Can cats eat salmon


Can cats eat salmon ? There are certain stereotypes with regard to cats. Most of the time cats are portrayed with fish or with milk. However, these are some serious misconceptions.

Adult cats are actually lactose intolerant and fish is not part of their natural diet. So, can cats eat salmon? What do you think?

Salmon is a fish and you might think that cats might not be able to eat it, right? Not really. Let’s take a detailed look into whether cats can actually eat salmon.


  1. Salmon in brief
  2. Can cats eat salmon?
  3. Can cats benefit from salmon?
  4. Risks of feeding salmon to cats
  5. Can cats eat raw salmon?
  6. How about cooked salmon?
  7. Can cats eat canned salmon?
  8. What about smoked salmon?
  9. Can cats eat salmon skin?
  10. Precautionary measures
  11. Conclusion

Salmon in brief

Can cat eat salmon

The common name given to several species of ray-finned fish in the family Salmonidae is salmon. These fish include trout, char, grayling and white fish.

The native areas of salmon happen to be the tributaries of the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans, while many have also been introduced into non-native environments too.

These fish are also farmed intensively in many parts of the world. Generally, salmon are anadromous, hatching in fresh water, migrating to the ocean and returning to fresh water to reproduce.

Salmon is a popular food among many people in the world and is classified as an oily fish. It is considered to be healthy due to the high protein, high omega-3 fatty acids and high vitamin D content.

The flesh of salmon is normally orange to red, while the skin color of white fleshed wild salmon is white-black. This color is due to carotenoid pigments.

Salmon is prepared in different ways as canned salmon, smoked salmon, salmon sashimi and also sushi. Let’s find out how our feline friends like theirs!

Can cats eat salmon ?

As cat parents, you will know how cats react to the smell of fish. Most cats go wild for fish due to this strong fishy smell. So there is no doubt about your cat being able to eat salmon.

The question is if it is good for your cat. Will they face any undue reactions after eating salmon? Does salmon provide all the nutrients required by cats? Let’s find out.

Cats can eat salmon in moderation. However, not all types of salmon are suitable for cats. Salmon should not replace a cat’s meals completely as it does not provide all the nutrients required by a cat.

One salmon meal per week or a sprinkling of salmon over its usual meal twice or thrice a week is the ideal amount. It shouldn’t exceed 15% of the total diet.

If you want to give salmon as a treat, a pinch of salmon once a day is suitable. If cats get a taste of salmon all the time, they may not eat anything else!

Remember to feed cooked salmon to your cat, sans salt, spices, oil, onions or garlic. You can roast, poach, grill or boil the fish.

Cats need a high protein diet to survive and this should consist of animal proteins as their digestive systems are meant to digest meat proteins. They can also digest moderate fats and low carbohydrates.

Can cats benefit from salmon ?

Too much salmon can get cats addicted to it, making the cat lose vital nutrients from other foods.However, there are some nutritional benefits that your cat can garner from salmon too.

Here are some of them.

  1. Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Salmon is a rich source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
  • These fatty acids will nourish the cat’s skin from the inside out, making the coat healthy and glossy.
  • Omega 3 fatty acid is also known for anti-inflammatory properties which help ease skin irritations. It also helps strengthen a cat’s fur to reduce excessive shedding.
  • This fatty acid is also vital in preventing obesity.
  • Omega 3 also increases the response to insulin which is beneficial to diabetic cats.
  • They also help in the development and functioning of brain and eye health of cats.
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are vital in keeping cats healthy by helping to absorb certain nutrients and vitamins.
  • These also provide bone support by helping to support bones and joints. This is useful to cats who love to jump about.
  • Salmon is also a great source of arachidonic acid which is an omega- 6 fatty acid essential for felines.

2. Vitamin B6

  • Vitamin B6, which is also known as pyridoxine is required in high amounts in cats.
  • This is because cats have a high protein requirement which vitamin B6 helps to absorb.
  • It also helps to absorb fat.

3. Vitamin B12

  • Cats are incapable of producing their own vitamin B12, which is also known as cobalamin.
  • Salmon is a good source of vitamin B12 which is beneficial for their immune system, nervous system, cognitive function and it also supports a healthy gut flora.

Your cat can get these benefits if you feed it salmon in moderation.

Risks of feeding salmon to cats ?

Fish is not a part of the primary diet of cats based on their origin. These animals originally dwelled in the desert, hunting small animals such as mice, birds, reptiles, rodents and insects.

They obtained the moisture from the meat they ate and so can survive in dry land with limited water sources. So, these obligate carnivores can develop problems when eating fish.

Here are two risks your cat will encounter when eating salmon.

  1. Fish allergy
  • A condition known as salmon allergy exists in felines.
  • This occurs when the cat’s immune system reacts to the protein found in fish.
  • The feline body detects a different source of protein from its usual source.
  • This causes the body to regard the protein source as a foreign substance and trigger the immune system to fight it.
  • Thus an allergic reaction is manifested physically.
  • Symptoms of fish allergy are itchy skin, skin irritations, hair loss, swollen throat and tongue, difficulty in breathing, sneezing, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Seek immediate veterinary treatment if your cat showsthese symptoms after consuming salmon, as it can be life threatening if not treated on time.
  • To avoid your cat getting into such a dire situation, introduce salmon slowly, starting with a small amount.
  • Observe how your cat reacts to it.
  • If it does not show any adverse reactions, you can feed salmon in moderation to your cat.
  • However, remember to monitor your cat’s reactions whenever you feed it salmon as allergic reactions can occur over time.

