Images of cats eating fish abound, which can make people think that fish is the best food for a cat’s diet. While it’s true that our feline friends do go on a frenzy when they smell the scent of fish, it may not always be a great idea to give her what she wants, when she wants it.
This is especially true when it comes to raw fish such as salmon. Salmon is flavorful and considered to be a superfood for humans for its rich density of nutrients, but should you feed it to your cat? After all, cats love fish, right?
Well, the answer to this is not so simple. There are actually things about raw salmon that you need to know to determine whether or not you should feed it to your cat.
Can Cats Eat Raw Salmon?
The answer to this is no, cats should never eat raw salmon or any kind of raw fish for that matter. Raw salmon may contain parasites, bacteria, toxins, and other living organisms that can harm their digestive systems and other organs of their body.
Never feed your cat raw salmon. But, you can feed cooked salmon that has no seasoning, no spices, and no salt. Seasoning can contain ingredients that may be toxic to cats. As long as you cook the salmon until it becomes flaky, it’s completely safe for your cat to eat.
What’s the Problem with Raw Salmon?
So what about raw salmon that’s dangerous for cats? Well, there are a lot. Let’s discuss each of the risks:
1. Contains Bacteria
Raw salmon contains bacteria that could lead to food poisoning. These bacteria can include E.coli and salmonella that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and body malaise in both cats and humans.
2. Contains Parasites
Raw salmon, and any raw fish for that matter, can contain parasites that could live in your cat and cause a wide range of health conditions.
3. Contains Thiaminase
Thiaminase is an enzyme present in raw salmon that breaks down the essential B vitamin called thiamine, which is crucial in cats’ nutritional needs. If you feed raw salmon to your cat on a regular basis, not only is she prone to exposure to bacteria and parasites, but she could suffer from thiamine deficiency as well. Thiamine deficiency can cause neurological problems, and can even cause convulsions in cats.
4. Farmed Salmon Contains Toxic Chemicals
If you feed your cat raw salmon that has been farmed, there is a high probability that the farmed salmon may contain toxic chemicals. These chemicals are called dioxins and methylmercury, which can cause several health problems in your cat.
Though mercury poisoning is low since salmon are plant-feeders, toxic chemicals brought about by feeds in a farmed environment can still cause a variety of health issues in your kitty.
Can Cats Eat Salmon Sushi?
While salmon sushi is safe for humans to eat, it might not be safe for cats. Sushi still contains raw salmon, and added ingredients can also be harmful. These can include vegetables your cat won’t be able to digest, and seasoning that can even be fatal for your cat.
So while it’s tempting to feed your cat salmon sushi, since they do love fish, it would be best that you keep any raw food away from your feline friend.
How Cooked Salmon Can Be Good for Your Cat
Raw salmon is dangerous for your cat’s health but cooked salmon is actually beneficial for your pet kitty. Any kind of cooked fish can be fed to your cat in small amounts.
Salmon contains plenty of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids that can improve your cat’s skin and hair, leading to thick, shiny fur.
It also contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated good fats, as well as other vitamins and minerals that include potassium, selenium, niacin, amino acids, Vitamin B6, B12, and raises the body’s responses to insulin.
How Often Can You Feed Cooked Salmon to Your Cat?
You can feed cooked salmon to your cat once a week or as an occasional treat. Yes, while salmon is healthy for your cat, it doesn’t really contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals your cat needs.
That is why commercial cat food is essential as your cat’s full meal as they contain the right amount of nutrients that meet your cat’s daily needs.
If you’d rather feed your cat real food, you can supplement her nutritional deficiencies with vitamins and minerals because cats can’t produce all the nutrients they need by themselves.
Cats also get easily addicted to cooked salmon. They love the smell of salmon, its taste, its soft meat, and its fragrant smell. If you feed your cat cooked salmon every day, they may not want to eat anything else and could lead to certain nutritional deficiencies.
An occasional cooked salmon treat is enough for your cat.
How About Canned or Smoked Salmon?
While canned and smoked salmon are technically cooked salmon, it’s advisable that cat owners avoid processed food to feed their cats.
This is because processed salmon can contain seasoning and other ingredients that can be harmful. They can also have high amounts of salt, which can be dangerous for cats as well.
Too much salt can lead to a condition called hypernatremia, which is an imbalance of electrolytes that could lead to seizures and spasms caused by the shrinking of brain cells.
The Bottom Line
Never feed raw salmon to your cat. They might contain bacteria and parasites, as well as an enzyme that destroys thiamine, a nutrient essential for cat health. Some raw salmon can even cause poisoning in cats, which can be fatal.
If you want to feed salmon to your cat, make sure it is well-cooked. That means cooking the salmon until the meat gets flaky. Do not add any seasoning, salt, or any other ingredients. Simply wash the raw salmon with water, then prepare to steam, fry, or grill.
Do not, however, use salmon as a meal replacement because it does not contain all the nutritional needs of your cat. It should also only be given as an occasional treat, or only given once a week.
The next time you have salmon in the house, cook it well with no added seasoning and let your cat enjoy her occasional treat.