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Can Cats Eat Turkey? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

turkey in the oven

Whether you’re preparing a huge Thanksgiving feast or just want to enjoy a tasty turkey sandwich, your kitty may come running as soon as she gets a sniff of that giant, juicy bird. But is it safe to treat your cat to some turkey? As long as it’s fresh and natural, yes, your feline can feast on some turkey.

Here is everything to know about feeding your cat turkey, including possible health benefits, concerns, and how to properly prepare some tempting turkey tidbits.

Can Cats Eat Turkey?

As surprising as it might seem, your demur domesticated cat comes from a long line of carnivores. This means that your feline friend needs a strict diet of protein to thrive.

Wild cats survive on a protein-packed diet of meat that is low in carbs and fats. This is why lean, fresh, and organic turkey makes a great treat for your cat.

When served in moderation, small pieces of turkey can benefit your cat’s health and well-being. Turkey is an excellent source of protein for cats, which satisfies the bulk of your pet’s nutritional needs. Turkey also contains taurine. This essential amino acid can boost your cat’s visionary and dietary health. Other important nutrients for cats such as zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and B12, and selenium are all also present in turkey.

Not only can turkey improve your cat’s physical health, but it can also enhance her mood. The tryptophan in turkey can alleviate your kitty’s stress and improve her sleep.

cat reaching for turkey
Image Credit: Scharfsinn, Shutterstock

Is Turkey Bad for Cats?

While turkey makes a great snack for housecats, you should avoid feeding it to your pet in a few ways, including:

  • Raw: Your cat can safely consume raw meat. However, feeding her raw meat can increase her chance of contracting bacteria, such as salmonella. Bad bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other tummy troubles. Signs of salmonella infection in cats include weight loss, fever, dehydration, and lethargy. Take your cat to the vet right away if you think she contracted salmonella.
  • Fat: Don’t feed your cat turkey skin. This part of the bird is high in fat, and can easily cause your kitty to become obese.
  • Deep-Fried: While deep-fried turkey is delicious to you, it can be dangerous to your cat. Deep-frying your turkey can add harmful trans-fats and saturated fats to the meat. These can cause heart issues, obesity, and other concerns for your cat.
  • Seasonings: Some types of seasonings, including salt, can cause swelling, water retention, and other health issues in your cat. Salt can also make your cat super thirsty, which can lead to dehydration and excess urination.
  • Deli Turkey: Deli meats can be harmful to your cat because it contains lots of nitrates and sodium.
  • Bones: While it may seem tempting, never offer your cat a turkey bone. A bone can easily splinter and cause gastrointestinal problems. Your pet can also choke on a bone.
  • Ground Turkey: Avoid feeding your feline ground turkey. While high in protein, ground turkey also is high in fat, which can lead to obesity.

If you decide to feed your cat turkey, always feed her fresh, organic, and season-free pieces of cooked and skinned turkey breast.

Turkey bones
Image Credit: sheris9, Shutterstock

How to Feed Your Cat Turkey

If you want to treat your cat to some turkey, always give her lean, fresh, roasted turkey that doesn’t have any seasonings. Avoid giving her bones or skin. Don’t feed your cat dark turkey meat.


While your cat can safely eat turkey, you shouldn’t go feeding her every type of turkey available on the market. Only feed your cat small pieces of clean, unseasoned, skinned, and lean turkey in moderation. Never feed her seasoned turkey, deli or ground turkey, raw meat, or turkey skin or bones.

Next time you make a turkey sandwich, treat your kitty with a small piece of your favorite meat!

Learn more about what your cat can and can’t eat:

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

Authored by

Nicole is a lover of animals of all sizes but is especially fascinated with the feline variety. She’s the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese, and works every day so he can relax in the sunshine or by the fire. She’s always had a cat in her home and has spent countless days with others, observing behaviors and softening up even the grouchiest of the lot. Nicole wants to share her kitty expertise with you so you and your cat ...Read more

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