2. Taurine deficiency

  • Taurine is an essential amino acid in felines.
  • This is found exclusively in animal-based protein, mainly in muscle meat and internal organs.
  • Taurine is needed by cats to maintain proper function of the digestive tract, heart muscle, immune system and visual system.
  • It also plays a vital role in healthy pregnancy and fetal development in cats.
  • The small amount of taurine in salmon is destroyed during cooking.
  • Regular feeding of cooked salmon can deprive cats of taurine which they could have got from a regular diet.
  • This then leads to taurine deficiency which can eventually cause blindness, heart failure and other health problems.
  • So, refrain from giving cooked salmon as the main meal to your cat.

What types of salmon can cats eat? As you know, there are various kinds of salmon consumed by humans. Can cats eat all of them too? Here are some types of salmon and brief discussions on what they do to your cat.

Can cats eat raw salmon ?

  • The ancestors of our domestic cats used to eat raw meat in the wild and so their digestive systems have evolved to digest raw meat.
  • Can our pets also digest raw salmon?
  • Freshly caught salmon is safe for cats to consume. These contain high levels of moisture, protein and omega 3 than cooked salmon.
  • But today our household pet cats are unable to go fishing and catch raw salmon fresh from the water!
  • The ones in the super market may not be exactly fresh, having sat on those ice shelves for a few weeks.
  • Longer times spent by these fish on shelves can cause harmful bacteria and pathogens to grow in them.
  • You can cook these fish to eliminate the said pathogens.
  • If you really want to give raw salmon to your cat, you can try fishing in fresh water sources.
  • Make sure the waters are not dirty as dirty water can harbor pathogens such as Aeromonas salmonicida, myxobacteriaand vibrio bacteria in salmon.
  • If the salmon skin has boil like lesions, it indicates infection of these bacteria.
  • When cats eat these infected fish, it can be toxic to them.
  • Thus avoid giving raw fish to your cat in order to ensure their safety.
  • Raw fish can also lead to thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency in cats.
  • Raw fish contains an enzyme thiaminase that destroys thiamine.
  • Thiamine deficiency can lead to nerve damage and vascular injury.
  • Although a rare condition, it is common among cats that eat raw fish regularly.

How about cooked salmon ?

  • Cats can eat cooked salmon, but this depends mainly on how it is cooked.
  • Cooking the salmon under high temperatures or deep frying them can reduce the nutritional content to a great level.
  • Salmon cooked under low and tightly regulated conditions can retain the nutrients and lock in moisture.
  • You can poach, roast, boil or grill the salmon to give your cat as an occasional treat.
  • These methods help retain juiciness as well as the nutrients of salmon.
  • Make sure not to use strong seasonings or additives when cooking salmon.
  • Salt, pepper, vinegar and other condiments can cause problems in cats when consumed in high amounts.
  • Onions, garlic, leeks and chives should also be avoided as they can be highly toxic to cats.

Can cats eat canned salmon ?

  • Canned salmon will be highly processed with artificial additives and preservatives.
  • These can cause many diseases and aggravate already existing ones in cats.
  • Canned salmon will also contain high levels of salt to preserve the fish further.
  • Excess sodium can lead to hypernatremia in cats.
  • Abnormally high levels of sodium in the blood can be seen in this health condition.
  • Increased thirst, seizures and disorientation are the symptoms that can be seen in cats with hypernatremia.
  • It can even lead to coma and death if left untreated.
  • Avoid giving foods high in sodium to your cat such as canned salmon.

What about smoked salmon ?

  • Salmon is cured in a brine solution before it is smoked.
  • Curing occurs when the salt is infused into the flesh to preserve the flesh.
  • The curing process can take up to 8 hours during which time the natural moisture is eliminated from the fish.
  • This high salt content and lack of moisture can be harmful to cats.
  • Thus, avoid giving smoked salmon to your cat as well.

Can cats eat salmon skin ?

Can cats eat salmons
  • Although humans tend to think of this part of salmon to be unappetizing, cats will eat it with relish.
  • The skin of salmon can actually be more nutritious than the muscle meat to cats.
  • Remember to cook it thoroughly as well, since toxins can be present in the skin.

Precautionary measures

  • Always feed cooked salmon without salt, spices, onions or garlic.
  • If you are not sure how the salmon is cooked, don’t give any to your cat.
  • Give small amounts at first and observe for any unwanted reactions.
  • Contact your vet if they show even a minor sign.
  • Don’t give them salmon again if they show any reactions.
  • Make sure to remove all bones before giving salmon to your cat.
  • These bones can pierce and obstruct the throat and intestinal tract of cats, leading to internal bleeding and blockages that may require surgery.


Although cats and fish are linked in most cartoons and movies, fish is not a part of the primary diet of cats. So, can cats eat salmon? The answer depends on the way it is prepared.

Cats can eat salmon in moderation as an occasional snack or one meal per week. However, it has to be cooked well without adding any salt, spices, onions or garlic.

Avoid giving raw salmon, canned salmon and also smoked salmon to your cats. Salmon skin can be given as a treat after it is cooked well.

Look out for allergies and seek immediate medical attention if your cat shows any reactions after consuming salmon. Remove all the bones to prevent painful results to your cat.

Fish is very healthy for humans. What about cats ? Do you think it’s good or bad to eat fish. Click here to find out more.

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