Can Cats Eat Tuna? A Healthy Snack Or A Risky Choice

10/17/2023 - 2 Comments

Cats and tuna share a special bond. For many cat owners, this fish is a common staple of their pet's diet. But can cats eat tuna?  This article will answer that question and explore the possible health implications and risks of feeding your cat tuna.  Let's dive into it to get the best guides!

Can Cats Eat Tuna? Is Tuna Good For Cats? 

Can cats have tuna? The answer is Yes! Cats can consume tuna in moderation as an occasional treat. Many pet owners choose tuna as the most popular food for their cats. These animals love the strong taste and smell of tuna.  However, consider several things when feeding your feline friends this food. You should only provide this seafood as an occasional treat. Your pets may love the fish's taste, but it shouldn't be a primary part of their diet.  That's because this fish doesn't contain all the vital nutrients felines require for their health. Furthermore, overfeeding your pets can cause health issues and nutritional imbalances.   Besides, if you want to feed your pets this seafood, opt for tuna canned in water instead of oil. The second option contains high-fat content, so it will lead to digestive problems for felines.  Giving your cats plain tuna without seasonings and additives is also a good idea, as these ingredients are toxic to felines.  Remember that this fish contains a high mercury level. This substance is harmful to your pets if over consumed over time.  You should consult your vet if you are unsure whether this seafood is safe for your cats. These experts will provide advice and guidelines based on each cat's health condition and dietary needs. 

Health Benefits

Tuna is a nutritious addition to your cat's diet for many good reasons when fed in moderation!

#1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Tuna is an excellent source of lean protein that can help your felines maintain a healthy weight. Unlike other meats high in fat, this fish is low in calories and can help your cat feel fuller for extended periods.  Furthermore, giving your furry friends this seafood can also help prevent obesity.

#2. Improve Your Cat's Appetite

If your cat is a picky eater, feeding them tuna can help improve their appetite. Tuna has a strong aroma and flavor that can entice even the most finicky of cats. Also, this fish can help stimulate their appetite and encourage them to eat.

#3. Fight Inflammation

Inflammation can cause many health issues. Meanwhile, tuna has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Providing your felines with this seafood can help reduce inflammation and promote overall health.

#4. Boost Immune System

Tuna also has vitamins and minerals. These substances can help boost your cat's immune system.  Vitamin D in this fish can help with calcium absorption, while vitamin B12 can help maintain healthy nerves and blood cells.  Additionally, this food is a good selenium source. It can help protect your cat's cells from damage.

Can Cats Eat Tuna? Is Tuna Good For Cats

Potential Risks

Is tuna bad for cats? While tuna brings several benefits for your pets, it may cause some drawbacks. 

#1. Risk of Mercury Poisoning

One of the most significant risks associated with feeding this seafood to furry friends is the potential for mercury poisoning.  Tuna is famous for containing high levels of mercury. It can build up in your cat's body and cause severe health issues.  Symptoms of mercury poisoning in cats include loss of coordination and muscle weakness. Limiting tuna intake or avoiding it altogether is best.

#2. Nutritional Imbalance

Another risk of feeding cats this seafood is that it can lead to a nutritional imbalance in their diet. Tuna is high in protein but lacks many essential vitamins and minerals that your furry friends need to stay healthy.  Feeding your pets much fish can result in deficiencies in nutrients like calcium and vitamin E. Sticking to cat food specifically formulated for their dietary requirements is best to ensure your pet's diet meets all its nutritional needs.

#3. Tuna/Fish Allergies 

Cats, just like humans, can also have allergies. Tuna and other fish are common allergens in cats. So overfeeding them can cause an allergic reaction.  Your pets may experience symptoms like difficulty breathing or vomiting. Without immediate treatment, it can be lethal.  It's essential to monitor your felines after feeding them this fish and to watch out for any signs of an allergic reaction.

#4. Steatitis

Giving your cat too much tuna can also lead to steatitis, a condition caused by an excessive intake of unsaturated fatty acids. This health issue can cause pancreas inflammation. And your cats may experience a lack of appetite and lethargy. 

Potential Risks

Do Cats Like Tuna? 

The answer is yes. Most cats do like tuna. Besides omega-3 fatty acids, tuna also has protein. These nutrients are vital for a cat's overall health.  Yet, it would be best to never feed your cats this fish as a primary food source. Tuna lacks essential nutrients that your furry friends need, such as taurine. Ensure your pets receive all the needed nutrients. You should feed them balanced homemade or commercial cat food. 

Do Cats Like Tuna

What Types Of Tuna Can Cats Eat? 

