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Can Cats Eat Fried Chicken? Vet-Reviewed Risks & FAQ

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

fried chicken on wooden table

Can Cats Eat Fried Chicken? Vet-Reviewed Risks & FAQ


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 tend to be pickier than dogs regarding food, and they don’t tend to beg for table scraps so frequently.  However, if we have something interesting like fried chicken, they might come sniffing, which might make you wonder if it’s safe to let them have a piece. The short answer is yes; cats can eat a small amount of fried chicken (no sauce, plus skin and bones removed) as an occasional treat, but keep reading as we list the potential risks and provide healthy alternatives.

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Cat Diet

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they cannot obtain all the nutrients they need from plant matter, and therefore, they must eat animal-derived proteins.  Animal-derived proteins are vital for building, maintaining, and repairing body tissues, supporting the immune system, and ensuring healthy skin and coat. Cats also require specific nutrients like taurine, an amino acid abundant in animal tissues that influences heart muscle function, vision, and reproductive health. Unlike humans, cats cannot synthesize sufficient taurine from other products, making it crucial to include taurine-rich foods in their diet.

persian cat eating dry food
Image Credit: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

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Risks of Feeding Fried Chicken to Cats

1. High Fat Content

Fried chicken is often coated in batter and deep fried, which results in a high fat content. Consuming too much fat can lead to obesity and related health problems, such as diabetes and joint issues.

2. Salt and Seasonings

Fried chicken often contains various spices and salt. Some spices, such as garlic, chives, and onions, are toxic to cats, whereas other spices, such as cayenne pepper, which is often added to fried chicken, can cause mouth and eye irritation. Ingesting too much salt can lead to sodium ion poisoning (salt toxicity), but a cat around 9 pounds would need approx 8.8 g (just under half a tablespoon) of salt to be at risk of salt toxicosis, so a small piece of fried chicken is very unlikely to lead to this. Signs of salt toxicosis include vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures 1.

3. Bones and Choking Hazards

Chicken bones become brittle and can splinter easily, especially once cooked. Cats are pretty good at picking around bones, but there is still the risk that your cat could choke or damage their mouth or gastrointestinal tract with a splinter of bone. This risk is particularly high for small bones, like those in fried chicken.

chicken wings leftover
Image Credit: Branislav Nenin, Shutterstock

4. Gastrointestinal Upset

Cats can have sensitive digestive systems, and introducing fatty foods like fried chicken abruptly can lead to stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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Should I Feed Fried Chicken to My Cat?

You shouldn’t go out of your way to give fried chicken to your cat. It is best to avoid it altogether. But if your cat wants a taste of some people food, we have some options.

Safe Alternatives to Fried Chicken

Lean Proteins

Choose lean proteins like plain, cooked chicken or turkey when you want to share a treat with your cat. Remove any skin and bones before offering it to your pet, and ensure the meat has not been seasoned or cooked with garlic or onions.

cutting boiled chicken
Image CreditL Tagwaran, Shutterstock

Commercial Cat Treats

Commercial cat treats tend to be the best option for pet owners because so many brands are available. These treats are safer than sharing human foods because they contain ingredients that are unlikely to disagree with your cat.  You can get low-fat treats if your cat is battling with obesity and different flavors for particular palates.


Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Feed My Cat for a Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet should consist of high-quality commercial food that meets the cat’s nutritional needs. Look for options that list real meat, like chicken or turkey, as the first ingredient, and avoid those that use artificial colors and preservatives.

Can I Feed My Cat Homemade Meals Instead of Commercial Cat Food?

While homemade meals can be balanced, ensuring that they provide all the necessary nutrients is challenging and requires the help of a veterinary nutritionist. Commercial food is usually the better option in the long term to ensure your cat receives the nutrients it needs in the correct quantities. If you’re considering homemade meals, consult a veterinarian for help creating a nutritionally complete and balanced plan.

cat eating boiled eggs
Image Credit: Anastasiya Tsiasemnikava, Shutterstock

Is Wet or Dry Cat Food Better for My Cat’s Diet?

Both wet and dry cat food can be appropriate. Wet food has a higher moisture content, which can aid in hydration, especially for cats that don’t like to drink water, while dry food options support dental health and are easier to store. Usually, a mix of both is recommended.

How Can I Help My Overweight Cat Lose Weight?

Consult your vet for a weight loss plan tailored to your cat’s needs. This may involve portion control, gradual dietary changes, avoidance of human foods, and increased activity through play. Limiting a cat’s food intake too much too fast can lead to significant health problems, so getting help from your veterinary practice is recommended.

maine coon cat at the vet with owner
Image Credit: Gorodenkoff, Shutterstock

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While a small piece of fried chicken with the skin and bones removed should not cause any immediate problems for your cat, eating too much can lead to stomach issues, weight gain, and other health problems due to the high-fat content. Fried chicken can also contain ingredients like onion powder and garlic that are harmful to cats. Furthermore, the bones are brittle and might present a choking or obstruction hazard. Plain, boiled chicken and turkey meats are better options, as are commercial cat treats.

Featured Image Credit: Fierman Much, Shutterstock

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