Can Cats Eat Tuna? Four Surprising Reasons Why They Can

By Category: Cats And FoodTags:
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Oh… this is such good news. Can cats eat tuna? My human typist and I did some research, and we can! In fact, tuna is good for cats, in moderation of course. So throw out all those old myths about cats and tuna and keep reading. I’ll tell you why.

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Can Cats Eat Tuna?

Can cats eat tuna? Yes! And they don't need knives and forks.-

This cat is ready to feast on her favorite food — fresh fish.

Can cats eat tuna, Thomasina? My cat loves it, but I’m afraid to give it to him. — Nervous Cat Mom

Hi Nervous Cat Mom…

Can cats eat tuna? Yes, we can! Despite what you may have heard, some tuna is good for cats. And while it’s not exactly “species-appropriate” the way mice are (I wouldn’t eat a mouse if it was the last bite of food on the planet), cats and fish have a long history.

Our Long History With Fish

Word has it we can thank the ancient Egyptians for introducing us to fish. While they may not have worshipped us as gods (Who really knows what people thought way back then?) they loved all animals and thought cats were very special, even more special than dogs.

They thought cats were magical and would bring good luck to anyone who gave a cat a home. No one asked can cats eat tuna then. They just knew the way to lure a cat into your home was to give him tasty tidbits of fish. But we had other human fans, too.

It might have been Egyptian sailors who realized how useful it was to have a cat or two onboard their ships. The cats were great cuddle buddies for lonely seamen. But more importantly, they ate all the mice that were helping themselves to the sailors’ food and were great weather forecasters. Some thought the cats’ amazing eyesight would guide them through a shipwreck at night. And most thought having a cat on board was good luck.

But what did the cats do when they weren’t at sea? They hung around the wharves eating mice and the remains of fish. So while fish isn’t “species-appropriate” like mice, it’s been part of our diet for thousands of years.

Four Reasons Why Tuna's Good For Cats

I know. When you ask most people can cats have tuna, they say no. They’ll say tuna’s bad for cats.  Really bad. But our research found just the opposite. Not that your cat should have a whole can of Starkist every day. But actually. some tuna is good for cats. These are four reasons why.

1. Canned tuna may be closer to fresh food than cat food. It contains none of the preservatives And doesn’t have nutrients added back in like cat food does. ‘

2. Canned tuna is low-carb. That’s really important because our bodies aren’t designed to use carbs efficiently, and they can really pack on the pounds.

3. Canned tuna is very high in protein. That’s very important, too, because we’re obligate carnivores and need protein from animal sources.

4. Canned tuna is high in EPA and DHA, essential fatty acids that help maintain our skin and coat. They can also help with arthritis, allergies and skin disease.

Just one caution: Give your cat tuna in water, not oil. And make sure it doesn’t have salt or added flavorings. Chunk light tuna is easier for us to eat than albacore, and albacore is more likely to contain mercury. 

For Cats, Canned Tuna's Not All Good

Like anything else you feed your cats, you have to be sort of careful with canned tuna. Tuna in oil can be very fattening. But the biggest danger is mercury.

The problem with tuna is that it eats smaller fish, and they’re already contaminated with mercury. Because mercury isn’t easily excreted, it builds up in the tunas’ tissues over time. Chunk light tuna contains the least mercury. Albacore, skipjack and yellowfin contain the most. Your cat shouldn’t eat those, and neither should you!

Your cat would have to eat a lot of tuna to get mercury poisoning. But lack of coordination or balance and difficulty walking are some signs to watch for.

The main problem with though is that tuna lacks many of the essential nutrients we need to be healthy.

Giving your cat a couple of bites of chunk light tuna in water even every day is fine (we have a bite or two of tuna for breakfast every morning) but give him regular cat food, too.

My favorite cat food tuna is Purely Fancy Feast. Boccelli and Belle love Soulistic. Both are single protein source brands with fish as the only protein.

Tricks With Tuna

Can cats have tuna for something besides a yummy mini-meal? Yes!

Our human does trap/neuter/RETURN and sometimes uses it to bait traps, And if your cat’s on pills or liquid medication, mix the medicine in just a teaspoon or so chunk light tuna.

Use just enough tuna for the cat to eat in one quick sitting so you know he got all the medicine. You can use a bite of chunk light tuna to train your cat, too.

I hope this helps, Worried Cat Mom. And I hope your- cat enjoys that daily bite or two of tuna! 


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WHAT DO YOU THINK? Does your cat eat canned tuna? Tell us in the comments below

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