There is one simple answer to the questions “can cats eat prawns” and “can cats eat shrimp” and this is YES, they can eat prawns and shrimp but there are a few things you need to pay attention to. Otherwise you are just risking your little feline friend’s health.
What Are The Health Benefits of Prawns to Cats?
Prawns and shrimp are low fat and high in quality animal protein foods that are packed with nutrients and antioxidants including Vitamin E, B12, B3 (also known as niacin), copper, iodine, zinc and Omega-3.
- Vitamin E is important for cats as it reduces the risk for many health issues including vision problems and cardiovascular diseases due to its antioxidant features.
- Vitamin B12 is very important for the little furball’s immune system, nervous system and brain functions.
- Vitamin B3 or niacin is a vitally important one and prawns are a good source for it. The deficiency of niacin can lead to anorexia, dehydration and in the end death.
- Copper is a critical mineral for cats. It helps the formation of bones and collagen, formation of melanin which gives your cat the pigments needed for fur coloring and absorption of iron.
- Iodine is a trace mineral that your cat needs for proper thyroid function. Processed, refined and preserved foods can weaken the thyroid so if your cat has such an issue you may increase the level of iodine it takes after consulting your veterinarian.
- Zinc is another trace element that plays a crucial role especially in wound healing and cell replication.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and they support healthy heart functioning, as well as supporting cats with allergies due to the mentioned anti-inflammatory properties.
Having mentioned all these health benefits of prawns and shrimp, unfortunately they can not be the main meal for cats but only occasional treats due to their high content of sodium and cholesterol neither of which are good for your little buddy. They also carry the risk of containing heavy metals therefore giving your cat prawns too frequently or in high amounts is not really good for its health.
Also cats need a diverse diet in regards to the nutrition they require which means that whatever it may be that you give to your cat, it can not be the only thing they eat whether it is prawns, chicken or any other food. That is why the commercial cat foods have a diverse list of ingredients.
Also, limiting prawns to a small amount in proportion with your cat’s size and making it an occasional treat would be a way to eliminate the risk factors and still be a way to give a beneficial snack that your cat would enjoy.
How to Give Prawns to Cats
First of all, just like humans, cats can consume prawns raw or cooked. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Like many other sea food, prawns and shrimp may contain parasites and bacteria that can make your cat sick and cooking helps getting rid of those. On the other hand, raw prawns are known to contain more vitamins and minerals. So it might be a good idea to consult your veterinarian before giving prawns to your cat so you can make a better comparison yourself. Most veterinarians advise cooked versions though, just to be on the safe side.
Cats also have no issue eating the head, legs, tail or the shell of prawns and shrimp. They even enjoy crunching on those parts and they are safe for cats.
No matter how you decide to give them, they need to be cleaned properly which means de-veining is necessary and they need to be washed in case any pathogens remain. De-veining means taking out the black part located on the back side of the prawn. Although they are kindly called veins, they are actually digestive tracts of the prawns which generally contains whatever the prawn consumed last before it was caught and you don’t want your cat consuming those.
Another point to pay attention is that while or after cooking prawns you should not add any seasonings or sauces including butter, oil, salt, garlic, etc. as these are unhealthy and some are even toxic to cats. The safest option here would be plain boiled, steamed or grilled prawns or shrimp.
So how about pre-packaged, canned, ready to eat prawns and shrimp? Since these products often come with seasonings, herbs, spices or sauces and they include high amounts of sodium (salt) as a preservative these are definitely no-no!
An exception here can be plain, frozen shrimps or prawns if you can not find any fresh ones from the fishmonger.
Can Cats Be Allergic to Prawns?
Like any other food, prawns or shrimp may trigger allergic reactions. If you see any symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or itchy skin after your cat consumes prawns, consult your veterinarian.
In very rare cases, anaphylaxis may occur which is a severe allergic reaction and might be life threatening. If you see itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and collapse take your cat to your veterinarian without losing any time.
Prawns and shrimp are safe for feline consumption.
These foods should be given in moderation. While a large breed (12-15 pounds/5-6 kilos) may completely digest one jumbo-sized shrimp, small and mid-sized breeds (5-10 pounds/2-4 kilos) should be given only a half jumbo-sized shrimp or one regular-sized shrimp.
The prawns or shrimp you give to your cat should always be plain without any additives.
You may give prawns and shrimp either cooked or raw but in either case they need to be cleaned properly.
Pre-packaged, ready-to-eat prawns and shrimp should not be given to cats.
The head, legs, tail and the shell are safe for cats and most cats enjoy playing with them, not to mention crunching on them.