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Can Cats Eat Liver? What You Need to Know!

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ, Veterinarian

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

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Liver is packed full of vitamins A and B and contains other essential minerals. In small quantities, it is not only safe for cats to eat liver, but it is considered good for them. However, the vitamin content in liver can also cause harm to your cat.

Vitamin A toxicity can cause lethargy, weight loss, skin problems in the neck and front limbs, constipation, a dull coat, and in extreme cases, malformation of the bones, which can be seen as painful movements and abnormalities in posture. In very rare circumstances, it can even be fatal to your cat. Liver is rich and has high-fat content so it should only be fed in moderation and not at every meal. Give your cat a small amount of liver as a treat, on occasion.

Read on for more instruction on how to safely feed liver to your cat.

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Cats and Liver

In the wild, cats would have eaten the liver of their prey. This would have included bird and mouse liver, rather than lamb and beef liver. Not only would they have found it tasty, but cats are unable to naturally produce vitamin A, so liver would have been one of the only sources of this essential vitamin.

Although cats are rarely expected to hunt their meals any longer, they do still benefit from having some liver in their diet. It is often found in wet food and as an additive in dry food, too.

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Image Credit: Louno Morose, Shutterstock

Is Liver Safe?

Liver is generally considered safe for cats, but it should be fed in moderation, and chicken liver is preferred over lamb’s liver. There is debate over whether the lamb should be fed raw or cooked. In the wild, the liver would have been eaten raw, but this increases their likelihood of contracting foodborne illnesses caused by the bacteria on raw meat.

Preparing Liver for Your Cat

Cooking chicken liver avoids the dangers of feeding bacteria to your feline friend. It is also easy, and while you may not enjoy the smell as it cooks, your cat certainly will.

You can simply boil the chicken liver to prepare it for your cat. Boil it in a large pan of water and do not add any seasoning or other ingredients.

Cut, chop, or even grate the chicken liver for your food. Adding grated chicken liver to dry food can help increase the protein-to-carbohydrate ratio of your cat’s meal.

You can even use the broth that was created during cooking to add a little extra flavor and moisture to your cat’s dinner.

Health Benefits

  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A is found in liver, eggs, fish, and meat. It is found in high quantities in liver, because this is where the body stores it. Cats are unable to naturally produce vitamin A themselves, but this essential vitamin aids with skin regeneration and helps your cat see in the dark.
  • Vitamin B12 – Liver also contains vitamin B12 or cobalamin. Cats have high vitamin B12 requirements. This water-soluble vitamin is another compound that plays a very important role in the cat’s gut health, digestion, immune system and nervous system B12 is essential to the cat’s cognitive functions.
  • Copper – This essential mineral is used to develop healthy red blood cells. It also forms bone, tissue, and collagen, and it works as an antioxidant. It keeps your cat’s hair looking healthy and enables them to develop strong joints.
  • Protein – Liver is a great source of protein. In fact, one of the reasons that some owners add liver to their cat’s dry food is to replace the high levels of carbohydrates in dry food with protein. Cats need a lot of protein, which they use as energy whenever it is available.

Dangers: Vitamin A Toxicity

While liver holds certain key benefits for cats, some dangers are usually associated with feeding too much of it. The main concern is that of vitamin A toxicity. This is more often caused from feeding cats beef liver, but can occur if your cat is fed too much chicken liver as well.

raw pork liver
Image Credit: Pixabay

Vitamin A toxicity leads to muscle soreness. It can also lead to a form of arthritis where new bones form around existing joints. This can prevent your cat from being able to use their joints and may completely fuse them. This is common around the vertebrae in the neck.

Dangers: Rich and Fatty

High in protein and fat, liver is rich food. While your cat can digest small amounts of it, feeding too much liver can lead to gastrointestinal complications such as vomiting and diarrhea. This is one of the reasons that you should feed in moderation.

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How Much To Feed Your Cat

Liver can be a good source of vitamin A and other essential vitamins and minerals, but it can also lead to vomiting and diarrhea, in the short term, and vitamin A toxicity in the long term. These problems are usually associated with feeding too much of the food.

In general, feed liver in moderation.

Experts agree that liver should not constitute more than 5%-10% of a cat’s total diet, which is roughly equivalent to one meal a week. Rather than feeding it in a single meal, you may choose to split it over multiple meals.

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Is Liver Safe For Cats?

Liver is considered safe for cats when fed in moderation. In fact, it can provide your feline friend with healthy vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals including copper and iron. It should only make up 5% of a cat’s weekly diet, however, to prevent vitamin A toxicity and problems associated with feeding rich foods. Remove the fat, boil the liver in hot water, and either cut or grind it into their food as a simple means of feeding. Bon appetit!

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Featured Image: Marco Verch Professional Photographer, Flickr

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