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Can Cats Eat Sardines? What You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

canned sardines

Even though cats do not eat sardines in the wild, they can be an excellent snack for your furry friend. If the sardines are free from extra oil and sauces, they can be a healthy snack that provides several minerals and vitamins for your feline.

If you are interested in learning about the benefits of feeding sardines to your cat, keep reading. This article covers if cats can eat sardines, the benefits of cats eating sardines, and how to feed sardines to your cat. Let’s get started!

Can Cats Eat Sardines?

As we covered above, cats can eat sardines. Plain sardines are loaded with c, iron, zinc, and other minerals that are necessary for your cat’s health and well-being. At the same time, cats love the flavor of sardines, making them a good treat choice.

plated fresh sardines
Image Credit: Pixabay

Are Sardines Good for Cats?

Sardines are incredibly nutritious. They are high in protein and contain minimal fat. At the same time, they are free from carbs, which is ideal for any cat’s diet. Sardines are also high in a number of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B2, vitamin E, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.

As a result, sardines by themselves are great for cats. Not all sardines from the store are healthy. Most sardines you purchase at the grocery store are sitting in liquid or sauce preservative. Although the sardines themselves may be great for your cat, this sauce may not be.

Sardines Based on Preservation Methods

The best sardines to feed your cat are those sitting in spring water. Spring water does not add any additional sodium or fat to the sardines, all while preserving the health and benefits of the sardines themselves.

Unfortunately, most sardines purchased at the store are not covered in spring water. Sardines from a can are often preserved in oil. Most often, sunflower and olive oil are used. Neither of these oils is downright bad for cats, but they can cause your cat to gain weight and get diarrhea if consumed in large quantities.

The worst type of sardines to feed your cat are those sitting in a brine. Brine is simply saltwater. Although brine is safe for us to consume, it often leads to too much salt and sodium for cats.

Dangers of Feeding Sardines to Cats

In addition to the preservation liquid around the sardine, sardines themselves can pose some serious threats to your cat’s health. Sardines with bones can be a potential choking hazard. Luckily, sardine bones are quite small, which means the bones aren’t as serious of a choking hazard as chicken bones.

Another danger of feeding sardines to cats is that it can lead to elevated levels of mercury. Mercury poisoning negatively harms your cat’s internal organs. Eating sardines on occasion will not lead to mercury poisoning, but feeding sardines and tuna to your cat on a regular basis can.

close up canned sardines
Image Credit: Pixabay

How To Feed Sardines to Your Cat

Here is how to properly feed sardines to your cat:

1. Select Sardines In Spring Water

If you can, try to select sardines preserved in spring water. As we already learned above, spring water doesn’t add any more fat or calories to the sardines. It also doesn’t add any additional sodium. Select spring water sardines over sardines kept in any oil or brine when you can.

2. Wash The Sardines Off

Sometimes, there might not be a spring water option. If that’s the case, opt for sardines that are preserved in oil or saltwater, never sauce. Before serving the sardines to your cat, make sure to wash them off thoroughly. Although the liquid will have seeped a little bit into the sardine, washing the sardines off removes as much of the excess liquid as possible.

3. Only Feed Sardines As a Treat

No matter what type of sardine you buy, only feed it as a treat to your cat. As we learned above, frequently feeding sardines to your cat can lead to mercury poisoning. You can avoid this entirely by only feeding sardines, tuna, and other similar foods as a treat. Most vets recommend only feeding sardines to your cat once or twice a week.


In summary, cats can eat sardines, but not all sardines are created equally. Sardines preserved in spring water are best. Other sardines are good for cats as well, but they also have additional calories and sodium that need to be washed off before cat consumption. No matter what kind of sardine you select, don’t feed sardines to your cat any more than twice a week.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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