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What canned fish do cats like?

Can Cats Eat Canned Salmon? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Canned Salmon

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Cats are notorious for their love of fish, so feeding them a bit of canned salmon should be a no-brainer. What could be safer than that, right?

As it turns out, while serving your cat canned salmon likely won’t kill them, it is generally prepared for human consumption, so it might have a lot of additives that are not good for the health of your kitten.

Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at whether canned salmon is okay for your cat, as well as look at times when you should absolutely avoid using it.

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Is Canned Salmon Safe for Cats?

Salmon is perfectly safe for cats (and is, in fact, incredibly nutritious), so why would canning it make any difference?

The answer is that canned salmon is designed for human consumption, so the manufacturers dress the meat up with all sorts of additives. These can include salt, preservatives, and more, and your cat doesn’t tolerate any of them particularly well.

In small enough doses, they should not affect your cat. However, if your cat over-indulges, they could get sick, and they could even potentially die if they ingest too much sodium.

And don’t even think about feeding your cat canned salmon exclusively. While your pet will no doubt enjoy that decision, canned salmon lacks in several key nutritional areas, and your cat may become malnourished as a result.

You should be careful about where you leave the cans once they’re open as well. If your cat runs off with an open can of salmon, the sharp corners on the lid of the can could potentially cut or slice them open. Be sure to throw the can away as soon as you’re done with it, and don’t offer your cat too much of what’s inside.

Can Canned Salmon Be Healthy for Cats?

There are things inside salmon that are extremely beneficial for your cat, no matter how the fish is prepared.

The first is the protein content. Salmon is fairly high in protein, so the more your cat eats, the better the nourishment for their muscles. You’d much rather your cat eat some sort of meat than munch on something carb-heavy.

Salmon is also loaded with omega fatty acids. These are powerful antioxidants that are great for fighting disease, slowing the signs of aging, and keeping the internal organs in fine working condition.

However, the more canned salmon you feed your cat, the more they’ll ingest sodium and other undesirable ingredients as well. The nutritional benefits of the fish will quickly become outweighed by the drawbacks of the other ingredients, so you’re better off just offering your cat a little bit as a treat.

Can Cats Eat Salmon

Are There Any Other Things I Should Worry About Regarding Salmon?

Yes. While canned salmon isn’t ideal for cats to eat, it’s much better than feeding them raw salmon.

There is a compound called thiaminase that’s found in raw salmon (and other forms of raw fish). Once ingested, this compound breaks down thiamine, removing this important vitamin from the cat’s stomach before it is absorbed and if done on a regular basis, can lead to thiamine deficiency.

Thiamine is an essential B vitamin, and your cat needs all of it they can get, so this is a bad thing. Thiamine deficiency causes serious neurological issues as a result.

Also, if you feed your cat any raw fish (which, again, you shouldn’t), you need to be extremely careful to remove the bones first. If your cat accidentally gets a stray fish bone caught in their throat, they could die well before you were able to get them to an emergency vet.

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How Should I Feed My Cat Salmon, Then?

While canned and raw salmon aren’t good options for your pet, you should still try to feed them salmon as often as you can. It’s fantastic for cats (and for their owners, come to think of it).

The best way to do that is to grill or steam the fish and prepare it without any salt or other seasonings. Make sure there aren’t any bones hiding out inside and serve it to your cat once it’s cool enough to do so.

Your cat will love it, and you’ll earn their undying love and devotion. Granted, their undying love and devotion look a lot like their regular disinterestedness, but you’ll just have to trust us on this.


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So, What’s the Verdict? Is Canned Salmon Safe for Cats?

In moderation, canned salmon won’t kill your cat, but you’re still better off not sharing it with them. It can be extremely high in sodium and other preservatives, and eating a bunch of salt can cause serious health issues for cats.

That doesn’t mean you should force them to swear off salmon entirely, though—far from it. Try to offer them fish as often as you can, but just make sure the fish is safe first.

Whatever you do, try not to think about the fact that Charles Darwin is rolling in his grave because we’re worrying so much about whether it’s safe to feed fish to cats.

Featured Image Credit By: ArtCookStudio, shutterstock

What Do Cats Eat?

