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Can Cats Eat Turkey? Vet-Approved Facts & Feeding Guide

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Cat Eat turkey

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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

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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 they get a sniff of that giant, juicy bird. But is it safe to treat your cat to some turkey? Yes, as long as it’s plain and fresh, your feline can feast on some turkey. In fact, turkey meat is a common ingredient in commercial cat food.

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 house 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 prey 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 be a great treat or addition to your cat’s diet. 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 is critical for your cat’s sight, digestion, and heart muscle function. Other important nutrients for cats, such as zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and B12, and selenium, are all also present in turkey meat.

cat reaching for turkey
Photo Credit: Scharfsinn, Shutterstock

Is Turkey Bad for Cats?

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

  • Raw: There are different opinions on this matter. Feeding your cat raw meat can increase their chance of contracting bacteria, such as Salmonella. Not only can your cat contract harmful bacteria, but other members of the household can get food poisoning as well. Speak to your vet if you are planning on feeding your cat raw meat to understand the risks and precautions that need to be taken.
  • Fat: Don’t feed your cat turkey skin. This part of the bird is high in fat and can upset your cat’s digestion and can lead to weight gain.
  • Deep-Fried: While deep-fried turkey is a delicious occasional treat, it is not a healthy way to consume turkey meat due to the amount of fat it contains..
  • Seasonings: Some types of seasonings, including powdered garlic or onion, are toxic to cats. Excess salt can alter your cat’s salt and water balance in their body and can potentially lead to dehydration if they consume a large amount and they don’t have access to water.
  • 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 and become a foreign body hazard. 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.

If you decide to feed your cat turkey, always feed them plain, fresh, and season-free pieces of cooked and skinned turkey meat.

How to Feed Your Cat Turkey

If you want to treat your cat to some turkey, always give them lean, fresh, plain, and cooked turkey meat that doesn’t have any seasonings. Avoid deep-fried and deli turkey, and do not feed them bones or turkey skin.

cat eating from white ceramic bowl
Image Credit: sweetlouise, Pixabay

Conclusion

While your cat can safely eat turkey, you shouldn’t go feeding them 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 them seasoned turkey, deli or ground turkey, raw meat, or turkey skin or bones.

Your cat thrives on a complete and balanced diet specially formulated for them; however, don’t worry if next time you make a turkey sandwich you treat your kitty with a small piece of your favorite meat!

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

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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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