Key Takeaways

  • There are pros and cons to consider when making this decision 🤔
  • Tuna is a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, and phosphorus. These nutrients can help your cat grow and develop, maintain a healthy coat and skin, and digest food properly ✔️
  • Like other carnivorous fish, tuna accumulates mercury in its body. This can be a health concern, so you should only allow your cat to eat this fish as an occasional treat ⚠️
  • Freshly cooked or tinned tuna (in water) is the best way to go ✔️ 

Tuna is a red meat fish that inhabits both fresh and salt water all over the world. It’s 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’s 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 one of the most important nutrients for cats, as it helps them build and maintain muscle mass. It’s especially important for kittens and their development; in fact, they need as much as 30% protein in their diet. For comparison, adult cats need around 26% crude protein (that’s still a lot, so keep that in mind when choosing the right food for your cat).
  • Tuna is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are beneficial for the coat and skin, and can also help to reduce inflammation.
  • Tuna is a good source of niacin. Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for cats. It plays a role in converting 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 B12. 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 vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 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.
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Health Benefits of Tuna for Cats

Risks of Giving Your Cat Tuna

Since it’s so healthy, can cats eat tuna? Yes, but there are a few vital reasons to only give it in moderation and not as a full meal. Here they are.

Mercury Poisoning

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 kidney damage, nerve damage, and even death in the long run.

Carnivorous fish, including tuna, contain the most of this element – they ingest it with their prey, and it builds up in their bodies. The risk is the highest with bigeye tuna, while the safest variety is light or skipjack tuna.

Vitamin E Deficiency

Tuna is a good source of unsaturated fatty acids. Sounds like a good thing, right? Well, not always. When consuming too much, your cat may develop vitamin E deficiency. This leads to yellow fat disease, characterized by:

  • a greasy coat;
  • extremely sensitive skin;
  • masses on or under the skin;
  • fever;
  • depression;
  • loss of appetite;
  • unwillingness to move.

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’s relatively easy to treat yellow fat disease in cats. Most cats will recover once their vitamin E levels are brought back to normal.

Editor’s Note

Vitamin E deficiency also happens in pets who are given omega-3 supplements that aren’t balanced out with the vitamin. For example, there was a viral story written by a woman who “almost killed her dog with fish oil.” Perhaps giving your cat a little extra vitamin E with their tuna treats is a good idea.

Which Type of Tuna Is Best for Your Cat? Fresh or Canned Tuna?

Another thing to consider is the type of tuna you’re serving your cat. There are three types available: raw tuna, tuna in water, and in oil. Can cats eat tuna in all these forms?

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Which Type of Tuna Is Best for Your Cat? Fresh or Canned Tuna?
  • 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 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 fatty acids that your cat needs.
  • Canned tuna in water is a less processed form of tuna, and therefore may be the best option for your cat. It’s also lower in calories than canned 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

In conclusion, can cats eat tuna? Yes, cats love tuna and can eat it safely. 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.

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The best type to feed to your cat is freshly cooked tuna, and the second best is canned tuna in water. Only give tuna to your cat in moderation to avoid any potential health risks and don’t replace regular cat food with it.

Pros and Cons of Tuna for Cats

Tuna is a good source of protein, which helps cats build and maintain muscle mass.Some species of tuna contain high levels of mercury, which is toxic to cats if ingested regularly or in large amounts.
Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep the coat and skin healthy.Too much tuna can cause vitamin E deficiency, which leads to yellow fat disease in cats.
It also contains niacin, vitamin B12, and phosphorus, all of which are important for your cat’s health.Tuna should only be given in moderation, and it’s a very calorie-dense treat, so your cat can’t have much of it.

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