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What Kinds of Fish Can Cats Eat?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

cat looking at raw fish

If you have a cat in your home, you already know they love fish. If you open a can of tuna, the smell immediately alerts every cat in the home and they come running. It’s reminiscent of the old Saturday morning cartoon where cats would try to outsmart one another when a large fish was the prize. Cat owners who also own pet fish have another unique perspective when it comes to cats and fish. Daily visits to the fish tank where cats chirp and beg for your little swimmers can be comical.

While the narrative dictates that cats should eat fish whenever they want them, is this actually true? Are fish safe for our kitties? What kinds of fish can cats eat? These are questions we should be asking ourselves if we own a cat, and want to provide them with the best nutrition possible. Let’s dive in and find the answers to these questions so you can provide your cat with the best options when it comes to their fishy treats.

Is Fish Safe for Cats to Eat?

Yes, most fish is safe for cats to eat. The important thing to remember, however, is that fish isn’t a nutritionally complete meal for your cat. Fish will answer your cat’s obligate carnivore cravings for animal protein, but it doesn’t provide them with adequate vitamins and minerals their diet requires. What does this mean for your feline friend? Simply put, giving your cat a little fish on occasions is fine, but it shouldn’t become a daily part of their diet.

Can Cats Have Raw Fish?

While those Saturday morning cartoons made it appear that raw fish is safe for cats, that isn’t the case. Raw fish destroys the thiamine in your cat’s body. This B vitamin is essential for your cat’s health. Raw fish also contains bacteria. This bacteria can cause food poisoning in your feline. Two common bacteria that affect both humans and cats are E. Coli and salmonella. Raw fish can introduce both of these to your kitty.

Cat fed small fish at the market
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

Oily Fish

Oily types of fish can be quite beneficial to your cat, but only when they are cooked and not served raw. These types of fish provide your cat with healthy fats like Omega-3’s and Omega 6’s. These 2 fats are great for your kitty’s heart and even their eyesight. Fish oil is also ideal for older cats. If they suffer from inflammatory conditions, fish oil can help relieve some of their pain.

A word of caution when it comes to these oily fish. They can be quite high in mercury. They also feed on other fish and ingest their mercury content. Feeding your cat too much can lead to mercury poisoning and a trip to your veterinarian.

Here’s a few oily fish that when served properly to your cat can provide them with the health benefits mentioned above.

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Sardines

Line Fish

While line fish don’t provide the same types of healthy fats and oils as the oily fish we mentioned above, they won’t do any harm to your cat. You can serve your cat these types of fish boiled, baked, or grilled as long as they are deboned and free of salts and seasonings that could be dangerous. They may not have nutritional value for your cat, but they will make tasty treats.

Here’s a few line fish your kitties will absolutely love.

  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Hake
  • Flounder
  • Tilapia
Cat Eating Tuna
Image Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH,Shutterstock

Other Fishy Treats for Kitties

With raw fish being a no-go for your cat, sushi is out. There are other fishy treats your cat can enjoy, however. Let’s take a look at a few you can offer your cat that you may not expect.


Yes, if it is cleaned and cooked properly your cat can enjoy shellfish with you. These little guys can provide your cat with lots of minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, and copper. Here are some shellfish that are safe for your cat to enjoy.

If you want to give your cat a yummy, fishy treat any of these types of shellfish can be added to their bowl. Just remember, it shouldn’t act as a replacement for your cat’s normal food.

cat licking mouth after eating
Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

Other Ocean Dwellers

For cats who love fish, a few other ocean dwellers are perfectly safe for them to eat. Most of these fishy treats provide cats with vitamins and minerals but aren’t suitable for complete diet replacement. Like with everything else on our list, make sure all of these sea creatures are clean and fully cooked to avoid any issues with bacteria.

  • Anchovies
  • Shrimp
  • Prawns
  • Octopus
  • Squid
  • Seaweed


As you can see there are both pros and cons when it comes to feeding fish to your cat. While some fish are higher in fat than others, and should only be given in moderation. Others have little to no nutritional value and shouldn’t be used to replace your cat’s normal food. Don’t fret though, with many of the fishy options mentioned above providing your kitty with vitamins, minerals, and of course protein you can still allow your feline best pal the opportunity to eat fish now and then. Always remember to thoroughly clean and cook any fish you give your kitty. Your cat may not act like those in the cartoons but you can still make them happy with fresh fish when the chance arises.

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Featured Image Credit: Natalia Sokko, Shutterstock

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