So, the verdict is in: and milk is out—at least as a regular part of your kitty’s healthy diet. What about tuna? Everyone knows about the relationship with cats and fish (that is, our kitties love fish, and fish probably aren’t too fond of cats), but is it safe to pop open a can of tuna when you’re looking for a good kitty treat? The short answer is: yes! But not too often, and not too much!
The Good Things About Tuna
Wet, protein-rich foods are typically a really great idea for pets. It not only keeps meal time interesting for them, but also provides numerous nutritional benefits. Foods like tuna can provide high-quality protein, needed moisture (dry-food only diets often leave cats dehydrated), and nutritional diversity that can effectively supplement their normal diet.
Having said all of this, it should be an occasional, heavily portion-controlled treat and not a meal staple. Part of this is because of the dangers tuna specifically presents, which we will go into in a moment. But the other is that depending on any single source of food for your pet introduces an opportunity for malnourishment. There’s a bunch of good stuff in tuna, but it’s pretty two-dimensional when considering the entire nutritional spectrum.
Typically the best diet for your cat is a mixture of healthy food sources. Combinations of canned wet cat food (ones with meat as the primary ingredient and minimal grain), dry cat food, and some safe veggies (spinach, catnip, finely chopped cooked carrots/no onions, mushrooms) are all great and lead to a healthy weight and activity level.
The Risks of Excess Tuna
While (to your kitten’s never ending joy) tuna is safe in occasional doses, you also don’t want to have too much tuna in their diet. Canned fish products present a higher potential mercury level than other fish products, which means an excess of tuna can lead to mercury poisoning if it builds up too much.
This means tuna should be presented as a treat, but a rare one. The high sodium content is also worth mentioning, but again is only really a threat when you overfeed tuna to your kitty. If the mercury concerns you too much you can also use alternatives like freshly cooked cod (just make sure it’s warm, not hot. Burned kitty mouths are sad and awful!).
No Raw Fish!
So, so many times we’ve seen talks about how they would eat meat raw in the wild, so they should eat it raw normally, too. We’ve even seen medical resources saying it. This is not okay. The meat you’re feeding them has been processed, frozen, or otherwise handled, and that means it can be contaminated. Unless you’re butchering your own chickens or feeding them fish directly from the pond, cook it first.
Cat Nutrition & Health with Germantown Vet
Remember that feeding your pet with healthy practices in mind is the key to a happy, healthy cat or dog. Or ferret, or hamster. Interested in learning more about what’s good for your cat and what’s not? We post routinely on nutritional topics on our blog, and if you have further questions you can contact us online!