Cats can eat salmon so long as it’s cooked properly and eaten in moderation.
Moderation is key because cats can become addicted to salmon. While salmon is high in many nutrients, it doesn’t have everything.
Continue reading to learn more about the safe way to serve your cat salmon as well as the health benefits and drawbacks.
Cats should not eat raw salmon or any other raw fish. Raw meat can contain bacteria or parasites and make cats sick in the same way it can make humans sick.
Things like e.coli or salmonella are killed during the cooking process but may be present in raw meat. If a cat eats contaminated salmon, it can make them sick or even kill them.
Even raw sushi deemed safe for human consumption isn’t good for cats. Raw fish contains an enzyme called thiaminase. Thiaminase breaks down thiamine, or vitamin B1, which is a vitamin cats need.
A thiamin deficiency can lead to neurological problems, seizures, coma, and death in cats. While not every type of salmon has thiaminase, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re a cat owner and a dog owner, it’s important to note that dogs should also never eat raw salmon. Raw salmon shouldn’t be given to dogs for many of the same reasons it shouldn’t be given to cats, but with one more reason added.
That would be a bacteria called Neorickettsia helminthoeca. Dogs, and other animals, can contract this bacteria if they eat salmon infected with a parasitic worm.
This worm, or fluke, is called Nanophyetus salmincola. Normally, these flukes don’t bother your dog, but if the flukes are infected with Neorickettsia helminthoeca, they’ll spread it to your dog.
This is called Salmon Disease. Interestingly, cats seem to be immune.
All salmon given to cats should be cooked, and most likely, your cat will eat it happily.
When cooking salmon for your cat, do so by roasting, grilling, or poaching, but not deep frying. Deep frying reduces the number of nutrients in the fish.
Salmon contains several good nutrients but doesn’t contain everything a cat needs for a healthy diet. Cats can get addicted to salmon and may begin shunning their regular food, wanting salmon instead.
If you choose to give your cat salmon, give it as an occasional treat rather than a staple of their diet. Giving your cat salmon every once in a while rather than every day will prevent your cat from becoming addicted to salmon or becoming nutrient deficient.
If your cat seems hooked on the taste of salmon, there are plenty of options for cat food out there that include salmon as an ingredient. This can allow your cat to get a taste but also helps provide a broader range of nutrients than salmon alone can provide.
It’s also important to note that some cats can be allergic to fish. If this is the first time you’re offering fish to your cat, be on the lookout for signs your cat may be suffering an allergy, such as frequent itching or scratching.
Some cats may also have gastrointestinal distress from eating fish.
Avoid feeding your cat smoked salmon. Smoked salmon often contains high amounts of sodium that can be toxic to cats.
Do not give your cat cured salmon, either, as it also has a high sodium content. In general, don’t give your cat any meat that has been cured or smoked. If you suspect your cat has eaten something cured or smoked or with high sodium content, contact your vet.
So long as your kitten is eating solid foods, it’s okay to give them salmon every so often.
However, prepare the salmon according to the rules above. Ensure you have thoroughly cooked the salmon, preferably using a method that preserves the nutrients.
Don’t give a kitten raw or smoked salmon. As kittens are still growing and developing, be careful how much you give them. If they get addicted to salmon at a young age, they could end up with lasting damage.
They need a balanced diet, and too much salmon won’t give them all the nutrients they need.
If you opt to give your kitten salmon as a treat, cut it up small enough for them to eat. Remember that kittens need smaller bites than cats. You don’t want your poor little friend to choke.
If you’ve chosen to give your cat salmon, there are a few guidelines to follow:
- Thoroughly cook the salmon. To ensure all parasites and bacteria have been killed, heat the salmon to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C).
- Use a cooking method that preserves nutrients. The best options for cooking salmon for your cat are to roast the salmon, grill the salmon, or poach the salmon. This ensures that the bacteria and parasites are killed before your cat eats but also ensures that your cat will get all the nutrients that salmon provides.
- Do not deep fry or cook at a high temperature. If you deep fry the salmon or cook it at too high of a temperature, the salmon will lose its nutritional value. Additionally, deep frying adds oils, which are not healthy for your cat.
- Avoid smoked or cured salmon. Salmon prepared by smoking or curing is often high in sodium, which can be dangerous to your cat’s health.
- Avoid canned salmon. Canned salmon is made for human consumption, not cat consumption. As a result, canned salmon could have additives or spices that could make your cat sick.
- Do not season. Unseasoned salmon may sound bland to us, but humans and cats have very different palates. Don’t use seasonings or dressings on the salmon, as things like these could make your cat sick.
- Remove choking hazards. Before feeding your cat salmon, remove the head, fins, and bones.
Wrap the salmon in parchment paper and then aluminum foil to retain moisture. Place the wrapped salmon in an oven-safe dish.
Cook the salmon in the oven at 400°F (204.5°) for 12-17 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F (62.8°C). Let it cool before cutting it and offering it to your cat. If you’d like, you can add some of the dripping from the pan to your cat’s bowl.
Like when roasting, wrap the salmon in aluminum foil to retain moisture. Grill until the internal temperature reaches 145°F (62.8°C). If the salmon is thin, this may take only a few minutes.
Let it cool, and be sure to cut it up before feeding your cat. The last thing you want is to serve something to your pet that may hurt their tongue, mouth, or throat.
Since cats can be a little impatient when they realize that a food is for them, be careful how you condition your cat during prep. They may lose patience and try to get to the food before it’s done cooking or while it’s cooling.
To poach salmon, add one or two tablespoons of water to a nonstick pan. Try to avoid using oils or butter, as this may upset your cat’s stomach.
