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Can Cats Eat Anchovies? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Codee Chessher

By Codee Chessher

fresh anchovies

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Nobody cares more about your cat’s diet than you, so it’s up to you as their responsible owner to find out what foods are safe and healthy for them to eat. For instance, you may have figured that cats love fish, so what about anchovies? Are they a safe treat to feed your cat?

Yes, technically anchovies in nearly any form are a fishy and nutritious food that your cat will go bananas for. You can feed anchovies to your cat in fresh, canned, or dried forms to reap their high protein levels and sky-high omega-3 fatty acids. However, anchovies are only moderately healthy because of some additives commonly used to cook or preserve them. It’s critical that you check the nutritional label on any anchovies before you feed them to your cat. And they may be better avoided in some instances, as anchovy fillets in jars can contain tiny, sharp bones that may lodge in your cat’s mouth or throat.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the health benefits of anchovies for your kitty, whether cats can eat anchovies on pizza, and what other fish your cat can try, you’re in the right place.

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What Types of Anchovies Are Best?

Anchovies are some of the healthiest treats you can regularly feed to your cat, provided you check the ingredients list first. Fresh anchovies are the best option health-wise—simply bake or grill them to unlock that mouthwatering fish smell cats go bananas for.

Canned and dried anchovies are a little trickier. They’re both easier to source in bulk and are more shelf-stable than fresh fish but may contain ingredients that are bad for your cat in excess—specifically, salt and oil. Dried anchovies, notably, are high in sodium and may also contain harmful preservatives your cat doesn’t need in their diet. Canned anchovies, on the flip side, may be soaked in oil that your cat doesn’t need in their diet, on top of potentially containing high sodium and/or preservatives too. The bones are also a huge potential problem, so discuss feeding this fish with your veterinarian, prior to actually doing so.

Our verdict is that fresh anchovies are best if you want to really spoil your cat with fresh fish on a regular basis, once you have the go ahead from your veterinarian.

Dry anchovies
Image Credit: SUNG MIN, Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Anchovies for Cats

Like other fish, anchovies are loaded with much of what your cat needs, but it’s far from a balanced meal. As such, anchovies shouldn’t be a staple in your cat’s diet and instead works best as a treat or a way to entice picky eaters. Let’s check out their most notable nutritional facts and what they mean.

Nutritional Content & Health Benefits of Anchovies for Cats (3 oz/100g serving):

  • 113 calories: Anchovies are low in calories, which means they’re a great low-fat snack for any cat.
  • 17 grams of protein: Cats need plenty of protein to fuel their powerful muscles, and maintain energy levels.
  • 4 grams of fat: Cats need fat for a variety of cellular processes.
  • Vitamin B3: AKA niacin, this essential vitamin helps absorb, process, and generate energy derived from food.
  • Vitamin B12: Contributes to a healthy nervous system, circulatory system, metabolism, and cognitive function in cats.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These energy-dense lipids help top off energy levels, ease inflammation, build and repair bodily tissue, keep the coat healthy, and more.

The main downside to anchovies is that they contain thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine in the body. Thiamin is an essential vitamin your cat gets from their regular diet, and regularly feeding them lots of anchovies can sap their thiamine levels. Consequences range from weight loss, weakened heart health, weakened immune system, and worse. We strongly recommend only using anchovies as an occasional treat and not as a staple in their feeding routine.

petcos wholehearted whole fish filet treat eaten by cat

Can Cats Eat Anchovies on Pizza?

No, cats should definitely not eat pizza or pizza toppings—yes, even anchovies. Pizza is basically marinated in human cooking oils and sodium, neither of which your cat needs to stay healthy. They’d probably happily chow down on some anchovies harvested from fresh pizza, especially if there’s other meat they can smell on the pizza.

That said, it probably won’t hurt if you pick an anchovy or two off your pizza to feed your cat as a treat every once in a while. Still, we don’t recommend it regularly, and if you do, make sure you pat them dry with a paper towel to remove excess oils before feeding them to your kitty.

pepperoni pizza
Image Credit: Riedelmeier, Pixabay

Fish Cooking Tips for a Balanced Diet

They might love it, but cats can’t get all the nutrients they need by eating anchovies or other fish alone. Cats do best with a carefully formulated diet of protein, fats, and minimal carbs and don’t really need fish. Still, we have some tips you’ll appreciate if you’re planning on cooking some delectable fish for your cat. Read on for tips on how to keep your fish prep healthy for your cat’s diet.

Tips for Cooking Fish for Your Cat:
  • Avoid salt and spices. They’re tasty to us but can pose a health risk to cats.
  • Boiling, baking, and grilling are the best cooking methods to avoid unhealthy oils. Too much oil can upset your cat’s digestive system and cause diarrhea.
  • If you must use oil, use as little as possible and drain as much as possible before serving to your cat.
  • Chop the fish up and remove any bones after cooking to make it easier for your kitty to chew and swallow.
  • For picky eaters struggling to adapt to a new kibble, you can chop up and add cooked fish to entice them.

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Cats will chow down on any fish, but it’s up to you to prepare and serve it in a healthy way so they get all its powerful nutritional benefits without any unintended side effects. We suggest baking fresh anchovies when possible, but it’s fine to offer a canned or dried anchovy to your cat every couple of days too.

Featured Image Credit: Diane Helentjaris, Unsplash

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