The stereotype says that cats adore fish, and that would not be wrong to say. Tuna being a fish that is commonly found on store shelves makes a great cat treat. Before we even had commercial cat food hit the shelves, owners generally fed their cats canned tuna! However, now that we have specially made food for cats, can cats eat canned tuna, and is it still safe to feed your cats tuna? And if so, how much can they actually eat and what kind of tuna can they eat?
What benefits does tuna have for cats ?
When eaten in moderation, tuna can actually be a healthy treat for most cats. Even most commercial cat foods include tuna as an ingredient! It is also great since it is high in protein, which cats, being obligate carnivores, need a lot of, and low in carbohydrates.
Additionally, it provides the omega – 3 essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, which contribute to the overall health of their skin and coat while also helping to improve inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, allergies, kidney disease and certain cancers.
Are there any particular health concerns when feeding cats tuna?
Even though it is completely fine to feed your cat small amounts of tuna as a treat or as a supplement to its already completely balanced cat food, too much of tuna in their diet can turn out to be harmful. One of the reasons behind that is because tuna alone does not provide the needed balanced of nutrients that cats need to stay healthy. Cats are known for their pretty specific nutritional needs, after all.
Many of the high quality commercial cat foods generally include a statement on their labels that reads that the product is “complete and balanced” as is certified by the American Association of Feed Control Officials, also known as AAFCO.
This “complete and balanced” statement on the cat food label means that the by feeding your cat this food it would get all of the essential nutrients that it needs, in the right balance, as required for that stage: for adult cats – adult maintenance, for kittens and pregnant or nursing females – for growth and reproduction, or for all cats, regardless of their age – all life stages.
Tuna also has an unbalanced amount of vitamin E which can in turn cause problems with fat inflammation and even some pregnant cats that have a high tuna diet have developed bleeding disorders.
Tuna is also high in mercury, which means that too much tuna can lead to a build-up of excess mercury in your cat’s body, leading to mercury poisoning in the end. Even though it is rare, signs of mercury poisoning in cats include loss of balance, problems with walking and lack of coordination.
Unfortunately, cats simply love tuna. Who can blame them? Tuna is really tasty, at least tastier than their regular diet of canned food probably. Getting a taste for tuna will make some cats outright refuse their regular cat food, and hold out in hopes of their owner caving and giving them more of that delicious tuna. This usually develops into unwanted picky eating and many feeding difficulties.
What is the best kind of tuna to give your cat ?
So, your cat has been exceptionally good and you want to reward it for its behavior. Tuna makes a great occasional treat, whether it be canned or even fresh tuna. Rather than getting canned tuna with oil or added salt and other flavorings, which typically is better for us humans anyway, buy canned tuna that is packed in water.
Albacore tuna has a high mercury content so opt out for chunk – light tuna instead. It is important to keep a close eye on the tuna content of other foods that your cat may be eating. One example of that is if you already feed your cat canned food that is made with tuna, adding more tuna to their diet would be too much.
On the other hand, if you want to serve your cat fresh tuna, cook it first. Although it’s not a problem for us humans to eat raw fish, we eat sushi all the time, cats are a different story as it may end up being harmful. Raw fish may contain parasites and bacteria, so be careful when feeding your cat or yourself any raw fish.
Along with that, raw fish also contains an enzyme called thiaminase, which in cats it breaks down an essential B vitamin called thiamine, which can potentially lead to a dangerous condition called thiamine deficiency. By cooking the tuna, not only does it kill any parasites or bacteria, but it destroys the enzyme thiaminase.
How much tuna can I give my cat ?
Firstly, it is always better to consult with your vet before adding anything new to your cat’s diet. If your vet approves, and you really want to give your tuna cat, you should follow the same guidelines as you would for feeding your cat any kind of other treat. Tuna, like all supplemental treats, should make up less than 10 percent of your cat’s daily calories. The other 90 percent should come from a high – quality, complete and balanced cat food.
If you want to spare yourself and your cat any potential issues that can come from eating too much tuna, this includes your feline friend becoming a picky eater, you should avoid feeding it tuna on a daily basis and rather limit it to an occasional surprise.
Here are 10 Human Foods Cats Can Eat.