The fish has become a food safety concern over the past decade due to increasing heavy metal density in their bodies and salmon is no exception. With seas becoming more and more polluted and commercial fish farms using chemicals and other carcinogens, this super healthy food is becoming a hazard rather than a source for good health. But let’s first ignore my farmer’s concerns for food safety and focus on the cooking technique. Can cats eat smoked salmon?
Salmons are anadromous which means that they are born in fresh waters such as rivers, then migrate to the sea and in the end return to fresh water again to reproduce. This cycle makes them available in many areas around the world so cooking or preparation techniques have been developed all throughout the history by so many cultures. One of the most favorite preparation techniques for salmon is smoking it. Can our feline friends have smoked salmon, too?
Can Cats Eat Smoked Salmon?
We should first clarify something. What is buried deep in our minds about the place of fish in cat diet is not correct! Starting with our childhood when we were shown cartoons with cats looking for fish bones, we are mislead to believe that fish is an essential part of feline diet. In reality, there are only a few wild cats that eat fish in their natural habitats, other than that fish does not exist in a cat’s diet in the wild. That being said, cats are attracted to the smell and the taste of fish however fish is not as healthy for cats as it is for humans.
The first and maybe the most important issue smoked salmon is the high sodium content. Before the salmon is smoked, it is cured with salt. Salt is not good for cats. Actually, it may be fatal if consumed in high amounts. According to Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition the recommended daily allowance for sodium is 40 mg/MJ ME for adult cats however every 100 grams of smoked salmon contains 700-800 grams of salt which makes smoked salmon way too salty for cats and cats can have salt poisoning. Salt poisoning a.k.a. sodium ion poisoning can have symptoms or consequences below:
- walking drunk,
- excessive thirst or urination,
- potential injury to the kidneys,
- abnormal fluid accumulation within the body,
- death if untreated.
Another issue with smoked salmon is along with salt, many brands use herbs to treat the salmon to give it some desired flavors. These herbs might be toxic to cats and should always be checked when buying smoked salmon.
One cubic inch of salmon holds .7 grams of fat .5 of which is healthy fats and the rest is saturated (bad) fats. These ratios are not that high in the long run if the salmon is given in small amounts and as an occasional treat. It can even be beneficial to your cat considering the omega-3 fatty acids it contains.
Salmon is a high calorie food and depending on the activity level of your cat, regular salmon in a cat’s diet may contribute to weight gain and as a result may lead to obesity. One cubic inch of smoked salmon contains 20 calories. Considering an indoor cat needs only 20 calories per pound, smoked salmon might be a little too much given the other food your cat would consume within the day.
In addition to all of the above salmon contains heavy metals more than most fish. Although humans can handle it, it might be too much for the little kidneys and livers of our feline friends.
Another thing to consider is that most of the commercially available salmon comes from fish farms and the fish coming from fish farms are known to contain a lot of chemicals. These chemicals are given to the fish considering the upper limits of human consumption, not cats. So again it might be too much for your cat’s body to handle those chemicals.
Conclusion on Can Cats Eat Smoked Salmon
All things considered, can cats eat smoked salmon? Technically yes, they can. But it is not the safest and healthiest thing for cats to consume. The risks involved with feeding smoked salmon to your cat far outweighs the benefits it can get from it.
You may find ways to give smoked salmon to your cat such as smoking the salmon yourself without any salt or other additives or giving it in very small amounts but honestly I don’t see the point of feeding salmon to my cats while there are other, healthier snacks I can provide them without the risks smoked salmon carries such as lettuce or broccoli.
If you decide to give smoked salmon to your cat, please do not forget to remove any remaining bones which may pose a choking hazard.