Can Cats Eat Tuna? (Nutritional Guide)
It is true that most, if not all, cats love the taste of tuna – they could even feed on it alone. But do you know if it is healthy or not for your pet? Just because it is a delicious and easy resource for many cats in nature does not mean that it is the best food you can give your domestic cat. The obvious questions are, how safe is it for their gastrointestinal health? Should it be included in their diet? And how often should a feline have access to this fishy delight? In these questions on whether cats can eat tuna, our helpful guide will help.
Should You Feed Your Cat with Tuna?
Experts have recommended that tuna should only be given as an occasional treat. You should understand that this particular deep-sea fish can never constitute part of the natural diet of a cat; even the wild felines don’t have access to tuna in the jungle. Therefore, you cannot make it a major food for your furry companion.
Besides, it is rather easy for kitties to get addicted to the taste of tuna, but when it is consumed in excess, it portends more harm than good. Many cats have been known to develop an aversion to other foods once they get used to eating tuna, which rings true, after all, if your diet is to comprise of only chocolates, it will sound so scrumptious, but your health will be on the line. The same is applicable when a feline’s diet is made up of just tuna; continue reading to get all the details about adding tuna to a cat’s diet.
Effects of Too Much Tuna in a Cat’s Diet
Providing tuna for cats is not healthy, especially when it comes to large quantities. It is also associated with a good number of risks, which include malnutrition as well as mercury poisoning since all the essential nutrients for cats cannot be found in tuna. Being a large marine predator, whose half-life in the wild is about 25 years, tuna meat can accumulate much mercury. The larger the size of the fish and the more years of life you have, the more mercury it will accumulate in your body. Mercury is a mineral that interferes with neurological development and can be toxic. Mercury poisoning is a major health issue for kitties that consume tuna in excess, and it comes with very serious consequences like; Impaired vision, memory loss, mental disorder, muscle weakness, rashes, lack of coordination
Additionally, tuna lacks sufficient E vitamins and thus can result in steatitis or yellow fat disease. Yellow fat disease is an uncommon condition that comes with inflammation of the fatty tissue, which results in a lump under the skin surface. Though rare, steatitis is widespread among felines that consume excess tuna, especially the red ones. The affected cats begin to display symptoms like; fever, body pains, abdominal palpation, unwillingness to move, jump and play, loss of appetite, sluggishness, and presence of a lump in the fatty or subcutaneous tissue.
If you have been giving your kitty large portions of tuna in ignorance, pay a visit to the vet once you observe any of the aforementioned symptoms. However, treatment is largely dependent on the level of poisoning. The veterinarian may decide to treat the cat with antibiotics, herbs as well as supplements.
The list of risks associated with excessive consumption of tuna in felines still goes on to include reduced body control and seizure as a result of deficiency of some essential vitamins like; vitamins B6, C as well as B12. The condition will only worsen as your kitty continues to eat more tuna as it grows older. It is also necessary to note that excess tuna results in the production of more Thiaminase, which is known to halt the production and distributions of more vitamin B1/Thiamine. This kind of situation exposes your feline companion to all sorts of health issues, because, as the immune system weakens, the cat will find itself struggling to fight attacks and diseases. What’s more, the tuna from the can contains a lot of salt, which can damage your velvet paw. Kidney problems are possible if you consume large quantities regularly.
Another thing you should take into consideration is the unsaturated fats content of tuna, which is in large quantity. This affects your pet’s energy level negatively as well as weakens immunity. It also erodes vital vitamins like E and B12.
Are There Benefits Associated with Tuna?
Although it has been established that excess tuna is not healthy for your kitty, a good number of benefits still come with the fishy meal. However, you need to make sure that your kitty gets it in the right portion so as to avoid the risk of overindulgence – cats can consume tuna once or week and nothing more than this. When tuna is incorporated into a kitty’s diet in the right proportion, it comes with the following benefits;
- Because it is rich in riboflavin, potassium, iron, and niacin, tuna can improve blood circulation as well as increase red blood cells.
- The presence of such elements like Vitamin B complex, thiamine, and omega-3 fatty acids goes to enhance a cat’s energy level.
- Levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents eliminate free radicals.
- Because tuna has a high concentration of manganese, potassium, and multiple vitamins, it enhances immunity in cats.
- Its richness in both protein and essential amino acids can engender proper growth as well as development.
Cooked vs Raw Tuna? What Is the Best Way?
We have witnessed so many debates in the past, on the benefits and dangers of feeding cats with a raw food diet. So, should cats consume food in the raw state? You have to know that canned tuna has been prepared for only humans to consume; as they have been cleaned and their skin, viscera and spines removed, they do not have minerals or vitamins such as vitamin E and iron, which are essential for your pet. That is why it is unthinkable that a domestic cat feeds only on tuna for humans, although as a reward you can give it a little on some occasions.
As mentioned, canned tuna for human consumption is not an optimal option for cats; however, in case your cat eats tuna, it is better to offer it fresh and not canned. Fresh tuna is free of preservatives and preserves all its natural properties and nutrients, unlike canned tuna. If the cat is offered fresh tuna, it must first be frozen at a temperature of at least 20 degrees below zero for 24-48 hours, to avoid the presence of parasites such as Anisakis, a worm that can cause anisakiasis.
Another option is to offer the cat cooked tuna, for example grilled. Cooking tuna, on the other hand, will eliminate any bacteria, thereby making the fishy meal harmless for your kitty. The tuna needs to be plainer, relative to that which is consumed by humans. If the tuna you have on the fire is meant for your feline companion, you should avoid adding condiments like oil, salt, and other kinds of seasonings, and don’t cook your tuna together with your cat’s if you are the type that loves seasoning.
Can Kittens Eat Tuna?
It may be tempting to introduce your kitten to tuna because it is rich in growth-promoting nutrients, but the benefits are nothing compared to the risks. The risks of seizures, mercury poisoning as well as steatitis is even higher in tiny kittens.
Older cats will not find any hardship in handling some tuna in little portions as intermittent treats, and a weakened kitten may benefit from the smallest spew of tuna juice, as it becomes accustomed to the idea of handling food on its own. Otherwise, it is best for kittens to get their nutrients from recommended sources.
What to Pay Attention to When Feeding with Tuna
Sometimes it can be helpful to feed tuna, for example, to animate the cat to eat. This is especially useful when medications must be mixed under the meal. However, note the following points:
- Feed only tuna in its own juice and do without oils, sauces or vegetables. If possible, you should resort to tuna that contains less salt.
- In general, however, you should only feed tuna to your cat in exceptional cases. For health reasons, do not make this a rule and only provide smaller quantities.
- Feed tuna a maximum of once a month.
If you have doubts about whether or not you can feed your cat with tuna, it’s best to get advice from your vet as well as take into account the above information. In conclusion, a cat can be given tuna sporadically and it is better if the fish is fresh or has been specially prepared and canned for cats.
What’s more, although tuna is not a totally prohibited food, it is better that you do not give your cat tuna that has been prepared for human consumption and you should also avoid tuna being its main food. You can use it if you want to reward your pet for having behaved well or if you want to give him some medicine, since most cats are excited.