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Can Cats Eat Bonito Flakes? 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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With dozen of types of cat treats available at any given time, it can be hard to know what’s actually good for your cat. After all, most cat treats try to sell themselves as healthy and delicious, even if they’re full of things your cat doesn’t want. But that doesn’t mean that all cat treats are bad.

Bonito flakes are one of the best cat treats because they are usually made from pure dried fish without any additives that could be bad for your cat’s health. These flakes are full of benefits for your cat, and most cats find them quite tasty as well!

divider-catclaw1What Are Bonito Flakes?

Bonito flakes usually refer to small, dried flakes of bonito, a type of tuna. Some bonito flakes might have other types of tuna or related fish as well. These flakes are usually thin, crunchy, and can vary in size depending on the manufacturer. They are usually marketed as cat or dog treats.

Bonito Flakes
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Cats and Fish Foods

You might not be surprised that fish aren’t a natural part of your cat’s diet. After all, cats generally aren’t big on swimming, so hunting for fish isn’t very common. Despite that, fish is usually a great choice because of their lean meat and high nutrient content. And unless your cat’s food contains rodents and songbirds, it probably isn’t from sources your cat would eat in the wild either. Eating a full seafood diet isn’t ideal for cats, but as a supplement, it makes an excellent choice, and bonito flakes are no exception.

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Bonito Flake Health Benefits

There are lots of great things about bonito flakes, starting with their protein-fat-carbs ratio. Cats like high protein, moderate fat, and low-carb food. Bonito flakes are generally high in protein and low in fat and carbs. This makes it a great choice for adding a little extra protein into your cat’s diet. Bonito flakes are low in mercury, making them much safer than some fish types. There are also many great nutrients found in bonito that your cat needs. Here are just a few.

Bonito Flakes
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Taurine

Taurine is an essential amino acid that humans can produce, but cats can’t. Without it, your cat’s essential systems can’t function correctly, including the heart, muscles, and immune system. Bonito flakes are high in taurine.

Fatty Acids

Fish are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Fatty acids are very beneficial to your cat. They have a bunch of functions, including protecting heart health, making fur and skin shiny and healthy, and preventing arthritis.

Bonito Flakes
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Vitamin B12

Cobalamin, also known as vitamin B12, is vital for many of your cat’s systems. It helps strengthen the immune system, brain and nerves, red blood cells, and many other systems. Tuna is generally high in vitamin B12, including bonito.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is another important part of your cat’s diet. Among other things, it helps your cat process nutrients so that it can properly absorb the rest of its food.

Cat eating melons
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Calcium and Vitamin D

Bonito also contains calcium and a small amount of vitamin D. Calcium helps your cat build stronger bones, and vitamin D helps your cat process calcium. Humans can metabolize vitamin D when they have enough sunlight, but cats need to get it from food sources.

Selenium and Magnesium

Your cat needs several minerals to stay healthy, including selenium and calcium, both found in bonito. Selenium supports immune system health and has many other benefits. Magnesium helps your cat’s body build cells. It also helps your cats secrete hormones in the proper balance.

red tabby cat eating mango from owner's hand
Image Credit: PERO studio, Shutterstock

Ways to Feed Bonito Flakes

There are lots of ways you can add bonito flakes to your cat’s diet. The most common way is as an occasional treat. Some owners use a piece of bonito as a reward for good behavior or as a training aid. If your bonito flakes come in larger pieces, you might want to break off a small morsel to use as a treat.

You can also use bonito flakes to fill a feeder toy. These toys are meant to be filled with treats and come open as your cat plays with it. Bonito flakes are a great choice for many toys.

Finally, many people use bonito flakes as a topper for wet or dry food. They crumble a little bit into their cat’s regular meals, adding some flavor and texture. If you do this as a daily meal, make sure that you’re not adding too many calories into the food and bring down your cat’s portion sizes if necessary.

divider-catclaw1Last Thoughts

Of course, you can go overboard with feeding your cat anything, and that includes healthy foods. But bonito flakes are generally a safe treat to feed your cat that won’t be harmful to their diet or health. This puts it head and shoulders over most cat treats you can buy today.

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Featured Image Credit: K321, Shutterstock

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