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Can Cats Eat Mussels? Are they Healthy?

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	Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet) Photo

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Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet)

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

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Slimy—yet satisfying. If you grew up eating seafood, you’re probably familiar with mussels. These shellfish are full of health benefits for humans but don’t be afraid to share. Your cat would probably enjoy a little bit of your mussels too, and they make an unusual and healthy treat for most cats.

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What are Mussels Anyway?

Mussels are a type of shellfish, just like clams and oysters. There are many different types of mussels, with saltwater and freshwater species living all over the world. They’re generally served cooked in a flavorful broth. Mussels make a great meal because they are a high-protein, nutrient-packed meat that could make a great change of pace from your cat’s regular food. Many cats enjoy eating mussels from the shell—this gives them a chance to explore and play with their food, making them happier and healthier.

cooked mussels
Image Credit: enow, Pixabay

What to Look for in a Meat Source

Cats need meat-based meals to be healthy and survive, but there’s a lot of meat out there! Cat foods are made with all kinds of meat, from red meat to poultry to seafood. In general, cats need to get enough protein and fat from their food, but not too much, or you run the risk of obesity. Cats are healthiest when eating meals that are at least 25% protein and around 20% fat. They also need to avoid high sodium meats and get a variety of vitamins and minerals in their food.

How do Mussels Measure Up?

Mussels are a protein-packed, low-fat food source. They are around 23% protein and 3.5% fat. Both of those numbers include water weight, so their dry matter basis would be higher. Because they are much higher in protein than they are in fat, mussels are a great option for adding extra protein into your cat’s diet without adding too much fat.

Mussels also have many other nutrients important for your cat’s health. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are good for your cat’s heart health and help regulate blood pressure. They also have iron and vitamin B12, both essential nutrients that help your cat’s blood stay healthy.

Another important nutrient in mussels is vitamin A. Vitamin A is vital for healthy skin and fur in your cat, among other things. In the wild, cats get vitamin A from the livers of their prey. Mussels also contain small amounts of many other vitamins and minerals that are healthy for your pet.

Mussels are also low in mercury compared to many other types of seafood. This makes them a good option for seafood because you don’t need to worry about mercury poisoning because of mussels.

cat carrying a mussel on its mouth
Image Credit: gesango16, Shutterstock

How Often Can I Feed My Cat Mussels?

Mussels are a great food source for cats, but that doesn’t mean that they should be the only food source. They aren’t likely to have every nutrient your cat needs, and they are too low in fat to be healthy as a primary source of fat. You can feed your cat mussels regularly, though. Adding mussels to your cat’s diet two or three times a week is sufficient.

When you feed your cat mussels, avoid overfeeding. Give your cat a few ounces of meat at a time. Consider feeding your cat a little less of their normal food to make up for it, especially if your cat is overweight.

Risks and Precautions

Even though mussels are overall a healthy food for your cat, that doesn’t make it perfect. One of the biggest risks in eating mussels is shellfish allergy. Watch for signs of allergies in your cat, such as vomiting, diarrhea, swelling, hives, or signs of pain. If your cat shows signs of allergy, you should remove mussels from your cat’s diet.

You should also make sure mussels are clean and fully cooked. Mussels can carry bacteria and diseases that might be harmful to cats. Observe proper food handling precautions when working with mussels, just like you would for any other kind of meat. Keep meat refrigerated and freeze whatever won’t be eaten in a few days. Don’t feed your cat more than he will eat in one sitting or leave the meat in his bowl. Don’t mix raw and cooked meat.

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Last Thoughts

As you can see, there are many great reasons to feed your cat mussels! They make a healthy addition to your cat’s regular food, and they are a great way to bring in some nutrients your cat might be missing out on.

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Featured Image Credit: mp1746, Pixabay

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