Tuna is a red meat fish that inhabits both fresh and salt water all over the world. It is a common food for humans and cats alike. In fact, tuna is one of the most popular fish foods for cats. They tend to love the taste of tuna, and it is packed with nutrients that can be beneficial to their health. But can cats eat tuna 100% safely?
Health Benefits of Tuna for Cats
- Tuna is a good source of protein. Protein is an important nutrient for cats, as it helps them build and maintain muscle mass. It is especially important for kittens and their development; in fact, they need as much as 30% protein in their diet. For comparison, adult cats only need around 20% protein (that is still a lot, so keep that in mind when choosing the right food for your cat).
- Tuna is also a good source of omega-three fatty acids. These are beneficial for the coat and skin, and can also help to reduce inflammation.
- Tuna is a good source of nacin. Niacin is a water soluble vitamin that is essential for cats. It is important for the conversion of food to energy, and also helps with the functioning of the nervous and digestive systems. Niacin deficiency can cause skin problems, hair loss, and appetite loss in cats.
- Another nutrient found in tuna is vitamin B-12. This water soluble vitamin plays a vital role for cats, because it helps form red blood cells and keeps the nervous system healthy. Cats who are deficient in B12 may exhibit symptoms such as lethargy, poor appetite, weight loss, and neurological problems.
- Finally, tuna is rich in phosphorus, which helps cats grow and develop, and also helps their muscles work properly. Without enough phosphorus, cats can become weak and may not be able to move around as well. Additionally, phosphorus is essential for the proper function of enzymes in the body. Cats who don’t get enough phosphorus in their diets may have trouble digesting food properly and may be more susceptible to diseases.
The Risks of Giving Your Cat Tuna
So, can cats eat tuna? Yes, but there are some things to consider before feeding this fish to your cat.
- The main problem with tuna is that it contains mercury. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is harmful to both humans and cats. It can build up in the body over time and cause serious health issues in the long run, such as kidney damage, nerve damage, and even death. Early symptoms of mercury poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and coma. If you think your cat has been poisoned by mercury, take him to the veterinarian immediately. There is no cure for mercury poisoning, but early treatment can help minimize the damage.
- Tuna is a good source of vitamin E. Sounds like a good thing, right? Well, it turns out that, when consuming too much of it, your cat may develop yellow fat disease through an accumulation of fat in the liver. This disease is characterized by a yellow discoloration of the fatty tissues, and it can be fatal if not treated. The symptoms of this condition include jaundice, weight loss, and an enlarged liver. If your cat has been eating a lot of tuna, you may want to have them checked for yellow fat disease. Treatment includes discontinuing the tuna diet and administering medication to help clear the liver. Fortunately, in most cases it is relatively easy to treat yellow fat disease in cats, and most cats will recover once the vitamin E levels are brought back down to normal.
Which Type of Tuna Is Best for Your Cat? Fresh or Canned Tuna?
Another thing to consider is the type of tuna you are serving your cat. There are three types available: raw tuna, tuna in water and in oil.
- Raw, aka fresh tuna is the most natural form of tuna, and therefore may be the most beneficial for your cat. However, it can also be the riskiest, as there is a potential for parasites and harmful bacteria. If you choose to feed your cat raw fish, make sure to get it from a reputable source, such as a sushi-grade fish market.
- Canned tuna in oil is the most common form of tuna that people feed their cats. It contains more saturated fat than other types of tuna, which can be good or bad, depending on your cat’s diet and health. Too much fat can lead to weight gain and other health problems, but it also provides some essential nutrients that your cat needs, such as healthy omega fatty acids.
- Canned tuna in water is the least processed form of tuna, and therefore may be the best option for your cat. It is also lower in calories than canned tuna in oil. However, it is important to note that tuna in water does not contain as much omega-fatty acids as tuna in oil.
No matter what type of tuna you choose, it’s important to only give your cat a small amount at first. This will help you determine if your cat is allergic or has any other negative reactions to the tuna. If everything goes well, you can gradually increase the amount of tuna over time.
Can Cats Eat Tuna? Final Verdict
Yes, cats can eat tuna. However, there are some things you need to consider before feeding it to them. Tuna contains mercury which can be toxic in large amounts and raw tuna also carries the risk of bacteria contamination. The best type of tuna to feed to your cat is canned tuna in water. Cats love the taste of tuna, and it provides them with many nutrients that can be beneficial to their health, such as protein and omega-three fatty acids. Only give tuna to your cat in moderation to avoid any potential health risks and don’t replace regular cat food with it.
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