Not all types of tuna are safe or healthy for cats to eat. Hence, check all the following options before feeding your pets!

Canned Tuna

Can cats eat canned tuna? Yes! This food is popular among pet owners because of its convenience.  Can cats have canned tuna? The answer is yes, but you must select the right type before adding this food to your feline's diet. Some canned tuna products contain added flavorings, salt, and other preservatives that can harm cats.  It's essential to read the label and choose canned tuna labeled as "packed in water" and doesn't contain any added ingredients.  Additionally, it's recommended to limit the amount of canned tuna that cats eat to avoid mercury poisoning.

Fresh Tuna

Fresh tuna is a delicious and nutritious food that cats can enjoy. However, preparing fresh tuna before feeding it to your pets would be best.  Remove all bones and skin. Cook the fish thoroughly to avoid any bacteria causing food poisoning.  You must also limit the amount of fresh tuna your furry friends eat, as excessive consumption can lead to mercury poisoning.

Cooked Tuna

Cooked tuna is another safe option for cats. Cook the fish thoroughly to kill bacteria and avoid food poisoning.  You can prepare cooked tuna in several ways, such as by grilling or boiling. Remove all bones and skin before feeding it to your cat.

What Types Of Tuna Can Cats Eat

How Much Tuna Should You Feed Your Cats?

If your vet approves using tuna in your cat's diet, you must ensure the amount of tuna you feed them depends on their weight and overall nutrition.  While this fish contains plenty of nutrients, overconsumption can cause health problems. So, limit your cat's tuna intake to no more than 10% of its daily calorie intake.  For example, if your cat needs 200 calories daily, it should consume at most 20 calories of tuna. You can supplement this fish with other healthy foods such as cooked chicken or vegetables.

How Much Tuna Should You Feed Your Cats

How To Feed Your Cats Tuna?

Follow these guides to ensure you feed your pets this seafood safely!

Choose The Right Type Of Tuna

Cats can eat both canned and fresh tuna. However, not all types of tuna are safe for cats. You should avoid giving your pets tuna that is high in mercury.  White tuna is higher in mercury than light tuna. So it's best to stick to light tuna.  Also, avoid giving your cat seasoned or flavored tuna, as it may contain ingredients that are harmful to your cat.

Cook The Tuna Thoroughly

If you feed your cat fresh tuna, ensure you cook it thoroughly. Raw or undercooked fish can contain harmful bacteria and make your pets sick. Cook the tuna until it is flaky. Besides, ensure it has an internal temperature of 145°F.

Serve In Moderation

While tuna is a healthy addition to your cat's diet, it should not be their main treat. Too much fish can cause health problems due to its high mercury levels. You should serve this food as an occasional treat instead of a regular one.

Watch For Signs Of Allergies

As shared earlier, felines can be allergic to specific types of food, including tuna.  Observe to check symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as vomiting or skin irritation. If your cat shows any of these signs, stop feeding them tuna and consult with your veterinarian.

Mix With Cat Food

Mix this fish with their commercial cat food to ensure your feline gets a balanced diet. It will prevent them from getting too much tuna and provide them with the necessary nutrients.

How To Feed Your Cats Tuna

What Can Be The Best Alternatives To Tuna For Cats? 

Tuna lacks some essential nutrients that cats need. Therefore, you should find alternative protein sources for your feline friends.


This food is a complete protein source providing all the essential amino acids your furry friends need.  Moreover, chicken is low in fat and calories. So it is ideal for cats that are overweight or have sensitive stomachs.  You can feed your cat cooked or raw chicken, but make sure to remove the bones and skin, which can harm their health.


Salmon is another excellent alternative to tuna for cats. It has omega-3 fatty acids. It is vital for maintaining healthy skin and coat. However, salmon can contain high mercury levels like tuna. So it's essential to feed it to your feline friends in moderation.


Beef is a nutrient-dense food. It provides cats with high-quality protein, iron, and zinc. This food is an excellent alternative to tuna, especially for pets with a high-protein diet, such as active or growing kittens.  However, the fat content and calories of this meat can be high. So feed it to your pets in moderation.

What Can Be The Best Alternatives To Tuna For Cats

The Bottom Line

Tuna can be a healthy and tasty treat for your cats when fed in moderation and prepared correctly.  However, overfeeding this seafood may cause various health problems for your feline friends.  Follow our guidelines and consult your vet, and you can safely incorporate this food into your cat's diet and provide them with a delicious and nutritious treat.

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About Billy Nguyen
I'm Billy Nguyen, currently CEO/Founder Cat Images, with over 3 years of experience in cat care and training. I hope the knowledge I share brings useful value to promote your pet care effectively.

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