Though most people associate begging for food with our canine friends, cats are no slouches when it comes to trying to manipulate their owners into sharing their food. And if they can’t charm their way into table scraps, many cats will just hop onto the kitchen counter and steal it for themselves!
Whether or not you appreciate your cat snatching a bite of your food, of course, you want to make sure they don’t eat foods that are dangerous or unhealthy for them. If your cat starts eyeing your next steak dinner, for example, is it okay to share? Can cats eat steak? Yes, steak can safely be fed to your cat but only if it’s cooked, not raw.
In this article, you’ll learn how to safely feed steak to your cat and why you should avoid feeding raw meat to your kitty. We’ll also discuss the basics of cat nutrition and how to ensure your cat’s diet is balanced and healthy.
Is Steak Healthy For Your Cat?
In moderation, steak can be a healthy treat for your cat. A cat’s diet should be high in protein and steak is an excellent source of this nutrient. Protein helps cats maintain their reproductive health and contributes to keeping their hearts strong and vision sharp.
The steak you offer your cat should be lean and free of excess fat. Fatty treats can lead to digestive upset and a painful, dangerous health condition called pancreatitis. Also make sure the steak isn’t cooked with garlic or onions, which can be toxic to cats. Treats, including steak, should only make up about 10%–15% of your cat’s total daily calories.
Some owners prefer to feed their cat a home-cooked diet and steak is one of the protein sources they may choose to offer. Home-cooked diets can be a healthy option for your cat as long as they are properly balanced. We’ll talk more about how to incorporate steak into a homemade diet later in this article.
Why You Should Avoid Feeding Raw Steak
If you’re a cat owner, chances are you’ve either seen social media posts or heard from another cat-loving friend or breeder that raw food is the healthiest and most natural diet for your kitty. Opinions on this subject can get heated and there’s some difference of thought even among veterinarians, especially holistic ones.
However, authorities like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Center for Veterinary Medicine, do not recommend feeding raw food to cats for several reasons.
First, raw diets—either commercially prepared or just plain raw meat—are commonly contaminated with dangerous bacteria, like Salmonella and Listeria. These bacteria can cause food-borne illness in both cats and their human owners. Kids, the elderly, and immune-compromised individuals are particularly at risk. Cats who eat raw food, including raw steak, can be carriers of these bacteria without showing signs of illness themselves.
Another concern with raw diets is the potential for cats to accidentally swallow bones mixed in with the food or mistakenly left in a steak. These can cause a blockage in the cat’s intestine that may require surgery. The final major concern with raw diets is that they can be difficult to balance nutritionally, leading to your cat receiving inadequate nutrients from their food.
If you do want to feed a raw diet to your cat, make sure to discuss with your veterinarian and physician how to do so as safely as possible and what signs of illness or poor nutrition to look out for.
Feline Nutrition: The Basics
As obligate carnivores, cats developed to get all their essential nutrients from animal, rather than plant, food sources. Whatever food you end up choosing for your cat should be high in protein, contain a moderate amount of fat, and be low in carbohydrates. Cats with certain health conditions may require diets that stray from this recommendation but your veterinarian will be able to guide you to the right food in these cases.
Commercially-prepared cat food is usually the easiest and safest choice to ensure your kitty is receiving all essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. All commercial cat foods must follow strict nutrition standards to ensure they are balanced.
With so many different foods available, you can easily get caught up in trendy advertising or fads. Take some time learning how to read cat food labels and understanding what makes a healthy cat diet. Truthfully, your cat will end up having the final say on which food you choose, depending on which they actually eat!
As we mentioned earlier, some pet owners prefer to avoid commercial cat food and offer a homemade diet instead. Sometimes, veterinarians will recommend this option for a cat with severe food allergies or other medical conditions with dietary restrictions.
It’s certainly possible that steak could be one of the protein options used for your cat’s homemade diet. If so, your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary nutritionist or offer other resources to ensure your cat’s homemade food is complete and balanced. If certain nutrients, such as the amino acid taurine, are lacking in a cat’s diet, serious health concerns may result.
Feeding our cats tasty foods is one of the many joys of sharing our lives with them. Now that you know that steak is safe to feed your kitty, you have one more delicious treat option to offer your whiskered friend. Just remember that obesity is just as unhealthy for cats as it is for people and don’t get carried away when it comes to the amount of any food, including steak, that your cat eats.
Featured Image Credit: ReinhardThrainer, Pixabay