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Can Cats Eat Cod? Everything You Need to Know!

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

dinner plate with grilled cod and salad on side

Cats and fish go hand in hand like dogs and bones. However, fish isn’t always safe for cats to eat. They can contain contaminants, such as mercury and parasites, that can be extremely harmful to your precious pets.

In general, cats can eat cod and most other fish if you prepare them correctly. Here’s what you need to know before you feed your cat cod and other seafood.

Is It Safe To Feed My Cat Cod?

The safest way to feed your cat cod is by thoroughly cooking it. Wild cats may be able to consume raw meat, but domesticated cats are more susceptible to becoming sick from eating raw foods.

Raw Cod

raw cod fillets with herbs and lemon
Image Credit: KarepaStock, Shutterstock

Feeding your cat raw cod is risky, and cats should never eat wildly caught fish. One of the most dangerous things about uncooked cod is parasitic worms. Cod and other oily fish tend to be carriers of roundworms, which can transfer to cats orally.

Although roundworms don’t tend to be too dangerous to adult cats, kittens and older immunocompromised cats can suffer significantly from these parasites. A high concentration of roundworms will lead to ascariasis, which is an infection of the intestines.

Symptoms of ascariasis include the following:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stool
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition

Severe infestations can lead to roundworm larvae traveling through the bloodstream and infecting a cat’s lungs.

Consuming raw cod can also lead to bacterial infection. Uncooked cod and other fish can carry salmonella, which can transfer to cats. Cats will mainly experience an upset stomach that leads to vomiting or diarrhea.

They can also exhibit these other symptoms:
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Anorexia
  • Dehydration
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Shock
  • Skin disease
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss

Cooked Cod

cooked cod fillet
Image Credit: DanaTentis, Pixabay

Properly cooked cod is safe for cats to eat, and many cats will enjoy them as tasty treats. The purpose of cooking cod is to kill off any parasites. Cooking the cod to an internal temperature of 145°F for 15 seconds will kill roundworms. Alternatively, you can freeze the cod to an internal temperature of -4°F to destroy these parasites.

If raw cod has been left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature, it should just be thrown out. Although you can technically cook-off salmonella with high heat, raw fish that’s been out for too long is too risky for both cats and humans to consume.

Nutritional Value of Cod

Cod is very nutritious for cats. To begin with, it’s a great source of lean protein while being low in calories, fat, and carbs. It’s also a great source of vitamin B12, which is extremely important for a cat’s gastrointestinal health.

Cod also contains high concentrations of phosphorus, which is good for maintaining bone and tooth health. However, not all cats will benefit from a boost of phosphorus. Too much of this mineral can cause damage to a cat’s kidneys.

Therefore, if you have a cat with kidney disease or one that’s susceptible to kidney stones, it should refrain from eating too much cod.

A Cat’s Nutritional Needs

Cod aligns well with a cat’s nutritional needs. In general, a cat’s diet should consist mainly of protein and fats.

close up of a cooked cod fish
Image Credit: Rachel Claire, Pexels

High Protein Diet

Cats benefit from a diet that consists of at least 40% protein. Unlike dogs and humans, cats are obligate carnivores, so they don’t need a whole lot of carbohydrates in their diet. In fact, their digestive tracts aren’t designed to process carbohydrates very well.

As previously mentioned, cod is an excellent source of lean protein and is low in carbs. Therefore, it can be a great low-calorie treat for cats that need to maintain or lose some weight.

Cod also contains a lot of taurine, which is an essential amino acid for cats. Cats need taurine, but they can’t produce it on their own, so they rely on consuming animal protein to maintain adequate levels of taurine.

Cats with taurine deficiencies can develop serious illnesses. Taurine deficiencies can lead to retinal degeneration and cardiomyopathy. Both these illnesses are preventable if a cat has a healthy taurine intake. However, if left untreated, they both lead to irreversible or fatal consequences.

Moderate Amount of Fat

A cat’s diet should also consist of about 20-24% fat. Since cats don’t process carbohydrates very well, they rely on fat as an energy source. Omega fatty acids can also protect your cat from inflammatory diseases such as allergies, arthritis, and heart disease.

Cod is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids can help with improving and nourishing a cat’s skin and coat.

tabby cat eating from a bowl
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Cod also contains niacin, choline, and selenium. Cats need these vitamins and minerals for daily bodily functioning.

Cats with niacin deficiencies can experience uncomfortable and painful symptoms, including inflamed gums, loss of appetite, and hemorrhagic diarrhea.

Choline is necessary for cats because it helps with metabolizing fat and reducing fat buildup in the liver.

Selenium has anti-inflammatory properties that can help cats maintain healthy skin and coat. It also helps with joint health and supports the immune system.

Conclusion

Cod is an excellent treat for cats if it’s prepared correctly. If you want to feed your cat some cod, make sure only to feed them cod that’s been cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F for 15 seconds.

If you’re unsure about proper cooking methods, you can always give your cat dried cod treats. Either way, your cat will love you for these special treats, and you can rest assured in knowing that you’re giving your cat a delicious and highly nutritious snack.


Featured Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

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