Add the salmon and cook over medium heat for three or four minutes on each side. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the salmon, but once again, ensure the internal temperature reaches 145°F (62.8°C), and before serving it, let it cool and cut it up.
While not as dangerous for your cats as raw salmon, there are still several reasons why cats shouldn’t eat pink canned salmon. Like canned tuna, canned salmon has already been cooked. However, being cooked doesn’t mean that it’s safe for your cat to eat.
Canned salmon may have added preservatives. These preservatives are what make it shelf-stable, which is why you may see it in canned food drives or in an emergency pack.
As I mentioned above, canned salmon is made for humans, not cats. While humans can eat these preservatives, they can give your cat an upset stomach.
The preservatives in canned salmon aren’t the only thing that may bother your cat. Any additional seasonings or flavorings added to the salmon could irritate your cat’s stomach. You may not even be aware of these seasonings, but you will be if your cat regurgitates their meal on your pillow.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to give your cat canned salmon, remove the bones first. While the canning process makes them soft and edible for us, they could still be a choking hazard for your cat.
The jury seems to be out on whether olive oil is okay for cats. The answer doesn’t seem to be a straight “yes” or “no,” but rather that it’s all right in moderation. The argument against oils is that they can be high in fat, and too much can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Those who are for it argue that oil, especially olive oil, is actually healthy. If you’re unsure, it’s best to ask your vet.
We’ve already talked about why you should avoid giving your cat canned salmon. If you really must, however, play it safe and stick with salmon in water rather than oil.
Too much of any oil can make your cat sick, causing them to vomit or have diarrhea. If you need to use a little bit to grease your pan when cooking the salmon, that’s likely fine as long as your cat doesn’t seem to feel ill after eating.
Salmon skin is just fine for your cat to eat, so long as you follow the guidelines above. Like the meat of the fish, you should only give salmon skin to your cat as an occasional treat.
Before offering salmon skin to your cat, ensure that it is cooked through. Do not give your cat salmon skin that has been smoked, cured, or had any additional spices or dressings added to it. Additional flavorings in salmon skin can make your cat sick.
Salmon skin is the part of the fish that’s highest in Omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that helps with inflammation as well as the health of your cat’s fur. It is still a fat, however, and if your cat is on a special diet, contact your vet before offering salmon skin.
Salmon skin should only be given to cats if it has been thoroughly cooked. Raw salmon skin poses the same threat as raw salmon meat. Salmon skin can contain bacteria or parasites that will make your cat sick.
While taking the temperature of salmon skin is trickier than taking the temperature of the meat of the salmon, if the salmon has been cooked properly, the skin should be as well.
The same rules of cooking salmon meat also apply when cooking salmon skin. Methods such as baking, grilling, or poaching the salmon will preserve the nutrients in both the skin and meat. Deep frying or heating at a high temperature will reduce nutritional value.
Salmon skin has many of the same benefits as salmon meat. However, salmon skin has a higher concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 has numerous benefits for your cat’s health, just as it does for human health.
Omega-3 is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. For your cat, this may mean healthier joints, especially in older cats suffering from arthritis. The anti-inflammatory nature of Omega-3 can also be good for your cat’s skin because it can calm allergies or skin irritations.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also very good for your cat’s fur. Their coat may look fuller and shinier, and you may notice them shedding less. Omega-3 improves the hair follicles, so their fur is less likely to fall out. If you’re an owner of a cat that sheds a lot or has a tendency to cough up hairballs, this can be a lifesaver.
Salmon skin has the most Omega-3 of anywhere on the fish. However, it’s not the only place your cat can get it. If you’re wondering if Omega-3 may benefit your cat, talk to your vet. They may be able to recommend supplements or other ways to incorporate more Omega-3 fatty acids into your cat’s diet.
Salmon has a lot of nutritional benefits for your cat. This includes:
- Omega-3 and Omega-6: As mentioned above, Omega-3 has many benefits for your cat. Omega-6 has many of the same benefits when it comes to your cat’s hair and skin health. However, only Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A has numerous benefits for your cat, such as immune support and antioxidant properties. Like the Omega fatty acids, Vitamin A also keeps your cat’s skin healthy. Vitamin A is also key for your cat’s night vision. How else would they attack your feet while you sleep?
- Cobalamin (B12): Cobalamin, more commonly known as Vitamin B12, is necessary for your cat. However, your cat doesn’t make it themselves and must get it through their food. B12 is critical in helping several enzymes work in the body. Vitamin B12 also supports your cat’s immune system, nervous system, digestive system, and cognitive function.
- Vitamin B6: A surprising amount of your cat’s bodily systems need B6 to work properly. B6 is involved in metabolism, glucose creation, niacin synthesis, the nervous system, and the creation of new red blood cells.
- Potassium: Potassium is an electrolyte that affects your cat’s entire body. The job of potassium is to provide an electrical charge to the heart, nerves, and muscles. However, it is possible to overdose on potassium, so be sure to watch how much your cat is getting.
- Selenium: Selenium is one we don’t hear about very often, but it’s actually essential for your cat. Selenium helps produce antioxidants and also is a key part of the enzyme that activates your cat’s thyroid hormone. This mineral is also a huge booster for your cat’s immune system. Be cautious, though, because, like potassium, your cat can overdose.
- Niacin (B3): While your cat’s body can make some niacin, it doesn’t make as much as it needs as fast as it needs. Niacin is necessary for energy metabolism, so your cat needs it in their diet.
If you’re concerned that your cat lacks one of the nutrients that salmon is high in, don’t turn to salmon immediately. Instead, call your vet to discuss your options.