cat eating tuna fish

Can I Feed My Cat Tuna?

Have you ever wondered is tuna good for cats or what do cats eat? Well, fish for cats can definitely be a portion of their diet, however, feeding your cat tuna can result in health issues. Read on to find out why. 

Does Your Cat Love Tuna?

The question “can I feed my cat tuna?” often arises as for most cats, tuna would be high on their list of most favourite foods. Whether it’s from a can or freshly caught from the ocean, they’d be delighted to see it in their dinner bowl.

Some cats become addicted to tuna and just won’t eat anything else. However, there have been questions raised about feeding tuna to cats. Is Tuna good for them? Are there any risks to their health if they eat lots of tuna in their diet? Are other types of fish better to feed?

Tuna Is An Unbalanced Meal

Fresh tuna or tuna from a can designed for people to eat are both not suitable as a major part of your cat’s diet. This is because neither is nutritionally complete for cats and over time, deficiencies can develop. There are also potential issues with nutrient excesses.

  • Tuna is high in phosphorus and while a healthy cat may cope with this, it won’t be good for cats with kidney disease.
  • Raw fish can contain thiaminase which is an enzyme that destroys thiamine, or vitamin B1. Too much raw fish in a cat’s diet can, therefore, lead to thiamine deficiency. Thiaminase is destroyed by heating so canned tuna isn’t going to cause this problem. Symptoms of thiamine deficiency include loss of appetite, poor co-ordination and twitching. The most common sign in cats is they bend their neck downwards so their chin almost touches their chest.
  •  Raw fish contains high levels of fatty acids which can result in vitamin E deficiency in cats. This deficiency causes a painful condition called steatitis – an inflammation of the fat in their body. These cats have a fever and it hurts if they are touched or stroked.
  • Some sources of tuna are high in mercury which is toxic to cats. Feeding lots of tuna may cause mercury poisoning with muscle weakness, trembling and even seizures.

Guidelines For Feeding Tuna

  • Don’t feed raw tuna or canned tuna as the main component of your cat’s diet.
  • Feed tuna as a treat and in small amounts, once or twice weekly.
  • Choose tuna in natural spring water.  Oil or brine soaked tuna contains too much salt and oil.
  • Your cat’s main protein sources ideally need to come from land-based animal species such as poultry or beef. After all, cats were never ocean dwellers and didn’t evolve to eat large amounts of fish.

What If My Cat Is Addicted to Tuna?

If your feline insists on a fish only meal, you can try to gradually wean them onto other protein sources.

  • Mix a small amount of new food with their fish. Mush it all together.
  • Slowly add more of the meat-based cat food and decrease the amount of fish over the course of a week or two.
  • If there’s no chance your cat will change their taste, then choose a fish-based commercial cat food that’s nutritionally balanced.

Does your cat love tuna so much it won’t eat anything else? This isn’t good for their health. Contact Your Vet Online to have a consult with one of our vets to solve this problem. 

Can I feed my cat tuna? What are the dangers and how can i keep my cat safe