If your family feline is a champion hunter or a best-in-class napper, they still get hungry. Whether your cat is food motivated or finicky, you want to be sure your kitty friend is eating not just what they like but also what is good for them. Here are some tips for what you can feed your cat and what cats should not eat.


What Do Cats Like to Eat?

Unlike dogs, cows, goats and other domesticated animals, cats have only recently become human companions. DNA sequencing reveals that your average housecat and a wild big cat aren’t very different at all. Yes, you basically do have a miniature jungle or savannah cat on your couch.

What does this have to do with what foods your cat can eat? Whether wild or semi-domesticated, cats are high-protein eaters. Family cats are natural carnivores that have only adapted to being omnivores by eating the kibble they can readily cajole from humans with a few chatters and cheek rubs.

A cat’s digestive system and metabolism are designed to eat the small rodents and birds they typically hunt and kill in the wild – a diet that’s high in protein and calcium and low in carbohydrates.

What Should I Feed My Cat

Veterinarians agree that a mixture of wet or canned cat food and dry food is best for most cats and kittens. A potential problem with feeding your cats only dry food is a lack of moisture content, which can lead to urinary tract issues for kitty. Wet food has a higher amount of water and is typically more meat-based, while kibble is more plant-based and well, dry.

If you are into making your own cat food or sharing some of your human food with kitty, the key is moderation and watching what you provide. Canned fish is high in sodium and oils and you should also watch for hidden sugars in dairy products. With some planning and care, you can supplement or substitute commercial wet or dry cat food with healthy homemade alternatives.

What Meats Can Cats Eat?

Girl feeding tiny kitten cat food

Remember cats are not vegetarian or vegan, nor can they be. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must have meat to survive. In the wild, cats only eat meat, and all cat digestive systems are optimized for it. One big difference for big cats and their domestic cousins: don’t feed your family feline raw meat. It can make them sick.

If you’re wondering what foods cats can eat besides cat food, the following meats (cooked fresh not canned) are typically okay for kitty to eat, in appropriate portions, but always check with your veterinarian about your cat’s diet.

  1. Chicken: A staple of many canned and dry foods, cooked chicken is enjoyed by most cats.
  2. Turkey: It’s ok to give kitty some of your Thanksgiving turkey, cut in small pieces or ground. Skip the gravy or cranberry sauce though.
  3. Fish: Choose salmon, cod, tuna, or other fresh, whole fish, without breading. Skip the spices if you’re sharing with your cat and make canned versions of fish or seafood a rare occasion as the high sodium and oil can upset kitty’s digestion.
  4. Shrimp, Lobster or Other Seafood: Again, cooked not raw, and without any sauce or butter, cats can enjoy shellfish.

Meats to skip for kitty: most deli meats (they’re high in salt), processed meat like sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni or salami and canned or smoked meats.

What Other Human Foods Can Cats Eat

Here are a few other foods cats may enjoy in moderation, but be sure to ask your vet what is best for your kitty and their specific health needs:

  1. Cooked eggs: Cooked without any spices or butter, a small amount of eggs is something your cat can eat. Spoon out a small portion of scrambled eggs before seasoning and let it cool for kitty to nibble.
  2. Cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt: Some dairy in moderation is okay for most cats, but like humans, many kitties are lactose-intolerant and can become more so with age. Yogurt is lactose-free due to the natural process of creating it, so high protein, unflavored, plain, whole-milk yogurt is something you and kitty can share in small amounts.
  3. Vegetables: Some cats actually like certain vegetables, and it’s usually okay for your cat to eat them in small amounts. Just remember, cats are not vegetarians and need meat protein to stay healthy. Some veggies cats have been known to enjoy: raw cucumber or lettuce, plus steamed green beans, peas, broccoli or asparagus.

What Foods Should My Cat Not Eat?

Unlike dogs, most cats are not food motivated and generally will not eat foods that aren’t great for them. It’s much more likely that kitty will turn up their nose at food that’s out of the ordinary or might upset their stomachs. That said, you don’t want to leave the following foods around for kitty to get into, should they be tempted to try them.

