We see cats eating fish in commercials all the time but what about tuna? Can cats eat tuna as advertised by the mainstream media? What are the risks?
Tuna is one of the most readily available fish in the market. You can find it fresh or canned and enjoy many health benefits that come with it but what about your little friends? Can cats eat tuna? The short answer is that cats are attracted to tuna but there is more to it because there are many serious health risks associated with cats eating tuna.
Let’s try to answer if your cat should eat tuna or if it should be avoided completely.
Can Cats Eat Tuna?
Tuna is not on the list of toxic foods for cats but this doesn’t mean that tuna that is prepared for human consumption is all beneficial to cats. Actually, due to the risks involved with tuna for feline consumption, it is better to not give tuna to cats.
Although cats need a well balanced diet that includes protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and tuna has some of them, it doesn’t have them all so having your kitty eat only tuna can cause health issues because too much or too little of a nutrient is not good for any living being.
For that matter, tuna itself is not nutritionally balanced. For example, it includes too much unsaturated fat but it also doesn’t have Vitamin E or the other antioxidants cats need. Also tuna is high in mercury which can cause mercury poisoning if your cat eats too much of it although this is a rare case. The symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
- loss of balance
- and other mobility issues such as walking.
If you notice any of the above symptoms after your cat eats too much tuna, please consult to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you thinking of giving canned tuna to your little friend, please keep in mind that there are several types of canned tuna and some of them do more damage than good such as tuna in brine. Brine is basically salt water and includes a lot of sodium. This much sodium can potentially harm your cat and can even reach toxic levels so it should be avoided completely.
Other types of canned tuna are the ones that are packed in fresh water and oil. Tuna in oil which may cause stomach issues as it might be too “rich” for feline digestion system but can cats eat tuna in water? Let’s see…
What is the best way to feed tuna to cats?
As mentioned earlier, not giving tuna to a cat is the better way but if it is inevitable then canned tuna in fresh water and fresh tuna are your best options in order to minimalize the risks involved in feeding tuna to your cat as they do not have any additives just like sardines.
Feeding raw fresh tuna to your cat has the risk of giving your cat parasites and dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. In addition to these, it also includes an enzyme called thiaminase which is responsible for breaking down thiamine (Vitamin B1) in cats which can lead to thiamine deficiency and that is a very dangerous condition.
Cooking fresh tuna kills the bacteria as well as destroying thiaminase which makes it safer. Also don’t pur any seasonings, salt, etc. as most these are toxic to cats. Don’t forget that fish actually is not a part of natural feline diet. Cats in nature generally eat small rodents, birds, etc. Felines preying on fish is very very rare.
Can Cats Eat Tuna With Mayo?
Neither tuna nor mayo are toxic to cats but unlike tuna, mayonnaise has no nutritional value to cats. In fact, mayo can lead your cat to a path of obesity due to the high fat content in it and the huge amount of calories it has.
Although very small amounts of mayonnaise with tuna might be suggested by your veterinarian for digestion issues or as an addition of probiotics, under normal circumstances tuna and mayo are both not on the list of best foods for cats.
How much tuna can cats eat?
Tuna can never replace a balanced and complete feline diet so don’t replace your cat’s meal plan with another one that consists only tuna. It can only be given in small amounts as an occasional treat which should not exceed 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake.
Giving too much tuna to your cat may cause it to gain a lot of weight which can lead to diabetes, arthritis, inflammation and urinary disease as reported by Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University.
Benefits of Tuna to Cats and Conclusion
While tuna includes Omega-3 fatty acids and high amount of protein, these nutrients can be taken from other sources because the risks involved are much higher than the potential good it may provide. However, a small bite of tuna is unlikely to harm your kitty as long as it doesn’t have any other medical condition such as being allergic to it.
If you want to include tuna in your cat’s diet, please consult to your veterinarian first as you would with any kind of human food that will be introduced to the cat’s diet for the first time.