Cat Food
Cat staring at raw chicken.

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?

Can cats eat raw chicken? Can cats eat other types of chicken and chicken bones? We answer your most pressing questions about cats and chicken right here!

catedit  |  Mar 14th 2019

Eating raw meat isn’t a good idea for people because of the bacteria and parasites it can contain. Raw meat can make you very sick — but what about cats? Can cats eat raw chicken? The answer might surprise you.

Can cats eat raw chicken? The basics.

Cat at a table staring at a chicken bone.

Can cats eat raw chicken? What about cooked chicken and chicken bones? Photography © Annashou | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

If people get sick from eating raw chicken, what makes humans think, “Can cats eat raw chicken?” People might easily assume that they can feed their cats raw chicken thinking that our cats’ ancestors survived just fine from hunting and eating raw meat. So, the answer to, “Can cats eat raw chicken?” should be an obvious yes, right?

According to Emmy award-winning vet Dr. Jeff Werber, the domestic cats in our homes aren’t equipped to process meat the same way that wild cats were. “The intestinal tracts of today’s cats and dogs are not the same as their wild ancestors, who tore animals apart and ate them raw,” he says.

Can cats eat raw chicken? The risks.

The biggest risk to cats who eat raw chicken is parasites and intestinal infections. Raw chicken can bring “the potential for parasites such as salmonella, E. coli, listeria and campylobacter,” explains Dr. Werber. He discourages feeding cats any kind of raw meat.  

But can cats eat raw chicken as part of commercially available raw food diets?

If you’re asking, “Can cats eat raw chicken?” and you’re thinking in terms of a raw food diet, the answer is a little bit different. Some vets and cat guardians swear by raw food diets. There are pros and cons to a raw food diet for cats.

Commercially available raw food diets that contain raw chicken are different. These foods are usually manufactured utilizing flash-freezing or high-pressure pasteurization processing (HPP), that kills off harmful bacteria in raw food.

“For those of you who have been feeding your cats a raw diet without a problem, that is fine for your cat,” Dr. Werber advises. “Be cautious, though, about encouraging other cats to ingest raw food that has not been subject to the process of bacteria elimination.”

Can cats eat raw chicken as part of home-prepared raw food diets? Insight from a homeopathic vet

But what about cats who eat raw chicken as part of home-prepared raw diets? Can cats eat raw chicken this way?

“Raw chicken is a perfectly balanced protein for cats to eat,” homeopathic vet Dr. Charles Loops says. “It is suitable as the main protein in a cat’s diet or one of a variety of protein sources. Raw meat is the perfect food for carnivores and cats are carnivores.”

What should cat guardians keep in mind when purchasing raw chicken to use as part of their kitty’s raw diet? “Organic chicken is always preferred but buying chicken, the freshest possible, is the most important,” Dr. Loops advises. “All chicken producers in the US are forbidden to use antibiotics or hormones in growing their chickens.”

How can those feeding cats raw chicken avoid bacteria? “Chicken should always be handled minimally and carefully for the protection of humans,” Dr. Loops says. “Cats are not as susceptible to salmonella bacteria as we are and cats will generally not eat chicken raw if it is not fresh. Raw chicken needs to be discarded once it has reached room temperature for more than a few minutes, so raw chicken can’t be left out for the cat to come back to later.”

Dr. Loops offers some final insight for those who choose to feed raw chicken: “There is really no risk to cats eating raw chicken as long as the above precautions are adhered to,” he states. “It is an excellent protein source for felines.”

How can you prevent cats from eating raw chicken by accident?

As we all know, cats are sneaky. And unlike the chicken mentioned above, which has been carefully selected for raw consumption, some raw chicken might be problematic. Know where your cat is while you’re preparing any food — especially raw meats, like raw chicken — to prevent your cunning kitty from running off with food from your counter or even your stove.

What happens if a cat eats raw chicken by accident?

On another note, you might have searched, “Can cats eat raw chicken?” because your cat accidentally ingested raw chicken that you did not purchase as part of a raw diet.

If your cat accidentally eats raw chicken Dr. Werber encourages cat guardians not to panic. “Keep an eye on your cat,” he explains. “Monitor his/her behavior and eating/elimination activities. If you become alarmed, contact your veterinarian.” If your cat eats some raw chicken, he may experience vomiting or diarrhea. Any kind of intestinal upset is a good time to contact a veterinarian.

Can cats eat raw chicken on the bone?

Another common question associated with, “Can cats eat raw chicken?” is, “Can cats eat chicken bones?” Although feeding cats raw chicken in any form is not recommended by some veterinarians, there is an extra danger associated with chicken bones. Dr. Werber explains that chicken bones are “soft and easily broken and have sharp edges that can injure internally.”

If your cat swallows chicken bones, do not try to induce vomiting as the bones can cause more harm coming up. Dr. Werber advises feeding your cat bread to try to coat any sharp edges as they pass through your cat’s digestive track and contact your veterinarian immediately.

Can cats eat cooked chicken?

Most cats, unless they have sensitivities to poultry, can eat cooked chicken. However, serve your cat plain cooked chicken only. Chicken should not be breaded, greasy or prepared with any sort of spices or seasonings, which can be dangerous or upset your cat’s digestive system. Only feed small quantities of cooked chicken to your cat as a treat. Feeding large amounts of chicken to your cats won’t provide your cat with a balanced diet and can lead to digestive upsets.

Thumbnail: Photography © RealCreation | iStock / Getty Images Plus. 

This article was originally published on March 14, 2019 and modified to include insight from a homeopathic vet on March 25, 2019. 


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