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Can Cats Eat Catfish? Facts & FAQ

No, it’s not cannibalism! Cats love to eat up a fishy treat from time to time. While catfish might be named for our feline friends and have no scales, in our cats’ eyes (or tastes), it makes no difference. Fish is delish. While catfish does contain many nutrients that are beneficial to the dietary requirements of most cats, there are some things to be aware of that may potentially pose a risk.

In this article, we dive into everything that you need to know about cats and catfish. While they certainly can eat catfish and generally speaking, enjoy it very much, the big question is whether or not they should.

To that end, you just need to be aware of how it’s handled and prepared. Let’s explore some of the potential dangers that catfish can pose to your feline friend, how to do it safely, and learn a little bit about one of the most famous and diverse kinds of fish there is.

divider-catclaw1 Can Cats Eat Raw Catfish? What are the Risks?

One of the key factors in whether food is safe is for your cats, the same as it is for us people—-bacteria. While cats can eat catfish, the risks that they are taking have to do with what kinds of bacteria are on board. Just with the food that we eat, the process of cooking the meat or the animal, or in our case, the catfish, kills off the bacteria and renders the food safe to eat.

So, to answer the question abruptly; No, they shouldn’t have raw catfish. While you may be thinking, “Hey—I give my cats raw tuna from time to time, the fact is that catfish are susceptible to a type of bacteria that is not good for your little buddy.

Image Credit: Pixabay

What is Toxoplasmosis?

This is the biggest risk that is associated with cats eating catfish. This particular kind of fish harbors a protozoan that causes a condition called toxoplasmosis. This disease makes cats very sick and they can have symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and can be difficult to diagnose, as many other diseases present with these kinds of symptoms, too.

Another possibly harmful element of raw catfish is thiaminase. This is an enzyme, and it works to break down thiamine, which the cat’s body needs in order to absorb the food. This can have serious consequences including neurological issues like seizures, so it is important not to give cats raw catfish. That doesn’t mean that they can’t have it at all, however.

Can Cats Eat Cooked Catfish?

Yes! However, it is important to only feed them catfish from certain sources. There are packaging methods that can make the fish unhealthy for your cat—we go over that in the next section. However, if you make sure that you cook the catfish thoroughly (assuming your cat can’t cook—right, no thumbs) then you feed them some, but of course, there are caveats.

Yes, you guessed—small amounts. Now, you must understand that it’s just as important to feed them small amounts as it is to cook it. This should only be a treat! Moderation! Once in a while!

No soup for you!

That, in a weird, obscure, and kind of aggressive way, brings us to our next question:

cat eating food in the bowl
Image Credit: Okssi, Shutterstock

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How Do You Cook Catfish for Cats?

There are many ways to cook catfish! You can boil it, bake it or grill it. The important things are that you don’t undercook the fish or feed your cat canned catfish. However you cook it, the best way to prepare catfish is thoroughly! It should be sourced fresh or frozen. Not canned or more specifically: salted—which is the detail to look out for.

That is because canned catfish uses something called cooking salt when the catfish is packaged. That salt and other kinds of powerful seasonings that you can find in canned products are not good for your feline buddies, so hit the market (or supermarket) and get some fresh or frozen, instead! There are some beneficial nutrients for cats present in catfish, providing it’s cooked and unsalted.

What Kinds of Nutrients are in Catfish?

Like most fish, the beneficial (no pun intended) nutrients come from the oils which are rich in omega fatty acids. These fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation in cats, which is useful for a whole host of conditions. Omega fatty acids are helpful with inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and heart disease, to name only a couple.

It’s important to limit the amount of catfish your cat eats to only a small amount once a week or every other week. Too much catfish can inhibit your cat’s ability to absorb vitamin B1, but as long as it is cooked thoroughly and in moderation, it should be beneficial to your little one as a treat. Cats have very specific dietary needs that are much different than our own.

Image Credit: Pixabay

What Kind of Diet Does Your Cat Need?

Your little feline buddy might be adorable and affectionate with you—but all cats are strictly carnivores! They only eat meat! Well, we mean, aside from the plethora of obvious oddballs and exceptions—strawberries!? You know who you are! Ok, so domesticated cats have decided to explore a little more than their bigger ancestors, but nutritionally speaking they have the needs of a meat-eater.

That means that your cat needs a diet that is high in animal-based protein. Yes, catfish might meet that criterion, but too much isn’t good, as we discussed. Your cat also needs a lot of moisture in its food. Cats commonly become dehydrated when they are fed a diet of kibble primarily. That’s because they are designed to get much of their moisture from the animal they are eating. If humans are something like 60% water—animals are a percentage as well. Cats need their diet to be lower in carbs as well. So, with all of this in mind how does the catfish stack up for your little buddy?

divider-catclaw1 Conclusion

Catfish can be fine to give your cat, if you follow certain procedures, understand the risks, and practice moderation. Like any good thing, too much is a bad thing! While our feline friends do love themselves some catfish (and can even be downright pushy about it!) it’s up to the responsible parent to make sure that they feed their cat a healthy diet as a rule. But like any rule, exceptions are to be made—because who doesn’t love a little treat now and then?

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay