Cats just love eating chicken! It can be a healthy part of any cat’s diet. But what about chicken bones?
Cats out in the wild (or even your little hunters at home) catch and eat birds—bones and all. And as a matter of fact, these bones can actually be a great source of minerals. But there’s one major difference between bones found out in the wild and those from our leftovers—they’re raw. And cats can eat raw chicken bones.
Raw Chicken Bones vs. Cooked Chicken Bones
Cats come from an ancient line of hunters and are obligate carnivores. This means that meat and meat by-products are an absolute necessity for your little tiger. And that includes bones.
However, cats can’t eat cooked chicken bones. While they may find it to be a super tasty treat, there are some serious health hazards associated with eating them.
Cooked Chicken Bones Are Brittle
After cooking chicken bones, they become soft and brittle. And this makes them dangerous for your cats to eat. Instead of the bone being naturally worn down, they tend to snap into small shards. These shards can quickly become lodged in your cat’s throat and cause them to choke. And these shards can also cut into your cat’s mouth and esophageal lining.
Cooked Bones Can Be Covered in Toxic Ingredients
What’s delicious for us isn’t always great for your kitty. Most of the time when we cook chicken, we season it to enhance its flavor. But some of these seasonings can be very toxic for cats. Garlic powder and onion powder are prime offenders, and they also happen to be some of the most common flavoring agents for chicken prepared for human consumption.
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What to Do If Your Cat Eats a Cooked Chicken Bone
Cats are sneaky, no doubt about it. And those who particularly crave chicken might be just waiting for their chance to snatch a piece from you—including the bones.
So, what should you do if this happens? The first thing is to gently try to remove bone from the cat’s mouth. Hopefully, she hasn’t attempted to swallow it whole or it hasn’t splintered yet. But if kitty has managed to gobble down a few shards and pieces, you’re going to need to be vigilant. Once the choking danger has passed, there are other problems that can arise.
The first action you need to take is to call your vet. Let your veterinarian know the situation just in case complications do come up. The next few days after consuming the bone are critical. You need to keep a close eye on your cat to ensure that the bone shards aren’t causing harm as they work their way through your cat’s GI tract.
Here are some symptoms that you should watch for:
If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian ASAP.
Benefits of Raw Chicken Bones
While cooked chicken bones can be a real and present danger for your cat, raw bones can make for an excellent treat.
Raw bones are full of calcium. Calcium is a super important part of a cat’s diet. Calcium deficiency can lead to arthritis, coat and skin problems, broken bones, weakness, heart arrhythmias, and worse. Feeding your cat raw bones on occasion can help with her calcium intake.
When feeding your cat raw bones, be sure to choose bones that are of an appropriate size for her to gnaw and chew on. Chicken wing bones are the perfect size for this. Not only will they fit comfortably in her mouth, but the chewing action will actually help strengthen and clean her teeth.
However, just be sure to keep a watchful eye on your cat while feeding her raw bones.
Another tactic you can use is to feed your kitty ground bone. You can get this at just about any butcher or meat department. Just ask for meat sawdust. It’s the dust that’s formed in the store’s bandsaw when cutting meat into specific cuts. This is made up of ground meat and bone, and it resembles pasty ground meat.
But just like everything else, there can be too much of a good thing. Continue following your vet-approved diet and using the meat sawdust sparingly.
What to Look Out for When Feeding Your Cat Raw Bones
Not every raw bone is the same. As mentioned above, you need to use bones that are size-friendly for your cat. But that’s not the only criteria you should follow.
You need to absolutely ensure that the bones are fresh, and the connecting meat has not gone rancid. A cat’s GI tract is short and designed for fast digestion. But even that can’t stop food-borne illnesses such as Salmonella.
Also, when feeding your cat raw bones, be sure to observe them for a few days afterward to ensure proper digestion. If you start seeing whole bones in their stool, bloating, excess gas, or any other GI-related issue stop feeding them bones immediately and consult your vet.
So, can cats eat chicken bones? Yes, but only raw bones.
In fact, there are numerous health benefits to your cat doing so. Just be sure to limit and observe their intake. Bones should not become meal replacements. They should only be used sparingly as snacks or occasional treats.
See also: Are these foods good for cats to eat?