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Can Cats Eat Fish Food? Vet-Approved Facts & Healthy Alternatives

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Can Cats Eat CAT FISH

Can Cats Eat Fish Food? Vet-Approved Facts & Healthy Alternatives


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

Veterinarian, BVM BVS MRCVS

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

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Cats are inquisitive creatures, and if you’ve ever opened and handled fish food around your cats, you have likely noticed them take a genuine interest. Fish food is made primarily of fish and seafood meal, both of which are safe for cats in moderation.

However, fish food is formulated for fish, and while it might provide nutrition to your scaled friends, it doesn’t offer many health benefits to cats. While it is fine if your cat pinches a few flakes or tries a few from your hand, it shouldn’t be fed regularly or given as some kind of supplement because it doesn’t contain beneficial ingredients for a feline diet.

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The Ideal Cat Diet

In the wild, a cat’s diet consists solely of animal prey that they catch and eat. This usually includes small mammals and insects. The only non-meat elements in a wild cat’s diet are the content of their prey’s stomach, which isn’t considered to be consumed very often.

However, pet cats’ diets typically incorporate some vegetables in addition to the meat protein. The protein can include fish, but in the wild, cats rarely eat fish. Feeding cats too much raw fish can be bad for them. Raw fish is high in an enzyme called thiaminase, which destroys thiamine.  Thiamine is essential for the function of a cat’s central nervous system (CNS), and a deficiency can lead to seizures, paralysis, and sight problems.

cat eating from feeding bowl
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

Can Cats Eat Fish Food?

Although it depends on the product’s exact ingredients, fish food is generally safe for felines but is not recommended. Its main ingredients are fish and seafood meals. Meals (e.g. blood meal, fishmeal, chicken meal) are essentially concentrated forms of protein, and they have more vitamins and minerals by weight than whole fish.

Your cat can safely eat a few flakes of the food, and they may find it alluring because of the strong fishy smell. If your cat steals a little of your fish food, there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Some fish food comes in pellet form rather than as flakes. You need to ensure that the pellets will not get caught or stuck in your cat’s throat because they can cause an obstruction.


The 3 Treats You Can Give Cats

Although it is essential to provide cats with a diet consisting primarily of high-quality cat food, there are some other foods that you can give as occasional treats. They include the following:

1. Chicken

Chicken is a beneficial protein source for cats. Chicken is a lean meat, but you should remove the skin because it’s loaded with fat, and you will need to cook the chicken beforehand. Boil or roast the chicken, and avoid using oils or adding any other ingredients. Remove any bones before serving chicken to your cat.

2. Egg

Raw Eggs
Image Credit: Gayvoronskaya_Yana, Shutterstock

Egg is a surprisingly nutritious and beneficial ingredient for cats. It is a good source of protein and healthy fats, and it contains B vitamins. It should be cooked before feeding. Boiled or scrambled eggs are best, but avoid using oil or other additives that can turn it from a healthy treat into an unhealthy one.

3. Turkey

Turkey is another lean meat, and it is included in some commercial cat foods because it is a beneficial source of meat protein for cats. Ensure the turkey is cooked, remove the skin, and stick to feeding slices of the breast rather than the legs and wings.

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Cats are obligate carnivores, and although they can digest and process vegetables and other plant-based ingredients, they do not gain as much nutritional value from them. While fish is not necessarily a natural food for wild cats, most pet cats love the taste and smell of fish, so it is hardly surprising that many enjoy or are intrigued by fish food.

Fish food consists of fish, seafood meal, and other related ingredients. While it is high in protein and unlikely to cause immediate illnesses or problems for your cat, it should not be fed regularly as it is not designed for feline consumption.

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