Can Cats Have Lemon Pepper Tuna? (Know The Hidden Risks)

can cats have lemon pepper tuna

A serving of lemon pepper tuna might sound mouthwatering if you love fish or are looking to lose weight. 

But should you should be sharing this dish with your always-hungry cat if it starts looking at you with those ‘You never feed me enough’ eyes again?

It is fine to feed your cat tuna but when it is marinated with lemon and pepper, that isn’t healthy for cats. Both lemon and pepper contain chemical compounds that are toxic to cats and should be avoided.

In this article, we’ll dive straight into the facts, exploring the potential health benefits and risks of letting your cat eat lemon pepper tuna.

Understanding Lemon Pepper Tuna

Let’s being by having a better understanding of how Lemon Pepper Tuna is made.

The three main components are lemon, pepper and tuna. 

Each ingredient brings about its own unique flavor profile and benefits to the dish but does it do the same for your cat?


“The largest tuna ever caught was in 1979 and it weighed a whopping 521kg!”

bluefin tuna

Tuna is a popular fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Compared to 100g of salmon, tuna has 28g of protein and salmon has 20g.

There are some health benefits that your cat can have from eating omega-3 fatty acids. 

Omega 3 can help with:

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Promotes healthy skin and fur
  • Reduce inflammation 
  • Brain health

Although some fish is fine in your cat’s diet, too much tuna can have the opposite effect.

Mercury is found in the majority of marine life. The build-up of mercury comes from the water they live in and the food they eat. 

The longer and larger the fish is, the more mercury is found in them. 

Tunas can live up to 26 years and weigh up to 60kg. 

The largest tuna ever caught was in 1979 and it weighed a whopping 521kg!

When cats eat tuna in large amounts, they are also consuming higher levels of mercury.

This can eventually lead to mercury poisoning when the levels get high enough. 


Lemons are tangy citrus fruits that add some bite and zest to the food. 

While lemons are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants for us, it doesn’t quite work that way for your cat. 

Allowing your cat to eat lemon can lead to lemon poisoning. 

Lemon contains chemical compounds called linalool, limonene and psoralens.

They are found in all parts of the lemon tree including the leaves, stem, lemon zest, etc. 

If you have a lemon tree at home, it would be good to block off that area to your cat to prevent them from accidentally ingesting any part of the tree. 

When your cat eats anything with lemon, its liver doesn’t contain the necessary enzyme to break down and metabolize these compounds. 

This leads to symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Drooling
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Liver failure

Psoralens has been known to cause photosensitization which makes the skin more sensitive to UV light. 

If your cat is allowed outdoors, this can make its skin more susceptible to sunburn and irritation when exposed to sunlight.


black pepper

Pepper is a spice that can add some kick and heat to any dish. 

The good thing is that pepper isn’t considered toxic to cats but it can still do some damage when cats eat pepper

There are over 600 varieties of pepper but the more common ones are black pepper, white pepper, bell pepper and cayenne. 

Many cats are not drawn to pepper due to their keen sense of smell. 

Imagine if you took a deep long breath into a bowl of ground pepper. 

I can imagine that you will be sneezing for a good 24 hours. 

The smell of pepper can irritate your cat’s respiratory system and face which causes a painful burning sensation. 

There are some people who even sprinkle pepper in their gardens as a deterrent for cats. Once a cat picks up on the harsh, it knows better than to come close. 

High Salt Content

Adding salt to our food is common practice for many of us. 

Salt helps to give the food some taste and some salt is essential for important body processes such as nerve and muscle coordination. 

Your cat needs salt too but a lot lesser than what a human needs on a daily basis. 

On average, a human needs about 2300mg of sodium while a cat needs only needs a fraction of that. 

If your cat is already on a good diet, it is already getting all the sodium it needs. 

I’ve tasted wet cat food before and it tastes really bland. 

How Should I Prepare Tuna For My Cat?

It should be clear by now that letting or feeding your cat lemon pepper tuna is a bad idea. 

But if you do wish to feed your cat some tuna that is totally fine. 

My cat gets some tuna on a weekly basis as a treat and he loves it. 

There are a couple of ways to give your cat tuna safely. 

You can just buy some tuna flakes from the pet store or get some fresh tuna and cook it. 

The best way to cook tuna is to either boil or steam the fish. 

Do not feed your cat raw tuna or cooked fish bones as that will do more good than harm. 

Raw fish contains an enzyme called thiaminase that prevents your cat from absorbing vitamin B12. 

Cooked bones are very brittle which can easily break and harm your cat while eating. 

Is It Ok To Give My Cat Canned Tuna?

It is fine to give your cat canned tuna from a local grocery store. But only get canned tuna that is soaked in water. 

Do not feed your cat flavored tuna that has been soaked in brine, oil or other marinades. 

What Should I Do If My Cat Ate My Lemon Pepper Tuna?

I wouldn’t be too concerned yet if your cat ate some lemon pepper tuna. 

If it just took a bite or two, your cat should be fine. 

But if it ate a huge chunk of tuna that has been heavily seasoned with lemon and pepper, it might be good to give your vet a call for the next best steps. 

Depending on the weight and age of your cat, the vet might ask you to observe and look out for any adverse reactions. 

If your cat’s life might be in danger, the vet will have to induce vomiting to get your cat to purge its stomach content.

Is Lemon Essential Oil Bad For My Cat?

If you enjoy using essential oils at home, you need to be careful of the type of oils that you use. 

Some essential oils are toxic to cats as they are not able to break down the chemical compounds in them. 

I would strongly advise against using essential oil as a cat pee deterrent as it can be harmful to your cat, even in small doses.

These essential oils are known to be toxic to cats:

  • Wintergreen oil.
  • Peppermint oil.
  • Pine oil.
  • Eucalyptus.
  • Clove oil.
  • Tea tree/Melaleuca oil.
  • Citrus oil or those containing d-limonene.
  • Ylang Ylang

Lemon essential oil is bad for cats as it falls under citrus oil. 

Even when using essential oils that are safe for cats, do not use them in an enclosed room with your cat it in. 

Make sure that the room is well-ventilated. 

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