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Can Cats Eat Beef? Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

Can Cats Eat beef

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

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

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Beef is pretty much everywhere you look. It’s on every menu, in every deli, and in most people’s refrigerators or freezers. If you’ve spent any amount of time in the cat food aisle at your local store, you’ve probably spotted cat foods with beef as the primary protein source.

We know that cats can eat beef, but should they? Keep reading for more information.

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Can Cats Eat Beef?

cat eating on the counter
Image Credit: Krakenimages.com, Shutterstock

Beef is typically perfectly safe for cats. Although poultry and fish seem to be the most popular animal proteins in cat food, beef shows up in multiple commercial cat food recipes. The availability and affordability of beef make it a good option for cat foods.

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Is Beef Good for Cats?

Cats are obligate carnivores that require high protein, moderate to high fat, and low carbohydrates in their diet. Beef checks all of these boxes!

Beef is more nutritionally dense than chicken, although it contains about 25–30% more calories and about 30% more fat than chicken. Beef is also a good source of iron, B vitamins like B12 and B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, choline, potassium, and vitamin K. While cats require protein and fat in their diet, they need nutrients within their caloric needs. Overfeeding calorie-dense foods can lead to weight gain and obesity in your cat.

How Much Beef Can I Feed My Cat?

beef cubes on a table
Image Credit: PDPhotos, Pixabay

Beef should only be fed as part of a balanced diet for your cat. Do not attempt to make your own diet at home without veterinary or veterinary nutritionist guidance.

When giving beef to your cat as a treat, limit the amount due to its calorie density. An ounce of beef contains around 60 calories, depending on the cut and fat content. Your cat only needs around 20–30 calories per pound of body weight per day. This means that a single ounce of beef could account for around 20–30% of the daily caloric needs of a 10-pound cat.

Overfeeding beef can lead to stomach upset due to the higher fat content, especially if your cat is used to leaner meats, like fish and chicken. Keep treats small and simple, feeding only plain lean beef that has not been cooked with any oil, salt, or seasonings. A nibble or two is plenty of a treat for an average adult cat.

What Proteins Might Be Better Than Beef for My Cat?

Leaner cuts of meat are often better options for your cat due to the discrepancy in calorie density. Since lean meats, like chicken, turkey, and cod, are lower in calories than beef, they make better treats. It’s important to limit the calories your cat eats in treats every day. If 30% of your cat’s daily calories are coming from treats, then you’re way overfeeding treats.

By picking leaner proteins to feed as treats, you’re leaving more room for your cat to fill up at meals without risking overfeeding to meet nutritional needs. If you tend to have a heavy hand when it comes to treats, make sure you’re counting or measuring the treats you’re feeding in a day. This won’t just help you track how much your cat is eating, but it will help you determine if something is going on with your cat.

Suppose your cat suddenly begins gaining weight, and you know that you’re only feeding your cat 10 calories worth of treats per day. In that case, you’ll be able to give that information to your vet as part of an honest report to work toward determining what might be going on with your kitty.

Cooked chicken with veggies
Image Credit: tookapic, Pixabay

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Conclusion

Beef is a nutritionally dense food that can be a great addition to a healthy, varied, and balanced diet for your cat. But never attempt to make a homemade diet for your cat without ensuring that it is complete and balanced and talking to your vet first. Hitting all nutrition goals with your cat’s diet is necessary for their longevity and health, and balancing a homemade diet for your cat can be extremely difficult.

If you offer beef as a treat to your cat, monitor how much and how often you’re giving it to your cat. Too much beef in one sitting can lead to an upset stomach, and overfeeding beef in the long run can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can create a lot of health problems for your cat.

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Featured Image Credit: Fotorech, Pixabay

Brooke Billingsley

Authored by

Brooke Billingsley spent nine years as a veterinary assistant before becoming a human nurse in 2013. She resides in Arkansas with her boyfriend of five years. She loves all animals and currently shares a home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and has a three-legged senior dog and an internet famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. Fish keeping...Read more

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