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Can Cats Eat Bonito Flakes? Vet-Approved Facts & Benefits

Written by: Chelsea Mortensen

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Can Cats Eat Bonito Flakes? Vet-Approved Facts & Benefits


Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet) Photo


Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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With dozens of cat treats available, it can be hard to know what’s good for your cat. After all, most cat treats try to sell themselves as healthy and delicious, even if they’re full of things your cat doesn’t want. But that doesn’t mean that all cat treats are bad.

Bonito flakes are one of the best cat treats because they are usually made from pure dried fish without any additives that could be bad for your cat’s health. The flakes are full of benefits for your cat, and most cats find them quite tasty!

divider-catclaw1 What Are Bonito Flakes?

Bonito flakes usually refer to small, dried flakes of bonito, a type of tuna. Some bonito flakes contain other types of tuna or related fish as well. The flakes are usually thin and crunchy and can vary in size depending on the manufacturer. They are usually marketed as cat or dog treats.

Bonito Flakes
Image by: Brent Hofacker, shutterstock

Cats and Fish Foods

You might not be surprised that fish aren’t a natural part of your cat’s diet. After all, cats generally aren’t big on swimming, so hunting for fish isn’t very common. Despite that, fish is usually a great choice because of their lean meat and high nutrient content.

Unless your cat’s food contains rodents and songbirds, it probably isn’t from sources your cat would eat in the wild. Eating a complete seafood diet isn’t ideal for cats, but as a supplement, it makes an excellent choice, and bonito flakes are no exception.

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Bonito Flake Health Benefits

There are many great aspects of bonito flakes, starting with their protein-fat-carb ratio. Cats like high-protein, moderate-fat, and low-carb food. Bonito flakes are generally high in protein and low in fat and carbs.

This makes them an excellent choice for adding a little extra protein to your cat’s diet. Bonito flakes are low in mercury, making them much safer than other fish. There are also several nutrients found in bonito that your cat needs. Here are just a few.


Taurine is an essential amino acid that humans can produce, but cats can’t. Without it, your cat’s essential systems, including the heart, muscles, and immune system, can’t function correctly. Bonito flakes are high in taurine.

Fatty Acids

Fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids are very beneficial to your cat. They have many functions, including protecting heart health, making fur and skin shiny and healthy, and preventing arthritis.

Bonito Flakes
Image Credit: K321, Shutterstock

Vitamin B12

Cobalamin, or vitamin B12, is vital for several of your cat’s systems. It helps strengthen the immune system, brain and nerves, red blood cells, and many other systems. Tuna is generally high in vitamin B12, including bonito.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is another essential part of your cat’s diet. It helps your cat process nutrients to properly absorb the rest of their food.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Bonito also contains calcium and a small amount of vitamin D. Calcium helps your cat build stronger bones, and vitamin D helps your cat process calcium. Humans can metabolize vitamin D with enough sunlight, but cats need to get it from food sources.

Selenium and Magnesium

Your cat needs several minerals to stay healthy, including selenium and calcium found in bonito. Selenium supports immune system health and has many other benefits. Magnesium helps your cat’s body build cells. It also helps your cats secrete hormones in the proper balance.

cat eating food in the bowl
Image Credit: Okssi, Shutterstock

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Ways to Feed Bonito Flakes

You can add bonito flakes to your cat’s diet in many ways. The most common way is as an occasional treat. Some owners use a piece of bonito as a reward for good behavior or as a training aid. If your bonito flakes come in larger pieces, you might want to break off a tiny morsel to use as a treat.

You can also use bonito flakes to fill a feeder toy. These toys are meant to be filled with treats and come open as your cat plays with them. Bonito flakes are an excellent choice for many toys.

Finally, many people use bonito flakes as a topper for wet or dry food. They add them to their cat’s regular meals, which enhances the flavor and texture. If you offer them as a frequent treat, ensure you’re not adding too many calories to their daily diet and adjust the portion sizes if necessary.

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divider-catclaw1 Final Thoughts

Of course, you can go overboard with feeding your cat anything, and that includes healthy foods. However, bonito flakes are generally a safe treat to feed your cat that won’t be harmful to their diet or health. This puts it head and shoulders over most cat treats you can buy today.

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Featured Image Credit: K321, Shutterstock

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