As owners, we all know that cats love fish! But can cats eat tuna?
Tuna is a well-known cat treat. Not so long ago, we had a wide variety of cat food at our disposal, and owners would feed their cats canned tuna. However, there have been advanced investigations, and we now know that our cats have far more nutritional needs than we ever thought to cater for.
So, is it safe to feed our cats tuna? That’s what we’re about to find out.
What are the benefits of tuna?
If you are giving tuna in moderation, then it can be a healthy treat for most cats.
Tuna is high in protein and low in carbohydrates and as tuna is a fish, it provides our cats with omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) which are good for skin and coat health.
Tuna has many other health benefits, should it be part of a balanced diet and given in portions which work alongside their other cat feed.
These benefits include:
Tuna is high in protein and amino acids which can help cats grow. The nutrients found in tuna can help boost muscle growth.
Improve immune system
Tuna contains essential vitamins that can improve a cat’s immunity.
Increased energy levels
Omega 3 fatty acids can help increase energy levels in your cat.
Eliminates free radicals
Tuna also contains lots of antioxidants, which can help remove free radicals. These compounds can aid in reducing blood pressure too.
What are the disadvantages of tuna?
Obesity is when our cats have an excessive increase of fat in the adipose storage areas of the body. It involves an increased mass of body fat produced either by an enlargement of fat cell size alone (hypertrophic obesity) or by an increase in both fat cell size and fat cell number (hyperplastic obesity). Obesity in cats contributes to health concerns such as diabetes, urinary disease, arthritis.
To prevent obesity, giving fewer treats and human food is a good starting point. As cat owners, it is nice to treat your cat. But if you are going to share treats, ensure they remain a treat, not a regular source of additional calories.
Believe it or not, some cats can be allergic to fish. If you notice that your cat has signs of skin disease or has digestive upsets, then your cat may have a food allergy. If you notice any symptoms or if your cat is unwell, contact a veterinary surgeon straight away.
Tuna Is High in Mercury
Tuna is high in mercury, a toxic metal. Too much tuna could potentially lead to a buildup of mercury in the body. This is rare, but signs you could see are incoordination, loss of balance and problems walking. If you notice these signs, seek veterinary advice immediately, as other health problems may be apparent.
If your cat is being fed too much tuna, then it can increase the production of Thiaminase. In cats, this enzyme can break down an essential B vitamin called thiamine, potentially leading a dangerous condition called thiamine deficiency.
Some cats, when given tuna regularly, could start refusing well-balanced cat food and hoping they will get something tastier instead (like tuna!) This can turn into feeding trouble.
On the flipside, tuna can be used to encourage unwell cats to eat, given in small amounts.
So, is it safe for cats to eat tuna?
If you are going to give tuna as a treat alongside a complete and well-balanced diet, then this is fine but too much can be harmful.
Giving your cat solely tuna will not give them the right balance of nutrients they need to remain healthy. It is always a good idea to talk to your veterinary surgeon before adding any new foods to your cat’s diet.
What kind of tuna should I feed my cat?
It is best to give your cat canned tuna which is packed with water, ideally not in oil or tuna with added salt or other flavorings, which could cause health problems.
How much tuna is safe for cats?
Tuna is not a complete diet on its own. Tuna should be given in small amounts as a treat and not as a complete meal daily.
Top Tips to Give Your Cat a Balanced Diet
- Feed your cat a complete and balanced food that is correct for their life stage (such as kitten, adult and senior) as these will have the correct nutrients that your cat needs. Cats cannot be vegetarian due the amino acids they get from meat to keep them healthy. Do not give your cat dog food as it is not suitable for their digestive system.
- Every cat food and cat is different, so follow the instructions on the packet to guide you in how much food to feed, and how often.
- Use feeding toys to keep your cat occupied and to make feeding more entertaining.
- Speak to your veterinary surgeon if you have any questions about the health or diet of your cat.
By Dawn Prime