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Can Cats Eat Catfish? Vet-Approved Health & Safety Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Cats Eat catfish

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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

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The name ‘catfish’ has the word cat in it, so many people will assume the catfish is somehow connected to cats. This is why so many cat owners will think of catfish as a good type of fish to feed their cats.

Catfish should be thoroughly cooked before being fed to cats in small amounts, and cats can benefit from the essential nutrients found in catfish. However, some forms of catfish are not safe for felines because they are seasoned with salt and other harmful flavorings.

We have all the answers you need when it comes to feeding catfish to your pet and whether it is safe and beneficial for their health.

Is Catfish Safe for Cats to Eat?

Catfish is safe for cats to eat if you consider the risks. This type of fish contains many beneficial nutrients that are important to a cat’s health, such as omega-3, omega-6, and taurine. Your cat cannot produce these nutrients themselves, so they must get them from food sources.

Cats are obligate carnivores and require meat to survive. This makes it ideal for your cat to eat a protein-rich diet with fatty oils and other beneficial nutrients. Cats’ bodies are designed to process meats and fats, and you can include small portions of fish into your cat’s diet.

Image Credit: Pixabay

When and Why Can Catfish Be Harmful to Cats?

Catfish may be safe for a cat to eat if it has been cooked, but there are also other risks associated with feeding it. Cats are susceptible to bacteria found in catfish, which are predominantly found in raw or undercooked catfish. This means that catfish has both benefits and risks when it comes to feeding it to your cat. Catfish can also pose a risk for cats because it contains thiaminase, which is an enzyme that breaks down thiamine (Vitamin B1), an essential vitamin for cats.  This means they cannot make it themselves and can only get it from food sources.

Continued feeding of a diet lacking in thiamine will cause a thiamine deficiency that leads to symptoms in cats such as seizures and neurological problems. Thiaminase can be destroyed before your cat eats the fish by cooking the catfish at high temperatures.

With all that being said, it is safe to feed your cat catfish if it has been thoroughly cooked, is unseasoned, and fed in small portions infrequently. By doing so, you will be able to avoid exposing your cat to harmful risks while providing them with a source of fatty acids and taurine.

Can Cats Eat Raw Catfish?

Raw or undercooked fish have the potential to cause illness, as they can contain parasites, such as giardia, and bacteria, such as salmonella, but it is more serious for those with compromised immune systems.

It is never recommended to feed raw catfish to your pets.

What Types of Fish Can Cats Eat?

Oily fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines are a good choice of fish to feed to your cat. They are rich in healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are good for your cat’s eyesight and heart health.

These types of fish are safe for cats to eat without cooking:
  • Canned salmon: High in Vitamin D, low in mercury, and can be fed more often than other types of fish.
  • Sardines: Low in mercury and full of nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and selenium.
  • Canned tuna: Higher in mercury, but safe for cats in moderation.
The types of fish that should be fed cooked:
  • Catfish: Rich in fatty acids, but too much can lower vitamin B1 absorption.
  • Mackerel: Excellent source of nutritional oil for cats.
  • Whitefish: Low in calories and easy for cats to digest.

How to Cook Catfish for Cats

Before feeding catfish to your cat, it needs to be thoroughly cooked. You should start by baking the catfish, as this is the easiest way to prepare it. Wrap the catfish in parchment paper and then a layer of aluminum foil to hold in the moisture. Avoid adding any spices, oils, or seasonings to the fish. Bake the catfish in an oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes. Let the fish cool and then cut to the correct portion size. Then, let your furry friend have a feast!

Now that you know what you can safely feed your cat, it’s just as important to find a bowl that supports their health and well-being. With whisker-friendly bowls and a wide tray to catch any spills, our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite option.

hungry white cat hepper nom nom bowl licking lip

Final Thoughts

Your cat can be fed cooked catfish every 2 weeks in small portions. It is not recommended to feed your cat too much catfish; otherwise, they may suffer from a vitamin deficiency. You can also switch up the type of fish you feed your cats, such as feeding cooked catfish once a week and then the next week feeding tuna or salmon. This ensures that your cat does not consume too much of one food source.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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