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Can Cats Eat Anchovies? Are They Healthy?

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	Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet) Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet)

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

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Cats love meaty treats, and anchovies are no different. In fact, anchovies are a moderately healthy food that many cats love. They make a great natural alternative to commercially available cat treats and giving your cat a few anchovies along with their food can add lots of great benefits.

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Cats and Fish Foods

cat eating fish
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Anchovy Health Benefits

Anchovies are generally seen as a healthy treat for humans, and they are great for cats too! Each ounce of anchovy contains about 6 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fat, while being low in carbs and sugars. This makes them ideal for feeding to cats because they are high in protein, contain a small amount of fat, and are low in carbs—just like cats prefer!

Fatty Acids

One of the biggest benefits of feeding your cat anchovies is that they have a ton of Omega 3 fatty acids. These acids are super beneficial to your cat’s health. They protect heart health, lead to healthier fur and skin, prevent arthritis, and generally help your cat’s body function well.

anchovies fish
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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is vital for helping your cat’s body stay healthy. It benefits your immune system, red blood cells, brain and nerve function, and a host of other systems. Vitamin B12 is found in many meat and dairy products including anchovies.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Anchovies contain calcium, which helps build stronger bones. But did you know that your cat’s body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium? Humans can metabolize their own when exposed to the sun, but cats need to get it from their food. Good thing anchovies have both.

Selenium

Selenium is an important mineral that cats need to stay healthy. It supports immune system health among other things.

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Niacin

Niacin is also called Vitamin B3. It helps give your cat a beautiful, glossy fur coat and healthy skin. It also helps your cat be more energetic and get more energy from their food.

Types of Anchovies to Try

Anchovies are available in many different formats, and some are more healthy than others. One of the best options for feeding your cat anchovies is to use fresh anchovies. These are usually sold raw and should be cooked to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit. They can be cooked whole.

Another option is dried anchovies. Dried anchovies are ideal for feeding as a regular treat to your cat because they have a long shelf life and can be bought in bulk. They don’t need refrigeration. However, when you buy dried anchovies, it’s important to check the ingredients list. Some anchovies are dried using salt or preservatives that can be harmful to your cat.

A final option is canned anchovies. These are usually cheap and are readily available at most supermarkets and grocery stores. This makes them easy to find and accessible to all income levels. However, if you feed your cat canned anchovies you should purchase ones stored in water not oil, or blot as much oil as possible from them and keep the portion sizes small—no more than one or two per day.

fresh anchovies
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Types of Anchovies to Avoid

Even though anchovies are healthy, there are still some things to worry about. Anchovies are a healthy treat, but not all types are suitable for cats. Avoid feeding your cat raw meat of any type, including anchovies. Raw meat can contain bacteria that makes your cat sick. If you do feed your cat fresh anchovies, hold it to the same standards as any other meat, including safe refrigeration and cooking methods.

You should also stay away from feeding your cat large amounts of canned anchovies. Anchovies that are canned usually come in olive oil solutions that are full of fat. This is fine for humans, but cats will struggle to process the large amounts of olive oil.

Finally, avoid any salted anchovies. Salt is used to preserve many kinds of meat, including anchovies. Cats have a very low salt tolerance and can experience sodium poisoning when ingesting as little as one teaspoon of salt. Salt intake can also cause dehydration in cats even when sodium poisoning does not occur.

canned anchovies
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Last Thoughts

If your cat is an anchovy-lover, great! These little fish pack a lot of healthy vitamins and nutrients in them. One or two anchovies make a great treat, while a small bowl of them is suitable as an occasional substitute for their normal cat food. Although your cat doesn’t need fresh food like anchovies to stay healthy, they’re a great option that will bring some variety to your cat’s diet and a delicious treat your cat will beg for.

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Featured Image Credit: NiAk Stock, Shutterstock

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