poisoning, and seizures is higher in kittens relative to a healthy adult cat with a strong immune system.
What Are the Side Effects of Tuna in Cats?
Various side effects can occur, depending on the type of tuna your cat has consumed. Raw tuna, for example, contains harmful enzymes that can eliminate thiamine. This is a B vitamin that is vital to your cat’s brain health. The depletion of thiamine leaves your cat vulnerable to illness and disease.
Although not a common issue, mercury poisoning can fly under the radar because it can mimic vitamin deficiencies and other signs of malnutrition. Hallmarked by lack of proper coordination, mercury poisoning can occur yet fail to be correctly diagnosed in some instances.
A lack of vitamin B6, B12, and C can result to in seizures and a loss of body control. This is similar to what is seen in mercury poisoning.
Are Cats Allergic to Tuna?
One of the largest percentages of food allergies in cats is fish. PetMD has looked closely at a study of 56 cats with known food allergies, and fish was the primary ingredient in 23% of those cases.
As a whole, fish is third for potential allergic provoking reactions behind beef and dairy items.
Given the addictiveness of tuna, cats can easily fall victim to an allergic reaction and prolonged symptoms that can often accompany a food allergy.
Although fish (as a whole) is a good source of protein, tuna is lacking in many critical areas. This adds to its harmfulness when consumed routinely as a main course meal.
Can Cats Eat Spicy Tuna?
Tuna that has been seasoned with spices introduces new problems. Adding spices to a cat’s meal can cause digestive issues that lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and intense stomach pain.
Peppers, garlic, chives, and onions are toxic to cats. Depending on the type of seasoning that is added to tuna and the frequency of consumption, your cat could develop anemia.
Besides, cats are unable to taste spice in the same way that humans can. The only reaction to chili powder by a cat will be digestive concerns. They will not notice the strong, savory flavor.
Cats prefer warm food rather than a hot taste. Consider cooking your cat’s food a little and serving it warm. Cats in the wild are used to warm prey, so eating a warm meal will make them feel more contented than eating a bowl of spicy tuna.
What Are the Safest Tuna Alternatives for Cats?
Cooked tuna and tuna that is found in commercially branded cat food are two of the safest options.
- Cooked tuna kills bacteria, so it is much safer than raw tuna. Cooked tuna that is plain and free of salt, oil, and seasonings is preferred.
- Commercially manufactured wet cat food that includes tuna is a prime choice. Designed explicitly for feline consumption, wet food that features tuna also consists of all of the vital nutrients that your cat needs. This aspect is neglected when tuna is served raw or prepared for human consumption. Many human foods are unsuitable for cats.
Tuna as a snack or to whet your cat’s desire for food can be beneficial. However, that is where the line should be drawn. What your cat wants to eat regularly is not always what it needs to be healthy.