Why Do Cats Like Fish [Things to know]

Last updated on December 12th, 2021

cat in the kitchen looking at fish and licking mouth

The house I lived in previously has large windows, and whenever my mom cooked fish, cats would crawl in through the windows to get a taste of it!

This has happened multiple times with different cats from the neighborhood coming in and trying to get close to the pot of fish. Although after this incident, you might think that cats only get tempted by cooked fish meals, but do you know that some cats also love raw fish meat?

If you’ve ever owned a cat, you would know that they’re picky eaters even though most of them display an inclination towards fishes, and surely you’ve come across people advising you to introduce fish meals to your cats, however, not all felines will adore the food.

Cats like fishes because it has a unique raw meat scent that appeals to their senses and while their nutritional needs are similar to humans, there’s a protein called taurine that’s found in fish which helps build and repair their muscles while keeping their vision and heart health on top condition.

Fish foods, whether home-cooked or canned, consists of essential nutrients like Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Protein, and Taurine, which help cater to your cat’s dietary requirements.

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Things to Know Before Feeding Fish to Your Cat

You can buy different types of fishes from your local market, however, you will have to keep the following factors in mind:

Moderate Consumption of Fish Fat

Although your cats would need fat to balance their diets, feeding them high-fat fishes is not recommended. Butterfish, which are high-fat fishes, cause indigestion and other bowel disorders such as vomiting and diarrhea. Thus it is best to buy low-fat or medium-fat fishes such as salmon and tuna because these are rich sources of protein for cats.

Salmon and tuna consist of amino acids like Taurine which will provide healthy nutrients that they can digest quickly.

The Fish’s Source

Contrary to popular belief, feeding your cat with fishes collected freshly from ponds and other sweet water bodies is not a great idea. It is because these fishes are loaded with parasites, and even after they are cooked, they can contain bacteria that can seriously harm your cat’s gut. Since it might be impossible for you to know where the fish has been caught, you can stick to commercial cat food or tinned fish.

Cooking the Fish

Although the digestive systems of stray and wild cats are accustomed to raw meat, you should not try doing the same with domesticated cats.

This does not imply that you will fry the fishes to create a great impression on your cats because it will cause them digestive disorders. Only boiling or grilling the fish is enough to kill the parasites, if any. You should also avoid introducing oily canned fish meals to your cats because, again, they would have a hard time digesting it.

Benefits of Feeding Fish to Your Cat

cat eating tuna on white ceramic plate

If you have adopted a cat recently and thus want to know whether feeding fish to them is a good idea, you should not miss this section. If you are also having doubts whether your cats should be eating seafood before they develop a greater taste for fish, then check out the following pointers:

High Sources of Protein

Although animals can also derive protein from a plant-based diet, cats cannot fully digest animal proteins because of their small digestive system which leads us to the reason why you should incorporate fishes as the primary ingredient (in moderation, see further information below) of your cats’ meals and feed them small amounts of fruits and veggies.

Fish Deliver Protein From Amino Acids.

Since the proteins delivered by fishes are generated from breaking down amino acids, they produce hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. Thus these proteins help your cats stay healthy while protecting them from common diseases. Furthermore, enzymes maintain the pH balance, and protein energizes your pet, allowing them to be active throughout the day.

Fish is an Excellent Source of Taurine.

As mentioned, fish meals consist of amino acids, of which Taurine is one. Although some mammals produce Taurine naturally, cat’s bodies are not designed for it, and thus, they need to supplement it from taurine-rich diets such as fish. Taurine regulates heart diseases, enhances vision, body rhythm and vision and reproduction.

Fish Meal is an Excellent Source of Fatty Acids.

Not only proteins, but your furry pet also needs optimal doses of fatty foods and fish oils for a healthy and balanced diet. The omega 3 fatty acids keep your cat’s skin healthy and fur glossy while reducing skin diseases, bowel disorders, etc.

Although omega 3 fatty acids are present in most fishes, if you are looking for fish packed with high quantities of fatty acids, you can go for cold-water fishes like salmon and tuna that also provide additional health benefits.

Some might have a weakness for fish recipes, we cannot help but cover our noise when unpacking or cutting the raw fish. It is because fishes emit a strong smell that is more than enough to tempt cats from at least a few meters.

So even if you cannot stand the smell of raw seafood, it is indeed making your cat’s mouth watery. This is the case because cats are classified as carnivores, whereas we humans are originally omnivores.

However, in case you are considering fish as the only source of food for your cats, here are a few facts that you need to know:

Fish Lacks a Few Vitamins And Minerals

Although fish is an excellent source of proteins, it lacks vitamins and minerals such as sodium, calcium, and iron. So if your cat only feeds on fish, it might suffer from nutritional deficiency, which over a prolonged duration can result in disorders.

Besides this, fishes also do not contain vitamin B and E, and thus, you might want to encourage your pet to eat other animal-based foods like beef liver, eggs, tuna, and even raw clam since this is not only low in fat but has high protein and iron which can certainly help fulfill the dietary needs of your feline.

Fish Consists of Toxins

Would you believe me if I told you that the fish we love to see on our plates is packed with toxins like mercury? Trust me, it is accurate, and although it might not significantly harm us, it will affect your pets if they consume fishes all day!

Fishes also consist of iodine, one of the most harmful ingredients for cats, which can even lead to urinary tract infections and other hormonal disorders.

Raw Fishes are Full of Parasites.

Although your cats might be allured towards raw fishes because of their intense sense of smell, keep the raw fishes out of reach from your cats.

As mentioned before, I have seen many cats enjoying raw fishes, but over time I found that it is not a good idea because parasites from the raw fishes can breed in your cat’s system.

What Type of Canned Fish Can You Feed Your Cat?

If you are not sure about the fishes’ source or you don’t have the time to cook fish for your cat, then it is better to switch to canned fish meals. These are designed to fulfill cats’ dietary needs, and thus it is often packed with essential nutrients, vitamins, and not to forget, protein and Omega-3 Fatty Acid.

Regardless of your location, you should not have a problem finding tinned fish or salmon for your cats. When sourcing canned foods, you should always purchase them in small cans because the shelf life of these canned foods is short, and once you puncture the cans’ seal, they must be consumed within 24 hours, even with refrigeration.

Editor’s note: you should not feed canned tuna to your cats every day as it contains high levels of sodium.

Should You Offer Fish to Your Cat for Every Meal?

cat licking paws

Once you introduce fish meals to your cats, they might throw tantrums when you try to offer them other meal options consisting of veggies and fruits. However, you should not give in to the cute eyes appealing to fishes and stand by your point of not offering them fishes for their benefit.

Too much fish is not suitable for your pet’s health and over time, and it can lead to severe health complications. Whether canned or cooked, you should only feed them fish in moderation or have their fish consumption reduced down to few times a week; otherwise, they might develop hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism and other health issues.

Can Cats Be Allergic to Fishes?

Like humans, even cats can be allergic to certain foods like fishes. To identify whether your cat has an allergy after consuming fish, look for the following symptoms and consult with a professional.

  • Scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflamed skin

If you live with a cat that likes fish, you would not have to look for a lot of other food options.

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