There are many food types that we often associate closely with our feline friends. Raw fish is more often than not top of the list. A cat’s diet should consist of mostly protein and what better way to get that into their diet than providing them with a nice protein-packed fishy meal.
Cats seem to love most types of fish, with salmon being one of their all-time favorites. This is why it can regularly be found in many different brands of cat food.
So, can cats eat raw salmon? No, cats should not be fed raw salmon. Raw fish contains bacteria that can be particularly poisonous to cats. When feeding salmon to your cat, you must ensure it has been cooked thoroughly and does not include any unnecessary seasoning and flavorings.
We’ll explain in more detail how raw salmon can be an issue for cats and also discuss some other types of salmon and whether or not they’re safe for your beloved feline. So read on for more information on how to feed – or not to feed – salmon to your cat.
Is Raw Salmon Safe For Cats?
Raw salmon is not safe for cats to consume at all.
While it might make a wonderful sushi dish for humans (when prepared safely), it can be highly poisonous for your kitty. Raw fish in general contains a series of harmful bacteria that do not agree with the cat’s delicate systems.
This type of bacteria is very harmful to your cat and could result in serious poisoning should they consume too much. Salmonella and E-coli are also worrying prospects. Bacterial infections are common when cats have consumed raw salmon and it is highly recommended you avoid feeding fish in this way to your kitty.
As well as bacteria, raw salmon contains certain types of enzymes that could do damage to your cat’s vitamin B levels, and we don’t want that for kitty!
A deficiency in vitamin B can cause a whole host of health issues such as neurological problems. Feeding your cat a diet with too much fish can cause deficiencies in general, but feeding felines raw salmon can increase this risk.
Raw salmon is therefore far less nutritious than cooked salmon.
Parasites are also another potential problem for feeding your cat raw fish. Various types of worms, such as tapeworms, are sometimes found alive in raw fish which needless to say can cause some serious side effects for kitty’s health.
One of the lesser-known parasites in salmon, but far more common than tapeworm is a parasite called Anisakiasis which is also sometimes known as herring worm disease. This small worm can attach themselves to your cat’s throat, intestines, and stomach causing nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and fever.
Fishbones are also more likely to be an issue with raw salmon. This can be extremely dangerous for cats and can be a choking hard waiting to happen. When feeding your kitty salmon in the rawest form, it can be really easy to forget about all those tiny bones integrated into the fleshy part of the fish.
The bones are often quite small and it is easy for your cat to consume these without even really realizing that they are there. These tiny bones can easily get caught in your cat’s throat and there is always a choking hazard. When cooking fish, it is generally best to remember there are likely bones that need to be removed.
In addition to your cat’s safety, you may also think of your own. Preparing raw fish also has many risks for humans as well.
Mycobacterium Marinum is a bacterial infection that can affect the human skin causing rashes, red bumps, and sores.
It is a rare infection and can be easily treated with a course of antibiotics, however, is something to consider when preparing raw salmon. Cross-contamination is also a possibility when dealing with raw fish which is why you must be careful.
It may seem rather tempting to give your cat raw salmon since it is less effort on your part, but as you can see feeding in this way can cause some serious complications for both you and kitty. It also does not add much nutritional value to your cat’s diet and is just not worth the risk.
In recap, it is not a wise idea to feed your cat raw salmon due to the following:
- Less nutritional value than cooked salmon
- Contains harmful bacteria that can cause poisoning
- Contributes to vitamin B deficiencies
- Parasites can be present in raw salmon
- Without cooking it is easier to forget about removing the fish bones which can cause choking
- Handling raw salmon can also put you at risk and cross-contamination in your kitchen is highly possible
Unlike in restaurants, food preparations at home are not regulated and we can often become slack in terms of hygiene when it comes to our own kitchens. Humans can also get sick from handling raw fish if you are not careful.
Can Cats Eat Cooked Salmon?
Cooked salmon is a far better option for feeding cats. As mentioned previously, feeding raw fish poses so many potential problems for your kitty, but firing up the trusty oven to provide this tasty dish is definitely the way forward.
Cooked salmon provides a tasty meal for your kitty that is high in protein and does not destroy valuable nutrition that the body has absorbed such as vitamins and minerals.
Where raw salmon contains harmful bacteria and often parasites the heating process when preparing cooked fish eliminates these undesirables putting your cat at a much lesser risk of potential poisoning.
Salmon is very simple to cook and a little extra time preparing this meal in the oven can be far more nutritional for your kitty and much better for their health.
Cooking salmon can make it far easier for you to remove the bones before feeding to your cat.
Most bones found in fish seem harmless since they are so small and quite often flexible to touch. In reality, these can be a serious choking hazard for your cat and should be removed before offering the meal to your kitty.
Fortunately, you are much more likely to remember to remove the bones when preparing fish to be cooked rather than feeding raw.
