To cut to the chase: yes, cats can eat smoked salmon, but not as their main source of food. Some worry that what’s in the smoked salmon (large amounts of salt, potential heavy metals, spices, excessive fat) could be harmful to your cat if given in large quantities. But the nutritional benefits might just make feeding your cat a little bit worth it.
What is Smoked Salmon?
Smoked salmon is a delicacy enjoyed by many humans. The first step in preparing smoked salmon is curing it, which turns it into lox, then putting it through either a hot or cold smoking process. Smoked salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids. These healthy fats can improve heart health, brain function, and could potentially have anti-inflammatory effects.
That’s all great, but is it safe for cat consumption? Let’s find out.
Is it Safe for Cats to Eat Smoked Salmon?
Some pet owners are too scared to give their cat smoked salmon due to its high sodium content, high fat content, and potential for housing heavy metals. As long as you give your cat a small amount every once in a while, read the nutrition label, and share concerns with your vet, you should have a green light.
The Sodium Debate
Most likely due to the recent concern for what goes in our pet’s food and the rising concern for too much sodium in our human diets, it makes sense why many pet owners want to know more about the proper amount of sodium in a cat’s diet. There’s a lot of information on the Internet telling you to limit your cat’s sodium intake to a very small amount because it could harm your cat if you feed him too much.
Each cat has different health needs, so first talk to your vet about how much sodium is okay for your cat. Next, take a look at what this vet has to say about cats and sodium intake. In this particular research study, cats were given three times the daily recommended amount of sodium with no ill effects.
It’s true that smoked salmon is very high in sodium. Fish is okay for cats to eat in moderation, and your cat may benefit from having a little extra sodium to help him want to drink more water. One cubic inch of salmon has 130 mg of sodium, which is about 3 times the daily allowance for cats.
From the research we just outlined, we know that this amount in one day likely does not affect healthy cats. Actually, a little extra sodium could help your cat drink more water, which will stave off UTIs that cats so commonly get.
If you’re concerned about too much sodium being fed to your cat, but you still want to give them smoked salmon, consider buying a brand that makes theirs with less sodium, or making your own smoked salmon.
The Fat Debate
One cubic inch of smoked salmon contains .7 grams of fat. The fat the fish contains is mostly healthy fats (.5 grams), which has numerous health benefits for your cat. The saturated (“bad”) fat content of this serving is about .2 grams, which is unlikely to have lasting bad effects when given in small amounts.
What should be more concerning for cat parents with obese cats is caloric intake vs activity. Indoor cats only need 20 calories per pound per day to maintain their weight. A cubic inch of smoked salmon contains 20 calories, so depending on what else your cat is eating in a day, it should be okay to give them a small chunk in one day, calorie-wise.
Again, if you are concerned, talk with your vet about feeding smoked salmon to your cat if you are worried about fat.
The Heavy Metal Debate
Some information on the Internet warns that too many heavy metals lie in salmon meat for cats. This debate says that human’s systems can handle what small amounts lie in the meat, but cat’s systems are much smaller and the heavy metals can harm them much more easily.
The best thing to do in this situation is to read your labels and make sure you are buying salmon that’s been screened for heavy metals. Check the labels of your store-bought fish and talk to your veterinarian.
Are Smoked-Prepared Foods Bad for Cats?
Foods that are cooked using smoke may potentially harbor carcinogens. If your cat is at higher risk for cancer, it’s probably best to steer clear of smoked salmon. However, discuss with your vet whether this is cause for concern or not in your cat’s situation.
What Fish is Best for Cats?
The best kind of fish for cats is fish tinned in water with no bones. Make sure your fish is not high in heavy metals, like swordfish and king mackerel. Cats also like pollock.
Just be sure not to give your cat fish if they are known to be allergic to it (which can happen), and not to give it to them all the time.
What Cats Shouldn’t Eat
You might wonder what other foods might be harmful for your cat. Here’s a short list of foods that cats can’t eat.
Smoked salmon, in small amounts, can be a great source of healthy fats and protein for your cat. Assess what their health is and what they already are eating to see if they could use the benefit of smoked salmon to their diet.
The best way to do this is to talk to your vet. He or she will have the best idea of what’s healthiest for your cat.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay