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Can Cats Eat Mackerel? What You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Cat Eat Fish

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It’s pretty clear to us all that cats love fish. Although fish isn’t part of a cat’s natural diet, it is a source of high protein and fats that cats need to thrive. Additionally, it’s smelly and attractive to cats! Different types of fish have different nutritional values and benefits to cats. A typical fish you may find in the grocery store and consider feeding to your cat is mackerel.

Cats can eat mackerel. Mackerel is a protein source high in healthy fats, and it offers extra nutritional benefits. Fish like mackerel shouldn’t be given to cats as a complete diet as it doesn’t meet their nutritional needs. Instead, it can be used as a treat food.

There are a few tricks and tips to ensure that you are feeding mackerel and other fish safely to your cat, so read on to learn more.

Health Benefits of Mackerel for Cats

Fish raw
Image Credit: mschoettchen, Pixabay

Cats need a careful balance of nutrients to create a complete diet to fuel their bodies for happy, healthy lives. There is a range of great vitamins and compounds found within fish that can benefit your cat.


Mackerel is high in omega-3 fatty acids. You may see this ingredient plastered all over cat food packaging as a key marketing point, and for a good reason. Fatty acids are vital for cats for their anti-inflammatory properties and support growth and development. Omega-3s are also great to promote healthy skin and coats in cats.

Mackerel is one of the fish with the highest in omega-3s, so it can make a great choice of fish for dietary supplementation.

Vitamin B12

Mackerel is also a food that is in the top ten for foods highest in vitamin B12. B12 is essential in the function of cats’ immune, nervous, and digestive systems. Extra vitamin B12 is especially helpful in supporting cats with gastrointestinal problems, such as allergies.


Cats’ bodies have a high demand for dietary protein. It’s recommended to feed them a diet that consists of 25% at the minimum. Mackerel is high in proteins and is often used as an ingredient in commercially produced cat foods.

Moderation is Always Key

While mackerel inarguably offers cats a wide range of health benefits, it is not suitable as a replacement for an entire diet. Mackerel does not offer the full range of nutrients your cat’s body needs, so if exclusively fed it will lead to malnutrition.

For example, canned mackerel does not contain adequate levels of essential taurine, as it is destroyed during the canning process from heat. Raw fish is not safe to be fed to cats to keep taurine intact.

Mackerel, however, is a good choice of fish to feed. It is relatively inexpensive and tends to have lower mercury levels than many other sea fish. Mackerel lives in lower, less polluted levels of the sea and, therefore, will have fewer toxins or heavy metals in its flesh.

Mackerel is better suited to be fed as a treat or supplementary food. Since its scent and taste is highly alluring to cats, it would be a great choice to attempt to hide any medication in!

Preparing Mackerel Safely

Can Mackerel
Image Credit: primorske, Pixabay

Fish like mackerel can be processed, purchased, and used in many ways. Not all mackerel is equal when it comes to feeding it to your cat, and there are a few key things to consider when you choose to feed your cat mackerel.

Raw Mackerel

Never feed raw fish to your cat. Raw fish can contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella, which can be harmful to both your cat and your family. Raw fish also contains thiaminase, an enzyme that breaks down an essential B vitamin, thiamine. Thiamine deficiency can lead to neurological problems.

Canned Mackerel

Canned mackerel is an inexpensive choice for many cat owners. It’s also handy as it does not need to be refrigerated until opened and has a long shelf life. Canned mackerel can offer all the benefits of mackerel to your cat without the risk of raw fish.

However, be sure you purchase mackerel free from any additional sodium, oil, or flavors. Fish canned plain in spring water is the best choice.

Cooked Mackerel

Home-cooked mackerel is another safe choice for your cat. It will rid the fish of any harmful bacteria if it is served quickly. When cooking fish from your cat, do not use any additional oil, butter, salt, or spices. Fish should be cooked totally plain.

Cats shouldn’t be fed smoked fish in larger amounts as it contains high sodium levels that are used in the curing process of smoking.

Additionally, make sure all bones are removed from the fish to avoid the risk of choking or cuts to the intestinal tract.

Final Thoughts

Mackerel is a healthy treat to offer your cat in moderate amounts. While it is not nutritionally suitable as a total diet replacement, it can make a good choice for a treat.

As a bonus, your cat will adore you with regular fish treats!

By the way…

Is your cat ready to sleep with the fishes? The Hepper Shark Cat Bed is a funny novelty bed with a cozy, cave-like design that you and your cat won't be able to resist! This is our product, and we hope you enjoy it.

Featured Image Credit: Zanna Pesnina,Shutterstock

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