Octopus is considered a delicacy around the world, and you might find yourself wondering if it’s okay to give your cat a piece. After all, we do tend to associate cats with seafood, so would octopus be safe for them?
Octopus is indeed safe for cats to eat, but only if it’s fresh, well-cooked, and in a small amount as an occasional treat.
Here, we take a closer look at any benefits of your cat eating octopus and what might happen if they eat it when it’s not prepared correctly. We hope this can help guide you when you’re enjoying your next octopus treat.
A Little Bit About the Octopus
The octopus is a boneless mollusk in the cephalopod class that is famous for having eight arms and squirting ink when avoiding predators. They have blue blood and three hearts and can change colors to blend in with their surroundings, like a chameleon.
Octopi have gotten more attention recently due to their intelligence and their ability to use tools. They are also culinary delicacies, particularly in certain parts of the world, such as Japan, Korea, and the Mediterranean.
Octopus is an excellent source of protein, copper, iron, omega-3, vitamin B12, and selenium. It can provide various health benefits, for humans including:
- Has antiviral and anticancer properties
- Helps with depression
- Aids in lowering blood pressure and contributes to a healthy heart
- Can help with cognitive health
However, there are ethical and environmental issues around eating octopus, particularly with dishes that require eating them alive.
Cats and Octopus
The most important thing that you can do is ensure that any octopus you feed your cat is fresh and prepared the right way. Cooking it is an important part of the process.
Many marine species contain vibrio bacteria, which can lead to vibriosis, a lethal form of food poisoning or skin infection.
Additionally, there’s the risk of food poisoning due to salmonella and E. coli.
This should convince you of the importance of only giving cooked octopus to your cat. In fact, any form of animal or seafood protein that you feed your cat should be fully cooked.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Seafood can contain heavy metals, including mercury. Unfortunately, octopus are prone to having high levels of lead, which is too much even for humans if excessive amounts of octopus are eaten every week. This is too much heavy metal for cats too.
Octopus are carnivores and ingest many of these heavy metals through their prey, such as crabs, clams, and mollusks.
Some cats are prone to seafood allergies, which typically are the third most-common allergy, behind beef and dairy. If your cat happens to be sensitive to food, look out for an allergic reaction when your cat eats anything new:
The truth is that cats originated as desert-dwellers and weren’t fish eaters. As much as cats seem to enjoy seafood, they were never really meant to eat it in the first place.
Preparing Octopus for Cats
If you’re considering giving some octopus to your cat, keep in mind that you’ll need to take a few steps to ensure their health and safety.
- Always Cooked: Regardless if it’s chicken, fish, or octopus, always cook food before giving it to your cat. Raw fish or animal protein can be full of bacteria that can cause serious health conditions. It can even be fatal. So it’s always best to cook it.
- Small Amounts: You should only give a small amount of octopus as an occasional treat to your cat. It should not become a regular part of the diet. Overall, it is safe for your cat, but only in small amounts. It also doesn’t provide a balanced diet on its own so there is no benefit to feeding it regularly.
- No Seasonings: Most people cook seafood with seasonings and oils, such as butter, garlic, and onions. You absolutely cannot feed your cat any onions or garlic, as they are quite toxic to them! Other such ingredients can lead to diabetes, stomach upset, and obesity, so avoid giving your cat too much “people” food. All octopus should be fed plain to your cat, so consider boiling or grilling instead of frying.
- Only High Quality: You should only purchase ethically and organically sourced octopus. If the octopus is cheap, it’s probably cheap for a reason and could potentially be high in heavy metals or past its prime. Then you’re potentially risking your cat’s health and possibly, their life.
- Small Pieces: The suckers on the octopus’s tentacles can potentially become stuck in your cat’s throat and cause them to choke, so make sure you only give them very small pieces.
Can Kittens Have Octopus?
The short answer is no. The same issues that can threaten adult cats can be much more serious for kittens. They still have developing digestive and immune systems, so any bacteria or heavy metals will make a kitten quite sick and can prove fatal.
Just stick with food that is appropriate for kittens, and don’t give them people food until they have matured.
As long as your kitty isn’t allergic to octopus and you’ve properly prepared it, there’s no harm in giving your cat an occasional octopus piece as a tasty treat — that is, if your cat is even interested. It’s quite possible your cat won’t want to eat any in the first place.
When you give your cat people food, including octopus, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t have any negative effects from it. Also, speak to your vet about any concerns or if you have questions about your kitty’s diet, especially if you’re thinking of adding something new to their meals.
Featured Image Credit: 2427999, Pixabay