No offence to all seafood lovers out there, but I don’t get the love for it. In fact, seeing seafood kind of freaks me out.
Oysters make me gag, lobster meat is bland and steamed fish looks too scary to eat.
However, there is one thing that I love that’s ‘seafood-ish’ and that is fish fingers or fish sticks. I call it the chicken nugget of the sea and one piece is never enough.
Unfortunately, it seems that my cat has also developed a strong liking for the smell of fish fingers baking in the oven.
He will diligently sit next to the oven door until I take them out, trying to get a bite. But he’s not allowed to eat it.
Fish fingers or fish sticks are not suitable human food to be fed to cats. Even though it contains fish, seafood isn’t part of a cat’s natural diet. Furthermore, there might be certain types of seasoning and ingredients that can be toxic to your cat.
In this article, we will be sharing why snacks like fish fingers are bad for cats and what are the healthier alternatives if your cat likes the flavor of the sea.
What Are Fish Fingers Or Fish Sticks?
Fish fingers and fish sticks are pretty much the same terms. The former is used in the UK while the latter is used in the US.
It is made from sticks of raw fish that are minced and covered in batter or breadcrumbs. Whitefish like cod, haddock and pollock are usually used to make fish fingers.
You can also find salmon in some recipes.
Fish fingers are usually eaten deep-fried, baked or pan-fried.
Can Eats Eat Fish Fingers?
As a cat owner, I wouldn’t be feeding my cat any amount of fish fingers. It is considered processed food which isn’t good for cats.
Not all human foods have to be in the healthy spectrum when feeding some to our cats as treats. But when it borders on being harmful or toxic, that is where we should draw the line.
Fish fingers are very high in fats and carbohydrates due to the coating. And too much fats and carbs in a cat’s diet can be harmful.
It can lead to symptoms like vomiting, feline obesity, diabetes and digestive issues.
The coating of fish sticks also contains seasoning and ingredients like paprika and yeast.
These ingredients are also all known to be toxic to cats and can cause harmful side effects when consumed.
Yeast when consumed can cause stomach bloating in cats, paprika can burn and irritate your cat’s mouth and nose.
Can Cats Eat Fish Snacks?
Ask most people what cats like to eat and they will probably say “fish.”
This is what the media has portrayed over the years, giving the impression that cats love fish but it isn’t totally true.
Cats are originally desert animals which means catching fish from a water source was out of the question. They survive on insects and small animals as food.
There are a couple of cat species that have evolved to thrive on fish but that is more the exception than the norm.
For our domesticated feline friends, fish should only be given as a treat. Animal meat must be your cat’s main source of nutrients.
If you do wish to incorporate some fish into your cat’s diet as a treat, never feed your cat raw fish.
Our domestic cats are not equipped to eat raw fish.
Raw fish contains an enzyme called thiaminase which hinders the absorption of vitamin B in cats. A deficiency in this vitamin can negatively impact a cat’s nervous system.
How To Prepare A Fish Snack For Your Cat?
If you wish to feed some fish to your cat as a snack, make sure it is thoroughly cooked. I would suggest buying fresh fish for your cat rather than the frozen option.
Not all fishes are made equal though. Some fishes contain high levels of mercury and contaminants which aren’t ideal for cats.
Stick to oily fish like salmon, tuna, cod, sardines and mackerel which are low in mercury and high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Before cooking, descale the fish or it will be difficult for your cat to eat it.
The two best ways of cooking the fish will be to either grill or steam. Do not pan fry or deep fry as oily food isn’t good for cats.
Once the fish is cooked, don’t just feed your cat the whole fish.
It is dangerous for your cooked to eat the bones of the fish as it can injure its mouth and digestive tract.
Even if you feed your cat a raw meat diet, don’t feed your cat cooked bones as they can splinter and harm your cat. Keep the bone raw and small like chicken wings.
Tear up a few bite-sized chunks of the cooked and plain fish for your cat to consume. Most cats can eat a few pieces of cooked fish a few times a week.
Don’t turn it into your cat’s main source of protein as it’s not as nutritional as animal meat for cats.
Dangers Of Eating Too Much Fish
There are some dangers that are associated with feeding your cat too much fish. And it is important for cat owners to know what health risks it can pose to their cats.
- Fish can create an allergic reaction
- Cause Urinary tract infections
- Insufficient calcium levels
- Hinder absorption of vitamin B and E
- Your cat can be addicted to fish
As you can see, even though fish can be considered a source of meat protein for cats, it isn’t one of the best options.
Can Cats Eat Smoked Salmon?
If you plan to feed your cat salmon, make sure it is fresh salmon and not smoked salmon. Smoked salmon is made through the process of curing the fish which involves a lot of salt to remove the moisture from the flesh.
Once the fish is dried, it is then smoked to give it that smokey taste.
The high sodium content in smoked salmon is very bad for cats. Even though some sodium is necessary for a cat’s diet, too much sodium can have bad side effects in cats.
It can cause dehydration, vomiting, excess urination, seizures and even death.
Furthermore, food that is smoked isn’t very healthy for cats as it can potentially contain carcinogens which put your cat at a higher risk of cancer.
The bottom line is don’t feed your cat any food that is cured or smoked.
Can Cats Eat Seafood?
Like fish, cats can eat a small variety of seafood provided it is cooked. Don’t feed your cat raw squid, octopus, shrimps or clams as it can cause problems with your cat’s vitamin B absorption.
Always ensure that seafood should only be fed as an occasional treat and not part of your cat’s main diet.
Can Cats Eat Fish-Flavored Food?
Walk into any pet store today and you will find many fish flavored canned food. The reason why many pet food manufacturers do this is to make cat food more appetizing for cats.
Cats are drawn to food by smell and not many cats can resist the ‘stinky’ smell of fish. A couple of things to look out for when it comes to fish flavored cat food.
Is the fish flavor made of fish by-products or artificial flavoring?
I would not be too keen to feed my cat canned food that has such ingredients as I don’t consider them to be very healthy for my cat in the long run.
Look for canned food that has natural fish meat or fish broth in them.
Make Your Own Fish Broth
A healthier alternative is to make your own homemade tuna water or tuna broth and add some to your cat food.
This can be a good way to stimulate your cat’s appetite if it is unwell or just recovering from an operation.
You can learn more about making healthy tuna water for your cat here.
Can Cats Eat Crab Sticks?
Carb sticks are actually made from minced fish that is manufactured to taste like crab. It contains a high level of sodium, preservatives, artificial flavoring and coloring which are all unhealthy for cats.
If your cat is really crazy about it, a few bites once a week would suffice. Prepare the crab sticks for your cat only by boiling or steaming them.
For cat owners whose cats have really expensive and exquisite tastebuds for seafood like crab, feed them real crab instead.
There are manufacturers that sell freshly deshelled crab in a bottle that can be refrigerated. Or if you can take the trouble to buy fresh crab, boil and deshell it for your cat, that would be a better alternative.
As cat parents, we are responsible for our cat’s diet. They are like kids who at times consume food that isn’t healthy for them.
Not all food items that are safe for human consumption are safe for cats too.
When it comes to fish, if it is something that your cat has never tried before, it would be best to not start it.
But if you have been feeding your cat cooked fish on a regular basis, it is time to cut back on the frequency and replace it with a healthier animal meat alternative.