There are many ways in which you can cook fish to feed to your cat safely. Some of the most common ways are:
- Roasting in the Oven or Cooker
Although it is important that fish must be cooked before feeding to your feline friend it is also fair to note that cooking at very high temperatures can decrease the nutritional value quite significantly.
When cooked at a low to medium temperature you can ensure the nutrition remains and moisture content is locked in. This is why many owners choose to avoid frying salmon for their kitty since the pan tends to heat up to a high temperature very quickly, essentially losing nutrition and drying out the fish.
As you can see, cooking salmon is a much more favorable option to feeding raw to your cat. The risks are far less and the general consensus is that our feline friends enjoy salmon that has been cooked far more.
Just make sure that when feeding cooked salmon you provide this to your kitty in the simplest way possible. Avoid anything with artificial colorings and flavorings. You should also avoid sauces as well as even the simplest seasonings such as salt and pepper to prevent any upset stomachs.
Can Cats Eat Smoked Salmon?
Smoked salmon should also be avoided for cats. More often than not this type of salmon is smoked cold and therefore poses similar risks as feeding your cat raw salmon.
Since there is often no heat involved in the preparation process there is nothing available to kill off the harmful bacteria present in the raw salmon. This can cause many complications for cats and therefore is not advised.
Smoked salmon tends to have a very high salt content which can cause some serious complications for cats. Sodium-ion poisoning can be a real possibility with foods that contain high levels of sodium or salt.
There are a few signs you should look out for which will determine excess salt inhalation:
- Excessive thirst
- Elevated body temperature
Since smoked salmon contains such high levels of salt, regular feeding of this food type could result in any of the above symptoms which are likely to result in the need for a trip to the vets. It is always best to feed your cat salmon that has been cooked thoroughly at high temperatures for the best source of nutrition.
Salmon in general is not always the healthiest choice for cats and there are many other types of foods available for our feline friends that are considered to be far healthier such as chicken.
If you’re just wondering about feeding your cat a bite of your salmon, it’s not a great idea with the smoked kind. Stick to properly cooked fish.
Can Cats Eat Canned Salmon?
If your kitty has a taste for a particular type of food it can be difficult as an owner to prevent them from eating what they love.
Many cats absolutely adore the canned salmon that humans eat and will happily eat this all day long given half a chance. Unfortunately canned salmon is very similar to smoked salmon. The salt content is extremely high which can cause your cat some serious issues.
Dehydration and excessive thirst are usually two of the biggest factors when feeding your kitty salmon of the smoked variety.
Cats in general do not tend to drink enough water as it is. Our feline friends should be drinking roughly 60 mls per kilogram per day which can often be a challenge in itself.
They are prone to becoming dehydrated very easily and therefore smoked salmon easily contributes to this problem. This quantity would need to be increased significantly if your cat were eating dehydrating foods such as smoked salmon.
Cats require only about 20 milligrams of salt per day; this is not a huge requirement in their diet. Most canned salmon contains approximately 230 mg of salt per quarter of a cup. That is quite an excessive amount, to say the least!
You can clearly see why this type of salmon could be particularly troublesome for our feline friends.
It is always best to avoid giving canned salmon to your kitty and stick to the cooked variety. Thoroughly cooked salmon is far more nutritious and is much less likely to cause complications around its salt content.
If you feel like your kitty has taken in too much salt through their diet and are showing any of the symptoms we mentioned above as complications of eating smoked salmon you must ensure you seek proper medical advice from your vet as a precaution.
Can I Feed Salmon to My Cat Daily?
As we have identified, cooked salmon is definitely the best type to feed your cat. It is a far healthier option than opting for salmon that has not been cooked such as the smoked or canned variety.
With that being said, when we look at all the types of food you could potentially feed to your kitty, fish, including salmon, is not the best option.
Historically cats have been heavily associated with eating fish. Although fish is high in protein, it is not the very best source. Most cats do seem to love fish, but still, it isn’t the best choice of a daily staple.
Fish contains high levels of fatty acids which can be responsible for Vitamin E deficiencies. A lack of vitamin E can cause your kitty some painful conditions, one of the worst being brown bowel syndrome, where essentially the large intestine hemorrhages.
From an evolutionary point of view, cats do not require fish in their diet. Ancient cats were certainly not eating fish and instead survived on eating meat such as birds and lizards.
In recap, salmon is not a necessary part of your cat’s diet and it is advisable to feed as more of a treat on an occasional basis rather than day to day.
Some cats do not like fish very much at all and would far prefer to tuck into a juicy piece of chicken or beef. Providing your kitty with a daily meat source gives them most of the nutrition they need in their diet to stay happy and healthy.
If you choose to feed your cat salmon do so on an ad-hoc basis and if you are preparing this tasty meal at home yourself for your kitty, always ensure that the salmon is cooked thoroughly to eliminate any bad bacteria or parasites that may be present.
Also, make sure to remove any bones that may be present to avoid choking. Avoid raw, smoked, or canned salmon like the plague!
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