  1. Raw chicken. It can contain salmonella and other bacteria that will make kitty (and humans) sick. Cook any chicken you give to your cat.
  2. Canned meat or fish (in moderation only). Your cat may come running when you open a can of tuna, oysters, sardines, salmon, or shredded chicken. However, canned meat is high in sodiuim and canned fish (tuna especially) contains higher levels of mercury – both harmful to kitty. Tiny amounts infrequently is probably ok, but wet cat food is a better choice.
  3. Chocolate. As with dogs, chocolate is toxic for cats. The theobromine can cause tremors, seizures, and death. Don’t share your chocolate bar, brownie, cake, or let kitty lick your ice cream sundae dish.
  4. Cherries, grapes and raisins. You may love these, but they’re not for kitty. These fruits have high sugar content that can lead to kidney failure and can also be toxic to both cats and dogs.
  5. Onions, chives and garlic. Your cat probably won’t be interested, but if you’re considering sharing human food that contains these common flavoring ingredients (including onion or garlic powder), give it a miss. Ingesting aliums can lead to anemia in cats or even onion poisoning in larger amounts.
  6. Caffeine or alcohol. Don’t let kitty sip from your coffee, cocoa, wine glass, or snifter. These substances are toxic for cats.
  7. Cooked fat trimmings and bones. Don’t give kitty just the skin, fat or bones from your meal. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea and chicken bones (and other bones when cooked) can splinter and cause tearing of the cat’s esophagus or intestines.
  8. Raw eggs. In addition to potentially harmful bacteria, raw egg whites contain a protein that can harm kitty’s ability to absorb nutrients.
  9. Liver. Again, in small, kitty-sized portions infrequently, partially cooked ground liver can be okay for most cats. Too much liver in kitty’s diet, however, can lead to an overdose of Vitamin A.
  10. Dog food. If kitty occasionally shares Fido’s kibble, it’ll be okay, but dog food is not a substitute for cat food. Each is formulated for the nutritional needs and digestive systems for a dog or cat so don’t mix and match.
  11. Deli Meats. If it’s all natural chicken or turkey without added nitrates or nitrates, it’s likely okay for kitty, but most deli meats are high in sodium and may contain preservatives that aren’t good for your cat. Don’t feed a cat ham, bologna, salami, or other processed or smoked meats.
  12. Raw Fish. If you get sushi grade, very fresh fish, a small amount is likely okay, but otherwise raw fish may be contaminated with bacteria that could harm your cat.

This list isn’t exhaustive. If you’re not sure whether a certain food is okay for your cat to eat, check with your veterinarian before letting kitty try it.

How Can I Tell if My Cat’s Stomach is Upset?

Just like humans, sometimes kitties will get an upset stomach from eating too much, too fast, or something that didn’t agree with them. They may also have a bacterial or viral intestinal infection. Here are signs your cat is dealing with nausea or digestive troubles:

  • Not eating
  • Lethargy
  • Licking lips
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Many times temporary nausea or upset stomach will pass, as it does with humans. If your cat having difficulty getting enough fluids or these symptoms last, contact your veterinarian for help.

What to Do If Your Cat Has Eaten Something It Shouldn’t

You restrict your cat’s diet to only good things and you keep tempting food that’s not for kitty out of reach. But even with your efforts, sometimes your cat will eat something they should not have. Be sure to keep the numbers of your local vet, the closest emergency veterinary clinic, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center – (888) 426-4435 – on hand to use if this happens.

Cleaning the Cat Litter if Your Cat Has Had Diarrhea

If your cat has had diarrhea or been treated for an intestinal virus, it’s best to dump your cat litter, wash your litter box, and refill with fresh litter. Think of this like washing your sheets or bathroom after you’ve been sick.

As always, if you’re looking for cat litter that controls odor for 7 days, absorbs wetness quickly, and is easy-to-scoop with hard clumps, try one of these ARM & HAMMER™ cat litters formulated with baking soda and advanced odor neutralizers.

  • ARM & HAMMER™ AbsorbX Lightweight Cat Litter
  • ARM & HAMMER™ Forever Fresh Clumping Litter
  • ARM & HAMMER™ SLIDE™ Easy Clean-Up Clumping Litter
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