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Can Cats Eat Catfish? Vet-Approved Nutritional Facts & Advice

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Can Cats Eat CAT FISH

Can Cats Eat Catfish? Vet-Approved Nutritional Facts & Advice


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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No, it’s not cannibalism! Cats love to eat up a fishy treat from time to time. While catfish might be named for our feline friends and have no scales, in our cats’ eyes (or tastes), it makes no difference. Fish is delish. While catfish does contain many nutrients that are beneficial to the dietary requirements of cats, there are some things to be aware of that may potentially pose a risk.

In this article, we dive into everything that you need to know about cats and catfish. While they certainly can eat catfish and generally speaking, enjoy it very much, the big question is whether or not they should.

To that end, you just need to be aware of how it’s handled and prepared. Let’s explore some of the potential dangers that catfish can pose to your feline friend, how to do it safely, and learn a little bit about one of the most famous and diverse kinds of fish there is.

divider-catclaw1 Can Cats Eat Raw Catfish?

To answer the question of raw fish abruptly; No, cats shouldn’t have raw catfish. While you may be thinking, “Hey—I give my cats raw food from time to time,” the fact is that while cats can be on a raw diet, raw fish poses a unique risk and therefore isn’t recommended for cats.

Image Credit: Pixabay


Many species of fish contain an enzyme called thiaminase in their meat. This enzyme breaks down thiamine (vitamin B1). Therefore, raw fish isn’t recommended for feline consumption, even if you source your fish from a contaminant-free source and remove the bones, because the meat itself contains this enzyme.

Though some species of fish have low amounts of thiaminase, catfish are not in this group. Their thiamin content is considered high and unfavorable for the health of your cat.

Can Cats Eat Cooked Catfish?

Yes! Cooking catfish removes thiaminase from the meat of the fish. Therefore, cooked catfish is considered safe for your pet. However, if you make sure that you cook the catfish thoroughly (assuming your cat can’t cook—right, no thumbs) then you feed them the catfish.

Though cats are obligate carnivores and therefore benefit from cooked fish (including catfish), it is important to remember that cooked catfish itself isn’t considered nutritionally complete for your cat. Therefore, it shouldn’t be the only thing you ever feed your cat. However, cooked, unseasoned, deboned catfish is considered safe for your pet.

orange cat eating on an orange bowl
Image Credit: Okssi, Shutterstock

3 cat divider

How Do You Cook Catfish for Cats?

There are many ways to cook catfish! You can boil it, bake it or grill it. The important thing is that you don’t season the fish. However you cook it, the best way to prepare catfish is thoroughly! It is safe to offer your cat cooked catfish that is sourced fresh or frozen.

Canned catfish is best avoided. That is because canned catfish often contains cooking salt – this is added in when the catfish is packaged. That salt and other kinds of powerful seasonings and preservatives that you can find in canned products are not good for your feline buddies, so hit the market (or supermarket) and get some fresh or frozen, instead! There are some beneficial nutrients for cats present in catfish, providing it’s cooked and unseasoned.

What Kinds of Nutrients Are in Catfish?

Like most fish, the most beneficial nutrient in catfish is the protein content. Cats being obligate carnivores require animal protein in their diet. However, it is worth noting that cooking catfish does lessen some of its nutritional yield.

Catfish also does contain omega fatty acids, however, it’s low in omega fatty acids when compared to other fish (such as salmon).

Image Credit: Pixabay

What Kind of Diet Does Your Cat Need?

Your little feline buddy might be adorable and affectionate with you—but all cats are strictly carnivores! They only eat meat! Well, we mean, aside from the plethora of obvious oddballs and exceptions—strawberries!? You know who you are! Ok, so domesticated cats have decided to explore a little more than their bigger ancestors, but nutritionally speaking they have the needs of a meat-eater.

That means that your cat needs a diet that is high in animal-based protein. Yes, catfish might meet that criterion, but cooking does minimize the yield, as we discussed. Your cat also needs a lot of moisture in their food (this is nutritionally bioavailable in animal-fats). Cats commonly become dehydrated when they are fed a diet of kibble primarily. That’s because they are designed to get much of their moisture from the animal they are eating. If humans are something like 60% water—animals are a percentage as well. Cats need their diet to be lower in carbs as well.

divider-catclaw1 Conclusion

Catfish can be fine to give your cat, if you follow certain procedures, understand the risks, and practice moderation. As a general rule, it is best to avoid raw catfish, as this may lead to thiamine deficiencies.

Cooked, unseasoned catfish is considered safe for cats, and can be incorporated into their diet as a treat. However, though it is a source of protein, it is relatively low in omega 3 when compared to other popular fish options (such as salmon). Therefore, it’s definitely an option, but not the only one you should consider for your pet.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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