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Should Cats Eat Fish? Why We Don’t Make Fish Meals For Cats

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

Fish is a great protein to add into a healthy, diverse diet; however, fish is not a biologically appropriate protein for felines. No matter how crazy they go over it! Since cats love fish so much and it’s widely popularized as a food of choice for cats, many pet parents think it’s the way to go for their feline family members. That’s why we want to use this article to explore the origins of the myth, important considerations when feeding fish, fish in relation to our meals at Red Dog Blue Kat and the benefits of protein-based oils.

There’s going to be lots of valuable bits of information for cat owners in this one, so we encourage you to take some time to keep reading… Let’s get right into it!

Should Cats Eat Fish? Why We Don’t Make Fish Meals For Cats

The Origins Of Our Domestic Cats & The Connection To Fish

Our domestic cats have ancestry stemming from the Felis Silvestris, small wildcats whose diets mainly consisted of insects, birds, and rodents – sometimes even baby gazelles. Fish were not part of their natural diet.

Our present-day pet cats were first domesticated by the Egyptians, a society that was filled with fishermen. They used cats to catch rodents and therefore took them as companions at sea. While the cats lived on these boats, the fishermen probably fed them fish, and this is when they got their first taste! Even though cats seem to have taken to fish, it is definitely not what they would be hunting naturally!

That being said, there are some very specialized felines like the Asiatic fishing cats. This specific breed has webbed paws and survives almost solely on fish.

Cats Tendency to Habituate On Foods

Most cat owners have a hard time feeding their kitties because they’re notoriously picky eaters. But did you know that their finicky characteristics come from their genetics? It is natural for cats to stick to the same type of foods that they’re used to eating – it’s part of their survival instincts. When they’re young, the mother cat shows them what is okay and what isn’t, and this leads them to be reluctant to try new things later in life.

Not only are cats harder to transition to new foods, but they’re also more likely to get fixated on a specific food that they really like. That means that if they get habituated to fish, it’s very hard to convince them to try other proteins. When dealing with picky dogs, generally you’re able to try a fasting period to try and entice them to eat; however, it can be very dangerous for cats to miss multiple meals. If cats don’t eat for longer periods of time, they can develop several serious health issues, including fatty liver disease.

For tips on how to encourage a picky eater to add new foods to their diet, read our blog How To: Feed Your Picky Cat (Works for Dogs Too!)

Should Cats Eat Fish? Why We Don’t Make Fish Meals For Cats

Why Red Dog Blue Kat Doesn’t Make Single-Protein Fish Meals For Cats

Since fish cannot give cats a balanced and healthy diet alone, we do not have a single-protein fish meal for cats to ensure our kitty customers don’t get hooked! We are looking to introduce fish into new formulas; however, it would be in combination with other proteins to make sure they get a balanced diet.

The reason fish is not sufficient alone is that there is a clinically recorded nutritional deficiency in Vitamin B1 and thiamine. For instance, if cats don’t get enough thiamine, they can develop devastating health issues, including neurological diseases. This is why it’s so important to feed high thiamine foods in combination with fish to keep cats happy and healthy!

Should Cats Eat Fish? Why We Don’t Make Fish Meals For Cats

How To: Safely Feed Fish To Your Cat

We know that some cat parents are going to want to feed their kitties fish – lots of cats love it and it’s hard to say no to your sweet pet’s face. So, here are some things to take into consideration when you’re going to add fish to your cat’s diet.

  • If you’re feeding fish to your cat during meals, make sure to mix it in with other proteins your cat likes so he or she is eating fish in combination with other important ingredients for a healthy, balanced diet!

  • Some fish treats are a good option including sardines (in water instead of oil) or dehydrated fish treats (like our dehydrated salmon treats).

  • Only feed tuna as a tiny treat – it is higher on the food chain so it has a higher heavy metal content and is also very high in sodium, making your cat thirsty (even if it’s served in water).

  • The key is to feed in moderation and rotation! For help with how to rotate through proteins for a healthy and balanced diet for your cat or dog, read our blog about building a balanced raw diet.

How To: Safely Feed Fish To Your Cat- Fish Treats!

Is RDBK Whole Herring Okay For Cats?

If you decide to try and feed your cat our whole herring, make sure to feed it as an addition or supplement to their meal. Do not feed it as a full meal.

Many cats also won’t eat it as it’s a bit large for cats. If you’d like to feed the herring to your kitty, try feeding the head and not the rest or even fillet it.

Red Dog Blue Kat Whole Herring

What About Fish Oil For Cats

Many people feed their cats fish oil, it has great benefits for cats including helping to make the food more palpable and providing important omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a key part to keeping cats (and dogs) healthy; however, cats cannot convert plant-based omega-3’s like dogs (ex. Flax seed, chia seeds etc.).

You can purchase a variety of fish oils specifically for cats (and dogs), but you can also consider just feeding canned sardines in water! Another option to consider is a plant-based oil that does work for cats: Oil from sea algae. This is a newer one that people are using in instances where their pets are allergic to fish.

Cats can also get coconut oil if it’s in moderation – some people overdo the portions they give to their cats. Most of the time, try to stick to animal-based oils for omega-3 fatty acids!


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