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Can Cats Eat Fish Sticks? What You Need to Know!

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Vet, MVZ

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

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breaded fish sticks

Most cats enjoy eating fish. If your cat is begging for a taste of your fish sticks, should you share a piece?

It’s safe to give your cat a bite or two of the fish that’s found in fish sticks. But to be safe, it’s best to avoid letting your cat eat the breading or batter that coats the fish, and it’s also not a good idea to let your cat lick any fish stick dipping sauces you may have.

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What Kind of Fish Is in Fish Sticks?

Most fish sticks are made from chopped-up mild white fish like cod, pollock, haddock, or hake. This type of fish is OK for cats to eat as an occasional treat. The bulk of your cat’s diet should come from quality cat food that contains the right amounts of nutrients essential to a cat’s diet.

Remember to take off any batter or breading. Fish stick coating contains ingredients that could upset your cat’s digestive system, like oil, fat, salt, and sugar. The same is true for tartar sauce and other dipping sauces.

While fish like cod and haddock is safe for cats to eat, there are other kinds of fish that are healthier.

fried fish sticks
Image Credit: stockcreations, Shutterstok

What Fish Is Good for Cats?

Cooked fish is always safer for cats than raw fish, no matter what type of fish it is. Fish and other human food should not make up the bulk of your cat’s diet. Species-adequate and nutritionally balanced cat food is best.

But for an occasional treat, a bite of plain, cooked fish that’s rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids is fine for your cat. Fish in this category include salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.

Can Kittens Eat Fish?

Will a bite of fish cause gastrointestinal upset in kittens? Kittens can have sensitive stomachs, especially when they transition from milk to solid food. Fish doesn’t cause any more GI upset than other proteins, like chicken or beef. A small taste of plain, cooked fish is OK for your kitten to try.

Your kitten should eat quality cat food that’s formulated for kittens. Exposing your kitten to different flavors and textures is a good way to prevent it from becoming a finicky adult.

a kitten eating dry food
Image Credit: BestPhotoPlus, Shutterstock

What Is the Best Diet for Cats?

Cats have unique nutritional needs. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they need the nutrients found in an animal protein diet. There are specific nutrients that cats need to remain healthy.

Cats need to eat a diet that’s high in protein. As carnivores, they need more protein than dogs, which are omnivores and can eat a more varied diet. Some essential components of the feline diet are amino acids and vitamins A, B, and D. The most important amino acids for cats are taurine and arginine.

Cats’ bodies cannot make taurine, so they need to get it in their diets. A lack of taurine can cause serious health problems in cats. A deficiency can affect their eyes, hearts, immunity and reproductive systems.

Cats also cannot make arginine, so this needs to be in their food too. Arginine is essential in removing ammonia from the body.

cat eating on floor at home
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

The best way to ensure that your cat is getting the right nutrients in the right amounts is to feed it a quality cat-specific diet.  Your cat should also eat food that’s appropriate for its age (kitten, adult, senior) and any health condition it might have.

There are special cat foods formulated for overweight cats, hairball control, and other issues like kidney and urinary tract problems that require veterinary diets. All these factors mean that cat food is a better choice than human food for your cat.

Can Cats Eat Fish Cat Food?

If your cat loves the taste of fish, there are alternatives to sharing your fish dinner with your feline friend. Besides poultry, fish is one of the most popular animal proteins found in cat food and cat treats.

Should your cat eat cat food made with fish? Most experts say that if your cat gets the right amounts of the essential nutrients found in animal proteins, it doesn’t matter where that protein comes from—poultry, lamb, beef, or fish.

Some cats do have food sensitivities or allergies that can make it difficult for their digestive systems to tolerate certain cat food ingredients. This can apply to fish or any other ingredient.

cat licking mouth after eating
Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

The smell and taste of fish can help stimulate the appetite of some finicky eaters, which can be good if your cat needs to maintain a healthy weight. While it’s OK to share a bite of your fish sticks occasionally, be sure that most of the fish in your cat’s diet comes from cat food.


Featured Image Credit: Mateusz Gzik, Shutterstock