Can My Cat Eat Tuna?
The Good News: The Benefits of Tuna for Our Cats
Tuna is an excellent treat for our cats and it provides many health benefits. For instance:
- Tuna Boosts Immunity: Tuna is a food that provides vitamins B12, C, 6, manganese, and potassium. These improve the cat’s immunity!
- Lower Blood Pressure: The compounds in tuna also reduce blood pressure and remove toxins from their bodies.
- Lowered Inflammation: Tuna contains lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. These help get rid of free-radicals which cause inflammation and are even linked to cancer.
- Growth and Strength: Tuna is rich in proteins and amino acids which help cats grow. These nutrients also help to strengthen muscles and tissues.
Our cats would be happy to know that they can enjoy so many great benefits from the tuna that they love! However, there's another side to the coin, when we consider the downsides of tuna.
Tuna Troubles! What Are the Risks of Feeding My Cat Tuna?
Lack of Variety- If our cats are eating more tuna than cat food, they are at risk for malnutrition, because tuna doesn't contain the variety of nutrients that our cats need! The lack of nutrition can also cause seizures, especially in older cats.
Mercury- Tuna also contains mercury and too much tuna for our tiny cat's bodies can cause mercury poisoning! This can cause neurological damage which can lead to a loss of coordination and balance, rashes, vision impairment and difficulty walking.
Steatitis- Too much tuna can also cause our cats to develop a Vitamin E deficiency. This can lead to a condition known as steatitis ( known as “yellow fat disease,”) an inflammation of fatty tissue, which can be very painful, and involves fever, lethargy, pain when handled, abdominal pain, and a lump in the cat's fatty tissue.
Thiaminase Overload- Tuna increases the production of Thiaminase which can prevent the production and distribution of vitamin B1. This weakens our cats' ability to defend the body against disease.
Behavioral Problems- Because our cats love tuna so much, they may begin to refuse other foods if they receive tuna too often (this is especially likely in kittens.) If so, this can lead to a problem where the cat becomes malnourished, and refuses the food with the vitamins and minerals they so badly need for growth and health, in favor of the best tasting treat.
Tuna/Fish Allergies- In one study of 56 cats with food allergies, fish was a responsible ingredient in 13 (23%) of those cases!
So how much tuna is the right amount?
It seems that the old saying "everything in moderation" applies to our feline friends, too. Tuna is lovely as a treat for our cats, but it should not be a regular or main meal. Instead, think of tuna as a special surprise, to be enjoyed every so often!
So Why Does My Cat Love Tuna?
It is interesting to note that even though tuna doesn't seem to be the best food for our cats' health, they all seem to love it with a passion like no other. Researchers still do not know exactly why this is.
One hypothesis is that cats lack the receptors for sweet or bitter-tasting foods, and are therefore driven toward salty, fishy foods.
Tuna, or any fish at all, is not a natural part of a cat's diet. So, we can't assume that their cravings are based in evolution.
The truth is that right now, nobody knows exactly why cats find tuna to be so enticing, but it is clear when we open a can of tuna that they do! So, while tuna has it's pros and cons when it comes to our cats, the consensus seems to be that small amounts of tuna every so often lead to healthy (and very happy!) cats.