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Can Cats Eat Crawfish? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

boiled crayfish on an iron plate

Vet approved

Dr. Ashley Darby Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

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

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Before changing your dog’s/ cat’s diet or introducing new ingredients or supplements that they haven’t eaten before, especially when it comes to human food, make sure to consult your veterinarian first. Every dog/cat is different and requires an individual approach to nutrition, depending on their age, health, level of activity, and medical history. The guidelines offered in our article have been fact-checked and approved by a veterinarian but should be used as a mere guide on food safety, rather than an individual nutrition plan.

The scent of seafood cooking is sure to get cat noses everywhere twitching and their lips licking. We all know that cats have an affinity for fish, but what about shellfish like crawfish (sometimes called “crayfish”)? There isn’t much information about this, but the general consensus is that adult cats can eat small amounts of crawfish meat as long as it’s prepared appropriately.

However, in some cases, cats eating crawfish can be a risky business. We’ll explain both the potential health benefits and risks of eating crawfish in this guide.

Is Crawfish Healthy for Cats?

Since we didn’t find any studies on whether or not crawfish benefits cats health-wise, this is hard to answer. For one thing, though it’s not very common, some cat food brands include crawfish in their formulas, which reassures us that a certain amount of crawfish meat is safe for cats. There are also no known problems with cats eating the cooked meat from other crustaceans.

As for the health benefits, we know that crawfish is a source of protein, and various minerals and vitamins including vitamin A and folate.

That said, cats shouldn’t eat much crawfish (for reasons we’ll explain further down), so they likely won’t eat enough of it to reap significant benefits.

boiled crawfish on a plate
Photo Credit: Mikael Damkier, Shutterstock

Can Cats Eat Crawfish Often?

Crawfish shouldn’t be offered regularly unless it’s an ingredient in your cat’s commercial food formula. Commercial food formulas are different because they’re designed to be nutritionally complete and balanced with a blend of ingredients in appropriate amounts.

As long as your cat’s food is labeled “complete and balanced” and is manufactured by a reputable brand, it’s fine. That said, commercial formulas containing crawfish are few and far between. Ones containing fish, shrimp, crab, and lobster are much more common.

Home-prepared crawfish, on the other hand, should be a treat rather than a staple because this shellfish is high in cholesterol and sodium (more on this below). In addition, seafood alone cannot offer cats all the nutrients they need.

Risks of Feeding Crawfish to Cats

As mentioned above, eating too much crawfish means your cat is ingesting too much sodium. Sodium toxicosis (salt poisoning) is unlikely from eating crawfish alone however it is a good idea to be mindful of your cat’s sodium intake, especially if they already have kidney problems.

We also mentioned that crawfish is high in cholesterol, so eating too much crawfish on a regular basis could raise your cat’s cholesterol and make them unhealthy. In addition, the shells of crawfish are a choking hazard.

Can Cats Be Allergic to Crawfish?

Yes, they can. Cats can be allergic to any type of seafood, so watch out for signs like diarrhea, vomiting, and itchy and inflamed skin.

cat scratching its head
Image Credit: NOWRA photography, Shutterstock

How to Prepare Crawfish for Cats

Any crawfish you feed to your cat should always be thoroughly cooked to eliminate the risk of bacterial infection. Refrain from adding any seasonings (salt, spices, butter, garlic, etc.) as these don’t suit cats and could make them unwell. Remove the shell and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces to reduce the risk of choking.

Can Cats Eat Raw Crayfish?

No, this is a health hazard because raw seafood can contain dangerous bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria. Raw seafood also contains an enzyme called thiaminase, which can cause cats to develop a thiamine (B1) deficiency.

This deficiency tends to affect the nervous system, resulting in symptoms like convulsions, seizures, head tilting, circling, neck curling, falling, lack of coordination, and coma.

Final Thoughts

To recap, most cats can eat a little bit of cooked crawfish as a treat, but it certainly shouldn’t be fed daily due to its high sodium and cholesterol levels. When introducing any new food, we would always recommend checking it out with a vet first, especially if your cat has a health issue.

Featured Image Credit: Calibrys, Shutterstock

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